Greater Romania ( ) generally refers to the
territory of Romania 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 kmÂ²); 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 Bessarabia united with the Romanian Old Kingdom.
Administrative map of Greater Romania
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 Å¢Äƒrii"), was faced
with the disorderly retreat of disbanded Russian troops
through its territory.
In January 1918, Sfatul Å¢Äƒrii called
on Romanian troops to protect the province from the Bolsheviks
who were spreading the Russian Revolution
declaring independence from Russia on 24 January 1918, "Sfatul
Å¢Äƒrii" 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
According to other sources , however, Romanian troops allegedly
occupied the province, "Sfatul Å¢Äƒrii" was dominated by
Union of Transylvania with Romania
Transylvania (the last of the three to do so)
joined Romania by a "Proclamation of Union" of Alba Iulia 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.
Territories inhabited by Romanians
before the territorial acquisitions from 1918.
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
, 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.
of the regions of Transylvania, MaramureÅŸ, CriÅŸana 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 Hungary and the
Kingdom of Romania.
union of Bukovina and Bessarabia with Romania was ratified in 1920
by the Treaty of Versailles
had also recently acquired the Southern
Dobruja territory called the "Cadrilater" ("Quadrilateral")
from Bulgaria 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 Union 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 Union (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 Sea (Snake Island),
with the latter being used as a 'spy heaven'
by the Soviet Union.
The name and its meanings
The original Romanian
or Great Romania
, did not carry
the possibly expansionist
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 Bessarabia, but included most of Bukovina.
An alternative name for "RomÃ¢nia
Mare", coined at the same time, was in the Romanian language
"RomÃ¢nia ÃŽntregitÄƒ" (roughly translated in English as, "Integrated
Romania", or "Entire Romania
"). "RomÃ¢nia 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
state, or, as Tom Gallagher states, the "Holy
of Romanian nationalism
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 Ukraine or the Republic of Moldova.
During the Soviet
, due to Stalinist
persecusion, large numbers (over half a million) of Romanians in
Bessarabia and Bukovina were displaced or perished in executions,
, and famine, while during the entire
Soviet period a large number of Russophones
where invited to cement Soviet hold
on the territories.
References and Notes