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One of the fossils found - a male, adult jawbone - has been dated to be between 34,000 and 36,000 years old, which would make it one of the oldest fossils found to date of modern humans in Europe. In 513 BC, south of the Danube, the tribal confederation of the Getae were defeated by the Persian Emperor Darius the Great during his campaign against the Scythians (Herodotus IV). Over half a millennium later, the Getae (also named Daci by Romans) were defeated by the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan in two campaigns stretching from 101 AD to 106 AD, and the core of their kingdom was turned into the Roman province of Dacia. The Gothic and Carpic campaigns in the Balkans during 238–269 AD(from the beginning of the period of military anarchy to the battle of Naissus), forced the Roman Empire to reorganize a new Roman province of Dacia south of the Danube, inside former Moesia Superior.

The medieval city of Sibiu The medieval city of Sighisoara
Voronet Monastery The Palace of Culture in Iasi
Cluj-Napoca, panorama from the Belvedere Timisoara
Old Monastery in Suceava  

In either 271 or 275 the Roman army and administration left Dacia, which was invaded by the Goths. The Goths lived with the local people until the 4th century, when another nomadic people, the Huns, arrived. The Gepids and the Avars ruled Transylvania until the 8th century, after which the Bulgarians included the territory of modern Romania in their Empire until 1018. Transylvania was part of the Kingdom of Hungary from the 10-11th century until the 16th century, when the independent Principality of Transylvania was formed. The Pechenegs, the Cumans and Uzes were also mentioned by historic chronicles on the territory of Romania, until the founding of the Romanian principalities of Wallachia by Basarab I, and Moldavia by Dragos during the 13th and 14th centuries respectively. Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analyses tend to indicate that Romanians have coallesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in two distinct independent Romanian principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Tara Româneasca - "Romanian Land"), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) as well as in the Hungarian-ruled principality of Transylvania.

In 1475, Stephen the Great of Moldavia scored a temporary victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vaslui. However, Wallachia and Moldavia would come gradually under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries (1476 for Wallachia, 1514 for Moldavia). As vassal tributary states they had complete internal autonomy and an external independence which was finally lost in the 18th century. One of the greatest Hungarian kings, Matthias Corvinus (known in Romanian as Matei Corvin), who reigned from 1458-1490, was born in Transylvania. He is claimed by the Romanians because of his Romanian father, Iancu de Hunedoara (Hunyadi János in Hungarian), and by the Hungarians because of his Hungarian mother. Later, in 1541, Transylvania became a multi-ethnic principality under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire following the Battle of Mohács. Michael the Brave (Romanian: Mihai Viteazul) (1558-9 August 1601) was the Prince of Wallachia (1593-1601), of Transylvania (1599-1600), and of Moldavia (1600). During his reign the three principalities largely inhabited by Romanians were for the first time united under a single rule.

In 1775, the Habsburg Monarchy annexed the northern part of Moldova, Bukovina, and the Ottoman Empire its south-eastern part, Budjak. In 1812 the Russian Empire annexed its eastern half, Bessarabia, which was partially returned by the 1856 Treaty of Paris after the Crimean War. At the end of the 19th century, the Habsburg Monarchy incorporated Transylvania into what later became the Austrian Empire. During the period of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary (1867-1918), Romanians in Transylvania experienced a period of severe oppression under the Magyarization policies of the Hungarian government.

The modern state of Romania was formed by the merging of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1859 under the Moldavian domnitor Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Cuza led an agricultural reform distributing land to poor and attracting enemies. Via a 1866 coup d'etat, also known as the Abominable Revolution, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War, Romania fought on the Russian side; in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers. In return for ceding to Russia the three southern districts of Bessarabia that had been regained by Moldavia after the Crimean War in 1852, the Kingdom of Romania acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.

Romania entered World War I on the side of the Allies Triple Entente. The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered most of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. By war's end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, allowing Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary was forced by the Entente powers to renounce in favour of Romania all of claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over rights and titles to historically multi-ethnic Transylvania. During World War II, in 1940, the Soviet Union occupied Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia, Hungary occupied Northern Transylvania, and Bulgaria occupied southern Dobruja. The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. Germany awarded the territory Transnistria to Romania. The Antonescu regime played a role in the Holocaust, following the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and, to a lesser extent, Romas. According to a report released in 2004 by a commission appointed by former Romanian president Ion Iliescu and chaired by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, the Romanian authorities were the main perpetrators in the planning and implementation of the killing of between 280,000 to 380,000 Jews, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union and in Moldavia.

In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania. Romania changed sides and joined the Allies, but its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947. With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting de facto control, Communists and their allied parties claimed 90% of the vote, through a combination of vote manipulation, elimination and forced mergers of competing parties, establishing themselves as the dominant force. In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the Communists to abdicate and leave the country. Romania was proclaimed a republic, and remained under direct military and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania's resources were drained by the "SovRom" agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union, in addition to excessive war reparations paid to the USSR. A large number of people were arbitrarily imprisoned for political, economic or unknown reasons: detainees in prisons or camps, deported, persons under house arrest, and administrative detainees. Political prisoners were also detained as psychiatric patients. Estimations vary, from 60,000, 80,000, up to two million. There were hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens. Most political prisoners were freed in a series of amnesties between 1962 and 1964.

After the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops, in 1958, Romania started to pursue independent policies, including the condemnation of the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia (Romania was the only Warsaw Pact country not to take part in the invasion), the continuation of diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967 (again, the only Warsaw Pact country to do so), the establishment of economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany, and so forth. Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes (intermediated the visit of Sadat in Israel.) A short-lived period of relative economic well-being and openness followed in the late 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. As Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars), the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceausescu's autarchic policies. Ceausescu eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt (completed in 1989, shortly before his overthrow). To achieve this goal, he imposed policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy. He profoundly deepened Romania's police state and imposed a cult of personality which led to his overthrow and death in the Romanian Revolution of 1989.

After the fall of Ceausescu, the National Salvation Front (FSN), led by Ion Iliescu and lacking a clear political platform, restored civil order and took partial democratic measures. Several major political parties of the pre-war era, such as the National Christian Democrat Peasant's Party (PNTCD), the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Romanian Social Democrat Party (PSDR) were resurrected. After several major political rallies, especially in January, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in the University Square, Bucharest. The protesters accused the FSN of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters did not recognize the results of the election, which they deemed undemocratic, and were asking for the exclusion from the political life of the former high-ranking Communist Party members. The protest rapidly grew to become an ongoing mass demonstration (known as the Golaniad). The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence. After the police failed to bring the demonstrators to order, Ion Iliescu called on the "men of good will" to come and defend the Bucharest and State institutions. Coal miners of the Jiu Valley answered the call and arrived in Bucharest on June 14. Their violent intervention is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.

The subsequent disintegration of the FSN produced several political parties including the Democratic Party (PD), the Romanian Democrat Social Party (PDSR, later Social Democratic Party, PSD), and the ApR (Alliance for Romania). The Socialist parties that emerged from the FSN governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been three democratic changes of government: in 1996, the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Basescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance (DA). The government was formed by a larger coalition which also includes the Conservative Party and the ethnic Hungarian party. Post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004. The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union (EU). It became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007.

Peles Castle, retreat of Romanian monarchs Brasov Council Square (Piata Sfatului)
The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest