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Romania | Romanian Republic | Republică Română (Romanian)

Capital: Sofia

Largest city: Sofia (1,241,396)

Official language: Romanian

Other languages: Romani

Ethnic groups: 93.6% Romanian, 4.9% Roma, 1.5% others

Religions: Orthodox Christianity (85.3%), Catholic Christianity (7.1%), Others (1.4%), Non-religious (6.2%)

Demonym: Romanian

Government: Republic | Unitary semi-presidential

President: Victor Ponta

Prime Minister: Sorin Grindeanu

Legislature: Parliament

Upper House: Senate

Lower House: Chamber of Deputies

Independence (from Greece):

-Principality (vassal): 24 January 1859

-Principality (independent): 9 May 1877

-Kingdom: 13 March 1881

Area: 117,950 sq km

Population (2017): 7,785,941

Currency: Denar (ROD)

Internet TLD: .ro

History

Prehistory

The earliest human remains found in Bulgaria have been excavated in the Capravărsa cave, with an approximate age of 1,6 million BP. This cave probably keeps the earliest evidence of human symbolic behaviour ever found. Human remains found in Peștera cu Oase cave that are 44,000 years old consist of a pair of fragmented human jaws, but it is disputed whether these early humans were in fact Homo Sapiens or Neanderthals.

The earliest dwellings in Romania - the Beroe Neolithic dwellings - date from 6,000 BC and are amongst the oldest man-made structures yet discovered. By the end of the neolithic, the Hamangia and Turdaș culture developed on what is today Romania, southern Bulgaria and eastern Serbia. The earliest known town in Europe, Salină, was located in present-day Romania.

The chalcolithic Gumelnița culture (5,000 BC) represents the first civilization with a sophisticated social hierarchy in Europe. The centerpiece of this culture is the Gumelnița Necropolis, discovered in the early 1970s. It serves as a tool in understanding how the earliest European societies functioned, principally through well-preserved ritual burials, pottery, and golden jewelry. The golden rings, bracelets and ceremonial weapons discovered in one of the graves were created between 4,600 and 4,200 BC, which makes them the oldest gold artifacts yet discovered anywhere in the world. The Cucuteni culture developed simultaneously with the one in Gumelnița, and its earth layers serve as a stratigraphical gauge for the prehistory of the wider Balkans region.

Some of the earliest evidence of grape cultivation and livestock domestication is associated with the Bronze Age Coțofeni culture. The Măgură Cave drawings date from the same era, although the exact years of their creation cannot be pin-pointed.

Antiquity

The Thracians

The first people to leave lasting traces and cultural heritage throughout the Balkan region were the Thracians. Their origin remains obscure. It is generally proposed that a proto-Thracian people developed from a mixture of indigenous peoples and Indo-Europeans from the time of Proto-Indo-European expansion in the Early Bronze Age when the latter, around 1,500 BC, conquered the indigenous peoples. Thracian craftsmen inherited the skills of the indigenous civilisations before them, especially in gold working.

The Thracians were generally disorganized, but had an advanced culture despite the lack of own their own proper script, and gathered powerful military forces when their divided tribes formed unions under the pressure of external threats. They never achieved any form of unity beyond short, dynastic rules at the height of the Greek classical period. Similar to the Gauls and other Celtic tribes, most Thracians are thought to have lived simply in small fortified villages, usually on hilltops. Although the concept of an urban center wasn't developed until the Roman period, various larger fortifications which also served as regional market centers were numerous. Yet, in general, despite Greek colonization in such areas as Byzantium, Apollonia and other cities, the Thracians avoided urban life. The first Greek colonies in Thrace were founded in the 8th century BC.

