Inhabited by the ancient Dacians, today's territory of Romania was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106, when Trajan's army defeated the army of Dacia's ruler Decebalus (see Dacian Wars). The Roman administration withdrew two centuries later, under the pressure of the Goths and Carpi.
Two theories account for the origin of the Romanian people. One, known as the Daco-Roman continuity theory, posits that they are descendants of Romans and Romanized indigenous peoples living in the Roman Province of Dacia, while the other posits that the Romanians are descendants of Romans and Romanized indigenous populations of the former Roman provinces of Illyria, Moesia, Thrace, and Macedon, and the ancestors of Romanians later migrated from these Roman provinces south of the Danube into the area which they inhabit today.
According to the first theory, the Romanians are descended from indigenous populations that inhabited what is now Romania and its immediate environs: Thracians (Dacians, Getae) and Roman legionnaires and colonists. In the course of the two wars with the Roman legions, between AD 101–102 and AD 105–106 respectively, the emperor Trajan succeeded in defeating the Dacians and the greatest part of Dacia became a Roman province. The colonisation with Roman or Romanized elements, the use of the Latin language and the assimilation of Roman civilisation as well as the intense development of urban centres led to the Romanization of part of the autochthonous population in Dacia. This process was probably concluded by the 10th century when the assimilation of the Slavs by the Daco-Romanians was completed.
According to the south-of-the-Danube origin theory, the Romanians' ancestors, a combination of Romans and Romanized peoples of Illyria, Moesia and Thrace, moved northward across the Danube river into modern-day Romania. Small population groups speaking several versions of Romanian (Megleno-Romanian, Istro-Romanian, and Aromanian) still exist south of the Danube in Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia, but it is not known whether they themselves migrated from more northern parts of the Balkans, including Dacia. The south-of-the Danube theory usually favours northern Albania and/or Moesia (modern day Serbia and Northern Bulgaria) as the more specific places of Romanian ethnogenesis.
Small genetic differences were reportedly found among Southeastern European (Greece, Albania) populations and especially those of the Dniester–Carpathian (Romania, Moldova, Ukraine) region. Despite this low level of differentiation between them, tree reconstruction and principal component analyses allowed a distinction between Balkan–Carpathian (Romanians, Moldovans, Ukrainians, Macedonians and Gagauzes) and Balkan Mediterranean (Greeks, Albanians, Turks) population groups. The genetic affinities among Dniester–Carpathian and southeastern European populations do not reflect their linguistic relationships. According to the report, the results indicate that the ethnic and genetic differentiations occurred in these regions to a considerable extent independently of each other.
During the Middle Ages Romanians were mostly known as Vlachs, a blanket term ultimately of Germanic origin, from the word Walha, used by ancient Germanic peoples to refer to Romance-speaking and Celtic neighbours. Besides the separation of some groups (Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians and Istro-Romanians) during the Age of Migration, many Vlachs could be found all over the Balkans, in Transylvania, across Carpathian Mountains as far north as Poland and as far west as the regions of Moravia (part of the modern Czech Republic), some went as far east as Volhynia of western Ukraine, and the present-day Croatia where the Morlachs gradually disappeared, while the Catholic and Orthodox Vlachs took Croat and Serb national identity. Because of the migrations that followed – such as those of Slavs, Bulgars, Hungarians, and Tatars – the Romanians were organised in agricultural communes (obști), developing large centralised states only in the 14th century, when the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia emerged to fight the Ottoman Empire.
The entire Balkan peninsula was annexed by the Ottoman Empire. However, Moldavia and Wallachia (extending to Dobruja and Bulgaria) were allowed a certain degree of temporary autonomy. Transylvania, a third region inhabited by a slight majority of Romanian speakers had been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918. The three principalities were united for several months in 1600 under the authority of Wallachian Prince Michael the Brave.
But there were two lands by the "Vlach" name – the other Wallachia, or Great Vlachia as it was known, was in Thessaly and the western Pindus mountains, originally within the Byzantine Empire, but after the 13th century autonomous or semi-independent. This area fell to the Ottoman Turks by the 15th century.
