Bucharest was first mentioned in documents in 1459. It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and is the centre of Romanian media, culture, and art. Its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical and Art Nouveau), interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist era and modern. In the period between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of "Little Paris" (Micul Paris). Although buildings and districts in the historic city centre were heavily damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes, and Nicolae Ceaușescu's program of systematization, many survived and have been renovated. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom. In 2016, the historical city centre was listed as "endangered" by the World Monuments Watch.
Economically, Bucharest is the most prosperous city in Romania. The city has a number of large convention facilities, educational institutes, cultural venues, traditional "shopping arcades" and recreational areas.
The city proper is administratively known as the "Municipality of Bucharest" (Municipiul București), and has the same administrative level as that of a national county, being further subdivided into six sectors, each governed by a local mayor.
The Romanian name București has an unverified origin. Tradition connects the founding of Bucharest with the name of Bucur, who was a prince, an outlaw, a fisherman, a shepherd or a hunter, according to different legends. In Romanian, the word stem bucurie means "joy" ("happiness"), and it is believed to be of Dacian origin, hence the city Bucharest means "city of joy".
Other etymologies are given by early scholars, including the one of an Ottoman traveller, Evliya Çelebi, who said that Bucharest was named after a certain "Abu-Kariș", from the tribe of "Bani-Kureiș". In 1781, Austrian historian Franz Sulzer claimed that it was related to bucurie (joy), bucuros (joyful), or a se bucura (to be joyful), while an early 19th-century book published in Vienna assumed its name to be derived from "Bukovie", a beech forest. In English, the city's name was formerly rendered as Bukarest.
A native or resident of Bucharest is called a "Bucharester" (Romanian: bucureștean).