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A map of modern day Romania.

Romania (dated: Roumania or Rumania; Romanian: România), officially the Kingdom of Romania (Romanian: Regatul României), is a country located at the intersection of Central and Southeastern Europe, bordering on the Black Sea. Romania shares a border with Hungary and Yugoslavia to the west, Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine to the north and northeast, and Bulgaria to the south. At 295,049 square kilometers, Romania is one of the largest countries of the European Economic Community by area, and has the seventh largest population of the EEC with over 26 million people. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, with a population of around two and a half million. Romania is divided into nine regular regions, three autonomous regions and one autonomous municipality.

The United Principalities emerged when the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were united under Prince Alexander Ioan Cuza in 1859. In 1881, Carol I of Romania was crowned, forming the Kingdom of Romania. Independence from the Ottoman Empire was declared on 9 May 1877, and was internationally recognized the following year. At the end of World War I, Transylvania, Bucovina and Bessarabia united with the Kingdom of Romania. Greater Romania emerged into an era of progression and prosperity that would continue until the eve of World War II. That war caused the rise of a military dictatorship in Romania, leading it to fight on the side of the Axis powers from 1941 to 1942. In 1942, King Micheal I led a coup against the Fascist government, broke ties with the Axis, and joined the Allies. Despite the unpleasant entry into the war, after the dictatorship was overthrown Romania contributed significantly to the fight against the Axis in Europe.

As of 2010, Romania is a high income country with very high human development.

Romania joined the Allied Pact in 1942, first as a co-belligerent and later, in recognition of political and mostly military realities, as a full member. The Kingdom is a founding member of the EEC and the League of Nations, and joined the Eurozone on 1 January 1997.


The name România derives from of the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome". The first known use of the appellation was by 16th-century Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia.

The oldest surviving document written in Romanian, a 1521 letter known as the "Letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung", is also notable for including the first documented occurrence of the country's name: Wallachia is mentioned as Țeara Rumânească ("The Romanian Land", țeara from the Latin terra, "land"; current spelling: Țara Românească).

Two spelling forms: român and rumân were used interchangeably until sociolinguistic developments in the late 17th century led to semantic differentiation of the two forms: rumân came to mean "bondsman", while român retained the original ethnolinguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the word rumân gradually fell out of use and the spelling stabilised to the form român. Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used the term Rumânia to refer exclusively to the principality of Wallachia.

The use of the name România to refer to the common homeland of all Romanians — its modern-day meaning — is first documented in the early 19th century. The name has been officially in use since 11 December 1861. English-language sources still used the terms Rumania or Roumania, derived from the French spelling Roumanie, as recently as World War II, but the name has since been replaced with the official spelling Romania.


Prehistory and antiquity[]

42,000-year-old human remains were discovered in the "Cave With Bones", and being Europe’s oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, they may have been among the first modern humans to have entered the continent. The Neolithic-Age Cucuteni area in northeastern Romania was the western region of the earliest European civilization, known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Also the earliest known salt works in world is at Poiana Slatinei, near the village of Lunca in Romania; it was first used in the early Neolithic, around 6050 BCE, by the Starčevo culture, and later by the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the Precucuteni period. Evidence from this and other sites indicates that the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture extracted salt from salt-laden spring water through the process of briquetage.

The earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of present-day Romania, the Getae, comes from Herodotus, in his Histories book IV (c. 440 BC). Territories located north of the Danube were inhabited by Dacians, who are considered to have belonged to the Getae tribes, mentioned by Herodotus, that were a branch of Thracian people. The Dacian kingdom reached its peak between 82 and 44 BCE during the reign of Burebista.

Roman emperor Domitian led military campaigns in the region between 87 and 88 AD at Tapae. Roman incursions happened again during the years 101–102 AD and 105–106 AD under Trajan, who successfully defeated Dacia and annexed its southwestern parts to the vast Roman Empire. The Dacian population subsequently underwent the ethno-linguistic process of Romanization and the conquered parts became an imperial province. Due to Dacia's rich ore deposits (especially gold and silver), Rome brought colonists from all over the empire. This introduced Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization that would give birth to the Proto-Romanian language. During the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, making it the first province to be abandoned.

After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by various migratory populations including Goths, Huns, Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs, and Cumans. Several competing theories have been proposed to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians coalesced as a major ethnic group both south and north of the Danube in the regions previously colonized by Romans.

