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History of Romania

The land of present-day Romania was ruled by various tribes until the Greeks settled along the coast, then the Romans conquered the land in about 100 AD. The Romans intermingled with the locals creating a new ethnicity, which adopted Latin as its language.

After the Romans pulled out of the region in about 250-300 the region was passed by various groups, many of whom intermarried. One of the more influential of these groups was the Magyars (Hungarians), who settled in Transylvania and ruled the region for well over 600 years, as the region became a mix of Romanians, Magyars, and even Saxons. These outside threats to their independence led Romanians to establish Wallachia in the 1300s, a principality, which still exists today as the region between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea. During this same time threats continued from the south as the Turks invaded the region and remained on and off until the 1600s. The Turks successfully took Hungary, and Transylvania, but never truly controlled Wallachia or Moldavia (at the time, this land was roughly Romania's south, east and modern day Moldova), although these regions technically fell under Turkish control. After the Turks were defeated at Vienna in 1687, Transylvania and Bukovina fell under Hapsburg control and Bessarabia (modern day Moldova) fell to the Russians in 1829.

In the mid-1800s the Romanian serfs in Transylvania joined forces with Austria to fight against the ruling Hungarian land owners, which escalated quickly, but was also ended quickly. This led to the flooding of the area with Hungarians and these events continue to fuel resentment on both sides of the Romanian-Hungarian border today. Meanwhile, conditions in the south and east were improving and in 1878 Romania was recognized as an independent country.

World War I was a huge success for the Romanians. At the outbreak, they declared war on Austria-Hungary in order to win back Transylvania. In the post-war peace talks, Romania gained not just Transylvania, but also Bessarabia and Bucovina.

At the outbreak of World War II, Romania sided with France, Greece, and a number of other countries in the alliance, however with the quick German advance, Romania lost nearly all of their allies, leading to their allowance of the German troop onto their soil in order to prevent further damage. The next logical step was an alliance with Nazi Germany, especially since the Soviets had taken Bessarabia back and, with German assistance, the Romanians could easily recapture it. In 1944 however, the Romanians switched sides once more and formed an alliance with the Soviets to prevent further damage as the Soviet swept across their country.

After the war, a communist government was installed in Romania, which remained loyal to the Soviets only until the late 1950s when Romania gained more independence from the Soviets than any other Eastern European communist country other than Yugoslavia. However, the western leaning politics did little to ease the poverty in the country and in 1989 the people overthrew and killed their leader, Nicolae Ceausescu.

Since independence, Romania has struggled with their elected leaders and has been slow to recover from their enormous debts and years of governmental mismanagement. In 2007 Romania was accepted to join the European Union (EU), although they still have a number of obstacles to overcome before actually receiving all of benefits of being a full EU member.

This page was last updated: March, 2013