Moldova, officially the Republic of Moldova (Moldovan/Romanian: Republica Moldova pronounced) is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991 as part of the dissolution of the Soviet Union(HP Pavilion dv6-3000 battery). On 29 July 1994, the new constitution of Moldova was adopted and the state of the Moldovan SSR ceased to exist. A strip of Moldova's internationally recognized territory on the east bank of the river Dniester has been under the de facto control of the breakaway government of Transnistria since 1990(HP Pavilion dv6-3005sa battery).
The nation is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. Moldova is a member state of the United Nations, Council of Europe, WTO, OSCE, GUAM, CIS, BSEC and other international organizations. Moldova currently aspires to join the European Union(HP Pavilion dv6-3005tx battery), and has implemented the first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
Main article: Name of Moldova
The name "Moldova" is derived from the Moldova River; the valley of this river was a political center when the Principality of Moldavia was founded in 1359. The origin of the name of the river is not clear. There is an account (a legend) of prince Dragoş naming the river after hunting an aurochs: after the chase(HP Pavilion dv6-3006tx battery), his exhausted hound Molda drowned in the river. According to Dimitrie Cantemir and Grigore Ureche, the dog's name was given to the river and extended to the Principality.
Main article: History of Moldova
During the Neolithic stone age era, Moldova's territory was the center of the large Cucuteni-Trypillian culture that stretched east beyond the Dniester River in Ukraine, and west up to and beyond the Carpathian Mountains in Romania(HP Pavilion dv6-3011tx battery). The inhabitants of this civilization, which lasted roughly from 5500 to 2750 BC, practiced agriculture, raised livestock, hunted, and made intricately designed pottery. This society built very large settlements, some of which numbered up to 15,000 inhabitants.
Antiquity and Middle Ages
Stephen the Great, Prince of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504, and the most prominent Moldavian historical personality(HP Pavilion dv6-3010sa battery)
Soroca Fort was built on the site of the former Genoese fortress Polihromia
In Antiquity Moldova's territory was inhabited by Dacian tribes. Between the I and VII centuries AD, the south was intermittently under the Roman, then Byzantine Empires. Due to its strategic location on a route between Asia and Europe, the territory of modern Moldova was invaded many times in late antiquity and early Middle Ages(HP Pavilion dv6-3015sa battery), including by Goths, Huns, Avars, Bulgarians, Magyars, Pechenegs, Cumans, Mongols and Tatars.
The Principality of Moldavia, established in 1359, was bounded by the Carpathian mountains in the west, Dniester river in the east, and Danube and Black Sea in the south. Its territory comprised the present-day territory of the Republic of Moldova, the eastern eight of the 41 counties of Romania(HP Pavilion dv6-3020sa battery), and the Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak region of Ukraine. Like the present-day republic and Romania's north-eastern region, it was known to the locals as Moldova. Moldavia was invaded repeatedly by Crimean Tatars and, since the 15th century, by the Turks. In 1538, the principality became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire, but it retained internal and partial external autonomy(HP Pavilion dv6-3025sa battery).
In accordance with the Treaty of Bucharest of 1812 and despite numerous protests by Moldavian nobles on behalf of their autonomous status, the Ottoman Empire (of which Moldavia was a vassal) ceded to the Russian Empire the eastern half of the territory of the Principality of Moldavia along with Khotyn and old Bessarabia (modern Budjak) (HP Pavilion dv6-3026tx battery).
The new Russian province was called "Oblast of Moldavia and Bessarabia", and initially enjoyed a large degree of autonomy. After 1828 this autonomy was progressively restricted and in 1871 the Oblast was transformed into the Bessarabia Governorate, in a process of state-imposed assimilation, "Russification"(HP Pavilion dv6-3030sa battery). As part of this process, the Tsarist administration in Bessarabia gradually removed the Romanian language from official and religious use. The western part of Moldavia (which is a part of present-day Romania) remained an autonomous principality, and in 1859, united with Wallachia to form the Kingdom of Romania(HP Pavilion dv6-3030tx battery).
The Treaty of Paris (1856) returned three counties of Bessarabia — Cahul, Bolgrad and Ismail — to Moldavia, but in the Treaty of Berlin (1878), the Kingdom of Romania agreed to return them to the Russian Empire. Over the 19th century, the Russian authorities encouraged colonization of the south of the region by Ukrainians(HP Pavilion dv6-3031sa battery), Lipovans, Cossacks, Bulgarians, Germans, Gagauzes, and allowed the settlement of more Jews, to replace the large Nogai Tatar population expelled in the 1770s and 1780s, during Russo-Turkish Wars; the Moldovan proportion of the population decreased from around 86% in 1816 to around 52% in 1905(HP Pavilion dv6-3032sa battery).
Greater Romania map
World War I brought in a rise in political and cultural (ethnic) awareness among the inhabitants of the region, as 300,000 Bessarabians were drafted into the Russian Army formed in 1917; within bigger units several "Moldavian Soldiers' Committees" were formed. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Bessarabian parliament(HP Pavilion dv6-3032tx battery), Sfatul Ţării, was elected in October–November 1917 and opened on December 3 [O.S. November 21] 1917. The Sfatul Ţării proclaimed the Moldavian Democratic Republic (December 15 [O.S. December 2] 1917) within a federal Russian state, and formed a government (December 21 [O.S. December 8] 1917) (HP Pavilion dv6-3033sa battery).
