Romania's history has not been as idyllically peaceful as its geography. Over the centuries, various migrating people invaded Romania. Romania's historical provinces Wallachia and Moldova offered furious resistance to the invading Ottoman Turks. Transylvania was successively under Hapsburg, Ottoman or Wallachian rule, while remaining an autonomous province.
Romania's post WWII history as a communist-block nation is more widely known, primarily due to the excesses of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. In December 1989 a national uprising led to his overthrow. The 1991 Constitution established Romania as a republic with a multiparty system, market economy and individual rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.
Some of the history that has shaped Romania
What is now Romania has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age as evidenced by
carved stone tools unearthed there.
10,000 B.C. — approximate date of the first known art in present day Romania: cave
paintings in northwest Transylvania.
4,000 B.C. — approximate date of pottery (dated to the Neolithic Age) that is found
in all regions of Romania.
3,000 B.C. — Thracian tribes of Indo-European origin, who migrated from Asia, occupied the actual territory of Romania.
2,000 B.C. — a distinctive Thracian sub-group emerged in what is now Romania. The Greeks called these people Getae, but to the Romans they were Dacians. Herodotus called them "the fairest and most courageous of men" because they believed in the immortality of the soul and were not afraid to die.
700 B.C. — Greeks arrived and settled near the Black Sea. The cities of Histria, Tomis
(now Constanta) and Callatis (now Mangalia) were established. Western-style
civilization developed significantly.
70-44 B.C. — Dacian king Burebista controlled the territory of modern-day Romania.
Burebista created a powerful Dacian kingdom.
100 A.D. — Dacian civilization reaches its peak.
101-106 A.D. — Romans conquer and colonize Dacia (today's Romania).
Dacia becomes a Roman province and Dacians adopt the conquerors' language.
106-274 A.D. — Dacia is a province of the Roman Empire.
271 A.D. — after fighting off the barbarian Goths, Roman troops abandon Dacia.
4th Century — Christianity is adopted by the Daco-Roman, Latin-speaking people.
4th-10th Centuries — nomadic tribes from Asia and Europe
(Goths, Visigoths, Huns, Slavs, Magyars) invade Dacia.
11th Century — Romanians were the only Latin people in the eastern part of the former Roman Empire and the only Latin people to belong to the Orthodox faith.
Hungarian (Magyar) forces invade northwestern and central Romania (Transylvania).
12th Century — Saxon (German) settlers begin to establish several towns in Transylvania. (Germans were invited to settle in Transylvania by the king of Hungary who wanted to consolidate his position in the newly occupied territory).
13th Century — The first formal division of the formerly unified Romanian population. The principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania are established. Transylvania becomes an autonomous principality under Magyar rule, until 1526. Magyar forces tried unsuccessfully to capture Wallachia and Moldavia.
14th-15th Centuries — Wallachia and Moldavia offered strong resistance to the
Ottoman Empire expansion.
16th Century — Threatened by the Turks who conquered Hungary, the three Romanian provinces of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania are able to retain their autonomy by paying tribute to the Turks.
17th Century — Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania are briefly united under Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave), prince of Wallachia. Unity lasted only one year after which, Michael the Brave was defeated by the Turks and Hapsburg forces. Transylvania came under Hapsburg rule while Turkish suzerainty continued in Wallachia and Moldavia.
18th Century — Transylvania and the northern part of Moldavia (called Bucovina)
are incorporated in the Hapsburg Empire.
1821 — Moldavia looses its eastern territory, Bessarabia, to Russia.
1848 — Transylvania falls under the direct rule of Hungary and a strong push for
Magyarisation (of names and official language), from Budapest, follows.
1859 — Alexandru Ioan Cuza is elected to the thrones of Moldavia and Wallachia.
1862 — Wallachia and Moldavia unite to form a national state: Romania.
1866 — Carol I (German born) succeeds Alexandru Ioan Cuza, as prince of Romania.
1881 — Romania becomes a Kingdom.
1914 — King Carol I dies. He is succeeded by his nephew King Ferdinand I (1914-1927). Romania enters WWI on the side of the Triple Entente aiming to regain its lost territories (part of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina).
1918 — During large public assemblies representatives of most towns, villages and local communities in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bucovina declare union with Romania.
1930 — Carol II, Ferdinand's I son becomes king of Romania.
1939 — Germany demands a monopoly on Romanian exports (mainly oil, lumber and
agricultural products) in exchange for the guarantee of its borders.
1940 — The Soviet Union annexes Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina. Germany and Italy force Romania to cede Northern Transylvania to Hungary and Southern Dobrogea to Bulgaria.
Widespread demonstrations against King Carol II. Marshall Ion Antonescu forces him to abdicate in favor of his 19-year-old son Michael. Carol II flees Romania.
1941 — Marshall Ion Antonescu imposes a military dictatorship. In order to regain Bessarabia, Romania joins Germany against the Soviet Union.
1944 — King Michael engineers a royal coup and arrests Marshall Ion Antonescu. Romania changes sides and joins Soviet forces against Fascist Germany.
1945 — The Yalta Agreement makes Romania part of the Soviet system.
1947 — With Soviet troops on its territory, Romania enters the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. The communists, who gradually took power, force King Michael to abdicate and proclaim Romania a People's Republic.
1950s — After Stalin's death, Romania begins to distance itself from Moscow.
1968 — The condemnation of Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia by Romania's communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, earns him praise and economic aid from the West.
1980s — Obsessed with repaying the national debt and megalomaniac building projects Ceausescu orders a ban on importation of any consumer products and commands exportation of all goods produced in Romania except minimum food supplies. Severe restrictions of civil rights are imposed.
1989 — Romanians unite in protests against the communist leadership and local demonstrations sparked a national uprising that finally ousted communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu and his cabinet.
1991 — Romanians vote for a new Constitution.
2004 — Romania joins NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
2007 — Romania becomes a member of the European Union (EU).