Moldova


Moldova
Moldovan, adj., n.
/mawl doh"veuh/, n.
official name of Moldavia (def. 2).

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Moldova

Introduction Moldova
Background: Formerly ruled by Romania, Moldova became part of the Soviet Union at the close of World War II. Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a "Transnistria" republic. One of the poorest nations in Europe, Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president in 2001. Geography Moldova -
Location: Eastern Europe, northeast of Romania
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 29 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 33,843 sq km water: 472 sq km land: 33,371 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 1,389 km border countries: Romania 450 km, Ukraine 939 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: moderate winters, warm summers
Terrain: rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dniester River 2 m highest point: Dealul Balanesti 430 m
Natural resources: lignite, phosphorites, gypsum, arable land, limestone
Land use: arable land: 54.08% permanent crops: 12.1% other: 33.82% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 3,070 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: landslides (57 cases in 1998) Environment - current issues: heavy use of agricultural chemicals, including banned pesticides such as DDT, has contaminated soil and groundwater; extensive soil erosion from poor farming methods Environment - international party to: Air Pollution,
agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography - note: landlocked; well endowed with various sedimentary rocks and minerals including sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone People Moldova
Population: 4,434,547 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.7% (male 490,414; female 472,912) 15-64 years: 68.2% (male 1,451,962; female 1,572,561) 65 years and over: 10.1% (male 165,860; female 280,838) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.09% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 13.82 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 12.64 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/ female total population: 0.91 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 42.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.74 years female: 69.31 years (2002 est.) male: 60.39 years
Total fertility rate: 1.71 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 4,500 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Moldovan(s) adjective: Moldovan
Ethnic groups: Moldovan/Romanian 64.5%, Ukrainian 13.8%, Russian 13%, Jewish 1.5%, Bulgarian 2%, Gagauz and other 5.2% (1989 est.) note: internal disputes with ethnic Slavs in the Transnistrian region
Religions: Eastern Orthodox 98.5%, Jewish 1.5%, Baptist (only about 1,000 members) (1991)
Languages: Moldovan (official, virtually the same as the Romanian language), Russian (official), Gagauz (a Turkish dialect)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 96% male: 99% female: 94% (1989 est.) Government Moldova
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Moldova conventional short form: Moldova local short form: none former: Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova; Moldavia local long form: Republica Moldova
Government type: republic
Capital: Chisinau Administrative divisions: 9 counties (juletule, singular - juletul), 1 municipality* (municipiul), 1 autonomous territorial unit** (unitate teritoriala autonoma), and 1 territorial unit*** (unitate teritoriala); Balti, Cahul, Chisinau, Chisinau*, Edinet, Gagauzia**, Lapusna, Orhei, Soroca, Stinga Nistrului***, Tighina, Ungheni
Independence: 27 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 August (1991)
Constitution: new constitution adopted 28 July 1994; replaces old Soviet constitution of 1979
Legal system: based on civil law system; Constitutional Court reviews legality of legislative acts and governmental decisions of resolution; it is unclear if Moldova accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but accepts many UN and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documents
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Vladimir VORONIN (since 4 April 2001) head of government: Prime Minister Vasile TARLEV (since 15 April 2001), First Deputy Prime Minister Vasile IOVV (since NA 2002), Deputy Prime Minister Stefan ODAGIU (since NA 2002) cabinet: selected by prime minister, subject to approval of Parliament elections: president elected by Parliament for a four-year term; election last held 4 April 2001 (next to be held NA 2005); note - presidential elections were scheduled for December 2000, but in July 2000, Parliament canceled direct, popular elections; Parliament's failure to chose a new president in December 2000 led to early parliamentary elections in February 2001; prime minister designated by the president, upon consultation with Parliament; note - within 15 days from designation, the prime minister-designate must request a vote of confidence from the Parliament regarding his/her work program and entire cabinet; prime minister designated 15 April 2001, cabinet received a vote of confidence 19 April 2001 election results: Vladimir VORONIN elected president; parliamentary votes - Vladimir VORONIN 71, Dumitru BRAGHIS 15, Valerian CHRISTEA 3; Vasile TARLEV designated prime minister; parliamentary votes of confidence - 75 of 101
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Parlamentul (101 seats; parties and electoral blocs, as well as independent candidates, elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 25 February 2001 (next to be held NA 2005) election results: percent of vote by party - PCM 50.1%, Braghis Alliance 13.4%, PPCD 8.2%, other parties 28.3%; seats by party - PCM 71, Braghis Alliance 19, PPCD 11
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court (the sole authority for constitutional judicature) Political parties and leaders: Braghis Alliance [Dumitru BRAGHIS]; Communist Party or PCM [Vladimir VORONIN, first chairman]; Popular Christian Democratic Party or PPCD [Iurie ROSCA]; Social Democratic Union (composed of Braghis Alliance and the Democratic Party of Moldova) [leader NA] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE, CEI, CIS,
