Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania, located in the southeastern part of the country. The city is situated about 65 km north of the Danube River, near Ploieşti, on the banks of the Dîmboviţa River. Bucharest lies on a generally level plain and, including suburban districts, occupies an area of about 300 sq km.
The first written appearance of the name Bucuresti dates from 1459, when it was recorded in a document of Vlad III the Impaler, the ruler of Walachia. Vlad III built the fortress of Bucharest--the first of many fortifications--with the aim of holding back the Turks who were threatening the existence of the Walachian state. By the end of the 16th century, Bucharest was South-Eastern Europe's largest christian city. In 1640, a traveller remarked that the population of the city exceed 100,000. Under the Ottoman suzerainty that was eventually established, Bucharest developed rapidly as the main economic centre of Walachia, becoming the capital in 1659.
In 1859 Bucharest became the administrative center of the united principalities of Walachia and Moldavia, under Ottoman suzerainty. By the decisions of the Congress of Berlin, which provided for a general settlement of the Balkan situation after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and 1878, Romania was recognized as an independent country with Bucharest as its capital. German troops occupied Bucharest from December 1916 until mid-1918 during World War I. During World War II Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu admitted German troops into Romania in October 1940, and the Germans occupied Bucharest until 1944. Weakened by Romanian insurrection and Allied bombings, the Germans surrendered when Soviet forces entered the city in August. Soviet military occupation lasted until 1958.
The city is divided into two sections by the Dîmboviţa River and is crossed by two wide boulevards. Bucharest contains six administrative districts; the adjacent rural area forms a seventh district....