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- This article is about the village of Vama Veche. Vama Veche is also the name of a Romanian rock band.
Vama Veche (historical names: Ilanlâk, Ilanlâc, Turkish: Ilanlık) is a village in Constanţa County, Romania, on the Black Sea coast, near the border with Bulgaria, at 28.57 E longitude, 43.75 N latitude. It is part of the commune of Limanu and in 2002, it had a population of 178.
It was founded in 1811 by a few Gagauz families, originally being named "Ilanlîk". Its current name literally means "Old border checkpoint", named so after Southern Dobruja (the Cadrilater) had been included in Romania in 1913. In 1940, however, that region was returned to Bulgaria, and the village has since lain once again near the border, but the name stuck.
Even in Communist Romania, Vama Veche had the reputation of a non-mainstream tourist destination, which has only grown since the Romanian Revolution of 1989. During the communist era, concern for border patrol sight lines spared Vama Veche the development that occurred in other Romanian Black Sea resorts. It became a hangout for intellectuals; for reasons that are not exactly clear, the generally repressive regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu chose to tolerate this countercultural oasis, as long as people had their identity papers with them. Accommodations consisted of tents or rooms rented from peasants or fishermen. While camping is theoretically not permitted, to this day, many visitors or semi-permanent residents still stay in tents on the beach.
Famous for its nude beach, since the late 1990s Vama Veche has experienced development and gentrification, which has led to a "Save Vama Veche" campaign that is lobbying for the area's environmental conservation and a halt to development and mass tourism. Nudism is still common on the beach today, especially on the Northern part where the beach ends and the area is less crowded.  A major part of the "Save Vama Veche" campaign is the 2003 founding of the Stufstock music festival. Both "Save Vama Veche" campaign and Stufstock Festival were initiated by the "Association for the Conservation of Bio-Cultural Protected Areas" NGO. The August 2003 festival drew a crowd of about 10,000. The 2004 edition drew about 20,000 people. The 2005 Stufstock drew a record 40,000-large crowd, formed mainly by rockers, bohemians, punkers and goths.
In 2004, allegedly as a result of the campaign, legislation was enacted, limiting construction of new housing and roads or paving of existing roads. As of 2006, this seems to be enforced, with no visible new permanent structures being built within the preceding year.
In 2012 it is still ideal for backpackers, the village provides numerous accommodation options including free camping on the beach.
Vama Veche's spirit and recent trends
There is an unwritten rule that anyone visiting Vama Veche should always camp on the beach and boycott the recent built hotels and businesses in order to restore the place back to the old look and hippie vibe. Recent trends also include tourists taking a tiny fraction of the newly built paths as souvenirs in order to speed up the decaying, deteriorating process of Vama Veche's new commercial, business-orientated outlook.
Plans for a refugee shelter
There are unconfirmed plans to shelter 500 Syrian refugees in a disaffected military base close to Vama Veche in the context of the European migrant crisis. This raised serious fears among the locals that these plans would scare away the tourists who were used to enjoy a bohemian lifestyle at Vama Veche. It is not clear what will be the extent of the social and economic impact on the relatively poor communities of Vama Veche, 2 Mai and Mangalia.
- Plan de management al rezervatiei marine 2 mai — Vama Veche, Reservaţia Marină 2 Mai - Vama Veche, p.40. Accessed 14 October 2006.
- Alison Mutler, Romanians Fight Over Future of Nude Beach, Associated Press, 21 August 2003. Originally on the site of Human Rights Watch. Archived on Internet Archive 20 February 2006.
- "Reactia localnicilor cand au aflat ca 500 de refugiati ar putea ajunge in Vama Veche: "Si asa suntem batuti de soarta"". ProTV (in Romanian). Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "Revoltă la Vama Veche, după ce localnicii au aflat că refugiaţii ar putea fi triaţi la Limanu". Realitatea TV (in Romanian). 16 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "Vama Veche, centru pentru refugiați. De ce se tem localnicii". Digi 24 (in Romanian). 16 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Vama Veche travel guide from Wikivoyage