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Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the map of Europe was redrawn. One of the biggest losers was the kingdom of Hungary. One third of its population live in neighbouring countries; the largest group in Romania.

There are about 2 million Hungarians living in western Romania, in an area known as Translyvania (though it actually comprises Translyvania, Bansag and Partium). This is 7% of the entire Romanian population; one of the largest ethnic minorities of Europe. The area is bounded by the Carpathian mountains to the east and south, by the Ukraine the the north and by Hungary to the west.

No one is sure which group arrived in Transylvania first. Germanic, Hungarian and Romanian tribes all settled here. In the sixteenth century, Hungarian power was shattered by the Ottoman empire and Transylvania existed as an independent principality owing allegiance to the Turks but of Hungarian character. In 1867, Transylvania was united with the Kingdom of Hungary though at this time a large number of Romanians lived there.

In 1919, Romania was granted Transylvania and declared that the rights of minorities would be respected. However, under Ceausescu's regime a policy of assimilation was pursued. Use of the Hungarian language was discouraged and an attempt was made to erode the separate identity of all minority groups in Romania.

In 1989 the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR) was formed. After the 1996 elections it had two ministers in the Romanian government. The stated goals of the DAHR are cultural autonomy and eventually self determination for the Hungarain people of Romania.

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