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About Romania / Country Information / History

Romania like so many other countries has a rich yet complex history. Invasions, migrations and the shifting of power and borders makes it hard to provide an accurate historical record which all can agree on. What one must always keep in-mind when learning about any countries history is that often it is written by the winners.
The majority of the dates provided are approximates based on internet research.

It is commonly believed that the formation of Romanian people relied on two basic ethnic elements, namely the Geto-Dacians, and the Romans, who superposed, with a minor Slavic adjustment.
  • 650 BC - Dacian inhabitants (widely accepted as part of the Gatae) were first documented by the Greeks.
  • 82 – 44 BC The Dacian Kingdom reached its maximum expansion under the leadership of King Burebista. Dacia became a powerful state which threatened the regional interests of the Romans. The Geto-Dacians inhabited the vast area that stretched between the Northern Carpathian chain and the Balkan mountains.  
Roman – Dacia (106 – 275 AD)
  • 101-102 AD the Roman Emperor Trajan led a campaign against the Dacians.
  • 105-106 AD - A further campaign was fought by the Romans who crushed the Dacians at the battle of Sarmizegetusa. Afterwards Dacia became a Roman province.
  • 271 AD - The cost of defending Dacia from 'barbarians' became too great. Emperor Aurelian withdrew the Roman Empire south of the Danube.  
The Middle ages
The "Barbarian" waves that swept across Dacia's territory, i.e. Goths (from 271 until 378),  Huns (until 435),  Avars and the Slavs (until the 6th century) changed its social and political organisation. Like in other parts of Europe, the barbarians largely destroyed town networks, and, consequently, the core of economic activities shifted from cities to the countryside, which brought about a process of ruralization of the entire society.

