Ploiesti is the capital city of Prahova County and is situated in the historical region of Wallachia, Romania. The city is located 56 km (35 miles) north of Bucharest and has a population of 232,452 (according to the 2002 census), making it the ninth-largest city in Romania.
The city was founded in 1596, during the reign of Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave).
In the mid-19th century, the Ploiesti region became one of the most important oil extraction and refinery sites in the world. The city is also remembered as the site of the Republic of Ploiesti, a short-lived 1870 revolt against the Romanian Monarchy.
Ploiesti oil storage tanks on fire after being bombarded by the United States Army Air Forces in Operation Tidal Wave, August 1943The city was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1940, but managed to become the main source of oil for Nazi Germany during World War II, when Romania was allied to Germany. Because of its distance from Allied airfields, it escaped being attacked until Allied advances put it in range in 1943: The United States Army Air Forces mounted Operation Tidal Wave on August 1, attacking the refineries with a force of 177 B-24 Liberator bombers. Although this did inflict heavy damage on the ground, it came at a high cost to the attacking force and much of the damage was soon repaired. The Allies were finally able to mount sustained attacks from April 1944 by using captured airbases in Italy, and the city was captured by Soviet troops in August 1944.
Following the war, the new Communist regime nationalised the oil industry, which had largely been privately owned, and made massive investments in the oil and petroleum industry in a bid to modernise and repair the war damage.
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