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A Short Introduction To Romanian History

Mar 3, 2008
If you want to have an understanding of a land and its people, it is essential that you obtain some knowledge of its history as well. The history of Romania is the history of its land and of the people, who gave it a distinct cultural and national identity. Apart from that, it is a commentary on the evolution of the present day nation state of Romania, from the ancient period dating back to the third century B.C. and through the various periods, when the geographical boundaries of the Romanian kingdom were transformed time and again, till the formation of the present day Romania that you see on any atlas.

The Romania of today was inhabited by people of Dacia, a Thracian tribe, at about year 200 B.C. The first state was formed in Romania during the reign of Burebista (82 - 44 B.C.). The infant state became involved in a series of conflicts with the Roman Empire, the dominant power of the time. It was ultimately annexed by that empire in the year 106 A.D. during the rule of the Roman Emperor Trajan.

With the decline and fall of the Roman Empire Romania, like the rest of Central Europe, was ravaged by various tribes. From 10th to 12th centuries it was under the rule of the Hungarians. The rule passed on to the Ottoman Turks and till 1541 Romania remained under the Turkish Empire. In the year 1600, there were three distinct states of Moldavia, Transylvania and Walachia. Michael the Brave succeeded in unifying them, but only for a brief period. The next to to rule Romania were the Austrians till 1775, and in 1812 Romania came under Russian rule.

1848, the year of revolutions, saw a great revolution for independence in Romania too. In 1859, Alexander John Cuza helped to unite the provinces of Moldavia and Walachia and the modern state of Romania came into existence.

Romania gained independence in the year 1877. During the First World War it sided with the Allies in 1916. At the end of the War in 1918, Transylvania was added to it.

Great changes took place in Europe in 1918, at the end of the First World War. The Russian and the Austro-Hungarian empires disappeared, and the provinces of Bessarabia and Bucovina were gained by Romania.

Romania joined the Axis powers in the Second World War, forcing the king to abdicate in 1940. The Alliance with Germany continued till 1944, when the Russian army overran the country. At the end of the war Romania retained Transylvania, but lost parts of Bucovina, Bessarabia and Dobrogea.

Romania became a satellite state of the Soviet Union after the War, but followed more or less independent policies. However, with coming to power Nicolai Ceausescu, a dark period started in the history of the country. Romania was a socialist republic during his regime, with communism as the avowed policy of the state. Citizens of the country suffered from deprivation and hunger under his authoritarian rule. Countless restrictions were imposed, from television to freedom of worship. In fact, a number of churches were pulled down.

Nicolai Ceausescu's regime was finally toppled in 1989, and he along with his wife Elena was executed after a summary trial. However, the period of transition to democracy saw the inevitable hardships being faced by a common man. In fact, there are some people, who feel that the resulting chaos is worse than the period of authoritarian rule.

Romania today is a democratic republic, and since 1989 three presidents have come to power - Ion Iliescu, Emil Constantinescu, and the present incumbent since 2004, Trajan Basescu. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and became a member of the European Union in 2007.

This short overview of the history of Romania will give you some sort of background as to the events that took place down the ages in this small country in the hinterland of Europe.
About the Author
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