Greater Romania

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Territories inhabited by Romanians before the territorial acquisitions from 1918.
Ethnic map of interwar Romania (1930)
Historical regions of the Kingdom of Romania (1918–1940)
Timeline of the borders of Romania between 1859-2010

Greater Romania (Romanian: România Mare) 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 (295,049 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 Bessarabia united with the Romanian Old Kingdom.

Union of Bessarabia with Romania[edit]

Bessarabia declared its sovereignty as the Moldavian Democratic Republic in 1917 by the newly formed "Council of the Country" ("Sfatul Țării") The state was faced with the disorderly retreat through its territory of Russian troops from disbanded units. In January 1918, the "Sfatul Ţării" called on Romanian troops to protect the province from the Bolsheviks who were spreading the Russian Revolution.[1][2][3] After declaring independence from Russia on 24 January 1918, the "Sfatul Ţării" voted for union with Romania on 9 April 1918. Of the 138 deputies in the council, 86 voted for union, 3 against, 36 abstained (mostly the deputies representing minorities, 36% of the population at the time) [4] and 13 were not present.

Union of Transylvania with Romania[edit]

Hypothetical map of Romania (1855). Author: Cezar Bolliac
Detailed administrative map of Romania in 1930

Transylvania (the last of the three regions to join) joined Romania by the "Proclamation of Union" of Alba Iulia adopted by the Deputies of the Romanians of Transylvania, and supported one month later by the vote of the Deputies of the Saxons of Transylvania.[5] The Hungarian-speakers of Transylvania, about 32% at the time (including a large Hungarian-speaking Jewish community), and the Germans of Banat did not elect deputies upon the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, since they were considered represented by the Budapest government of Hungary.


In Bukovina, after being occuppied by the Romanian Army,[6][7] a National Council voted for union with Romania. While the Romanian, German, and Polish deputies unanimously voted for union,[8] the Ukrainian deputies (representing 38% of the population according to the 1910 Austrian census)[9] and Jewish deputies did not attend the council.[8]

International treaties[edit]

The union of the regions of Transylvania, Maramureș, Crișana and Banat with the Romanian Old Kingdom 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. 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 Bulgaria as a result of its victory in the Second Balkan War in 1913.

Inter-war period[edit]

Romania retained the borders established by these treaties from 1918 to 1940. In the latter year it lost Bessarabia to the Soviet Union, as provided for by the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and Germany. It also lost Northern Bukovina and the Herța region, which were not mentioned in the pact, to the Soviet Union. It lost Northern Transylvania to Hungary, through the Second Vienna Award, and the "Cadrilater" to Bulgaria by the Treaty of Craiova. In the course of World War II, Romania, which was allied with the Axis Powers, took back Bessarabia and made further territorial gains at the expense of the Soviet Union: Transnistria, western Yedisan and western Novorossiya (literally New Russia). These territories were lost again when the tide of the war turned.

After the war, Romania regained the Transylvanian territories lost to Hungary, but not territory lost to Bulgaria or the Soviet Union. In 1948 a treaty between the Soviet Union and Soviet-occupied Communist Romania also provided for the transfer of four uninhabited islands to the Soviet Union, three in the Danube Delta and Snake Island in the Black Sea.


The original Romanian term, "România Mare", or Great Romania, carried irredentist overtones, used in the sense of re-integration of the territories that shared Romanian language and culture. The term became more common after the Treaty of Versailles, when the 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 an ethnic Romanian majority, by comparison with the Romanian Old Kingdom under King Carol I, which did not include the provinces of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina.

An alternative name for "România Mare", coined at the same time, was in the Romanian language "România Întregită" (roughly translated in English as "Romania Made Whole," 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".[10]

When used in a political context it has an irredentist connotation, mainly concerning the territories that were ruled by Romania in the interwar period, that are now part of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova or Bulgaria.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Leustean, Lucian N. (September 2007). ""For the Glory of Romanians": Orthodoxy and Nationalism in Greater Romania, 1918-1945". Nationalities Papers 35 (4): 717–742. doi:10.1080/00905990701475111. 
  • Suveica, Svetlana, Bessarabia in the First Interwar Decade (1918–1928): Modernization by Means of Reforms, Chișinau: Pontos, 2010, 360 p. (Romanian)ISBN 978-9975-51-070-7.

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ion Nistor, Istoria Basarabiei, Cernăuți, 1923, reprinted Chișinău, Cartea Moldovenească, 1991 and Humanitas, Bucharest, 1991. ISBN 973-28-0283-9
  2. ^ Charles Upson Clark, Bessarabia: Russia and Roumania on the Black Sea
  3. ^ Pantelimon Halippa, Anatolie Moraru, Testament pentru urmași, Munich, 1967, reprinted Chișinău, Hyperion, 1991, p. 143
  4. ^ Results of the 1897 Russian Census at Молдавский и румынский: 469,852; 451067; total population--"Moldavian and Romanian: 920,919 people",
  5. ^ Dennis P. Hupchick (1995). Conflict and chaos in Eastern Europe. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-312-12116-7. 
  6. ^ Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Arkadii Zhukovsky, Bukovyna, in "Encyclopedia of Ukraine", Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 2001
  7. ^ Sherman David Spector, "Rumania at the Paris Peace Conference: A Study of the Diplomacy of Ioan I. C. Brătianu", Bookman Associates, 1962, p. 70
  8. ^ a b Irina Livezeanu (2000). Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building, and Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930. Cornell University Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8014-8688-3. 
  9. ^ Donald Peckham, Christina Bratt Paulston, "Linguistic Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe"), Multilingual Matters, 1998, p. 190
  10. ^ Gallagher, Tom (2005). Modern Romania: the end of communism, the failure of democratic reform, and the theft of a nation. New York: New York University Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-8147-3172-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gerhart Luetkens. "Roumania To-Day," International Affairs (Sep. - Oct., 1938), 17#5 pp. 682-695 in JSTOR

External links[edit]