Historical Data

The passing of history has dispersed many peoples in Dobrogea, this land being often times and exchange coin between empires, this fact also being reflected in the ethnic heterogeneity of the communities surrounding the park, each with its own customs and traditions.

Dobrogea has been inhabited since the dawn of history. During the 6th-4th centuries B.C. the shores of the Black Sea were colonized by the Greeks. The colonies of Histria, Tomis and Callatis were founded at that time on Dobrogean territory. They were organized after the model of the Greek polis. Initially Histria was the most prosperous of the colonies, but in time, because of the grounding of its gulf, it began to decay, and Tomis became the most important city on the Western shore of the Black Sea.

During the same time the first Getic states are also founded. Inscriptions in Histria mention relations with the Getae Kings Zalmodegikos and Rhemaxos (3rd century B.C.).

During ancient times, Dobrogea used to be known as Scythia Minor (the Roman name). Some historians have also used the name of Dacia Pontica. The actual name comes from the Dobrotici the 14th century Despot who founded the medieval state Dobrogea, in the same time with the organization of the Voivodeship of Transylvania and the formation of the medieval states Wallachia and Moldova.

The ancient Greek historian Pliny the Elder used to say that the territory between the Danube and the Black Sea was populated by the Getae, and the same Pliny the Elder also added that the Scythians had the same origin as the Geto-Dacians. Ultimately, the Scythians were assimilated by the Dacians. Dobrogea was conquered by the Roman Empire in 46 AD and included in the Moesia province. It played an important role in the defense system of the Empire, being part of the Danube limes.

Dobrogea then enters under Byzantine, Bulgarian, Wallachian and Ottoman dominion.

It became part of the Ottoman Empire after the death of Mircea the Elder (1418). Because during the 14th-16th centuries the Ottoman Empire advanced into Central Europe, Dobrogea remained a periphery province, without great strategic or economic importance. This situation was maintained until the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman power (the 18th century).

The situation was dramatically changed with the territorial expansion of the Russian Empire. During the 18th-19th centuries Dobrogea became the battlefield between the Ottoman and the Russian Empires. The situation became dire after 1812 when Russia annexed Bessarabia, the line of the Danube thus becoming the frontier between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

During the period of Ottoman dominion, Dobrogea was inhabited by Turkish peoples (Anatolians, Seljuks), and during the expansion of the Russian Empire, by the Crimean Tatars. Also, beginning with the 18th century crisis, after the schism within the Russian Orthodox Church, Old Rite (Lipovan) Christians began fleeing to Dobrogea, as they were against the reforms of Peter the Great.

The Romanian element has been constantly present in Dobrogea also during the Ottoman period. The existence of the significant Romanian population is proved by the fact that, in 1870, Ottoman authorities name the local monk Nifon Bălăşescu (born in Sibiu County, tonsured at Căldăruşani) as director of Romanian education in Dobrogea. Nifon Bălăşescu founded 21 Romanian schools in the North of Dobrogea (in Tulcea, Hârşova, Măcin).

The unification of the Romanian principalities in 1859 has set the basis of modern Romania and was an important link in the efforts made by the Romanian people for the fulfillment of its fundamental national unity and political freedom desires.

Dobrogea became part of Romania after it gained its independence, due to the Congress of Berlin (1878). Before the Congress of Berlin, the Russo-Turkish Peace Treaty of San Stefano (3 March 1878) dictated the ceding of Dobrogea to Bulgaria, although its population was mostly Muslim (Turks, Tatars, Circassians). At the Congress of Berlin the French representative insisted that the region around Mangalia with the patch of land going in the direction of Silistra be given to Romania because this territory contained an almost compact Romanian population, especially around Mangalia. The Southern part of Dobrogea (the Quadrilater), also inhabited mostly by Turks and Tatars, was given to Bulgaria. In 1879, Romania asked for the city of Silistra from Bulgaria, and even occupied Arab Tabia, the fortress of the city. The Great Powers gave Arab Tabia to Romania, but Silistra was left to the Bulgarians.

The return of Dobrogea, an ancient civilized Geto-Dacian land, back to Romania meant the fulfillment of the right and aspirations of all Romanians. During the Independence War, the Dobrogean Romanians, which formed the majority of the Christian population in Dobrogea, have foreseen the victory of the Romanian army and the possibility of the return of the land to its fatherland, Romania. This is proved by the honorable receiving of the allied Russian troops in 1877 in Măcin, and then in December 1877 the Dobrogean petition asking for the unification with Romania. The integration of Dobrogea into the Romanian Kingdom increased the importance of the province, as it offered a seaside to the country. Thus the bridge in Cernavodă was built in order to assure the railway connection of Dobrogea with the rest of Romania. The city Constanta became the main port on the Black Sea. A systematic settlement of Romanians in the regions also takes place (especially by Romanians from Wallachia or Transylvania). Thus the Romanian element in Dobrogea greatly increased.

During the interwar period the modernization of Dobrogea continues, but in totally different conditions. The ports of Northern Dobrogea (especially Sulina and Tulcea) have decayed due to the dramatic decrease of trade and navigation on the river Danube.

Constanţa continued to remain the main port on the Black Sea but city is also affected by the decrease of trade and the uncertainty regarding the international status of the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits. Many Romanians from different regions still come and settled into Dobrogea, and during the 20’s a great number of Aromanian settle in the Southern regions. During this time the massive emigration of the Turks from Dobrogea into the Republic of Turkey also takes place, following the policies of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who encouraged the Balkan Turks to return to their renewed homeland.

After 1989 Dobrogea suffered on the basis of the general crisis of the Romanian economy. The vanishing of the Romanian commercial fleet, the general decline of navigation on the Danube following the wars in former Yugoslavia, the loss of the privileged status of Constanţa on the main transit route of Romanian exports and the decline of tourism have negatively affected the economy of Dobrogea.