Located in southeastern Europe where the Danube River flows into the Black Sea, Romania is rich in culture and natural resources, but it has long been one of Europe’s poorest and least developed nations. Foreign powers, including the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, controlled the country or parts of it for much of its history. Bucharest is its capital and largest city.
The modern country of Romania was created in 1859. It became fully independent in 1878. Romania was a kingdom from 1881 to 1947. In 1948 Communists took control of Romania and modeled the government and economy after those of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). However, in the 1960s Romania’s Communist leaders began to distance themselves from the USSR and develop their own domestic and foreign policies.
Romania’s economy grew during the 1960s and 1970s, but by the 1980s most Romanians were suffering from food shortages and other economic hardships. In 1989 Romanians revolted against the repressive dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, the country’s president and Communist Party leader. Ceausescu was removed from power, and a non-Communist government was installed. The first free multiparty elections took place in Romania in 1990.