Bessarabia proclaimed independence from Russia on February 6 [O.S. January 24] 1918 and requested the assistance of the French army present in Romania (general Henri Berthelot) and of the Romanian army, which had occupied the region in early January. On April 9 [O.S. March 27] 1918, the Sfatul Ţării decided with 86 votes for(HP Pavilion dv6-3035sa battery), 3 against and 36 abstaining, to unite with the Kingdom of Romania. The union was conditional upon fulfillment of the agrarian reform, autonomy, and respect for universal human rights. A part of the interim Parliament agreed to drop these conditions after Bukovina and Transylvania also joined the Kingdom of Romania, although historians note that they lacked the quorum to do so. (HP Pavilion dv6-3040sa battery)
MPs of the Moldavian Democratic Republic in 1918
This union was recognized by the principal Allied Powers in the 1920 Treaty of Paris, which however was not ratified by all of its signatories. Some major powers, such as the United States and the newly communist Russia, did not recognize Romanian rule over Bessarabia, the latter considering it an occupation of Russian territory(HP Pavilion dv6-3042tx battery).
In May 1919, the Bessarabian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed as a government in exile. After the failure of the Tatarbunary Uprising in 1924, the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian ASSR) was formed(HP Pavilion dv6-3044sa battery).
In August 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret additional protocol were signed, by which Nazi Germany recognized Bessarabia as being within the Soviet sphere of influence, which led the latter to actively revive its claim to the region. On June 28, 1940, the Soviet Union, with the acknowledgement of Nazi Germany(HP Pavilion dv6-3045sa battery), issued an ultimatum to Romania requesting the cession of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, with which Romania complied the following day. Soon after, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian SSR) was established, comprising about 70% of Bessarabia, and 50% of the now-disbanded Moldavian ASSR(HP Pavilion dv6-3046sa battery).
As part of the 1941 Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania seized the territories of Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and Transnistria. Romanian forces, working with the Germans, deported or exterminated about 300,000 Jews, including 147,000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina (of the latter, approximately 90,000 perished) (HP Pavilion dv6-3047sa battery). The Soviet Army re-captured the region in February–August 1944, and re-established the Moldavian SSR. Between the end of the Jassy-Kishinev Offensive in August 1944 and the end of the war in May 1945, 256,800 inhabitants of the Moldavian SSR were drafted into the Soviet Army. 40,592 of them perished(HP Pavilion dv6-3048sa battery).
Ethnic Germans resettling after the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia in 1940
During the Stalinist period (1940–1941, 1944–1953), deportations of locals to the northern Urals, to Siberia, and northern Kazakhstan occurred regularly, with the largest ones on 12–13 June 1941, and 5–6 July 1949, accounting from MSSR alone for 18,392 and 35,796 deportees respectively(HP Pavilion dv6-3048tx battery). Other forms of Soviet persecution of the population included 32,433 political arrests, followed by Gulag or (in 8,360 cases) execution.
In 1946, as a result of a severe drought and excessive delivery quota obligations and requisitions imposed by the Soviet government, the southwestern part of the USSR suffered from a major famine. In 1946–1947(HP Pavilion dv6-3050eo battery), at least 216,000 deaths and about 350,000 cases of dystrophy were accounted by historians in the Moldavian SSR alone. Similar events occurred in 1930s in the Moldavian ASSR. In 1944–53, there were several anti-Soviet resistance groups in Moldova; however the NKVD and later MGB managed to eventually arrest, execute or deport their members(HP Pavilion dv6-3050sa battery).
In the postwar period, the Soviet government arranged migration of workforce (mostly Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians), into the new Soviet republic, especially into urbanized areas, partly to compensate for the demographic loss caused by the war and the emigration of 1940 and 1944. In the 1970s and 1980s(HP Pavilion dv6-3055sa battery), the Moldavian SSR received substantial allocations from the budget of the USSR to develop industrial and scientific facilities and housing. In 1971, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a decision "About the measures for further development of the city of Kishinev" (modern Chişinău) (HP Pavilion dv6-3056sa battery), that allotted more than one billion Soviet rubles from the USSR budget for building projects, subsequent decisions also directed substantial funding and brought qualified specialists from other parts of the USSR to develop Moldova's industry.
The Soviet government conducted a campaign to promote a Moldovan ethnic identity distinct from that of the Romanians(HP Pavilion dv6-3057sa battery), based on a theory developed during the existence of the Moldavian ASSR. Official Soviet policy asserted that the language spoken by Moldovans was distinct from the Romanian language (see Moldovenism). To distinguish the two, during the Soviet period, Moldovan was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, in contrast with Romanian, which since 1860 had been written in the Latin alphabet(HP Pavilion dv6-3060sa battery).
After the death of Stalin, political persecutions changed in character from mass to individual. All independent organizations were severely reprimanded, with the National Patriotic Front leaders being sentenced in 1972 to long prison terms. The Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Moldova is assessing the activity of the communist totalitarian regime(HP Pavilion dv6-3065ea battery).