Up until 1541, Transylvania was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, later (due to the conquest of Hungary by the Ottoman Empire) was a self-governed Principality governed by the Hungarian nobility. In 1699 it became a part of the Habsburg lands. By the 19th century, the Austrian Empire was awarded by the Ottomans with the region of Bukovina and, in 1812, the Russians occupied the eastern half of Moldavia, known as Bessarabia.
In 1821 and 1848, two rebellions occurred, and both failed; but they had an important role in the spreading of the liberal ideology. In 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia elected the same ruler – Alexander John Cuza (who reigned as Domnitor) and were thus unified de facto.
The newly founded Kingdom of Romania—led by the Hohenzollern prince Carol I—fought a War of Independence against the Ottomans, and was recognised in 1878. Although allied with Austria-Hungary, Romania refused to go to enter World War I on the side of the Central Powers, because Romania was obliged to go to war only if Austria-Hungary was attacked. In 1916, Romania joined the war on the side of the Triple Entente. As a result, at the end of the war, Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina were awarded to Romania, resulting in Greater Romania. As of 1920, Romanian people were believed to number over 15 million in the Romania region, larger than the populations of Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands combined.
During World War II, Romania lost territory in both east and west, as Northern Transylvania became part of Hungary through the Second Vienna Award, while Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were taken by the Soviets and included in the Moldavian SSR and Ukrainian SSR respectively. The eastern territory losses were facilitated by the Molotov-Ribbentrop German-Soviet non-aggression pact.
The Soviet Union imposed a Communist government and King Michael was forced to abdicate and leave for exile. Nicolae Ceauşescu became the head of the Romanian Communist Party in 1965 and his draconian rule of the 1980s was ended by the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
The 1989 revolution brought to power the dissident communist Ion Iliescu. He remained in power until 1996, and then once more between 2000 and 2004. Emil Constantinescu was president from 1996 to 2000, and Traian Băsescu started his mandate in 2004.
Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007.
The Romanians as some Balkan people are the only marked by significant (>10%) frequency of five Y-chromosome haplogroups in Europe.
The prevailing element in Wallachia (Ploiești, Dolj), Moldavia (Piatra Neamț, Buhusi), Dobruja (Constanţa) and northern Republic of Moldova is recorded to be Haplogroup I, while the gene pool of Transylvania is often untypical and diverse.
According to self-published data, the Y-DNA haplogroup frequencies of 962 Romanians(and unknown part of Moldovans) are as follows: 28% I2, 18% R1a, 15% R1b, 14% E1b1b, 14% J2, 4% I1, 3% G2a, 2% N1c, 1% J1, 1% T and Q. On the basis of 361 samples, Haplogroup I occurs at 22% in Romanians. The highest frequency of I2a1 (I-P37) in the Balkans today was present before the Slavic expansion and is owed to indigenous tribes, and is particularly suggested to have been common among the ancient Thracians in Romania. According to 335 sampled Romanians, 15% of them belong to R1a. Haplogroup R1a among Romanians is entirely from the Eastern European variety Z282 and may be a result of ultimate satem descent, Baltic or Slavic. R1a-Z280 outnumbers R1a-M458 among Romanians, the opposite phenomena is typical for Poles, Czechs and Bulgarians. 12% of the Romanians belong to R1b, the Alpino-Italic branch R1b-U152 is at 2% per 330 samples, a lower frequency recorded than other Balkan peoples. The branches R1b-U106, R1b-DF27 and R1b-L21 make up 1% respectively. The eastern branches R1b-M269* and L23* (Z2103) make up 7% and outnumber the Atlantic branches, they prevail in parts of east, central Europe and as a result of Greek colonisation – in parts of Sicily as well. 8% of the Romanians belong to E1b1b1a1 (E-M78) per 265 samples.
