A country in eastern Europe bounded on the north, east, and south by Ukraine, and on the west by Romania. Wider Moldova comprises lands between the Carpathian Mountains in the west and the Dneister River in the east, including the north-east of modern Romania.
The Prut River waters the western part of Moldova, Bessarabia. Although landlocked, its proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild climate. From the north into the centre runs a belt of hills with deep valleys in which vines and fruit trees flourish. Further south are low-lying steppes supporting grain, sugar beet, and tobacco.
Moldova's mineral resources are meagre, but the soil is fertile and agriculture prospers, with viticulture, fruits and vegetables, tobacco, grains, and industrial crops, such as sunflower seeds, of importance. Industry concentrates on food-processing, machinery, and other light industry.
Moldova at one time formed part of Bessarabia, control over which was long disputed between Russians and Ottoman Turks, Russian occupation being confirmed in 1812. Although at first granted autonomy (1818–28), this was succeeded by a policy of Russification. A nationalist movement developed from 1905 and in November 1917 Bessarabia declared independence, voting in December 1918 for alliance with Romania. In June 1940 the Soviet Union demanded the return of Bessarabia and of northern Bukovina, and the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was created. The northern region of Bukovina and the coastal plain from the Danube to the Dniester went to the Ukraine. Romania briefly reoccupied the area in 1941, but the 1940 situation was restored in 1947. In August 1991 the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union as the Republic of Moldova. The regions of Dnestr and Gagauz also declared themselves to be separate republics, but their declarations were annulled by the Moldovan government. Ethnic violence broke out in the Dnestr region and Russian troops were sent in to protect Russian residents. A strong movement for unification with Romania increased inter-ethnic tensions. However, Moldova's first multiparty elections, held in 1994, were won by supporters of Moldovan independence. A new constitution granted autonomous status to the Dnestr and Gagauz regions but the situation remains tense. Constitutional conflicts between the President and parliament from the late 1990s led to a reduction of presidential powers in 2000. The Communists returned to power in the 2001 elections.
Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)
33,700 sq km (13,000 sq miles)
1 leu = 100 bani
Eastern Orthodox 44.5%; nonreligious 20.4%
Moldovan (Romanian) 48.2%; Ukrainian 13.8%; Russian 12.9%; Gagauz, Rom, Jewish, and Bulgarian minorities
Romanian (official); Russian; minority languages
UN; OSCE; Commonwealth of Independent States; Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council; Council of Europe; WTO
Subjects: World History.