Middle Ages[]

Gesta Hungarorum mentioned the existence of three voivodeships in Transylvania in the 9th century: the Voivodeship of Gelou, the Voivodeship of Glad and the Voivodeship of Menumorut. The anonymous author describes the first as Vlach. Another voivodeship, ruled by Gyula, was mentioned in the 11th century. A 1176 Old Bulgarian inscription attests the existence of a župan Dimitri that ruled over Dobrogea in 943.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Țara Românească – "Romanian Land"), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania (Romanian: Transilvania). By the 11th century, Transylvania had become a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary. It was independent as the Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century until 1711. In Wallachia and Moldavia, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century did the larger principalities of Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerge to fight the threat of the Ottoman Empire. Both territories inhabited by Romanians achieved their independence from the Hungarian Crown after military conflicts (Battle of Posada, 1330) or social conflicts (Moldavian boyars' revolt against Hungary, 1364)--these historic events being initiated by Basarab I of Wallachia (1310–1352) and Bogdan I of Moldavia (1359–1365).

By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary had become Ottoman provinces. Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania were under Ottoman suzerainty, preserving partial or full internal autonomy until the mid-19th century (Transylvania until 1699). During this period, in the Romanian lands the feudal system slowly disappeared. A few rulers of territories in what is now Romania distinguished themselves: these rulers include Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia; Matei Basarab, Vlad the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia; and John Hunyadi (Ioannes Corvinus) and Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), but the chance for unification was lost after Mihai was assassinated only one year later. After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldavia and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and external independence, which they finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs' Austrian empire following the Austrian victory over the Turks in the Great Turkish War. The Habsburgs in turn expanded their empire in 1718 to include an important part of Wallachia called Oltenia (which was returned only in 1739), and in 1775 to include the northwestern part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina. The eastern half of the Moldavian principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.


During the period of the Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were considered second-class citizens or even non-citizens in a territory where they formed the majority of the population. In some Transylvanian cities, such as Brașov or Timişoara, Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.

Following the Wallachian uprising of 1821, more insurrections followed in 1848 in Wallachia as well as Moldavia. The flag adopted for Wallachia by the revolutionaries was a blue-yellow-red horizontal tricolour (with blue above, in line with the meaning "Liberty, Justice, Fraternity"), while Romanian students in Paris hailed the new government with the same flag "as a symbol of union between Moldavians and Muntenians". The same flag, with the tricolour being mounted vertically, would later on be officially adopted as the national flag of Romania. But after the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians' expressed desire to officially unite in a one single state, which forced them to proceed alone with their struggle against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same leader –Alexandru Ioan Cuza– to be their Ruling Prince (Domnitor in Romanian). Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit without including Transylvania. There, the upper class and the aristocracy chose to remain under Hungarian rule, even though the Romanians were by far the most numerous ethnic Transylvanian group and constituted the absolute majority.

In a 1866 coup d'état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol I of Romania. During the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, and as a result of it in the Treaty of San Stefano and the Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state both by the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers. In return, Romania ceded the district of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I of Romania.

The 1878–1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.

World Wars[]

In August 1915, about a year after the start of World War I, Romania tried to maintain neutrality. One year later, under significant pressure from the Allies, on 27 August 1916 Romania joined the Allies, declaring war on Austria-Hungary. For this action, under the terms of the secret military convention, Romania was promised support for its goal of national unity of all the territories populated with Romanians.

The Romanian military campaign began disastrously for Romania as the Central Powers occupied two-thirds of the country within months. Nevertheless, Moldavia remained in Romanian hands and the invading forces were blocked in 1917. Total losses from 1914 to 1918, military and civilian, within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000. By the war's end, both Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires had collapsed and disintegrated; Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania proclaimed their unification with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. In the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary was forced to give up all Austro-Hungarian claims over Transylvania from the Romanians. The unification of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain, and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.

During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on 28 June 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance. Again foreign powers created heavy pressure on Romania, by means of the Soviet-Nazi Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact from the 23rd August 1939. As a result of it the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well as from northern Bukovina in order to avoid war with Russia. This, in combination with other factors, forced Romania to join the Axis military campaign. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was ceded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis powers' arbitration. The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated the throne in 1940, and was succeeded by a fascist National Legionary State dictatorial regime, in which power was shared by General Ion Antonescu and the antisemitic Iron Guard right-extremist militia. The subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers under the supreme German command.

In 1942, as the Allies advanced into the Balkans, King Micheal I staged a coup, deposing Antonescu. Romania (along with Hungary and Bulgaria) left the Axis and joined the war on the side of the Allies. The Allies ordered that all territorial changes since the beginning of the war be reversed, restoring Northern Transylvania, Southern Dobruja, Bukovina and Bessarabia to Romania, with the latter two still occupied by the Soviet Union. Of the three countries which switched sides in 1942, Romania bore the brunt of fighting, with the Soviets launching several brutal offensives into Moldavia. During this time, Romania worked closely with Canada, contributing significantly to the modern special relationship between the two countries.

Romania's contribution to the defeat of the Axis was recognized in the treaties which ended World War II, and the Soviet Union was forced to cede part of the Moldavian ASSR to Romania.