A fertile plateau area of the Carpathian mountains, rich in mineral deposits. With its original Romanian population (since the tenth century) it came under Magyar (Hungarian) rule in the early eleventh century, whereupon it was colonized by Magyars, Szekelers, and Germans. It became an autonomous part of the Ottoman Empire in 1541, but in 1683 reverted to the rule of the Austrian Emperor, as part of Hungary. There were sporadic tensions relating to discrimination against the Romanian majority of the population, which intensified in the late nineteenth century in response to Hungarian attempts to impose Magyar culture on the entire population (magyarization). It became part of Romania in 1918, though most of its area was briefly returned to Hungary in response to the second Vienna Award, 1940 (until 1947).
For most of the twentieth century, therefore, incorporation into the relatively backward Romania was a constant source of resentment among the Hungarian, Szekeler, and German minorities. Particularly under Ceausescu, they were discriminated against, as the state tried hard to destroy their cultural identities. Even after the fall of Ceausescu, the policies of discrimination continued. From 1995, school examinations could only be taken in Romanian, while the curriculum was changed to avoid the teaching of the history of the country's minorities. As a result of the EU membership of Hungary (2004) and Romania (2007), minority rights were recognized, which was expected to lead to an improvement in communal relations.
Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).