From a group of 178 males from 9 Romanian counties, mainly from Transylvania, most of them belong to the Paleolithic European lineage I2a (17% I2a1b, 2% I2a2, 3% I2*), to R1a (20%) and to E1b1b1a1b (19%). Haplogroup J2 is represented at 16% among them, unlike the structure in the Apennine Peninsula, among Romanians the J2b clade prevails. About 10% of these belong to Haplogroup R1b in all counties. R1b-U152, the specific Alpino-Italic clade, is represented at 3% among them, the prevailing branches are eastern, except for Brasov where Germanic U106 is most frequent. U106 is also prevalent clade of R1b in Buhusi and Piatra Neamt. In Brasov and Dolj I2 prevails, in Cluj – R1a. Another 6% of these belong to I1 and 2% to G2a. T, N, Q are also represented by frequencies of less than a percent.
Despite negligible Roman genetic traits in general, one study of 219 Romanians found strong indications in other parts of Transylvania, in the region corresponding to Roman Dacia. The highest frequency of R1b (31–32%) in Eastern Europe only behind Trebic in the Czech Republic (32.7%) was found in the Romanian counties Arad and Alba Iulia, that experienced Celtic settlement, the heaviest and only Roman colonisation with a significant number of colonists from Noricum and West Pannonia, and later German settlement. The subclade of R1b was not revealed in the case, but no similar high or prevailing frequency of Eastern subclades of R1b has ever been found in Europe. Three of the ten towns that were almost exclusively populated by Roman citizens (Apulum, Ampelum and Potaissa) were in present Alba Iulia county, not far from the Roman capital Sarmizegetusa. Genetic isolate due to migration from unattested migration from the Middle East would not be a plausible historic-geographical event as even the eastern branch of R1b in Europe is different than these in the Middle East. The only ethnic groups with higher frequencies of R1b in the East are the Aromanians due to their main ancestry from the Roman West. In some occasions the U106 branch, which is minimal among Romanians, rises to the prevailing clade in some cities, but still at a low frequency. The high frequency of R1b was found in other places in Transylvania – 25% in Maramures and Hargita, 20% in Mehedinti, 14% in Bihor, 11% in Vrancea, 0% in Neamt. Excluding Arad and Alba Iulia, Haplogroup I+G was found as most frequent in all, except Maramures, where Haplogroup J was found to be prevalent.
According to an autosomal analysis of eastern Europeans and adjacent peoples, the group of Bulgarians and Macedonians is located together with Romanians. Most East-West Slavs share as many identical by descent segments with South Slavs as with Romanians, Hungarians and Gagauz.
The origins of the Romanian language, a Romance language, can be traced back to the Roman colonisation of the region. The basic vocabulary is of Latin origin, although there are some substratum words that are assumed to be of Dacian origin. Of all the Romance languages, in some respects, Romanian is the most conservative language, having retained, for example, the inflected structure of Latin grammar. Romanian's closest relative among the major Romance languages is Italian, with which it shares a certain degree of asymmetric mutual intelligibility.
During the Middle Ages, Romanian was isolated from the other Romance languages, and borrowed words from the nearby Slavic languages (see Slavic influence on Romanian). Later on, it borrowed a number of words from Hungarian and Turkish. During the modern era, most neologisms were borrowed from French and Italian, though the language has increasingly begun to adopt English borrowings.
The Moldovan language, in its official form, is practically identical to Romanian, although there are some differences in colloquial speech. In the de facto independent (but internationally unrecognised) region of Transnistria, the official script used to write Moldovan is Cyrillic.
A 2013 Ethnologue estimation puts the (worldwide) number of Romanian speakers at approximately 23.5 million. The 23.5 million, however, represent only speakers of Romanian, not all of whom are necessarily ethnic Romanians. Also, this number does not include ethnic-Romanians who no longer speak the Romanian language.
Many Romanian surnames have the suffix -escu or (less commonly) -aşcu or -ăscu which corresponds to the Latin suffix -iscus and means "belonging to the people". For example, Petrescu used to be Petre's son. Similar suffixes such as -asco, -asgo, -esque, -ez, etc. are present in other Latin-derived languages. Many Romanians in France changed this ending of their surnames to -esco, because the way it is pronounced in French better approximates the Romanian pronunciation of -escu.
