Dumitru Dan

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Globe-trotter Dumitru Dan, in Romanian national costume, 1911 Dumitru Dan.jpg
Globe-trotter Dumitru Dan, in Romanian national costume, 1911

Dumitru (Demetre) Dan (14 July 1890 – 4 December 1978) was a Romanian geographer, professor of geography and globe-trotter. He took the world record for walking around the world.

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.

Geographer scholar whose area of study is geography

A geographer is a scientist whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society. The Greek prefix, "geo," means "earth" and the Greek suffix, "graphy," meaning "description," so a geographer is someone who studies the earth. The word "geography" is a Middle French word that is believed to have been first used in 1540.

Professor academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries

Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.


Around the world

In 1908, the Touring club de France announced a contest for walking around the world, with an offered prize of 100,000 francs. [1] Dumitru Dan and his countrymen Paul Pârvu, George Negreanu and Alexandru Pascu were all students in Paris at the time, and they decided to take up the challenge, using their own money and resources.

Touring club de France

The Touring club de France (1890-1983) was a French social club devoted to travel, founded by enthusiasts of the velocipede. Its headquarters sat on the Avenue de la Grande Armée in Paris.

The group returned to Romania to prepare, learning additional languages, studying cartography, and doing weight training and exercises for two hours a day. [1] They also walked 45 km per day, travelling plains, hills and mountains in all seasons. They had learned Romanian folk songs and dances and also to play the flute and accordion so that they could support their endeavor along the way by performing their native folklore.

Kingdom of Romania kingdom in Southeastern Europe between 1881 and 1947

The Kingdom of Romania was a constitutional monarchy at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It existed from 1881, when prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was crowned as King Carol I of Romania, until 1947, when King Michael I of Romania abdicated and the Romanian parliament proclaimed Romania a socialist republic.

Plain Extensive flat region that generally does not vary much in elevation

In geography, a plain is a flat, sweeping landmass that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along the bottoms of valleys or on the doorsteps of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or uplands.

In 1910, wearing native garb and walking in sandals, the group set out on their voyage with a dog, Harap. [1] Much of the route was covered between 1910 and 1916, but Dan's companions did not survive to see the trip's completion in 1923.

Death of fellow travelers

On 17 July 1911, in India, the group were invited to the palace of the Rajah of Bombay. After sharing a meal there, the walkers went in group to purchase supplies for their journey in town. [1] Alexandru Pascu remained to tell the Rajah about their adventures to that point. His companions returned to find Pascu and their hosts had indulged in and passed out from opium. Although their hosts felt Pascu would likely recover, he never woke. He died as a result of opium poisoning and was buried in India.

British Raj British rule in the Indian subcontinent, 1858–1947

The British Raj was the rule by the British Crown in the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947. The rule is also called Crown rule in India, or direct rule in India. The region under British control was commonly called British India or simply India in contemporaneous usage, and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and those ruled by indigenous rulers, but under British tutelage or paramountcy, and called the princely states. The whole was also informally called the Indian Empire. As India, it was a founding member of the League of Nations, a participating nation in the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936, and a founding member of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.

Opium Dried latex obtained from the opium poppy

Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy. Approximately 12 percent of the opium latex is made up of the analgesic alkaloid morphine, which is processed chemically to produce heroin and other synthetic opioids for medicinal use and for illegal drug trade. The latex also contains the closely related opiates codeine and thebaine, and non-analgesic alkaloids such as papaverine and noscapine. The traditional, labor-intensive method of obtaining the latex is to scratch ("score") the immature seed pods (fruits) by hand; the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky yellowish residue that is later scraped off and dehydrated. The word "meconium" historically referred to related, weaker preparations made from other parts of the opium poppy or different species of poppies.

George Negreanu died two years into the voyage, when the then trio were crossing a narrow mountain pass in the Nanling Mountains in China. [1] In a brief rain during which they were forced to feel their way with canes, Negreanu - at the head of the group - fell onto rocks from a sharp precipice. Dan and Pârvu carried him to a local settlement and then to a hospital but there was no doctor available there to assist. By the time medical care was found, Negreanu was dead.

Pârvu found himself unable to continue in Jacksonville, Florida. [1] Several years earlier, he had wounded his legs during the more than 2600 km walk across Alaska (coming from China and Siberian Russia) on the route Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Yakutat, Gustavus, Skagway and Juneau, and he developed gangrene. Advised by doctors to stop, he remained in Florida with the dog Harap. Subsequently, both of his legs were amputated, but it was not sufficient to save him. In May 1915, he died.


Dumitru Dan was forced to put his trip on hold due to the outbreak of World War I, but he completed his voyage by 1923. [1] The value of the prize was substantially diminished, given inflation over 15 years and from the War. According to a 2011 Romanian news article, it had been worth about 500,000 Euros in 1908, but was only worth 40,000 at the time it was awarded. He crossed five continents over three oceans, through 76 countries and over 1,500 cities, wearing out 497 pairs of shoes.

Legacy and later life

Dan died in Buzău, Romania in 1978. He is buried in the Heroes' Cemetery. In 1985, his record was entered into the Guinness Book.

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Further reading

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