In the 1980s, political conditions created by the glasnost and perestroika, a Democratic Movement of Moldova was formed, which in 1989 became known as the nationalist Popular Front of Moldova (FPM). Along with several other Soviet republics, from 1988 onwards, Moldova started to move towards independence(HP Pavilion dv6-3067ea battery). On August 27, 1989, the FPM organized a mass demonstration in Chişinău that became known as the Grand National Assembly. The assembly pressured the authorities of the Moldavian SSR to adopt a language law on August 31, 1989 that proclaimed the Moldovan language written in the Latin script to be the state language of the MSSR. Its identity with the Romanian language was also established(HP Pavilion dv6-3068ea battery). The year 1989 that had seen Communist Party increasingly pummeled, was also marked by November riots.
Deputy Gheorghe Ghimpu replaces the Soviet flag on the Parliament with the national one on April 27, 1990
The first democratic elections for the local parliament were held in February and March 1990. Mircea Snegur was elected as Speaker of the Parliament, and Mircea Druc as Prime Minister. On June 23, 1990, the Parliament adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty of the "Soviet Socialist Republic Moldova"(HP Pavilion dv6-3070ea battery), which, among other things, stipulated the supremacy of Moldovan laws over those of the Soviet Union. After the failure of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, on August 27, 1991, Moldova declared its independence, Romania being the first state to recognize its independence(HP Pavilion dv6-3077la battery).
On December 21 of the same year Moldova, along with most of the other Soviet republics, signed the constitutive act that formed the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Moldova received official recognition on December 25. On December 26, 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Declaring itself a neutral state(HP Pavilion dv6-3085ea battery), it did not join the military branch of the CIS. Three months later, on March 2, 1992, the country gained formal recognition as an independent state at the United Nations. In 1994, Moldova became a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program and also a member of the Council of Europe on June 29, 1995(HP Pavilion dv6-3088la battery).
In the region east of the Dniester river, Transnistria, which includes a large proportion of predominantly russophone East Slavs of Ukrainian (28%) and Russian (26%) descent (altogether 54% as of 1989), while Moldovans (40%) have been the largest ethnic group, and where the headquarters and many units of the Soviet 14th Guards Army were stationed(HP Pavilion dv6-3089la battery), an independent Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed on August 16, 1990, with its capital in Tiraspol. The motives behind this move were fear of the rise of nationalism in Moldova and the country's expected reunification with Romania upon secession from the USSR(HP Pavilion dv6-3100 battery). In the winter of 1991–1992 clashes occurred between Transnistrian forces, supported by elements of the 14th Army, and the Moldovan police. Between March 2 and July 26, 1992, the conflict escalated into a military engagement.
On January 2, 1992, Moldova introduced a market economy, liberalizing prices, which resulted in rapid inflation. From 1992 to 2001, the young country suffered a serious economic crisis(HP Pavilion dv6-3100sa battery), leaving most of the population below the poverty line. In 1993, a national currency, the Moldovan leu, was introduced to replace the temporary cupon. The economy of Moldova began to change in 2001; and until 2008 the country saw a steady annual growth of between 5% and 10%. The early 2000s also saw a considerable growth of emigration of Moldovans looking for work (mostly illegally) in Russia (especially the Moscow region) (HP Pavilion dv6-3110ea battery), Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and other countries; remittances from Moldovans abroad account for almost 38% of Moldova's GDP, the second-highest percentage in the world.
In the 1994 parliamentary elections, the Democratic Agrarian Party gained a majority of the seats, setting a turning point in Moldovan politics. With the nationalist Popular Front now in a parliamentary minority(HP Pavilion dv6-3110sa battery), new measures aiming to moderate the ethnic tensions in the country could be adopted. Plans for a union with Romania were abandoned, and the new Constitution gave autonomy to the breakaway Transnistria and Gagauzia. On December 23, 1994, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a "Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia", and in 1995 the latter was constituted(HP Pavilion dv6-3111sa battery).
After winning the 1996 presidential elections, on January 15, 1997, Petru Lucinschi, the former First Secretary of the Moldavian Communist Party in 1989–91, became the country's second president (1997–2001), succeeding Mircea Snegur (1991–1996). In 2000, the Constitution was amended, transforming Moldova into a parliamentary republic(HP Pavilion dv6-3112sa battery), with the president being chosen through indirect election rather than direct popular vote.
Winning 49.9% of the vote, the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (reinstituted in 1993 after being outlawed in 1991), gained 71 of the 101 MPs, and on April 4, 2001, elected Vladimir Voronin as the country's third president (re-elected in 2005) (HP Pavilion dv6-3113sa battery). The country became the first post-Soviet state where a non-reformed Communist Party returned to power. New governments were formed by Vasile Tarlev (April 19, 2001 – March 31, 2008), and Zinaida Greceanîi (March 31, 2008 – September 14, 2009). In 2001–2003 relations between Moldova and Russia improved, but then temporarily deteriorated in 2003–2006(HP Pavilion dv6-3114sa battery), in the wake of the failure of the Kozak memorandum, culminating in the 2006 wine exports crisis. The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova managed to stay in power for eight years. The fragmentation of the liberal (aka the democrats) helped consolidate its power. The decline of the party started in 2009 after Marian Lupu joined the Democratic Party and thus attracted many of the Moldovans supporting the Communists(HP Pavilion dv6-3115sa battery).
