PhonologyLike The Lord of the Rings, I foolishly presented you my readers with all these foreign names, but gave you no guide on how to pronounce them until the end. So, a brief guide to Romanian orthography: ş is pronounced SH, ţ as TS, and, like in Italian, "ce" and "ci" indicate a CH sound. So, the moniker of Vlad Ţepeş is "tsepesh", and Ceauşescu's name pronounced "chau-shesku". Î and â represent a sound (/ɨ/) similar (but not identical) to a short I, and ă = represents a schwa (the unstressed vowel in "about").
There's a script I would see occasionally, particularly in religious contexts, that had a distinctive appearance; here's an example of it (slightly overdone compared to what I saw in Romania; the letter As I saw there were much easier to read):
As you can see, it's readily recognised by the form of the letter U. A tour guide of ours told us that, though it looks old, it was actually an invention of the communists. The Net of a Million Lies, however, disagrees and says this was a script used during the transitional period starting in the 1860s when Romania dropped the Cyrillic alphabet and switched to the Latin one; the letter forms were presumably intended to strike a compromise in readability for people familiar with either alphabet.
History of Romania
I could point you here to a Wikipedia article, but the chances are you'd not read it, because it's too long. So here's a summary by me, written without checking Wikipedia, for the same reason.
In ancient times, Romania was inhabited by the Dacians and Getans, who may or may not have been the same people, and who may or may not have been a sub-people of the Thracians (Thrace being in modern-day Bulgaria). The modern Romanians seem proud of their Dacian heritage; I think it plays a similar role in the national founding myth to "nos ancêtres les Galles" in France.
Eventually, the Romans conquered the Dacians, but only stayed for about one hundred and fifty years before the Visigoths (on their centuries-long tour-of-Europe migration) drove them out. During the barbarian invasions of Roman territory, however, lots more Latin speakers poured for refuge into Transylvania, protected as it is on three sides by the Carpathian Mountains, and that's why Romania has a Romance tongue to this day, whereas Britain, which was Roman for twice as long, does not.
After this, there followed centuries of invasions by various Germanic tribes, then Huns (probably Alans too), Magyars and other peoples as well (can't remember who, probably Pechenegs and the like). The Saxons called the Romanised Dacians by the same word they used for the Romanised inhabitants of the lands they came to elsewhere, which is why "Wallachia" comes from the same root as "Wales", "Wallonia" and the second half of "Cornwall".
When I learn about the history of a country I'm visiting, there's often a single leader who stands out in its history, as presiding over a golden age in its history. In the case of Romania, that's probably Mircea the Elder, prince of Wallachia, grandfather of Vlad III Dracula; but even he was only ruler of part of present-day Romania. Wallachia and Bessarabia only came to be united in the mid nineteenth century, and Transylvania only became part of Romania following the removal of one third of Hungary's territory following the First World War.
Romania's borders were, however, pretty much written on water; they fluctuated back and forth over the years, such that Bessarabia is now part of Moldova and the Ukraine.
I already mentioned the coup led by King Michael I of Romania during the Second World War, which led to the country switching sides to fight the Axis powers, apparently shortening the course of the war by six months. Michael, who was forced by the communists to abdicate in 1947, is the only monarch still alive from the interwar period, and one of only three from during the War.
As for the rest, since I remember watching the fall of Ceauşescu (and indeed his execution) on TV as it happened, I'll count that as current events and not history,* and bring this history to an end here.
* If you think that's an odd view, papersky counts anything more recent than the fifth century as current events. That was when the Romans left Britain, on a temporary basis, so they said, to defend Rome, and she's still waiting for them to come back.