- This article refers to the Republic of Moldova. For information about the adjacent Romanian region, see Moldavia; for other uses see Moldova (disambiguation)
The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country in eastern Europe, located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the east. Its border with Romania follows the Prut and lower Danube rivers. Previously a republic within the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991 as Moldavian SSR, it declared independence on 27 August 1991.
Main article: History of Moldova
Moldova's territory was inhabited in ancient times by Dacians. Situated on a strategic route between Asia and Europe, Moldova has suffered from several invasions, including those of the Kievan Rus and the Mongols.
During the Middle Ages the territory of Republica Moldova (including most of present-day Moldova but including also districts to the north and south, known as Northern Bukovina and Bugeac) formed the eastern part of the principality of Moldavia (which, like the present-day republic, was known in Romanian as "Moldova"). The principality became tributary to the Ottoman Empire during 16th century, following the Treaty of Bucharest in 1812, it was annexed by Russia as Bessarabia. The western part of Moldavia remained an autonomous principality and united with Wallachia to form the Kingdom of Romania in 1859.
At the end of World War I, Bessarabia proclaimed independence from Russia in 1918, and united with the Kingdom of Romania the same year. The Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia in June 1940 in an agreement with Germany expressed in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and though forced out again in 1941, Soviet troops reoccupied the area in August 1944. Under Soviet rule the southern and northern parts (inhabited by Ukrainians and Romanians) were transferred to Ukraine and Transnistria (largely inhabited by Russians) joined with the remainder in a Soviet republic called the "Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic" covering Moldova's current territory. Under Stalin, ethnic Russians were brought into the new country, especially into urbanized areas, while many ethnic Romanians were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in August 1991, Moldova declared its independence, becoming a member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, that December, along with most of the former Soviet republics.
Initially, there was a movement to reunite with Romania, but a March 1994 referendum saw an overwhelming majority of voters favouring continued independence. In the 2001 elections, the Communist party won a majority of seats in the Parliament and appointed a Communist president, Vladmir Voronin. Once again in the election held in 2005, the Communist party was re-elected and appointed Voronin for a second term. Despite great strain and attemped influence on the election, the Russians sent to "keep watch" over the election were not allowed in the country. In effect, the Russian-Moldovan ties have become greatly weakened, and the nation is split between building ties with Romania or Russia.
Main article: Politics of Moldova
The unicameral Moldovan parliament, or Parlament, has 101 seats, and its members are elected by popular vote every 4 years. The parliament then elects a president, who functions as the head of state. The president appoints a prime minister as head of government who in turn assembles a cabinet, both subject to parliamentary approval.
The largest party in the parliament is currently the Communist Party of Moldova (Partidul Comuniştilor din Republica Moldova, or PCRM), which also supplies the current president.
Main article: Administrative divisions of Moldova
Out of date map of Moldova showing old subdivisions
Moldova is divided into 32 districts (raion, pl. raioane), 3 municipalities (Chişinău, Bălţi and Bender), two semi-autonomous regions (Găgăuzia and the breakaway region of Transnistria, whose status is still disputed). The districts are:
1. Anenii Noi
29. Ştefan Voda
Formerly (from the late 1990s until February 2003), Moldova was made up of the following 9 counties (judeţe):
Before being divided into counties (during the Soviet times and up until the late 1990s), Moldova had been composed of 40 districts. These territorial and administrative changes over such short periods of time are simply a reflection of the current main policy of the ruling party or coalition (therefore, the ruling Communist Party, which favors the old-style Soviet districts, reinstated them two years after they got to power in 2001).
The part of Moldova east of the Dniestr River, Transnistria - which is more heavily industrialized and is populated by a larger proportion of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians - claimed independence in 1992, fearing Moldovan unification with Romania. Russian and Ukrainian forces intervened, and remain there to keep the peace. The OSCE is involved in negotiations between the Transnistrian leaders and Chişinău.
As no other nation recognises Transnistria, it is de jure a part of Moldova, although in reality it is not controlled by the Moldovan government.
Main article: Geography of Moldova
The western border of Moldova is formed by the Prut river, which joins the Danube before flowing into the Black Sea. In the north-east, the Dniester is the main river, flowing through the country from north to south.
The country is landlocked, even though it is very close to the Black Sea.
While the northern part of the country is hilly, elevations never exceed 430 m (the highest point being the Dealul Bălăneşti ).
Moldova has a temperate continental climate, with warm summers, but mild winters.
The country's main cities are the capital Chişinău, in the centre of the country, Tiraspol (in Transnistria), Bălţi and Bender.
See List of cities in Moldova
Main article: Economy of Moldova
Moldova enjoys a favourable climate and good farmland but has no major mineral deposits. As a result, the economy depends heavily on agriculture, featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco.
Moldova must import all of its supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas, largely from Russia. Energy shortages contributed to sharp production declines after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
As part of an ambitious economic liberalisation effort, Moldova introduced a convertible currency , freed all prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatisation, removed export controls, and freed interest rates. The government entered into agreements with the World Bank and the IMF to promote growth. Recent trends indicate that the communist government intends to reverse some of these policies, and recollectivise land while placing more restrictions on private business.
The economy returned to positive growth, of 2.1% in 2000 and 6.1% in 2001. Growth remained strong in 2002, in part because of the reforms and because of starting from a small base. Further liberalisation is in doubt because of strong political forces backing government controls. The economy remains vulnerable to higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the scepticism of foreign investors.
Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe in terms of GDP per capita.
Main article: Demographics of Moldova
Ethnicities (1989 est.):
- Romanian (Moldovan) 64.5%
- Ukrainian 13.8%
- Russian 13%
- Jewish 1.5%
- Bulgarian 2%
- Gagauz and other 5.2%
As many as a million Moldovans are currently out of the country seeking work (mostly in Russia), while one third of those who remain state that they would leave if they had a chance.
Main article: Culture of Moldova
- Moldavia, an adjacent region of Romania.