The latter part of the middle ages saw modern day Romania being split into three distinct principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania each having their own distinct history.
  • 8th  – 12th  century -  The Pechenegs occupy parts of what was to later become the principality of Wallachia.
  • 11th  - 12th  century - The Cumans are the dominant force over the region of southern Moldavia and western Wallachia.
  • 10th century - The Magyars (believed to be ancestors of modern Hungarians) conquer Transylvania which then becomes (although largely autonomous) part of the Kingdom of Hungary until the 16th century, after which it becomes the independent Principality of Transylvania until 1711.
  • 1290 - According to Romanian tradition Radu Negru establishes the independent Romanian principality of Wallachia. Other sources document that Basarab I was the founder of Wallachia from 1324-1352.
  • 1359 - 1365 - Bogdan I  is the founder of the independent Romanian principality of Moldavia.
  • 1463 - Vlad Tepes, "Vlad the Impaler", is born in the Transylvanian city of Sighișoara and becomes the Prince of Wallachia.
  • 15th century – Wallachia gradually falls under Ottoman suzerainty (control).
  • 16th century – After the death of “Stephen the Great” (1457-1504) Moldavia also comes under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire .
  • 1541 – By this time the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary have become Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania are under Ottoman suzerainty, with  full internal autonomy.
  • 1593 - Michael the Brave becomes ruler of Wallachia. In 1595 his army defeat the Turks and in 1599 the Transylvanians too. In 1600 he conquers Moldavia becoming the first to rule and control, for a short while, the three principalities Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia.  
  • 1601 - Michael the Brave is killed and ending the brief union.
  • 1699 - Transylvania becomes a part of the Habsburgs' Austrian Empire, following the Austrian victory over the Turks.  
Early modern period
  • 18th century -  The Ottoman Empire starts to decline but the empires of Russia and Austria are on the increase.
  • 1718 – The Turks cede Oltenia (part of Wallachia) to the Habsburg Empire at the Passarowitz Peace talks.
  • 1775, The Habsburgs receive a similar "donation",  Bukovina (north-western part of Moldavia).
  • 1812 - Bessarabia (eastern half of Moldavia) annexed to Russia.
  • Nation building
  • 1859 - Political unity occurs between Moldavia and Wallachia under one single ruler, Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Transylvania remains separate still under the rule of the Habsburgs with the upper class and aristocracy remaining mainly Hungarian.
  • 1878 – The union between Moldavia and Wallachia is formally given the name Romania and receives international recognition from the Great powers.
  • The 1st World War
  • August 1914 – The start of the 1st World War I. Romania declares neutrality.
  • 1916 - Romania joins Britain, France and Russia to fight against Germany and Austria-Hungary with a view to liberating the Romanians living under Austro-Hungarian rule.
  • 1917 – The Romanian military campaign ends in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquer two-thirds of the country and capture and/or kill the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldova remains in Romanian hands.
  • May 1918 - Romania negotiates a peace treaty with Germany (Treaty of Bucharest).
  • October 1918 – Romania joins the war again on the side of the allies. Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania are allowed to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918.
  • 1920 – Romania's new land claims are ratified by the Western powers in the peace Treaty of Trianon. Its population increases from approximately 7.5 million to around 12 million.
  • 1922 – The treaty is sanctioned by the crowning of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria at Alba Iulia in Romania.
1918-1939 The Inter-war period
  • Initially Romania adopts a democratic constitutional regime and the country records a strong upsurge of development.
  • 1929-1933 – Economic depression causes social unrest and instability within the country.
  • 1927 -  A fascist movement is founded by Corneliu Codreanu, who later renames his followers the Iron Guard.
  • 1930 - King Ferdinand I's son, Carol ascends the throne as Carol II
  • 1938 Carol II bans political parties, abolishes the constitution and introduces a royal dictatorship. During his reign he imprisons many of the iron guard and has Codreanu shot.
  • 1940 - Stalin forces Romania to surrender the eastern province of Bessarabia to Russia. Furthermore Hitler forces the Romanians to give Northern Transylvania to Hungary.
  • June 22nd 1941 - With increasing threat from Russia and the danger of Bolshevism Romania enters World War 2 on the side of the Axis.
  • 1942-1944 – Romania experiences numerous defeats and tries, on various occasions, to break Romania from their alliance with Germany.
  • 20th August 1944 - The Soviet Red Army crosses the border into Romania.
  • 23rd August 1944 – Romania swaps sides to fight alongside the allies.
  • 31st  August 1944 the Soviet Red Army enters Bucharest.
  • 1945 -  Russian troops are stationed in Romania after the war ends making a Communist takeover inevitable.
  • 1947 – The formation of a communist People's Republic initially led by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej until his death in 1965.
  • April 1958 – Gheorghe managed to negotiate the withdrawal of soviet troops from Romania.
  • 1965 - Nicolae Ceausescu became leader and ruled the country with an iron fist.
  • 1989 -  Nicolae Ceausescu's government was overthrown and he and his wife were executed.
Transition to a Free market economy
From the end of communism to the present day, Romania has seen numerous leaders and parties come and go. Development has been hindered by corruption and an economy struggling to get a foot hold in the European market. In addition the free travel agreement coupled with low salaries and harsh austerity measures has seen a high rate of migration to countries with better opportunities. Many of the migrants are young and skilled workers.
  • 1990 - Ion Iliescu from the National salvation front (NSF- believed to be made up of mainly ex-communists) is confirmed as head of state; Prime Minister Petre Roman embarks on a new government reform program.
  • 2000 - Rivers in Hungary and Yugoslavia are poisoned by escaping toxic cyanide from mining works in northern Romania.
  • 2004 - Romania joins NATO.
  • 2005 – New Romanian Lei is introduced.
  • 2007 – Romania joins the EU. A significant improvement in living standards is felt as the country successfully reduces internal poverty and establishes a functional democratic state.
  • April 2008 - Bucharest hosts NATO summit.
  • 2009 - IMG and other lenders agree to provide rescue package of 20 billion Euros due to the financial crisis.
  • 2010 - Romania becomes the largest debtor to the International Monetary Fund.
  • 2012 - Worsening economic conditions leads to unrest and triggers a political crisis.
  • The Getae - is the name given to several Thracian tribes inhabiting the regions to either side of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria and southern Romania.
  • The Dacians - widely accepted as part of the Getae described earlier by the Greeks, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia  
  • The Thracians -  were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Central and Southeastern Europe
  • The Vlachs - is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe. English variations of the name include Wallachians, Walla, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs. Groups that have historically been called Vlachs include modern-day Romanians, Aromanians, Morlachs, Megleno-Romaniansa nd Istro-Romanians.
History section written with help from the following sources:
  1. History of Romania, Wikipedia
  2. A brief history of Romania, Tim Lambert:
  3. Romania: A timeline, World Atlas
  4. Romanian Travel guide -History