Some of the oldest remains of Homo sapiens have been found in Romania, dating back 40,000 years. The first recorded people covering modern day Romania were the Dacians who inhabited the area between the 1st Century BC and the 2nd Century AD. It was then the Romans who took an interest in the region because of its gold deposits and by the second century they had defeated the Dacians and the area became the Roman province of Dacia.
By 300 AD the Romans had left and the Goths had invaded only to be followed about a hundred years later by the Huns. There then followed a series of raiders who came and settled, including the Slavs, Magyars, Cumans and Tatars.
By the middle ages there were three discernible lands in the region, Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania and over the next few centuries they were occupied by various peoples and kingdoms including the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottomans.
By the 1500s pretty much all of Romania was part of the Ottoman Empire although with a largely internal autonomy. In the early 17th Century the three regions were briefly united by Michael the Brave but by 1687 Transylvania fell to Hapsburg forces.
In 1821 an uprising took place in Wallachia and then in 1848 a revolution in the three regions took place. Although it was unsuccessful, Wallachia and Moldavia were united in 1859 under the Domnitor (ruler) Alexandra Ioan Cuza.
In 1877 the Romania based around the two provinces declared independence from the Ottoman Empire and in the 1877 – 78 Russo-Turkish War they sided with the Russians. This led to the Treaty of Berlin where Romania was recognised as an independent state and in 1881 Prince Carol I became the first king of Romania.
In 1916 Romania joined the Great War on the side of the British, French and Russians. Although Romania was defeated by the Germans and Austro-Hungarians, after the war it gained Transylvania along with Bessarabia and Bukovina in the north and north east respectively.
The inter war years were relatively peaceful but during World War Two despite an attempt at neutrality, threats from Russia forced the Romanians to join the Axis Forces. King Carol II had ceded too much territory to the Russians and it was General Ion Antonescu who seized power and joined the Axis forces. By 1944 the Soviet Red Army had invaded Romania, Michael I took over and Romania joined the Allied forces.
At the end of World War Two Bessarabia and northern Bukovina were lost to Russia and Moldavia became the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, later to become the Republic of Moldavia in 1991.
By 1947 the Communist Party had taken over Romania and King Michael I was forced to abdicate. Romania came under the military and economic control of the USSR. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej became the first communist leader of Romania and in 1958 it was he who persuaded the Russians to withdraw their troops from the country.
Gheorghiu-Dej died in 1965 and he was replaced by Nicolae Ceaușescu. By 1989 the Iron Curtain was falling all over Europe and this led to a revolution in Romania as well. At first Ceaușescu tried to put down the revolution and more than 1,000 people were killed in the uprising. Eventually Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled the capital but were captured, put on trial and executed on 25th December 1989.
Following the death of Ceaușescu, a former communist party official, Ion Iliescu formed an impromptu government under the title of the National Salvation Front. In the first post-communist era elections the National Salvation Front (FSN) won 263 of the 395 seats in parliament and Ion Iliescu became president. By 1992 there was widespread disillusionment with a party that appeared to be a replacement of the communist party and further elections were held in 1992.
The National Salvation Front eventually became the Social Democratic Party (PSD) of today; although by 1992 it had split and Iliescu had formed the Democratic National Front which went on to win that election as did Ion Iliescu.
By 1996 there was a change of government and the Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR) took over with its candidate, Emil Constantinescu winning the presidential vote.
By 2000 the Social Democratic Party (PSD) was back and they won the election, taking 155 of the 345 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Ion Iliescu also won the presidential election, taking a second term of office as President.
In 2004 the PSD won the most seats, 113 of 332 but were forced into opposition. Their alliance candidate also lost the election to the Justice and Truth Alliance candidate, Traian Băsescu who went on to win the 2008 contest.
This period in the political history of Romania was known for its official corruption but nevertheless it persevered with its efforts to join NATO and the European Union. Romania became a member of NATO in 2004 and in 2007 it became a member of the European Union despite some reservations.
In 2008 there were fresh elections and again there was no clear winner. The Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) emerged as the largest party with 115 of the 334 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. They were also the largest party in the upper house, the Senate, with 51 seats; a tremendous performance for the party which saw its number of seats nearly double in the election. However, it was not enough and two other parties, the Social Democratic Party in alliance with the Conservative Party took 114 seats and the National Liberal Party took 65 seats.
Emil Boc of the Democratic Liberal Party went on to form a government with the Social Democrats but the government fell in 2009 and after the failure to find a new Prime Minister, Emil Boc stayed on and formed a new government.
By 2012 the government was deeply unpopular as it carried out austerity measures required by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). After an increasingly difficult period complete with street protests Boc and his Cabinet resigned on 6th February 2012. A new government was formed but fell in April 2012 and in May Victor Ponta of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) was able to put together a coalition along with the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Conservative Party (PC).
One of the first acts of Ponta was to force through an impeachment vote against President Traian Băsescu. The vote was taken to a referendum which the president won and was reinstated. The episode soured the political climate further and in September elections were announced for 9th December.
The President is elected by popular vote for a five year term.
The bicameral parliament consists of the Senate with 137 members elected by popular vote in a mixed electoral system to serve four year terms. The Chamber of Deputies has 334 members elected by popular vote in a mixed electoral system to serve four year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Romania at joint 57th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 48 (where 100 is least corrupt).