2009 Moldova civil unrest at the Parliament building
In the April 2009 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party won 49.48% of the votes, followed by the Liberal Party with 13.14% of the votes, the Liberal Democratic Party with 12.43%, and the Alliance "Moldova Noastră" with 9.77%. The controversial results of this election sparked civil unrest(HP Pavilion dv6-3115tx battery)
In August 2009, four Moldovan parties – Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Democratic Party, and Our Moldova Alliance – agreed to create a governing coalition that pushed the Communist party into opposition. On August 28, 2009, this coalition chose a new parliament speaker (Mihai Ghimpu) in a vote that was boycotted by Communist legislators(HP Pavilion dv6-3116sa battery). Vladimir Voronin, who had been President of Moldova since 2001, eventually resigned on September 11, 2009, but the Parliament failed to elect a new president. The acting president Mihai Ghimpu instituted the Commission for constitutional reform in Moldova to adopt a new version of the Constitution of Moldova(HP Pavilion dv6-3116tx battery). After the constitutional referendum aimed to approve the reform failed in September 2010, the parliament was dissolved again and a new parliamentary election was scheduled for 28 November 2010. On December 30, 2010, Marian Lupu was elected as the Speaker of the Parliament. In accordance with the Constitution, he will be serving as the Acting President of Republic of Moldova(HP Pavilion dv6-3117sa battery).
Government and politics
Moldova is a unitary parliamentary representative democratic republic. The 1994 Constitution of Moldova sets the framework for the government of the country. A parliamentary majority of at least two thirds is required to amend the Constitution of Moldova, which cannot be revised in time of war or national emergency(HP Pavilion dv6-3118sa battery). Amendments to the Constitution affecting the state's sovereignty, independence, or unity can only be made after a majority of voters support the proposal in a referendum. Furthermore, no revision can be made to limit the fundamental rights of people enumerated in the Constitution(HP Pavilion dv6-3119sa battery).
The country's central legislative body is the unicameral Moldovan Parliament (Parlament), which has 101 seats, and whose members are elected by popular vote on party lists every four years.
The head of state is the President of Moldova, who is elected by the Moldovan Parliament, requiring the support of three fifths of the deputies (at least 61 votes) (HP Pavilion dv6-3120sa battery). The president of Moldova has been elected by the parliament since 2001, a change designed to decrease executive authority in favor of the legislature. The president appoints a prime minister who functions as the head of government, and who in turn assembles a cabinet, both subject to parliamentary approval(HP Pavilion dv6-3121sa battery).
The 1994 constitution also establishes an independent Constitutional Court, composed of six judges (two appointed by the President, two by Parliament, and two by the Supreme Council of Magistrature), serving six-year terms, during which they are irremovable and not subordinate to any power. The Court is invested with the power of judicial review over all acts of the parliament(HP Pavilion dv6-3122sa battery), over presidential decrees, and over international treaties, signed by the country.
Main articles: Foreign Relations of Moldova and Moldova and the European Union
Embassy of Moldova in Washington, D.C.
Moldova has fixed as a priority EU integration
After achieving independence from the Soviet Union, Moldova established relations with other European countries. A course for European Union integration and neutrality define the country's foreign policy guidelines(HP Pavilion dv6-3123sa battery). In 1995 the country was admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, Moldova is also a member state of the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Francophonie and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development(HP Pavilion dv6-3125sa battery).
In 2005, Moldova and the EU established an action plan that sought to improve the collaboration between the two neighboring structures. At the end of 2005 EUBAM, the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine, was established at the joint request of the presidents of Moldova and Ukraine(HP Pavilion dv6-3127sa battery). EUBAM assists the Moldovan and Ukrainian governments in approximating their border and customs procedures to EU standards, and offers support in both countries' fight against cross-border crime.
After the War of Transnistria, Moldova sought a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Transnistria region by working with Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, calling for international mediation(HP Pavilion dv6-3130sa battery), and cooperating with the OSCE and UN fact-finding and observer missions. The foreign minister of Moldova, Andrei Stratan, repeatedly stated that the Russian troops stationed in the breakaway region are there against the will of the Moldovan Government and called on them to leave "completely and unconditionally." In 2012, the death of Vadim Pisari has raised the tension with Russia and has revived a decades-old debate over security in Moldova(HP Pavilion dv6-3131sa battery).
In September 2010, the European Parliament approved a grant of €90 million to Moldova. The money will supplement $570 million in International Monetary Fund loans, World Bank and other bilateral support already granted to Moldova. In April 2010(HP Pavilion dv6-3140sa battery), Romania offered to Moldova development aid worth of €100 million while the number of scholarships for Moldovan students will double to 5,000. According to a lending agreement signed in February 2010, Poland will provide US$15 million and will support Moldova in its European integration efforts(HP Pavilion dv6-3141sa battery). The first joint meeting of the Governments of Romania and Moldova, held in March 2012, concluded with several bilateral agreements in various fields. The European orientation “has been the policy of Moldova in recent years and this is the policy that must continue,” Nicolae Timofti told lawmakers before his election(HP Pavilion dv6-3150sa battery).”
Soldiers of the Moldovan Army
Main article: Military of Moldova
The Moldovan armed forces consist of the Ground Forces and Air and Air Defense Forces. Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits(HP Pavilion dv6-3163eo battery). The country acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 in Washington, D.C. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994(HP Pavilion dv6-3180ea battery).
