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From Antiquity to Present

The geographical position of this Latin country, located among the Slavic nations, has suffered numerous invasions throughout the centuries. Thus, the history of Romania is filled with events. Romania is a young country, but its history and culture have been enriched by its people, who have passed them down over the years.

In the beginning

2000 B.C. - The regions between the Carpathians and the Danube belongs to the Geto-Dacians, a people of Thracian origin.
77 - 70 B.C. - King Burebista (who established a capital in Sarmizegetusa, southwest of Transylvania) unites the Dacians of the region into a powerful nation, much larger than the Romania of today. Dacia was known to have an extraordinary amount of natural resources, and for this reason was harassed regularly by invaders.
101 - 106 - Following two bloody wars, the Roman Emperor Trajan invaded and occupied the kingdom of Dacia, which at the time was led by King Decebalus.
106 - 271 - Dacia is occupied by the Romans. The natural resources of the area allow the empire to fill a large part of their deficits. However, Dacia also attracted the interest of other nations, and the Romans were forced to leave the land to the Goths.
IV - X centuries - The departure of the Romans gave way to successive invasions, and the Romanian people (who were not yet defined as such), were controlled by foreign powers. During these six centuries, the Huns, Magyars, Mongols and Turks were consecutively removed from these lands.
XIV century - Founding of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia.
XV century - Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans were the biggest threat to the western countries. The princes of Wallachia and Moldavia (Mircea the Elder and Stephen the Great, primarily) resisted, earning the respect of the Ottomans. However, this did not prevent them from gaining control of the Romanian lands during the 16th century.
XV - XVII centuries - Ottomans control the regions of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. The Romanians were allowed to continue using their own language and practicing their religion. The Ottomans would eventually be repelled out of Transylvania by the Austrians in the 17th century, while Wallachia and Moldavia remained under their control. French culture began increasing in popularity across Romania over the following centuries.

From vassalage to independence

1812 - The region of Bessarabia (now Moldavia) is occupied by the Russians. Relations between the Turks and the Russians begin to deteriorate.
1821 and 1848 - Rebellions arise, aiming to attain independence for Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. A government was established from June through September in 1848, however, the Ottomans quickly crushed this revolution.
1859 - Alexandru Ioan Cuza unites Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1861, this unified state was named Romania.
1866 - Carol I is chosen for Prince of Romania, following the overthrow of Prince Cuza.


1877 - 1878 - The Russian Empire attacks the Ottoman Empire, with the goal of recovering territories lost during the Crimean War. Romania, Serbia and Montenegro join the Russian army, in order to gain their independence.
1878 - Following the victory of the Russian coalition, the Berlin Congress recognizes the independence of Romania. At the time, the country consisted of Moldavia and Wallachia. Budjak, a southern territory of the present day Republic of Moldova, was taken by Russia. Northern Dobrogea (the region of Constanta and Tulcea) was also taken by Russia, while the southern portion of the region was given to Bulgaria.

World War I and World War II

1913 - Romania enters the Balkan Wars in order to prevent the creation of “Greater Bulgaria”. They, along with Serbia, are victorious, and Romania recovers the territory of Southern Dobrogea. This war is still cause for tension between Romania and Bulgaria.
1916 - Romania joins World War I on the side of the Allies in order to retake Transylvania and Bukovina.
December 1st, 1918 - The territories of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia are united. December 1st would later become the National Day of Romania.
1919 - The Treaty of Saint Germain gives Transylvania and Bukovina to Romania. After an attempt by the Hungarians to retake Transylvania, the Treaty of Trianon allocated part of Transylvania and Banat (the Timisoara region) to Romania. These events would have a lasting negative impact on the relations between Hungary and Romania.
Great Depression (1930s) - Romania is hit hard by the economic crisis taking place throughout Europe. The precarious state of the population allows xenophobic parties to gain power, persecuting the Jewish and Hungarian minorities.
Start of WWII - In spite of Carol II’s support of the Allies, the rapid defeat of France forces him to accept the conditions of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1940. The territories of Northern Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina were distributed between the USSR, Hungary and Bulgaria, although Romania regained northern Transylvania at the end of the war.
1940 - Ion Antonescu leads a coup, and King Carol II is banished from the country. Romania enters an anti-Semitic period, and becomes a Nazi satellite. Conflicts arise with Russia. During this period, many Jews and Roma were deported to concentration camps in Germany and Transylvania.
1941 - 1944 - Antonescu’s government is in power, but is challenged. Many resistance groups begin to organize in the Carpathians. The conflict between the USSR and Nazi Germany leads some of these groups (often communists) to join the Russian army.
1944 - Ion Antonescu is arrested and removed from office, by a decree from King Mihai I of Romania. Romania entered the war against Germany, and the following an agreement between Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill in Moscow, the Soviets took power in Romania.

