Between Latin heritage and Gypsy culture
A composite and fragmented territory and a troubled history have hindered the formation of Romania as a unitary nation and have long isolated it from Western Europe, with which it had had ancient and important relations, as evidenced by the language. Through a difficult, delicate and controversial process of reorganization of society and the economy, Romania is today looking for the path towards better living conditions
A composite reality
According to localcollegeexplorer, the Romanian territory is crossed by the Eastern Carpathians and the Transylvanian Alps (peaks over 2,500 m); to the west are the Transylvanian plateau, the Apuseni Mountains and the plains crossed by the Mureş River and other tributaries of the Tisza; to the east there are vast plains (Moldavia, Wallachia) crossed by the rivers Siret, Prut and above all, to the south, the Danube. The climate is continental, except along the Black Sea coast.
The population, which includes various minorities, speaks a neo-Latin language and is distributed in the countryside and in many small and medium-sized towns. Apart from the capital Bucharest (1,926,000 residents), some cities (Iaşi, Timişoara, Constanta, Craiova) slightly exceed 300,000 residents.
Rich in minerals (metals, oil) and fertile lands (cereals, fruit, industrial crops), Romania had an impressive economic development in the 1950s and 1970s, thanks to industrialization (engineering, textiles) and has recently become a destination tourist; but its development is far from western levels and many Romanians emigrate abroad.
A difficult road to democracy
The territory of present-day Romania coincides with the ancient region of Dacia. It was conquered by the Greeks, the Persians and, in the 2nd century AD, by the Romans. Subjugated by various barbarian populations between the 3rd and 13th centuries, it saw the rise of the two principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia after that, which then fell under the dominion of the Ottoman and Russian empires.
The history of contemporary Romania begins in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Moldavia and Wallachia, united in 1861, gained independence in 1878 and became the kingdom of Romania in 1881. The country participated in the Second Balkan War (1913) and from 1916, alongside the Triple Entente, at the First World War, expanding on the territorial level. The period between the two world wars was marked by violent tensions and the succession of authoritarian governments. The Iron Guard, a fascist and racist paramilitary organization founded in 1930, acquired an increasing role.
Ten years later, in 1940, General Ion Antonescu came to power, supported by the Iron Guard, who established a dictatorship and brought Romania to war alongside Nazi Germany, making a dramatic contribution to the extermination of the Jews. As the tide of the conflict changed, Antonescu was dismissed in 1944 and Romania led the last stages of the war alongside the Allies, entering the Soviet sphere of influence.
As in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Communists also came to power in Romania after the war, creating a Soviet-type regime integrated into the socialist bloc. From 1965 it was led by Nicolaie Ceauşescu, who, while partially escaping the hegemony of Moscow and tightening relations with the West, gave birth to a corrupt dictatorship that finally collapsed in 1989. Since then, Romania, a poor country and indebted, has initiated a difficult transition towards democracy, a market economy and European integration.