Sibiu is one of the most important cities in Transylvania. With 155,000 permanent inhabitants and 25,000 temporary inhabitants, mostly students, Sibiu is the largest city in the county. Most of the inhabitants are Romanians (94%), but Sibiu is also home for Germans, Hungarians, Roma people and others.
The first documented mention of the region dates back to 20 December 1191 when Pope Celestine III issued a document attesting to the existence of a free German provostship in Transylvania, based in Sibiu. Mentioned as Hermannsdorf in 1321, Sibiu becomes a civitas in the second half of the 14th century, the name Hermannstadt being used for the first time wit reference to the city in a document issued in 1366.
In the Medieval Age, Sibiu enjoyed a continuous economic development, especially due to the activity of the guilds. Their first statutes (1376) enumerate as many as 19 guilds (of which 13 were active in Sibiu) with 25 crafts. The number of guilds gradually increased and in the second half of the 16th century there were 29 guilds; in 1780, there 40 guilds, at a time when the role of manufactories had already grown considerably.
Once the Turks had been defeated by the Austrians at the end of the 17th century, Transylvania became a great principality of the Habsburg Empire with its capital in Sibiu. In 1688, the Transylvanian Military Commander was installed in Sibiu and was based there until November 7, 1918. The administrative power of the new province was exercised by a government (gubern) which was based in Sibiu between 1692 and 1791 and between 1850 and 1867. Sibiu was also the residence of the Governor of Transylvania.
In the first half of the 19th century, a new wave of colonists, the Landler, settled around Sibiu, the closest community being in today’s Turnișor, then Neppendorf. Gradually, the presence of the Romanian population in the city becomes more and more vivid. As of 1761, Sibiu became the most important religious and cultural centre of the Orthodox Romanians in Transylvania, and, in 1864, Andrei Șaguna re-established the Transylvanian Metropolitan See in Sibiu. Sibiu thus became, in the mid-19th century, the spiritual centre of the fight for national emancipation. In this fight for national liberation, Simion Bărnuţiu drafted proclamation to the Romanian nation which was read before the Assembly in Blaj. The Romanian National Committee was also established in Sibiu chaired by Bishop Andrei Șaguna. In 1863, the Transylvanian Diet convened in Sibiu and voted for the equal right of the Romanian nation and its confessions. Moreover, the Romanian National Party, the most important political party in Transylvania, based in Sibiu triggered the most significant social-political movement of the second half of the 19th century – the Memorandum Movement, given the fact that, as of 1867, Transylvania became part of Hungary, within the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
The second half of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century witnessed unprecedented economic and social development in Sibiu. The urban, economic and social development Sibiu was enjoying at the turn of the century was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. Sibiu also played an important role in the Union of 1918, and immediately after the proclamation of the Union of Transylvania with Romania, on 1 December 1918, Sibiu became one more time the capital of the province until the end of 1919, hosting both the Directing Council (the Government of Transylvania) and the Grand Council (the Parliament of Transylvania).
The name of the city was officially changed to Sibiu in 1919.
The city has enjoyed a significant economic and cultural revival in recent years, being today one of the cities with the highest level of foreign investment in Romania. Sibiu was also the European Capital of Culture in 2007, in partnership with Luxembourg, being the first city in Eastern Europe to receive this title.