The existence of the National Park neighboring certain communities can represent for them a surplus of importance and motivation in order to develop new local business and investment ideas.
With a role in promoting traditional values and local culture, the Park is an opportunity for the national and international promotion of the area and for the attraction of new funding in the area.
The local communities are situated in the limits of the Park, the closest to the park border being the commune Greci. Seven settlements have their administrative territory in the immediate neighborhood of the Măcin Mountains National Park, namely the town Măcin, the commune Jijila, the commune Văcăreni, the commune Luncaviţa, the commune Hamcearca, the commune Cerna and the Greci commune. The total number of inhabitants in these settlements is 37,044 people, of a total of 256, 492 inhabitants in the Tulcea County.
The town Măcin is situated on the right shore of the Old Danube, at the average height of 40 m, in the North – West side of Dobrogea and of Tulcea county. It neighbors Jijila to the North-East and Greci to the South-East. The settlement is documented as a town since the 16th century.
The inhabitants are generally Romanians, but also Turks, Tatars, Germans, Lipovan Russians, which have harmoniously lived together throughout the centuries. It also is an educational and vocational formation center, with two secondary schools, vocational schools and a high school with almost half a century of tradition.
Măcin has had an important role during many military conflicts in history. With the Ottoman conquest of Dobrogea, the town became a center of an Ottoman garrison, and the center for the collection and transit of the tributes due to Constantinople. Because of its geographic-strategic position, the town maintained its economic and military importance also after being crossed by various migratory populations and after the Ottoman conquest of Dobrogea.
The religious structure of the populations includes: Orthodox Christians, Roman-Catholics, Greek-Catholics, Reformed Christians, Unitarians, Old Rite Christians, Adventists, Evangelic Christians, Muslims, and Atheists.
The economic activity is oriented towards the agricultural sector, the main cultivated plants being cereals, corn, sunflower and vine. The area has a long tradition of granite exploitation, wood extraction and processing, traditional handicrafts (reed knitting, wicker knitting), cloth making. The industrial sector of the town includes the light industry (textiles) and the food industry.
The Greci commune is the closest to the limit of the National Park, having a special location between the Pricopan Ridge and the main ridge of the Măcin Mountains. The commune is 72 km away from the county capital, the Tulcea Municipality, and 25 km away from the Smârdan commune, which links it to Brăila over the Danube.
The settlement has been founded by the Romans and it is mentioned for the first time in an Austrian census map of 1790 with the name of Greci. Because most of the inhabitants lived on gardening, in the Turkish property documents (tapi), the settlement is also called Saganlic (The Onion Farm).
At the place called Cozluk there supposedly was a Turkish village whose inhabitants fled to Greci. Italian colonists came to the town during the 19th century. Their main craft was rock quarrying on Iacob (Jacob) Mountain. In 1812 Transylvanian shepherds are also mentioned, among them being the first schoolteacher of the settlement, called Ion Moroianu. Dobrogean Italians still keep some of their native customs. A significant celebration, besides Bobbo Natale, is St. Lucia (the Winter Solstice).
Granite stonemasons are also found in Greci, and most of the inhabitants are involved in granite extraction activities, the processing of granite being a job which was passed on from father to son, as there are quite a few extraction quarries in this area. Almost all the houses have manually sculpted stone foundations.
The specific of the area is agro-industrial, the arable land of 4,500 hectares offering the possibility of living on the annual cereals, corn, sunflower and vegetable crops. Two Italian owned textile factories are found in the town, where approximately 300 local women work.
The Cerna commune, with the villages Cerna, Traian, General Praporgescu, Mircea Vodă, is situated on the National Road 22D, in the Cerna Depression, at the average altitude of 55 m. In the Cerna commune there is the greatest Megleno-Romanian community of Romania. The village Cerna was founded on an old shepherd settlement founded by Megleno-Romanians. For all the Aromanians, the importance of family stands above everything as sacrosanct. The families are united and there is a great care shared by all its members for family dignity, all of them having a moral, even strict, conduct. The parents have well defined roles in the life of their children, so there are no celebrations which do not include visits to the parents’ house, during which their blessing or counsel is many times requested.
The Romanian poet Panait Cerna was born in Cerna, and the house where he used to live is now arranged as a museum for visitors.
The Hamcearca commune, with the villages Nifon and Balabancea, is situated 2 km away the main ridge of the Măcin Mountains, in the Taiţa Depression, on County Road 222A. The Nifon village was founded in 1835 following the destruction of Taiţa by the Ottomans. The village presents archaeological interest due to two Roman monuments being discovered on its territory. These are ruins of the temples dedicated to the Goddess Diana. The Balabancea Village is also situated in the Taiţa Depression, South-East of the Crapcea Peak (343 m). A 10 km long local road links it to Cerna. In a necropolis Romanian pottery dating back to the 7th-9th centuries has been discovered. The Hamcearca commune neighbors the Horia locality, which is a traditional marketplace for the nearby villages.
The Luncaviţa commune has two settlements: the Luncaviţa village and the Rachelu village. The Luncaviţa village is situated 9 km away from the limit of the park, on National Road 22D, and the County Road 222A Luncaviţa-Horia. The oldest documentary mentioning belongs to 1573 in a Turkish registry, where the name Luncaviţa is used. At the beginning of the 20th century the settlement is mentioned as having Christian Orthodox inhabitants, most of them being farmers, gardeners and fishermen. The name of the Rachelu settlement comes, according to the legend, from an Empress whose name was Rachel and who left all her belongings to the villagers here. The inhabitants of Rachelu used to be “Turkish border guards” with Asian looks, and their main occupation was planting tobacco, goat and sheep raising. Many of its inhabitants came afterwards from Bessarabia, Moldova and Russia.
The Văcăreni commune is situated at the average height of 20m, at the Northern limit of the last ramifications of the mountain. In the Northern part of the village there are the Danube’s Marshes. In this area there are many fields and orchards, and the settlement is an old typical Romanian village.
The Jijila commune with the Jijila and Garvăn villages. The Jijila village is positioned at about 30 m altitude, in the Jijila Depression – which is a stream originating in the Îmbulzita Hill. The houses are aligned near the road, and the households are typically agro-pastoral. A few local traditions are still kept in Jijila – naturally colored wool braiding. The industry includes textiles, food industry, but generally the inhabitants practice agriculture. The mining industry is also represented by the extraction of kaolin from the nearby quarries. Jijila is an important historical point on the map of the county, and also an old Romanian settlement where numerous houses with typical architecture can be found.