In the Middle Ages, the area consisted of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, which were swallowed up by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th-16th centuries. The two principalities gained independence in 1878. After World War II, during which it had supported Germany, Romania became a communist state under Soviet domination. After 1974, the country pursued an increasingly independent course under the virtual dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu. His regime collapsed in violent popular unrest in 1989, and a new democratic constitution was introduced. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007
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