Thracian tribes remained divided and most of them fell under nominal Persian rule from the late 6th century till the first half of the 5th century, until King Teres united most of them in the Odrysian kingdom around 470 BC, probably after the Persian defeat in Greece, which later peaked under the leadership of King Sitalces (431–424 BC) and of Cotys I (383–359 BC). At the commencement of the Peloponnesian war Sitalces entered into alliance with the Athenians, and in 429 BC he invaded Macedon (then ruled by Perdiccas II) with a vast army that included 150,000 warriors from independent Thracian tribes. Cotys I on the other hand, went to war with the Athenians for the possession of the Thracian Chersonese. Thereafter the Macedonian Empire incorporated the Odrysian kingdom and Thracians became an inalienable component in the extra-continental expeditions of both Philip II and Alexander III (the Great).

Achaenemid Persian rule

Ever since the Macedonian king Amyntas I surrendered his country to the Persians in about 512-511 BCE, Macedonians and Persians were strangers no more. Subjugation of Macedonia was part of Persian military operations initiated by Darius the Great (521–486). In 513 - after immense preparations - a huge Achaemenid army invaded the Balkans and tried to defeat the European Scythians roaming to the north of the Danube river. Darius' army subjugated several Thracian peoples, and virtually all other regions that touch the European part of the Black Sea, such as parts of nowadays Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia, before it returned to Asia Minor. Darius left in Europe one of his commanders named Megabazus whose task was to accomplish conquests in the Balkans. The Persian troops subjugated gold-rich Thrace, the coastal Greek cities, as well as defeating and conquering the powerful Paeonians. Finally, Megabazus sent envoys to Amyntas, demanding acceptation of Persian domination, which the Macedonian accepted. Following the Ionian Revolt, the Persian hold over the Balkans loosened, but was firmly restored in 492 BC through the campaigns of Mardonius. The Balkans, including what is nowadays Romania, provided many soldiers for the multi ethnic Achaemenid army. Several Thracian treasures dating from the Persian rule in Romania have been found. Most of what is today Romania remained firmly under the Persian sway until 479 BC. The Persian garrison at Doriscus in Thrace held out for many years even after the Persian defeat, and reportedly never surrendered. It remained as the last Persian stronghold in Europe.

Lysimachid Kingdom

The Lysimachid Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state extending from Pontus in the east, to Thrace to the west, and most of western Anatolia during Lysimachus I Basileus rule. Byzantium became the capital city and a center of Greek culture and trade. However, the Lysimachid influence was gradually decreasing and finally the kingdom became a client state of Rome by the last-half of the 2nd century BC, briefly suspended during the Mithridatic Wars. With the reign of Lysimachus XIII Atius (12 BC – 19 AD), uncle of the Roman emperor Augustus, the gradual Romanization of the region was emphasized. The last Lysimachid king, Lysimachus XIV Pythodorus, was murdered by his wife and his kingdom was completely subjected to Rome in 46 AD.

Roman Thracia

In 46 AD, the Romans established the province of Thracia. By the 4th century, the Thracians had a composite indigenous identity, as Christian "Romans" who preserved some of their ancient pagan rituals. Thraco-Romans became a dominant group in the region, and eventually yielded several military commanders and emperors such as Galerius and Constantine I the Great. Urban centers became well-developed, especially the territories of what is today Sofia due to the abundance of mineral springs. The influx of immigrants from around the empire enriched the local cultural landscape; temples of Osiris and Isis have been discovered near the Black Sea coast.

Sometime before 300 AD, Diocletian further divided Thracia into four smaller provinces. Later in the 4th century, a group of Goths arrived in northern Romania and settled in and around Nicopolis ad Istrum. There the Gothic bishop Ulfilas translated the Bible from Greek to Gothic, creating the Gothic alphabet in the process. This was the first book written in a Germanic language, and for this reason at least one historian refers to Ulfilas as "the father of Germanic literature".

