Yesterday, Romania celebrated the ninetieth anniversary of its foundation, on December 1st 1918, when the northwest region of Transylvania joined the rest of Romania following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War. Some 2,000 members of the military participated in a parade in Bucharest and President Traian Basescu laid a wreath at the capital’s triumphal arch.
December 1st, known as Union Day, is the Romanian national holiday in commemoration of the assembly held in Alba lulia (Transylvania) on December 1st 1918, during which the ethnic Romanian delegates from Transylvania and Hungary passed a resolution calling for the assembly of all Romanians in a single state. Union Day also celebrates the unification of the provinces of Bukovina and Bessarabia with the kingdom of Romania. The date was declared a national holiday following the Romanian revolution in 1989.
The history of Romania, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, is one of successive domination under both the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian empires. In 1848, the revolution against foreign domination was defeated by combined Russian and Ottoman intervention. Russian forces withdrew from the region following the Crimean War from 1854 to 1856 and were replaced by Austrian troops. In 1856, in accordance with the Treaty of Paris, Moldavia and Wallachia were established as principalities under Ottoman rule. In 1859, the two principalities were united under a common leader, the prince John Cuza. Three years later, they joined to form the principality of Romania, the capital of which was established at Bucharest. Romania became independent as a result of the Treaty of Berlin, which ended the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-78, but ceded southern Bessarabia to Russia. Romania was proclaimed a kingdom in 1881.
Modern day Romania came into being in the aftermath of the First World War. Following its initial declaration of neutrality, Romania eventually joined the war in August 1916 on the side of the Allies. Its military campaign was, however, unsuccessful: two thirds of the country was conquered and majority of the army was captured within four months. Following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia were allowed to unite with the kingdom of Romania: the Treaty of Saint Germain in 1919 ratified the union of Bukovina; in accordance with the Treaty of Paris, Bessarabia joined the kingdom of Romania in 1920.