participation: EAPC, EBRD, ECE, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mihai MANOLI FAX: [1] (202) 667-1204 telephone: [1] (202) 667-1130 chancery: 2101 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Pamela
US: Hyde SMITH embassy: 103 Mateevicie Street, Chisinau 2009 mailing address: use embassy street address; pouch address - American Embassy Chisinau, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-7080 telephone: [373] (2) 23-37-72 FAX: [373] (2) 23-30-44
Flag description: same color scheme as Romania - three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, and red; emblem in center of flag is of a Roman eagle of gold outlined in black with a red beak and talons carrying a yellow cross in its beak and a green olive branch in its right talons and a yellow scepter in its left talons; on its breast is a shield divided horizontally red over blue with a stylized ox head, star, rose, and crescent all in black-outlined yellow Economy Moldova -
Economy - overview: Moldova enjoys a favorable 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 reform effort, Moldova introduced a convertible currency, freed all prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatization, removed export controls, and freed interest rates. Yet these efforts could not offset the impact of political and economic difficulties, both internal and regional. In 1998, the economic troubles of Russia, by far Moldova's leading trade partner, were a major cause of the 8.6% drop in GDP. In 1999, GDP fell again, by 4.4%, the fifth drop in the past seven years; exports were down, and energy supplies continued to be erratic. Following the return to positive GDP growth in 2000 (1.9%), Moldova experienced strong 6.1% rise in GDP in 2001, driven by a marked improvement in industry and a 20% improvement in agriculture.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $11.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,550 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 28% industry: 21% services: 51% (2000) Population below poverty line: 80% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 2.2%
percentage share: highest 10%: 30.7% (1997) Distribution of family income - Gini 40.6 (1997)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 1.7 million (1998) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 40%, industry 14%, services 46% (1998)
Unemployment rate: 1.9% (includes only officially registered unemployed; large numbers of underemployed workers; 25% of working age Moldovans are employed abroad) (November 2000)
Budget: revenues: $536 million expenditures: $594 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)
Industries: food processing, agricultural machinery, foundry equipment, refrigerators and freezers, washing machines, hosiery, sugar, vegetable oil, shoes, textiles Industrial production growth rate: 14.2% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 3.317 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 90.44% hydro: 9.56% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 3.655 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 630 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 1.2 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: vegetables, fruits, wine, grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, tobacco; beef, milk
Exports: $580 million (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: foodstuffs 42%, textiles and footwear, machinery (2000)
Exports - partners: Russia 45%, Romania 8%, Germany 8%, Ukraine 8%, Italy 8% (2000)
Imports: $865 million (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: mineral products and fuel 32%, machinery and equipment, chemicals, textiles (2000)
Imports - partners: Romania 16%, Ukraine 14%, Russia 13%, Germany 11%, Italy 6% (2000)
Debt - external: $700 million (2001) Economic aid - recipient: $100.8 million (1995); note - $547 million from the IMF and World Bank (1992-99)
Currency: Moldovan leu (MDL)
Currency code: MDL
Exchange rates: lei per US dollar - 12.8579 (October 2001), 12.4342 (2000), 10.5158 (1999), 5.3707 (1998), 4.6236 (1997); note - lei is the plural form of leu
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Moldova Telephones - main lines in use: 627,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,200 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate, outmoded, poor service outside Chisinau, some effort to modernize is under way domestic: new subscribers face long wait for service; mobile cellular telephone service being introduced international: service through Romania and Russia via landline; satellite earth stations - Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Intersputnik Radio broadcast stations: AM 7, FM 50, shortwave 3 (1998)
Radios: 3.22 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus 30 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 1.26 million (1997)
Internet country code: .md Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (1999)
Internet users: 15,000 (2000) Transportation Moldova
Railways: total: 1,328 km broad gauge: 1,328 km 1.520-m gauge (2001)
Highways: total: 20,000 km paved: 13,900 km (includes some all- weather gravel-surfaced roads) unpaved: 6,100 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
Waterways: 424 km (1994)
Pipelines: natural gas 310 km (1992)
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 30 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 7 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 23 2,438 to 3,047 m: 4 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 14 (2001) Military Moldova
Military branches: Ground Forces (includes Air and Air Defense Forces), Republic Security Forces (includes paramilitary Internal Troops and Border Troops) Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,172,714 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 929,316 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 42,268 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $6 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 0.4% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Moldova Disputes - international: Moldovan difficulties with break- away Transnistria region inhibit establishment of a joint customs regime with Ukraine to curtail smuggling, arms transfers, and other illegal activities
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for CIS consumption; transshipment point for illicit drugs from Southwest Asia via Central Asia to Russia, Western Europe, and possibly the US

