A republic in southeastern Europe, bordering on the Danube River and the Black Sea. Under Turkish rule since the 15th century, Romania was formed from the union of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1861, under Ottoman suzerainty. In 1878, as a result of the Russo-Turkish war, Romania became independent. Although ruled by a Hohenzollern dynasty, related to the ruling family of Germany, Romania did not enter World War I until August 1916, and then joined the Allies. After initial successes, Romanian forces were routed, and by January 1917 almost all of the country had been overrun by Germany, Austria and Bulgaria. Romania enjoyed considerably greater military success after the armistice, overrunning a large part of Hungary and occupying territories from Austria, Russia and Bulgaria. By the final peace (1920), Romania doubled in size. During the 1930s, the Iron Guard, a Romanian fascist movement, gained control of the government, and in 1941, Romania entered World War II as an ally of Germany. In 1944, the regime was overthrown by King Michael, with Soviet support, and Romania joined the Allies. Soviet troops occupied the country after World War II, forcing Michael to abdicate and establishing the people's republic on Dec. 30, 1947. From the 1950s, Romania pursued an increasingly independent foreign policy. In 1959, Soviet troops were refused entry into the country, and during the 1960s, political ties were strengthened with China, Israel and the West.
From 1965 to 1989, Romania was ruled by Nikolae Ceausescu, whose repressive and sometimes bizarre regime finally provoked a popular uprising in December 1989. Ceasescu and his wife were tried and executed. In May 1990, the provisional government was replaced by elected representatives. Romania has made the transition to democratic government but is proceeding slowly in transforming its economy to a free market model, as it attempts to balance reform with social stability.