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The history of Romania is eventful and deeply connected with its geographical position on the continent, at the crossroads of great historical empires. In fact, Romania is one of the best places in Europe to discover and understand the history of the entire continent. A history that starts with the expansion of the Roman Empire to migrant tribes invasions, from the wars against the Ottoman Empire that threatened to conquer Christianity to the self-determination movements of the 19th century. Romania was in the first line on the eastern fronts of the two world wars and was transformed into a communist state for more than four decades.

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and South-eastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.

After centuries of migratory tribes invasions that followed the decay of the Roman Empire, the Romanian historical provinces — Transylvania, Southern Romania, Moldavia, Dobrogea — appeared as distinct and independent regions starting with the 13th century. The only exception was Transylvania, conquered by the Hungarian Kingdom in the 11th century. However, the independence of the Romanian provinces was short-lived because of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire that threatened to conquer everything on its way to Central Europe.

Modern Romania was formed in 1859 through a personal union of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The new state, officially named Romania since 1866, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. Following World War I after declaring its neutrality in 1914, when Romania fought on the side of the Allied powers starting with 1916, Bukovina, Bessarabia, Transylvania as well as parts of Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș became part of the sovereign Kingdom of Romania.

Romania derives from the Latin romanus, meaning “citizen of Rome”. The first known use of the appellation was attested to in the 16th century by Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia.

The earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in book IV of his Histories written c. 440 BCE. The territory of modern-day Romania was inhabited in ancient times by the Dacians, mentioned in the historical sources of the time for their bravery. Under the rule of Burebista (82 BC-44 BC), the Dacian Kingdom became a powerful regional force that, however, did not escape the interests of the Roman Empire that needed its vast underground resources to finance its budgets. During the time of Emperor Traian, the Romans conquered and occupied Dacia at the end of two wars in 101 and 106 AD.

In November 1940, Romania signed the Tripartite Pact and, consequently, in June 1941 entered World War II on the Axis side, fighting against the Soviet Union until August 1944, when it joined the Allies and recovered Northern Transylvania. Following the war, under the occupation of the Red Army’s forces, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition towards democracy and a market economy.

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