Another widespread suffix of Romanian surnames is -eanu (or -an, -anu), which indicates the geographical origin. Here some examples: Moldoveanu/Moldovan/Moldovanu, from the region of Moldavia or from river Moldova, Munteanu "from mountains", Jianu "from Jiu river region", Pruteanu, meaning from the Prut river, Mureșanu, meaning from the Mureș river, Petreanu (meaning the son of Petre) etc..
Other suffixes are -aru (or -oru, -ar, -or), which indicates an occupation (like Feraru "smith", Morar "miller"), and -ei, usually preceded by A- in front of a female name, which is a Latin inherited female genitive, like in Amariei "of Maria", Aelenei "of Elena". These matrilineal-rooted surnames are common in the historical region of Moldavia.
The most common surnames are Pop / Popa ("the priest")—almost 200,000 Romanians have this surname—Popescu ("son of the priest") —almost 150,000 have this name— and Ionescu ("John's (Ion's) son").
In English, Romanians are usually called Romanians, Rumanians, or Roumanians except in some historical texts, where they are called Roumans or Vlachs.
The name "Romanian" is derived from Latin "Romanus". Under regular phonetical changes that are typical to the Romanian languages, the name romanus over the centuries transformed into "rumân" [ruˈmɨn]. An older form of "român" was still in use in some regions. Socio-linguistic evolutions in the late 18th century led to a gradual preponderance of the "român" spelling form, which was then generalised during the National awakening of Romania of early 19th century.
Until the 19th century, the term Romanian denoted the speakers of the Daco-Romanian dialect of the Romanian language, thus being a much more distinct concept than that of Romania, the country of the Romanians. Prior to 1867, the (Daco-)Romanians were part of different statal entities: with the Moldavians and the Wallachians being split off and having shaped separate political identities, possessing states of their own, and with the rest of Romanians being part of other states. However, they retained their Romanian cultural and ethnic identity.
To distinguish Romanians from the other Romanic peoples of the Balkans (Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians, and Istro-Romanians), the term Daco-Romanian is sometimes used to refer to those who speak the standard Romanian language and live in the territory of ancient Dacia (today comprising mostly Romania and Moldova), although some Daco-Romanians can be found in the eastern part of Central Serbia (which was part of ancient Moesia).
The name of "Vlachs" is an exonym that was used by Slavs to refer to all Romanized natives of the Balkans. It holds its origin from ancient Germanic – being a cognate to "Welsh" and "Walloon" -, and perhaps even further back in time, from the Roman name Volcae, which was originally a Celtic tribe. From the Slavs, it was passed on to other peoples, such as the Hungarians (Oláh) and Greeks (Vlachoi) (see the Etymology section of Vlachs). Wallachia, the Southern region of Romania, takes its name from the same source.
Nowadays, the term Vlach is more often used to refer to the Romanized populations of the Balkans who speak Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Istro-Romanian and Megleno-Romanian.
These are family names that have been derived from either Vlach or Romanian. Most of these names have been given when a Romanian settled in a non-Romanian region. Examples: Oláh (37,147 Hungarians have this name), Vlach, Vlahuta, Vlasa, Vlasi, Vlašic, Vlasceanu, Vlachopoulos, Voloh, Volyh, Vlack, Flack and Vlax.
