Romania is the largest of the Balkan countries, and has been under the rule of several empires, from the Roman to the Austro-Hungarian.
It came under Soviet Union communist rule after World War 2, and was led by the infamous dictator Nicolae Ceausescu from 1965 until an uprising which brought his execution on Christmas Day 1989.
It joined the EU in January 2007, and its economy suffered badly in the global financial crisis of 2008, which led to a draconian austerity programme. The economy is now recovering.
The population of Romania is 21.4 million.
No Romanian traditional meal is complete without sarmale, which is minced meat (usually pork) mixed with rice and wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves. It is usually accompanied by mamaliga, a polenta made of boiled corn flour.