Located in southeastern Europe, Romania became an independent monarchy in 1878, and later fought on the side of the US during World War I. But a growing fascist movement called the Iron Guard led to the establishment of a royal dictatorship in 1938. During World War II, Romania fought on the side of the Axis Powers, and invaded the Soviet Union to recover two territories the Soviets had annexed in 1940. Approximately 300,000 Jews, representing slightly less than half of Romania’s population, were killed in the Holocaust. After the war, the Soviets pressured Romanian officials into adopting a communist government. Nicolae Ceausescu, who gained power during the 1960s, began to distance Romania from the Soviet Union, most notably by denouncing the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This led to greater cooperation with western governments even as human rights and brutal repression reigned at home. The Ceausescu regime was swept from power in 1989, and the country’s Communist Party was dissolved. In the intervening years, Romania has built stronger relations with the US and established a market economy and democratic reforms. However, recent controversies have involved accusations that the US detained several top al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons in Poland and Romania, eliciting dissent from many EU countries. Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to respond to the United States’ plans to build a new military base in Romania along its border with Russia.
Lay of the Land: Located in southeastern Europe, with the Danube forming its southern border, Romania is 31% mountains, 36% hills and plateaus, and 33% plains and flood-lands. The temperate climate favors profuse vegetation, and forests abound.
Romania was originally settled by the Dacians, who were a Thracian tribe. The area was subsequently incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire under the Emperor Trajan during the early part of the 2nd century AD, but was abandoned approximately two centuries later, when the empire was declining in strength.
A Country Study: Romania (Library of Congress)
Noted Romanian Americans
In 2010, US imports from Romania totaled $1 billion while US exports to Romania were $730.9 million.
Three Americans Questioned in Child Disappearance
According to the State Department, “There were reports that police and gendarmes mistreated and harassed detainees and Roma. Prison conditions remained poor. The judiciary lacked impartiality and was sometimes subject to political influence. Property restitution remained extremely slow, and the government failed to take effective action to return Greek Catholic churches confiscated by the former Communist government in 1948. A restrictive religion law remained in effect. Government corruption remained a widespread problem. There were continued reports of violence and discrimination against women as well as child abuse.”
Adrian Cosmin Vierita arrived in the United States to serve as Romania’s Ambassador to the U.S. on December 23, 2007.Vierita was born in Bucharest on July 4, 1962. He graduated the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna program of post-academic studies in International Affairs and European Integration, as well as the Romanian Institute of International Studies in Bucharest, specializing in international affairs and world economy. He has a master’s degree from the Faculty of Technology of the Polytechnic University in Bucharest and, at present, he is a PhD candidate in economic sciences at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest.
Were it not for President Barack Obama’s “no lobbyists” policy, Mark Gitenstein might well have taken over the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. But Gitenstein’s prior lobbying work on behalf of business clients, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, killed his chances of joining Justice. So, instead, the longtime Washington lawyer, Democratic contributor, and former aide to Vice President Joseph Biden has had to settle for being the first Romanian-American ambassador to Romania. He was sworn in on August 3, 2009.
Gitenstein’s great grandparents immigrated to America in the 1890s. Gitenstein himself received his Bachelor of Arts from Duke University and a J.D. from Georgetown University.