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officially Republic of Moldova

Country, northeastern Balkan region of central Europe.

It is bordered by Ukraine and Romania. Area: 13,000 sq mi (33,700 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 3,620,000. Capital: Chisinau. The majority of the people are ethnic Moldovans, although in the Transdniester region, east of the Dniester River, there are large numbers of Russians and Ukrainians. Languages: Romanian (official), Russian, Ukrainian. Religion: Eastern Orthodoxy. Currency: leu. Most of Moldova is a fertile region lying between the Dniester and Prut rivers; the northern and central regions of the country are forested. The economy is based on agriculture; the major farm products are grapes, winter wheat, corn, and dairy products. Industry is centred on food processing. Moldova is a republic with one legislative body; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. The area of present-day Moldova consists of that part of the principality of Moldavia lying east of the Prut River (part of Romania before 1940) and, adjoining it on the south, the region of Bessarabia along the Black Sea coast. (See Moldavia for history prior to 1940.) The two regions were incorporated as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. in 1940. In 1991 Moldavia declared independence from the Soviet Union. It adopted the Romanian spelling of Moldova and had, earlier, legitimized use of the Roman rather than the Cyrillic alphabet. The republic was admitted to the UN in 1992. During the 1990s it struggled to find economic equilibrium. In 2000 it abandoned its semipresidential form of government to become a parliamentary republic.

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▪ 2009

Area:
33,843 sq km (13,067 sq mi), including the 4,163-sq-km (1,607-sq-mi) area of the disputed territory of Transdniestria (Transnistria; Pridnestrovie)
Population
(2008 est.): 3,760,000 (excluding about 750,000 Moldovans working abroad but including the more than 500,000 persons in Transdniestria)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Vasile Tarlev and, from March 31, Zinaida Greceanii

      Moldovan Pres. Vladimir Voronin met in January 2008 with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and on August 25 with Putin's successor, Dmitry Medvedev (Medvedev, Dmitry ). The future of the breakaway territory of Transdniestria dominated the talks.

