Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometers (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city are Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.
The River Danube, Europe’s second-longest river, rises in Germany’s Black Forest and flows in a general southeast direction for 2,857 km (1,775 mi), coursing through ten countries before emptying into Romania’s Danube Delta. The Carpathian Mountains, which cross Romania from the north to the southwest, include Moldoveanu Peak, at an altitude of 2,544 m (8,346 ft).
Modern Romania was formed in 1859 through a personal union of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The new state, officially named Romania since 1866, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. Following World War, I after declaring its neutrality in 1914, when Romania fought on the side of the Allied powers starting with 1916, Bukovina, Bessarabia, Transylvania as well as parts of Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș became part of the sovereign Kingdom of Romania. In June–August 1940, as a consequence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and Second Vienna Award, Romania was compelled to cede Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union, and Northern Transylvania to Hungary. In November 1940, Romania signed the Tripartite Pact and, consequently, in June 1941 entered World War II on the Axis side, fighting against the Soviet Union until August 1944, when it joined the Allies and recovered Northern Transylvania. Following the war, under the occupation of the Red Army’s forces, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition towards democracy and a market economy.
Romania ranks 52nd in the Human Development Index and is a developing country. It has the world’s 47th largest economy by nominal GDP and an annual economic growth rate of 7% (2017), the highest in the EU at the time. Following rapid economic growth in the early 2000s, Romania has an economy predominantly based on services and is a producer and net exporter of machines and electric energy, featuring companies like Automobile Dacia and OMV Petrom. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, part of NATO since 2004, and part of the European Union since 2007. An overwhelming majority of the population identifies themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians and are native speakers of Romanian, a Romance language.
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Romania derives from the Latin Romanus, meaning “citizen of Rome”. The first known use of the appellation was attested to in the 16th century by Italian humanists traveling in Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia.
The oldest known surviving document written in Romanian, a 1521 letter known as the “Letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung”, is also notable for including the first documented occurrence of the country’s name: Wallachia is mentioned as Țeara Rumânească (old spelling for “The Romanian Land”; țeara from the Latin terra, “land”; current spelling: Țara Românească).
Two spelling forms: român and rumân were used interchangeably[a] until sociolinguistic developments in the late 17th century led to semantic differentiation of the two forms: rumân came to mean “bondsman”, while român retained the original ethnolinguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the word rumân gradually fell out of use and the spelling stabilized to the form român.[b] Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used the term Rumânia to refer exclusively to the principality of Wallachia.”
The use of the name Romania to refer to the common homeland of all Romanians—its modern-day meaning—was first documented in the early 19th century.[c] The name has been officially in use since 11 December 1861.
In English, the name of the country was formerly spelled Rumania or Roumania. Romania became the predominant spelling around 1975. Romania is also the official English-language spelling used by the Romanian government. A handful of other languages (including Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Norwegian) have also switched to “o” like English, but most languages continue to prefer forms with u, e.g. French Roumanie, German and Swedish Rumänien, Spanish Rumania (the archaic form Rumanía is still in use in Spain), Polish Rumunia, Russian Румыния (Rumyniya), and Japanese ルーマニア (Rūmania).
*1859–1862: United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia
*1862–1866: Romanian United Principalities or Romania
*1866–1881: Romania or Principality of Romania
*1881–1947: Kingdom of Romania or Romania
*1947–1965: Romanian People’s Republic (RPR) or Romania
*1965–December 1989: Socialist Republic of Romania (RSR) or Romania
*December 1989–present: Romania