Moldova is committed to a number of international and regional control of arms regulations such as the UN Firearms Protocol, Stability Pact Regional Implementation Plan, the UN Programme of Action (PoA) and the OSCE Documents on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition(HP Pavilion dv6-3298ea battery).
Main article: Human rights in Moldova
According to Amnesty International, "Torture and other ill-treatment in police detention remained widespread; the state failed to carry out prompt and impartial investigations and police officers sometimes evaded penalties. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists were again denied the right to demonstrate(HP Pavilion dv6-3299ea battery)." Political dissidents from Ilaşcu Group were released from arbitrary detention only after an order of the European Court of Human Rights. In 2009, when Moldova experienced its most serious civil unrest in a decade, several civilians like Valeriu Boboc were killed by police and many more injured. According to Human Rights Report of the United States Department of State(HP Pavilion dv6-3300 battery), released in April 2011, "In contrast to the previous year, there were no reports of killings by security forces. During the year reports of government exercising undue influence over the media substantially decreased." But "Transnistrian authorities continued to harass independent media and opposition lawmakers; restrict freedom of association, movement, and religion; and discriminate against Romanian speakers(HP Pavilion dv6-3300sg battery)." Moldova "has made “noteworthy progress” on religious freedom since the era of the Soviet Union, but it can still take further steps to foster diversity," said the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt, in Chişinău, in September 2011(HP Pavilion dv6-3350ef battery).
Territories of the medieval Principality of Moldavia are now split between Romania in blue, Moldova in green, and Ukraine in pink (Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak).
Main articles: Administrative divisions of Moldova, List of cities in Moldova, and List of localities in Moldova(HP Pavilion dv6-3350sf battery)
Moldova is divided into thirty-two districts (raioane, singular raion), three municipalities and two autonomous regions (Gagauzia and Transnistria). The final status of Transnistria is disputed, as the central government does not control that territory. The cities of Comrat and Tiraspol, the administrative seats of the two autonomous territories also have municipality status(HP Pavilion dv6-3351ef battery).
Moldova has 65 cities (towns), including the five with municipality status, and 917 communes. Some other 699 villages are too small to have a separate administration, and are administratively part of either cities (40 of them) or communes (659). This makes for a total of 1,681 localities of Moldova, all but two of which are inhabited(HP Pavilion dv6-3351sf battery).
Main article: Geography of Moldova
Dniester valley view
Moldova lies between latitudes 45° and 49° N, and mostly between meridians 26° and 30° E (a small area lies east of 30°).The total land area is 33,851 km2
The largest part of the nation lies between two rivers, the Dniester and the Prut. The western border of Moldova is formed by the Prut river, which joins the Danube before flowing into the Black Sea(HP Pavilion dv6-3355ef battery). Moldova has access to the Danube for only about 480 m (1,575 ft), and Giurgiuleşti is the only Moldovan port on the Danube. In the east, the Dniester is the main river, flowing through the country from north to south, receiving the waters of Răut, Bâc, Ichel, Botna. Ialpug flows into one of the Danube limans, while Cogâlnic into the Black Sea chain of limans(HP Pavilion dv6-3355sf battery).
The country is landlocked, even though it is very close to the Black Sea. While most of the country is hilly, elevations never exceed 430 m (1,411 ft) — the highest point being the Bălăneşti Hill. Moldova's hills are part of the Moldavian Plateau, which geologically originate from the Carpathian Mountains(HP Pavilion dv6-3362ef battery). Its subdivisions in Moldova include Dniester Hills (Northern Moldavian Hills and Dniester Ridge), Moldavian Plain (Middle Prut Valley and Bălţi Steppe), and Central Moldavian Plateau (Ciuluc-Soloneţ Hills, Corneşti Hills (Codri Massive; "Codri" meaning "forests"), Lower Dniester Hills, Lower Prut Valley, and Tigheci Hills). In the south, the country has a small flatland, the Bugeac Plain(HP Pavilion dv6-3362sf battery). The territory of Moldova east of the river Dniester is split between parts of the Podolian Plateau, and parts of the Eurasian Steppe.
The country's main cities are the capital Chişinău, in the center of the country, Tiraspol (in the eastern region of Transnistria), Bălţi (in the north) and Bender (in the south-east). Comrat is the administrative center of GagauziaHP Pavilion dv6-6000 battery .
Moldova's proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate.
Moldova's climate is moderately continental: the summers are warm and long, with temperatures averaging about 20 °C (68 °F), and the winters are relatively mild and dry, with January temperatures averaging −4 °C (25 °F). Annual rainfall, which ranges from around 600 millimeters (23.6 in) in the north to 400 millimeters (15.7 in) HP Pavilion dv6-6000eg battery in the south, can vary greatly; long dry spells are not unusual. The heaviest rainfall occurs in early summer and again in October; heavy showers and thunderstorms are common. Because of the irregular terrain, heavy summer rains often cause erosion and river siltingHP Pavilion dv6-6001ea battery.
Weather records. The highest temperature ever recorded: +41.5 °C (106.70 °F) on July 21, 2007 (Camenca). The lowest temperature ever recorded: −35.5 °C (−31.9 °F) on January 20, 1963 (Brătuşeni, Edineţ county).
GDP by sector
A portrait of Stephen III is found on the front of each leu banknote.