Most Romanians live in Romania, where they constitute a majority; Romanians also constitute a minority in the countries that neighbour Romania. Romanians can also be found in many countries, notably in Italy, Spain, the United States, Germany, France, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Portugal. Italy and Spain have been popular emigration destinations, due to a relatively low language barrier, and both are each now home to about a million Romanians. With respect to geopolitical identity, many individuals of Romanian ethnicity in Moldova prefer to identify themselves as Moldovans. The contemporary total population of ethnic Romanians cannot be stated with any degree of certainty. A disparity can be observed between official sources (such as census counts) where they exist, and estimates which come from non-official sources and interested groups. Several inhibiting factors (not unique to this particular case) contribute towards this uncertainty, which may include:A degree of overlap may exist or be shared between Romanian and other ethnic identities in certain situations, and census or survey respondents may elect to identify with one particular ancestry but not another, or instead identify with multiple ancestries;
Counts and estimates may inconsistently distinguish between Romanian nationality and Romanian ethnicity (i.e. not all Romanian nationals identify with Romanian ethnicity, and vice versa);
The measurements and methodologies employed by governments to enumerate and describe the ethnicity and ancestry of their citizens vary from country to country. Thus the census definition of "Romanian" might variously mean Romanian-born, of Romanian parentage, or also include other ethnic identities as Romanian which otherwise are identified separately in other contexts;
For example, the decennial US Census of 2000 calculated (based on a statistical sampling of household data) that there were 367,310 respondents indicating Romanian ancestry (roughly 0.1% of the total population). The actual total recorded number of foreign-born Romanians was only 136,000 Migration Information Source However, some non-specialist organisations have produced estimates which are considerably higher: a 2002 study by the Romanian-American Network Inc. mentions an estimated figure of 1,200,000 for the number of Romanian-Americans. This estimate notes however that "...other immigrants of Romanian national minority groups have been included such as: Armenians, Germans, Gypsies, Hungarians, Jews, and Ukrainians". It also includes an unspecified allowance for second- and third-generation Romanians, and an indeterminate number living in Canada. An error range for the estimate is not provided. For the United States 2000 Census figures, almost 20% of the total population did not classify or report an ancestry, and the census is also subject to undercounting, an incomplete (67%) response rate, and sampling error in general.
Romanians have played and contributed a major role in the advancement of the arts, culture, sciences, technology and engineering.
In the history of aviation, Traian Vuia and Aurel Vlaicu built and tested some of the earliest aircraft designs, while Henri Coandă discovered the Coandă effect of fluidics. Victor Babeş discovered more than 50 germs and a cure for a disease named after him, babesiosis; biologist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin. Another biologist, Emil Palade, received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to cell biology. George Constantinescu created the theory of sonics, while mathematician Ştefan Odobleja is regarded as the ideological father behind cybernetics – his work The Consonantist Psychology (Paris, 1938) was the main source of inspiration for N. Wiener's Cybernetics (Paris, 1948). Lazăr Edeleanu was the first chemist to synthesize amphetamine and also invented the modern method of refining crude oil.
In the arts and culture, prominent figures were George Enescu (music composer, violinist, professor of Sir Yehudi Menuhin), Constantin Brâncuși (sculptor), Eugène Ionesco (playwright), Mircea Eliade (historian of religion and novelist), Emil Cioran (essayist, Prix de l'Institut Francais for stylism) and Angela Gheorghiu (soprano). More recently, filmmakers such as Cristi Puiu and Cristian Mungiu have attracted international acclaim, as has fashion designer Ioana Ciolacu.
In sports, Romanians have excelled in a variety of fields, such as football (Gheorghe Hagi), gymnastics (Nadia Comăneci, Lavinia Miloşovici etc.), tennis (Ilie Năstase, Ion Ţiriac, Simona Halep), canoe racing (Ivan Patzaichin) and handball (four times men's World Cup winners). Count Dracula is a worldwide icon of Romania. This character was created by the Irish fiction writer Bram Stoker, based on some stories spread in the late Middle Ages by the frustrated German trademen of Kronstadt (Braṣov) and on some Balkan folklore tales about the historic Romanian figure of Prince Vlad Ţepeş.
Almost 90% of all Romanians consider themselves religious. The vast majority are Eastern Orthodox Christians, belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church (a branch of Eastern Orthodoxy, or Eastern Orthodox Church, together with the Greek Orthodox, Orthodox Church of Georgia and Russian Orthodox Churches, among others). According to the 2011 census, 93.6% of ethnic Romanians in Romania identified themselves as Romanian Orthodox (in comparison to 86.8% of Romania's total population, including other ethnic groups). However, the actual rate of church attendance is significantly lower and many Romanians are only nominally believers. For example, according to a 2006 Eurobarometer poll, only 23% of Romanians attend church once a week or more. A 2006 poll conducted by the Open Society Foundation found that only 33% of Romanians attended church once a month or more.
