Romanian is a Romance language spoken by about 24 million people in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Romanian retains a number of features of Latin, such as noun cases, which other Romance languages dispensed with a long time ago. Romanian contains many words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages, and also from French, Old Church Slavonic, German, Greek and Turkish.
Romanian first appeared in writing during the 16th century mainly in religious texts and other documents. The earliest known text in Romanian dates from 1521 and is a letter from Neacşu of Câmpulung to the mayor of Braşov. Neacşu wrote in a version of the old Cyrillic alphabet similar to the one for Old Church Slavonic, and which was used in Walachia and Moldova until 1859.
From the late 16th century a version of the Latin alphabet using Hungarian spelling conventions was used to write Romanian in Translyvania. Then in the late 18th century a spelling system based on Italian was adopted.
A version of the Cyrillic alphabet was used in the Soviet Republic of Moldova until 1989, when they switched to the Romanian version of the Latin alphabet.