Main article: Economy of Moldova
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the relative weight of the service sector in the economy of Moldova started to grow and began to dominate the GDP (now about 75%), as a result of decrease in industry and agricultureHP Pavilion dv6-6001eg battery. The main economic indicators contracted dramatically.
As of 2009, Moldova has been described by the European Parliament as the poorest country in Europe in terms of GDP.
Moldova imports all of its supplies of petroleum, coal, and natural gas, largely from Russia. Moldova is a partner country of the EU INOGATE energy programme, which has four key topicsHP Pavilion dv6-6001sg battery: enhancing energy security, convergence of member state energy markets on the basis of EU internal energy market principles, supporting sustainable energy development, and attracting investment for energy projects of common and regional interest.
There are 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 bani coins of the Moldovan leu.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, energy shortages contributed to sharp production declines. As part of an ambitious economic liberalization effortHP Pavilion dv6-6002eg battery, Moldova introduced a convertible currency, liberalized all prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatization, removed export controls, and liberalized interest rates. The government entered into agreements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to promote growthHP Pavilion dv6-6002sg battery.
Sky Tower in Downtown Chişinău
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 2007 (6%), in part because of the reforms and because of starting from a small baseHP Pavilion dv6-6003eg battery. The economy remains vulnerable to higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the skepticism of foreign investors.
Following the regional financial crisis in 1998, Moldova has made significant progress towards achieving and retaining macroeconomic and financial stabilization. It has, furthermoreHP Pavilion dv6-6004sa battery, implemented many structural and institutional reforms that are indispensable for the efficient functioning of a market economy. These efforts have helped maintain macroeconomic and financial stability under difficult external circumstances, enabled the resumption of economic growth and contributed to establishing an environment conducive to the economy's further growth and development in the medium term. HP Pavilion dv6-6005ea battery
General Statistic Diagrams of Internet in Moldova, in terms of download speed country ranked 9 in World
Despite these efforts and recent resumption of economic growth, Moldova ranks low in terms of commonly used living standards and human development indicators in comparison with other transition economies. Although the economy experienced a constant economic growth after 2000HP Pavilion dv6-6005eg battery: with 2.1%, 6.1%, 7.8% and 6.3% between 2000 and 2003 (with a forecast of 8% in 2004), one can observe that these latest developments hardly reach the level of 1994, with almost 40% of the GDP registered in 1990. Thus, during the last decade little has been done to reduce the country's vulnerability. After a severe economic declineHP Pavilion dv6-6005sg battery, social and economic challenges, energy uprooted dependencies, Moldova continues to occupy one of the last places among European countries in income per capita.
In 2005 (according to the Human Development Report), the registered GDP per capita was US $ 2,100 PPP, which was 4.5 times lower than the world average at the time (US $ 9,543). Moreover, GDP per capita was under the average of its statistical regionHP Pavilion dv6-6006ea battery (US $ 9,527 PPP). In 2005, about 20.8% of the population were under the absolute poverty line and registered an income lower than US $ 2.15 (PPP) per day. Moldova is classified as medium in human development and is at the 111th spot in the list of 177 countries. The value of the Human Development Index (0.708) is below the world averageHP Pavilion dv6-6007sg battery. Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe in terms of official (i.e., excluding the black and grey economy) per capita which currently stands at $1,808.729
The GDP in 2007 constituted $4.104 billion. That constituted a growth of 3% from 2006.
Mileştii Mici contains the world's largest wine cellars
Main articles: Moldovan wine and Moldovan wine producers
Moldova is known for its wines. For many years viticulture and winemaking in Moldova were the general occupation of the populationHP Pavilion dv6-6007tx battery. Evidence of this is present in historical memorials and documents, folklore, and the Moldovan spoken language.
The country has a well established wine industry. It has a vineyard area of 147,000 hectares (360,000 acres), of which 102,500 ha (253,000 acres) are used for commercial production. Most of the country's wine production is made for exportHP Pavilion dv6-6008eg battery. Many families have their own recipes and strands of grapes that have been passed down through the generations.
Moldova consumes the highest amount of alcohol per capita in the world.
Main article: Agriculture of Moldova
Moldova's rich soil and temperate continental climate (with warm summers and mild winters) have made the country one of the most productive agricultural regions since ancient times, and a major supplier of agricultural products in southeastern EuropeHP Pavilion dv6-6008sa battery. In agriculture, the economic reform started with the land cadastre reform.
Main article: Tourism in Moldova
Tourism focuses on the country's natural landscapes and its history. Wine tours are offered to tourists across the country. Vineyards/cellars include Cricova, Purcari, Ciumai, Romanesti, Cojuşna, Milestii MiciHP Pavilion dv6-6008tx battery.
Chișinău International Airport
Main articles: Transport in Moldova and Rail transport in Moldova
The main means of transportation in Moldova are railroads 1,138 km (707 mi) and a highway system (12,730 km/7,910 mi overall, including 10,937 km/6,796 mi of paved surfaces). The sole international air gateway of Moldova is the Chişinău International Airport. The Giurgiuleşti terminal on the Danube is compatible with small seagoing vesselsHP Pavilion dv6-6011tu battery. Shipping on the lower Prut and Nistru rivers plays only a modest role in the country's transportation system.
