Caracal is a city in Olt county, Romania, situated in the historic region of Wallachia, on the plains between the lower reaches of the Jiu and Olt rivers. The region's plains are well known for their agricultural specialty in cultivating grains and over the centuries, Caracal has been the trading center for the region's agricultural output. Caracal has a population of approximately 34,000 and is the second largest city in the region.
It is possible that the city's name is derived from the Cuman language and that it means "Black fortress" (kara, meaning "black", and kal, either from the Arabic qal'at or the Turkish kale, both meaning fortress). Other possibilities for the name include the wild cat caracal (its original Turkish name, karakulak, means "black ear"). Another theory links the origin to Roman Emperor Caracalla, who supposedly established a fortress in the area.
The end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century saw Caracal experience significant growth and the region become one of the most important agricultural regions in Romania. Caracal was this region's capital and seat of Romanaţi County. World War II and the communist regime brought changes to this region and to the city of Caracal. The communist government, which disestablished Romanaţi County, instituted industrialization plans and Caracal experienced continued economic growth through the establishment of industrial plants in the textile industry sector.
The town underwent major changes after the Nicolae Ceauşescu regime was overthrown by the December 1989 Revolution, with many factories collapsing under the pressure of the market economy.