      In a referendum held in 2006, 97% of Transdniestrian residents had expressed a desire to join the Russian Federation, but the Russian preference was for a reunified Moldova in which the breakaway region would enjoy substantial autonomy and be able to influence the central government. Until 2007 President Voronin was willing to count on the mediation efforts of the EU and the United States as long as Russia propped up Transdniestria and stationed troops there, but Western engagement failed to produce any breakthrough. Even before the Russian seizure of territory in Georgia in August, Voronin appeared to be moving away from the West and toward a reliance on Russia to broker a settlement, even if such a pact weakened Moldovan sovereignty. On April 11, for the first time since 2001, Voronin met with Igor Smirnov (the leader of the Transdniestria regime), with whom he agreed to launch confidence-building measures designed to lead to reunification. This was seen as a success for Russian diplomacy, and following the meeting with President Medvedev, a new negotiating process began to take shape in which Russian priorities were clearly visible. Russia hoped that strong Transdniestria representation in Moldovan institutions would prevent the country from harmonizing its laws and policies with those of the EU and pull it back into a firm Eastern orbit. The West had been unable to offer any alternative negotiating package, and it was thought that Voronin, who could not stand for reelection in 2009, might wish to secure a place in history as the architect of reunification even if it was on terms that would boost Russian influence over the whole of Moldova. Many in the ruling Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, which enjoyed substantial control over the media and business life, saw a pro-Russian strategy as guaranteeing their hold on power.

Tom Gallagher

▪ 2008

Area:
33,843 sq km (13,067 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 3,794,000 (excluding nearly 300,000 Moldovans working abroad but including the 550,000 persons in Transdniestria)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev

      On July 25, 2007, Moldovan Pres. Vladimir Voronin ended months of speculation and confirmed that he had been negotiating with the Kremlin in an effort to secure an end to the secession of Transdniestria, where much of the country's industry was located. In recent years Voronin had engaged in a balancing game between the West and Russia, and this move suggested that he was tilting toward Russia. He had been especially shaken in 2006 by the imposition of an embargo on Moldovan wine by Russia, a major consumer. Voronin might also have feared that a Western orientation could erode his own power base, which rested on the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM).

      The PCRM suffered reverses in local elections in June, winning 328 mayoralships, down from 368 in 2003. Dorin Chirtoaca, a member of the Liberal Party, was elected mayor of Chisinau, the capital, with the support of 62% of voters.

      In July Chairman of Parliament Marian Lupu spoke out in favour of the continuation of transparty cooperation behind “unchanged common goals” of further integration with Europe, a Transdniestrian resolution, and modernization of the state. A return to the Russian orbit would not go unchallenged, it appeared—even in Voronin's own party. A poll in May showed that 72.2% of Moldovans would vote “yes” if a referendum was held on membership in the European Union, but only 29% of those polled were in favour of joining NATO. A large part of the Moldovan active labour force worked in EU countries, and a growing pro-Western orientation in public opinion had resulted. The Communists, therefore, ascendant since their first major electoral victory in 2001, could no longer manage internal politics and information sources as confidently as before. By contrast, Igor Smirnov, the leader of breakaway Transdniestria, cracked down sharply on peaceful opposition after his parliament in January annulled a decision that had left open the prospect of a confederation between the pro-Russian breakaway territory and Moldova.

Tom Gallagher

▪ 2007

Area:
33,843 sq km (13,067 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 4,192,000 (including more than a quarter million persons working abroad and about 550,000 persons in Transnistria)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev

      Despite heading a Communist-controlled government, in 2006 Moldova's Pres. Vladimir Voronin continued with the pro-Western foreign policy that he had embarked upon three years earlier. This brought retaliation from Russia, which had imported 80% of Moldovan wine, the country's chief export, until the Kremlin imposed a total ban on such trade in March. In the first six months of 2006, Russia also doubled the price of natural gas sold to Moldova. A meeting between Voronin and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin in Moscow on August 8 failed to improve relations. Russia continued to station troops in the breakaway Transnistria, where much of the country's industry was located. On September 17 the Transnistrian authorities carried out a referendum in which it was announced that 97.1% of those voting backed independence, though Western observers drew attention to irregularities in the poll. The referendum complicated European Union efforts to improve relations between Moldova and the separatists. Results from the EU's Action Plan designed to encourage economic and social reforms to match Moldova's pro-Western foreign policy were also slow. In July Moldova rejected an approach from Romanian Pres. Traian Basescu—one that Brussels had not been informed about—in which he proposed that the two states join the EU simultaneously. Voronin stated on August 30 that Moldova (most of which had been part of Romania between 1918 and 1940) would never again return to Romania.

