To start the story of Romania, my native country, allow me to first take you back in time.
One of the oldest civilization of Western Eurasia was the Romanian-Bulgarian Danube Valley (5000-3500BC), remarkable in terms of ability to live in communities and artistic expression.
Fast forward a few thousand years, and we have Dacia (the Dacian Kingdom) in the Balkans of today, near Slovakia, part of former Yugoslavia.
Here, Indo-European tribes intermingled with the natives, and came to be known as the Thracians, and later the Dacians.
The Kingdom of Dacia came into existence in 86 BC, with its capital Sarmizegetuza, a city in modern-day Romania. Dacia’s ruler, King Burebista (82 BC to 44 BC), conquered and annexed the land from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.
The growth of Dacia was viewed as a threat to the might of Rome. Hence, Julius Caesar acknowledged the land of the Dacians, but kept a wary eye until the expansion of the kingdom became too much. King Burebista was murdered, and with his death Dacia seems to have fragmented.
Decebalus emerged as a strong king and united the Dacian provinces. The kingdom flourished. This again threatened Rome and Emperor Trajan launched an offensive against Dacia in 101 AD then in 106 AD. Dacia was conquered and incorporated into the Roman Empire.
A century later, Roman Emperor Aurelian withdrew from Dacia, but most Romans stayed behind. They named the province they occupied Romania.
In modern times, the nation consisted of three principalities — Transylvania (North and West), Moldavia (East), and Wallachia or Romania (South), briefly united as one country in 1599-1600 under Mihai Viteazu (Mihai, the Brave).
The principalities were disintegrated again under Ottoman and other occupations, until the end of WWI, when they united into one country.
The next century is a tumultuous one for Romania: WWII, the Communist period of 1947-1989, the 1989 Revolution, the ousting of a dictator, the transition to free market, and integration into the European Union.
It’s hard to do justice to such rich history in one blog post. So, I hope you’ll join me on this journey into the heart of Romania and meet the Romanian people, descendants of Dacians and Romans, occupants of an old-new country.
Tomorrow’s post is Bucharest/Bucuresti (the capital of Romania). Hope to see you then.
Photo courtesy: Flag on the Poienari Fort, by andreistroe, Wikimedia, CC