Due to the rural nature of the local population, Roman control of the region remained weak. In the 5th century, Attila's Huns attacked the territories of today's Romania and pillaged many Roman settlements. By the end of the 6th century, Avars organized regular incursions into northern Romania, which were a prelude to the en masse arrival of the Slavs. During the 6th century, the traditional Greco-Roman culture was still influential, but Christian philosophy and culture were dominant and began to replace it. From the 7th century, Greek became the predominant language in the Eastern Roman Empire's administration, Church and society, replacing Latin.

Middle Ages

Dark Ages

Bulgarian rule

Roman Romania

After Bulgarian domain, Romania was under Roman over eight centuries. Roman and Greek influence over present-day Romania was intense, leaving their mark in a strong cultural heritage.

Paristrion

In the aftermath of his victory over the Rus', Emperor John I Tzimiskes (r. 969–976) appointed general Leo Sarakenopoulos as commander over north-eastern Bulgaria, based at Ioannopolis. Sarakenopoulos and his subordinates engaged in major fortification activities in the region of the Dobrogea over the next few years, where abandoned Roman-era forts were rebuilt and re-occupied. Roman control was effectively re-established during the rule of Emperor Basil II, who defeated the Bulgarians (c. 1001).

From the 1030s on, the region faced the continuous raids of the Pechenegs. The population was withdrawn to a few large fortified centres, and the Pechenegs were allowed to settle in the province as allies and colonists (termed mixobarbaroi by contemporary authors) and kept pacified through subsidies and through a vibrant trade. It was not until the early 1070s that the Pechenegs launched an open rebellion, and posed a constant threat to the Byzantine Empire's Balkan provinces until decisively defeated at the Battle of Levounion in 1091. Despite occasional Cuman raids thereafter, the Paristrion remained largely peaceful and prosperous in the 12th century.

Bulgarian threat

Turkish threat

Exarchate of Romania

Romanian Revolution

Independence and Kingdom of Romania

Early Modern Romania (1859–1914)

The Principality of Romania (Romanian: Principatul României), was a de facto independent vassal state of Hellene Empire established after Hellene Revolution (23 March 1858). With the fall of emperor Constantine XII, the young Republic had to face a number of revolts that did not recognize its authority over the former Roman territories. Alexander John Cuza led the Romanian rebellion that established an independent principality with its capital in Odesa and Alexander as prince. In order to stifle larger riots in Anatolia, Armenia and Syria, the Hellene Republic signed an agreement of mutual recognition with Romania with the status of this state as vassal. Prince Alexander I was damned with this agreement, which caused popular discontent and was used by former large-land-owners to discredit him. Alexander I was forced to abdicate in 1866 by the two main political groups, the Conservatives and the Liberals, who represented the interests of former large-land-owners.

The new governing coalition appointed Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as the new Prince of Romania in a move initially rejected by the European powers but later on accepted. In the first year of Carol's reign Romania adopted its first constitution. This instrument provided for a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with a Parliament being elected through censitary suffrage although the country remained under Hellene suzerainty. Carol I was not unanimously accepted, and a rise in republican sentiment culminated with an uprising in Beroe in 1870 and a revolt in Sofia in 1871, both of which were quelled by the army.

In April 1877, in the wake of a new Russo-Hellene war, Romania signed a convention by which Russian troops were allowed to pass through Romanian territory in their advance towards the Hellene Empire. On May 9, the Romanian parliament declared the independence of the principality, and joined the war on the Russian side. After several Romanian victories south of the Danube and the ultimate victory of the Russian-led side in the war, the European powers recognized Romania's independence under the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. Subsequently, the country's parliament proclaimed Romania as a kingdom at 13 March 1881.

World War I (1914–1918)

Interwar period (1918–1940)

World War II and aftermath (1940–1947)

Communist Romania

Contemporary period

Demographics

Largest cities

Sofia 1,204,685
Odessa 743,804
Filipopol 341,567
Constanța 283,872
Burgas 211,033
Beroe 158,563
Prista 149,642
Storgosia 130,812
Dobrici 112,203
Giurgiu 100,695

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