Main article: Telecommunications in Moldova
The first million of mobile telephone users was registered in September 2005. The number of mobile telephone users in Moldova increased by 47.3 % in the first quarter of 2008 against the last year and exceeded 2.89 millionHP Pavilion dv6-6012tu battery.
In September 2009, Moldova was the first country in the world to launch high-definition voice services (HD voice) for mobile phones, and the first country in Europe to launch 14,4 Mbit/s mobile broadband at a national scale, with over 40% population coverageHP Pavilion dv6-6013cl battery.
As of 2010 there are around 1,295,000 Internet users in Moldova with overall Internet penetration of 35.9%.
Main article: Demographics of Moldova
Ethno-linguistic composition in 2004
Cultural and ethnic composition
The last reference data is that of the 2004 Moldovan Census (areas controlled by the central government), and the 2004 Census in Transnistria (areas controlled by the breakaway authorities, including Transnistria, Bender/Tighina, and four neighboring communes) HP Pavilion dv6-6013tu battery:
1There is an ongoing controversy whether Romanians and Moldovans are the same ethnic group, namely whether Moldovans' self-identification constitutes an ethnic group distinct and apart from Romanians or a subset. There were also numerous allegations that the ethnic affiliation numbers were riggedHP Pavilion dv6-6022eg battery, 7 out of 10 observer groups of the Council of Europe reported a significant number of cases when census-takers recommended respondents to declare themselves Moldovans rather than Romanians. Complicating the interpretation of the results, 18.8% of respondents that identified themselves as Moldovans declared Romanian to be their native languageHP Pavilion dv6-6023tx battery. 
Main articles: Languages of Moldova, Moldovan language, and Romanian language
A Limba noastră social ad in Chişinău, with the word "Română" sprayed onto it
The Constitution of 1994 states that the national language of the Republic of Moldova is Moldovan, and its writing is based on the Latin alphabet. The 1991 Declaration of Independence names the official language Romanian. HP Pavilion dv6-6024tx batteryThe 1989 State Language Law speaks of a Moldovan-Romanian linguistic identity.
There is a political controversy over the name of the main ethnicity of the Republic of Moldova. During 2003–2009, the Communist government adopted a national political conception which states that one of the priorities of the national politics of the Republic of Moldova is the insurance of the existence of the Moldovan language. HP Pavilion dv6-6025tx battery Scholars agree that Moldovan and Romanian are the same language, with the glottonym "Moldovan" used in certain political contexts.
Russian is provided with the status of a "language of interethnic communication" (alongside the official language), and in practice remains widely used on all levels of the society and the stateHP Pavilion dv6-6026tx battery. The above-mentioned national political conception also states that Russian-Moldovan bilingualism is characteristic for Moldova.
As of the 2004 census, the country has significant Russian (6%) and Ukrainian (8.4%) populations. 50% of ethnic Ukrainians, 27% of Gagauz, 35% of Bulgarians, and 54% of smaller ethnic groups speak Russian as first language. In total, there are 541,000 people (or 16% of the populationHP Pavilion dv6-6027tx battery) in Moldova who use Russian as first language, including 130,000 ethnic Moldovans. On the other hand, 47,000 members of ethnic minorities use Romanian as first language.
Gagauz and Ukrainian have significant regional speaker populations and are granted official status together with Russian in Gagauzia and Transnistria respectivelyHP Pavilion dv6-6029tx battery.
From 1996 the Republic, also being Romance-speaking, is a full member of Francophonia. Therefore the French language occupies the principal place among the foreign languages. In 2009/10 it was told taught to 52% of schoolchildren as L1 and 7% as L2. It is followed by English having 48% and 6% respectively, and German, which was taught to 3% altogether. HP Pavilion dv6-6042sf battery
For the 2004 census, Orthodox Christians, who make up 93.3% of Moldova's population, were not required to declare the particular of the two main churches they belong to. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, autonomous and subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church of BessarabiaHP Pavilion dv6-6051sf battery, autonomous and subordinated to the Romanian Orthodox Church, both claim to be the national church of the country. 1.9% of the population is Protestant, 0.9% belongs to other religions, 1.0% is non-religious, 0.4% is atheist, and 2.2% did not answer the religion question at the censusHP Pavilion dv6-6051xx battery.
National Library of Moldova
Main article: Education in Moldova
In Moldova, there are 16 state and 15 private institutions of higher education, with a total of 126,100 students, including 104,300 in the state institutions, and 21,700 in the private ones. The number of students per 10,000 inhabitants in Moldova has been constantly growing since the collapse of the Soviet Union, reaching 217 in 2000–2001, and 351 in 2005–2006HP Pavilion dv6-6054ef battery.
The National Library of Moldova was founded in 1832. The Moldova State University and the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, the main scientific organizations of Moldova, were established in 1946.