Romanian Catholics are present in Transylvania, Bucharest, and parts of Moldavia, belonging to both the Roman Catholic Church (297,246 members) and the Romanian Greek-Catholic Catholic Church (124,563 members). According to the 2011 census, 2.5% of ethnic Romanians in Romania identified themselves as Catholic (in comparison to 4.3% of Romania's total population, including other ethnic groups).
Around 1.6% of ethnic Romanians in Romania identify themselves as Pentecostal, with the population numbering 276,678 members.
Smaller percentages are Protestant, Jews, Muslims, agnostic, atheist, or practice a traditional religion.
There are no official dates for the adoption of religions by the Romanians. Based on linguistic and archaeological findings, historians suggest that the Romanians' ancestors acquired polytheistic religions in the Roman era, later adopting Christianity, certainly by the 4th century CE when decreed by Emperor Constantine as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Like in all other Romance languages, the basic Romanian words related to Christianity are inherited from Latin, such as God ("Dumnezeu" < Domine Deus), church ("biserică" < basilica), cross ("cruce" < crux, -cis), angel ("înger" < angelus), saint (regional: "sfân(t)" < sanctus), Christmas ("Crăciun" < creatio, -onis), Christian ("creştin" < christianus), Easter ("paşte" < paschae), sin ("păcat" < peccatum), to baptise ("a boteza" < batizare), priest ("preot" < presbiterum), to pray ("a ruga" < rogare), faith ( "credinţă" < credentia ), and so on.
After the Great Schism, there existed a Catholic Bishopric of Cumania (later, separate bishoprics in both Wallachia and Moldavia). However, this seems to be the exception, rather than the rule, as in both Wallachia and Moldavia the state religion was Eastern Orthodox. Until the 17th century, the official language of the liturgy was Old Church Slavonic. Then, it gradually changed to Romanian.
According to a survey that took place in 2011, despite 94% of respondents answered positively for believing in God, 42% support the vision of Christian dogma that there is a God incarnated into a human being. While 34% of respondents said that there is only one true religion, 38% believe that there is one true religion and that other religions contain some basic truths, according to 18% there is one true religion and all major world religions contain some fundamental truths. 88% of Romanians believe in the existence of a soul, 87% believe in sin and the existence of heaven, 60% believe in an "evil eye", 25% believe in horoscopes and 23% in aliens. According to a 2004 survey, 80% consider themselves not superstitious and the same amount believe in angels, about 40% believe they have had dreams that became deja vu and 19% believe in ghosts.
In addition to the colours of the Romanian flag, each historical province of Romania has its own characteristic symbol:Banat: Trajan's Bridge
Transylvania: Black eagle or Turul
The Coat of Arms of Romania combines these together.
The closest ethnic groups to the Romanians are the other Romanic peoples of Southeastern Europe: the Aromanians (Macedo-Romanians), the Megleno-Romanians, and the Istro-Romanians. The Istro-Romanians are the closest ethnic group to the Romanians, and it is believed they left Maramureș, Transylvania about a thousand years ago and settled in Istria, Croatia. Numbering about 500 people still living in the original villages of Istria while the majority left for other countries after World War II (mainly to Italy, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia), they speak the Istro-Romanian language, the closest living relative of Romanian.
The Aromanians and the Megleno-Romanians are Romanic peoples who live south of the Danube, mainly in Greece, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia, although some of them migrated to Romania in the 20th century. It is believed that they diverged from the Romanians in the 7th to 9th century, and currently speak the Aromanian language and Megleno-Romanian language, both of which are Eastern Romance languages, like Romanian, and are sometimes considered by traditional Romanian linguists to be dialects of Romanian.