Bucharest, whose founding dates from 1459, became the state capital of Romania in 1862. Between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of the "Paris of the East" or "Little Paris" (Micul Paris).
The people of Bucharest suffered under the leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu (1965-1989) along with their rural countrymen.
During the 1980s, Ceauşescu's program of systematization was promoted as a way to build a "multilaterally developed socialist society," but caused the demolition of more than 20 percent of central Bucharest including centuries old churches and many historic buildings.
These were replaced with Communist architecture style buildings, particularly high-rise apartment blocks.
The best example of this is Centrul Civic (the Civic Center), including the Palace of the Parliament, where an entire historic quarter of the city was razed to make way for Ceauşescu's new constructions.
Although many buildings and districts in the historic center were damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes, and Ceauşescu's re-building program, many more survived. Bucharest is a city with a complex blend of old and new.
Bucharest produces nearly 21 percent of Romania's gross domestic product and 25 percent of its industrial production, and accounts for only nine percent of the country's population.
While the city has extensive representative government, a significant problem remains in political corruption, which is seen as the most important justice-and-law related problem in the city.