Main article: Crime in Moldova
The CIA World Factbook lists widespread crime and underground economic activity among major crime issues in Moldova. HP Pavilion dv6-6054sf battery
Main article: Health in Moldova
The average birth rate is at 1.5 children per woman. Public expenditure on health was 4.2% of the GDP and private expenditure on health 3.2%. There are about 264 physicians per 100,000 people. Health expenditure was 138 US$ (PPP) per capita in 2004. HP Pavilion dv6-6063sf battery
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the country has seen a decrease in spending on health care and, as a result, the tuberculosis incidence rate in the country has grown. Because of this, Moldova is struggling with one of the highest incidence rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the world. HP Pavilion dv6-6087eg battery
Main article: Emigration from Moldova
Emigration is a mass phenomenon in Moldova and has a major impact on the country's demographics and economy. The Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service has estimated that 600,000 to one million Moldovan citizens (almost 25% of the population) are working abroad, most illegally. HP Pavilion dv6-6090sf battery
Main article: Culture of Moldova
Mihai Eminescu, national poet of Moldova and Romania
Located geographically at the
The country's cultural heritage was marked by numerous churches and monasteries built by the Moldavian ruler Stephen the Great in the 15th century, by the works of the later renaissance Metropolitans Varlaam and DosofteiHP Pavilion dv6-6090us battery, and those of scholars such as Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin, Nicolae Milescu, Dimitrie Cantemir, Ion Neculce. In the 19th century, Moldavians from the territories of the medieval Principality of Moldavia, then split between Austria, Russia, and an Ottoman-vassal Moldavia (after 1859, Romania), made a significant contribution to the formation of the modern Romanian cultureHP Pavilion dv6-6091nr battery. Among these were many Bessarabians, such as Alexandru Donici, Alexandru Hâjdeu, Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, Constantin Stamati, Constantin Stamati-Ciurea, Costache Negruzzi, Alecu Russo, Constantin Stere.
Mihai Eminescu, a late Romantic poet, and Ion Creangă, a writer, are the most influential Romanian language artists, considered national writers both in Romania and Moldova. HP Pavilion dv6-1016ez battery
The largest ethnic group is a speaker of Romanian and share the Romanian culture. Their culture has been also influenced (through Eastern Orthodoxy) by the Byzantine culture.
The country has also important minority ethnic communities. Gagauz, 4.4% of the population, are Christian Turkic people. Greeks, Armenians, Poles, Jews, UkrainiansHP Pavilion dv6-1013tx battery, although not numerous, were present since as early as 17th century, and had left cultural marks. The 19th century saw the arrival of many more Ukrainians and Jews from Podolia and Galicia, as well as new communities, such as Lipovans, Bulgarians and Bessarabian GermansHP Pavilion dv6-1013ea battery.
In the second part of the 20th century, Moldova saw a massive Soviet immigration, which brought with it many elements of Soviet culture.
Moldovan culture was also influenced by historic minority ethnic communities, and in turn has had an influence on the culture of these groups, such as Bessarabian Germans and Bessarabian JewsHP Pavilion dv6-1012tx battery.
Main articles: Television in Moldova, Cinema of Moldova, and List of newspapers in Moldova
Radio Basarabia in 1940
In October 1939, Radio Basarabia, a local station of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company, was the first radio station opened in Chişinău. Television in Moldova was introduced in April 1958, within the framework of Soviet televisionHP Pavilion dv6-1011tx battery. Through cable, Moldovan viewers can receive a large number of Russian channels, a few Romanian channels, and several Russian language versions of international channels in addition to several local channels. One Russian and two local channels are aired.
Food and beverage
A popular Moldovan dish of stuffed cabbage rolls (sarma), accompanied by sauerkraut and mămăligăHP Pavilion dv6-1010tx battery.
Main article: Moldovan cuisine
See also: Moldovan wine
Moldovan cuisine is similar to neighboring Romania, and has been influenced by elements of Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian cuisine. Main dishes include beef, pork, potatoes, cabbage, and a variety of cereals. Popular alcoholic beverages are divin (Moldovan brandy), beer, and local wineHP Pavilion dv6-1010et battery.
Total recorded adult alcohol consumption is approximately evenly split between spirits, beer and wine; and the average annual adult per capita consumption, in terms of pure alcohol, in 2003–2005, was 18.2 litres, the highest in the world.
Zdob şi Zdub performing at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest.
Main article: Music of Moldova
Among Moldova's most prominent composers are Gavriil Musicescu, Ştefan Neaga and Eugen DogaHP Pavilion dv6-1010ed battery.
In the field of popular music, Moldova has produced the band O-Zone, who came to prominence in 2003, with their hit song Dragostea Din Tei. Moldova has been participating in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2005. Another popular band from Moldova is ska rock band Zdob şi Zdub that represented the country in the 2005 Eurovision Song ContestHP Pavilion dv6-1010ea battery, finishing 6th. They also again represented Moldova in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 12th. Dan Bălan, another popular artist, released the album Chica Bomb in 2010.
Also worth mentioning is the band SunStroke Project, which along with Olia Tira represented the country in the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest with their hit song, Run AwayHP Pavilion dv6-1009tx battery. Their performance gained international notoriety as an internet meme due to the pelvic thrusting and dancing of Sergey Stepanov, the band saxophonist. He has been fittingly dubbed "Epic Sax Guy."
Main article: Public holidays in Moldova
Most retail businesses close on New Year's Day and Independence Day, but remain open on all other holidays.
Moldovan football team Sporting Chişinău in 1925.
Main article: Sport in Moldova
Trânta (a form of wrestling) is the national sport in Moldova. Football is the most popular sport in Moldova. HP Pavilion dv6-1009el battery
Rugby union is popular as well. Registered players have doubled, and almost 10,000 spectators turn up at every European Nations Cup match. The most prestigious cycling race is the Moldova President's Cup, which was first run in 2004HP Pavilion dv6-1008tx battery.