Transylvania

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Transylvania is a mountainous central region of Romania. The name derives from Latin and can be translated as either "beyond the forest" or "densely forested".

Historically Transylvania was headed by a monarchy (voivode, variously translated as prince, duke or count), but was not an independent nation. Instead it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, or, during the 17th century, part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after the First World War and a united Romania was created in 1920, including Transylvania, which had a mixed population of Romanians, Hungarians, Germans and others. In 1940 a large part of Transylvania was ceded to Hungary, but this was reversed in 1945.

Transylvania was the setting for part of Bram Stoker's horror novel Dracula (1897), and home to the fictional vampire Count Dracula, whom Stoker based loosely on the historical Transylvanian prince Vladimir Dracula (or 'Vlad the Impaler'). The novel has firmly established a link, now a cliche, associating Transylvania with vampires and other supernatural monsters such as werewolves.

Transylvania is hilly, picturesque and relatively undeveloped. Agricultural practices remain traditional, and it is common to see groups of workers using scythes or horses and carts. Tradition and religion (largely Orthodox Christianity) are very important to the Transylvanians, and the region is home to some beautiful churches. Other attractions in Transylvania include the impressive walled citadel at Brasov and several castles, including Bran Castle, which has a historical association with Vlad the Impaler.

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