Romania is a small country in Eastern Europe with a population mainly consisting of ethnic Romanians. The region has a rich history, including settlement by the Dacians and rule by various empires. Romania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877 and joined World War I on the side of the Allied Powers. The country became a dictatorship by 1938 and joined World War II on the side of the Axis powers, but eventually switched sides. Romania has many sites of interest, including the Carpathian Mountains, painted churches, and the Danube Delta. The majority of Romanians are Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Romanian language is derived from Latin. Tourism has increased since the opening of Romania in 1990, with outdoor activities and sightseeing being popular attractions. The currency is the leu, even though Romania joined the European Union in 2007.
Romania is a small country in Eastern Europe, on the edge of the Balkans. It is just over 92,000 square miles (238,000 km2) in size, just slightly smaller than the UK. The vast majority of the population is made up of ethnic Romanians, although smaller numbers of Roma and Hungarians also make up sizable blocs.
The region has been inhabited by humans or their ancestors for at least approximately 35,000 years. Beginning around 500 BC, the area now known as Romania was settled by a tribe known as the Dacians. Over time they became a considerable regional power, even threatening Roman interests in the region around 50 BC During the Middle Ages the area was ruled by several empires, including the Avars, Huns, Goths and the First Bulgarian Empire.
Later, the area that is now Romania included the provinces of Modavia, Transylvania and Wallachia. While the Balkans were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, these provinces retained most of their independence and continued to operate semi-autonomously both under the Ottomans, as well as under the Austrian Empire and the Hungarians. The revolutionary zeal that swept Europe in 1848 also reached Romania, although these early revolutions were largely unsuccessful. In 1877, however, the country declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire, which was recognized after a short war.
Romania entered World War I on the side of the Allied Powers and by the end of the war its territory expanded somewhat. Though initially fairly overtly governed, by 1938 the country had become a dictatorship and eventually joined World War II on the side of the Axis powers, though by 1944 they had exchanged in the last throes of the war. At the end of the war, the short-lived Greater Romania was controlled by the Soviet Union and Bulgaria. In 1989 a tumultuous revolution led to the execution of the Communist head of state, the split from the Soviet Union and the restoration of democracy in the country.
Sites of interest in the country include the Carpathian Mountains, which run through the middle of Romania; the painted churches of northern Moldavia; the majestic Danube River – and in particular the Danube Delta, a World Heritage Site; and the Transylvania region, with its intact Saxon villages.
Most Romanians are Eastern Orthodox Christians, especially members of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Therefore, major Orthodox holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, are celebrated with great elegance throughout the country. The Romanian language is, as the name suggests, a Romance language, derived from Latin. Romanian is thought to have been the first language to split from Latin, due to the region’s isolation from Rome, and as such is relatively uniform compared to languages such as French, Italian or Spanish.
Since the opening of Romania in 1990, tourism has steadily increased every year. Outdoor activities and sightseeing are by far the most popular attraction. Millions of acres of excellent camping and hiking spots abound, from land along the Black Sea to the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. Skiing is also a constantly growing pastime. Historic buildings also abound, with churches, castles and monasteries dotted throughout the country. High-end resorts are also starting to spring up, with focuses on various things ranging from active sports to spas to traditional festivals.
Traveling to this area is easy, with many major airlines having daily flights to Bucharest. The currency is the leu (plural, lei), even though Romania joined the European Union in early 2007. EU membership and the implementation of the euro do not normally occur at the same time. Typically, it takes a nation that has just joined the EU a few years to meet certain criteria before it can implement the euro.