In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Romanian provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia experienced a series of modernising reforms, some of them concerning the agrarian regime. The enforcement of the Organic Statues in the 1830s attempted to reform the political and economic life of the principalities, but it favoured the big landowners, at the expense of the peasantry. The agrarian reform enacted in 1864 put an end to serfdom and granted the right to own land to former corvée peasants. It was soon followed by the appropriation for the newlyweds, a law that offered land to newly married peasants in order to settle them in low populated rural areas. Population growth triggered a new demand for agricultural land because the big landowners still controlled approximately two thirds of the arable land. As a result, in 1881 and 1889 the state passed two laws concerning the sale of public domains to the peasantry, attempting to improve their standard of living. This article focuses on the process of rural colonisation, which took place at the end of the nineteenth century after the sale of state-owned estates to the peasants. Using data extracted from official statistics the article analyses, from a spatial point of view, the creation of a series of new settlements in low populated but fertile regions of the country. Finally, the article investigates how, at that time, this rural colonisation was perceived by peasants, politicians and rural sociologists.