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Administrative map of Greater Romania in 1930
The Greater Romania ( ) generally refers to the territory of Romaniamarker in the years between the First World War and the Second World War, the largest geographical extent of Romania up to that time and its largest peacetime extent ever (295,649 km²); more precisely, it refers to the territory of the Kingdom of Romania between 1919 and 1940. In 1918, at the end of World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabiamarker united with the Romanian Old Kingdom.

Union of Bessarabia with Romania

Bessarabia, having declared its sovereignty as Moldavian Democratic Republic in 1917 by the newly formed "Council of the Country" ("Sfatul Ţării"), was faced with the disorderly retreat of disbanded Russianmarker troops through its territory. In January 1918, Sfatul Ţării called on Romanian troops to protect the province from the Bolsheviks who were spreading the Russian Revolution. After declaring independence from Russia on 24 January 1918, "Sfatul Ţării" voted for Union with Romania on 9 April 1918: of the 138 deputies, 86 voted for union, 3 against, 36 abstained (mostly the deputies representing the minorities, 36% at the time) and 13 were not present.

According to other sources , however, Romanian troops allegedly occupied the province, "Sfatul Ţării" was dominated by Romania.

Union of Transylvania with Romania

Territories inhabited by Romanians before the territorial acquisitions from 1918.
Transylvania (the last of the three to do so) joined Romania by a "Proclamation of Union" of Alba Iuliamarker adopted by the Deputies of the Romanians from Transylvania, and supported one month later by the vote of the Deputies of the Saxons from Transylavania. The Hungarian-speakers from Transylavania, about 32% at the time (including a large Hungarian-speaking Jewish community), and the Germans in Banat did not elect Deputies at the official dissolution of Austro-Hungary, since they were considered represented by the Budapest government of the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungary. In Bukovina, after occupation by the Romanian Army, a National Council voted for union with Romania. While the Romanian, German, Polish and Jewish deputies voted for, the Ukrainian deputies (representing 38% of the population at the time) voted against.

Interwar period

The union of the regions of Transylvania, Maramureş, Crişana and Banat with the Old Kingdom of Romania was ratified in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon which recognised Romanian sovereignty over these regions and settled the border between the independent Republic of Hungarymarker and the Kingdom of Romania. The union of Bukovina and Bessarabia with Romania was ratified in 1920 by the Treaty of Versailles. Romania had also recently acquired the Southern Dobruja territory called the "Cadrilater" ("Quadrilateral") from Bulgariamarker as a result of its victory in the Second Balkan War in 1913.

Romania retained these borders from 1918 to 1940. In that year, it lost Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Unionmarker after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, lost the considerable territory of Northern Transylvania to Hungary in the Second Vienna Arbitration, and lost the "Cadrilater" to Bulgaria in the Treaty of Craiova. In the course of World War II, Romania (in alliance with the Axis Powers) took back Bessarabia and was awarded further territorial gains at the expense of the Soviet Unionmarker (Transnistria or western Yedisan or western New Russia; these were lost again as the tide of the war turned.After the war, Romania regained the Transylvanian territories lost to Hungary, but not those lost to either Bulgaria or the Soviet Union, and in 1948 the Treaty between the Soviet Union and Soviet-occupied Communist Romania also provided for the transfer of four uninhabited islands to the USSR, three in the Danube Delta, and one in the Black Seamarker (Snake Island)marker,with the latter being used as a 'spy heaven' by the Soviet Union.

The name and its meanings

The original Romanian term, "România Mare", or Great Romania, did not carry the possibly expansionist or irredentist sense of its English translation; it is rather used in the sense of re-integration of the territories that share an alleged Romanian language and culture, as further described next (and also in the cited references). The term became more common after the Treaty of Versailles, when the re-attachment of Transylvania to the Kingdom of Romania occurred as a result of the Treaty of Trianon; thus the Kingdom of Romania under King Ferdinand I came to include all provinces with a large ethnic Romanian majority, by comparison with the previous Romanian Old Kingdom under King Carol I, which did not include the provinces of Transylvania and Bessarabiamarker, but included most of Bukovina. An alternative name for "România Mare", coined at the same time, was in the Romanian language "România Întregită" (roughly translated in English as, "Integrated Romania", or "Entire Romania"). "România Mare" was seen (and is also now seen by the great majority of the Romanian people, both at home and abroad) as the 'true', whole Romanian state, or, as Tom Gallagher states, the "Holy Grail of Romanian nationalism".

When used in a political context it has an irredentist connotation, mainly concerning the territories that were ruled by Romania in the interwar, that are now either part of Ukrainemarker or the Republic of Moldovamarker. During the Soviet occupation, due to Stalinist persecusion, large numbers (over half a million) of Romanians in Bessarabia and Bukovina were displaced or perished in executions, the Gulag, and famine, while during the entire Soviet period a large number of Russophones where invited to cement Soviet hold on the territories.

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