The Rise of Communism

1945 - The Romanian Communist Party, largely a minority, acquires power with the help of the Red Army and NKVD. Elections are held, and 71% of Romanians vote for the Communists.
1947 - Romania remains a communist monarchy until 1947, when King Mihai I abdicated the throne and left the country. The People’s Republic of Romania is formed. During the same year, the Treaty of Paris awards Bessarabia to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova and Bukovina to Ukraine, countries which are satellites to the Soviet Union. However, northern Transylvania was returned to Romania.

From Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej to Nicolae Ceausescu

1945 - 1953 - From the end of World War II until the death of Stalin, the communist government, led by its First Secretary Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, removes adversaries and any potential opposition. It is during this period that the Department of State Security was created.
1953 - 1965 - Gheorghiu-Dej proposes a strategy to consolidate the achievements of the party and its relations with Moscow and the West, which is the privilege of a satellite country of the USSR.


1965 - Following the death of Gheorghiu-Dej, Nicolae Ceausescu takes power of the communist party and creates the People’s Republic of Romania. During his 24 year reign over the country, Ceausescu turned more to the West and Far East, weakening his reputation with the government in Moscow.
1968 - Ceausescu refuses to participate in the suppression of the Prague Spring, winning him praise from the West.
1971 - Ceausescu makes diplomatic visits to China and North Korea. Impressed by the local discipline, huge buildings and monuments dedicated to the communist leaders, he begins a cultural revolution in Romania. The country by this point is very weak economically, and industrialization did not bring the desired effect. During a party congress, Ceausescu is named “Hero of the Carpathians”.
1980 - This period is the beginning of major reforms. Ceausescu begins implementing a project of “systematization” in urban and rural settlements. The goal of the project was to house villagers in the newly constructed buildings. Ceausescu begins various projects through the 70s and 80s: the Transfagarasan (a mountain road), the Victory of Socialism Boulevard (today’s Unification Boulevard) in Bucharest, and the Ceausescu Palace. These massive structures permanently deteriorate the country.
1986 - During a visit from Mikhail Gorbachev, Ceausescu refuses to change his policies and submit to the demands of Moscow.

The fall of the regime: revolution or coup?

December 15th - December 20th, 1989 - Protests arise in Timisoara. Workers and revolutionary groups protest peacefully but are suppressed. Gradually, these events begin occurring in the provincial cities and in Bucharest.
December 21st, 1989 - After his return from an urgent diplomatic trip to Iran, Nicolae Ceausescu became aware of the scale of the protests. The National Assembly expects the people to show support for their leader, and Ceausescu gives a speech from the balcony of the Central Committee (now the Revolution Square). The crowd begins chanting revolutionary slogans, and riots begin soon after. Ceausescu is in total confusion after the end of his speech.
December 22nd, 1989 - Ion Iliescu, a Romanian politician with close ties to Moscow, appears on television. The Romanian army is now on the side of the protestors. Ceausescu and his wife Elena flee Bucharest, and are caught on the same day near Targovishte.
December 25th, 1989 - The Ceausescu’s trial takes place between 13:20 and 14:40, and is carried out by a revolutionary tribunal put together by Ion Iliescu. The ruling, the death penalty for the pair, is announced at 14:45, and is carried out at 14:50.


1990 - Liberalism rapidly enters Romania, and much of the industries and government projects are sold. The country experiences more and more difficulties.
1991 - The first free elections take place, and Iliescu is elected. A new constitution is also adopted.
1993 - Romania joins the European Council.
2004 - Traian Basescu becomes president of Romania.
2007 - Romania becomes a member of the European Union
2014 - Restrictions on Romanian workers in the Schengen Area are lifted.

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