The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia - for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire - secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 and a few years later adopted the new name of Romania. The country gained recognition of its independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories - most notably Transylvania - following the conflict. In 1940, Romania allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist "people's republic" in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former Communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
Romania (România) is a country located north of the Balkan Peninsula on the western shores of the Black Sea. It is a country of great natural beauty and diversity and a rich cultural heritage. Romania enchants visitors with its scenic mountain landscapes and unspoilt rural areas, but also with its historic cities and its busy capital. Over the last decade, it has seen significant development and is one of the most recent members of the European Union. Still, it may surprise some of its visitors who are used to western Europe. Romania is a large country which can sometimes be shocking with contrasts: some cities are truly Western Europe; some villages can seem to have been brought back from the past. While it has significant cultural similarities with other Balkan states, it is regarded as unique due to its strong Latin heritage. Things for which Romania is famous include: the Carpathian mountains, Constantin Brancusi, wine, medieval fortresses, Mircea Eliade, the electronic microscope, Dacia cars, Dracula, insulin, E. M. Cioran, stuffed cabbage leaves, multi-ethnic peace, the jet engine, Nadia Comaneci, the Black Sea, Gheorghe Hagi, sunflower fields, painted monasteries and the Danube Delta.
Read more about Romania in our Romania travel guide »