      The attention of most Moldovans was focused on the difficult economic times, which in part resulted from Russian trade moves. An improvement in relations seemed likely, however, after Moldova signed an agreement on December 27 that would remove one of the last hurdles to Russia's joining the World Trade Organization. The European Union expressed its concern about extremely low living standards, but Moldova was still not a sufficiently high priority for the EU to provide substantial aid.

Tom Gallagher

▪ 2006

Area:
33,845 sq km (13,068 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 4,206,000 (including more than a quarter million persons working abroad and about 600,000 persons in Transnistria)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev

      Moldova's parliamentary elections held on March 6, 2005, saw a reform-based consensus among previously divergent parties. Pres. Vladimir Voronin's Communists held on to power with a reduced majority. In April pro-Western opposition leaders supported his election for a second term. Despite grassroots misgivings, he hoped to transform his party into a social democratic force. In June 2005, while on a visit to the European Union and NATO headquarters in Brussels, Voronin asked for EU assistance in establishing international customs control on the Transnistrian segment of the Moldovan- Ukrainian border. Ukrainian leaders supported this move, as evidence mounted that the separatist enclave of Transnistria was at the centre of a vast smuggling racket involving liquor, consumer goods, and small arms.

      On July 22 Parliament unanimously passed a law stating that negotiations with Transnistria had to be based on democratization, demilitarization, and decriminalization of the territory rather than sharing power with the existing authorities there. Voronin welcomed growing Western involvement in seeking to end the secession. On October 6–7 the EU commissioner for external relations paid an official visit following the launch of an EU action plan designed to strengthen links with Moldova and stabilize the new eastern borders established in 2004 with the accession to the EU of eight states formerly in the communist bloc.

      Moldova's relations worsened with Russia, which continued to station troops in Transnistria and preferred a settlement that would increase the dependence on Moscow of a united Moldova. Some 85% of Moldova's wine, its main source of revenue, was exported to Russia; in September 2005 Russian authorities blocked its shipment. On October 4 Voronin declared that he was ready to face an interruption in energy supplies from Russia in order to defend the country's sovereignty.

Tom Gallagher

▪ 2005

Area:
33,845 sq km (13,068 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 4,216,000 (including more than a half million persons working abroad and about 600,000 persons in Transnistria)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev

      In July 2004 a serious crisis erupted between the Moldovan government and the self-proclaimed territory of Transnistria, which had seceded in 1992. Although some 40% of Transnistria's population spoke Romanian as its first language, the authorities in Tiraspol, the capital, forcibly closed six schools for teaching Romanian in the Latin rather than the Cyrillic script. On August 1 Moldova imposed economic sanctions and severed transport links with Transnistria, despite an earlier warning from the Russian Foreign Ministry not to take such steps. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which had promoted a federal solution, accused Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov of carrying out “linguistic cleansing.” The situation had already prompted U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to visit Moldova on June 26, when he added his voice to calls for Russia to abide by the 1999 OSCE agreement and withdraw its forces from Transnistria.

      Meanwhile, previously tense bilateral relations with Romania (which had ruled nearly all of Moldova from 1918 to 1940) improved somewhat, and on May 27 the two heads of state met and decided to reactivate a joint commission meant to analyze all “serious issues” between them. Moldova, however, declined to participate in the ceremonies held across the border in Putna, Rom., on the first weekend of July to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Moldavian Prince Stephen the Great, whom the Orthodox Church had recently proclaimed a saint.

      Moldova's ruling Communist Party enjoyed 67.76% popular support, according to a poll published in May, but 48.5% of respondents also stated their belief that the poverty-stricken country, seen by some as showing some hallmarks of a failed state, was heading in the wrong direction.

Tom Gallagher

▪ 2004

Area:
33,843 sq km (13,066 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 4,267,000 (including some 600,000 persons working abroad)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev

      International efforts to resolve the 12-year dispute between Moldova and the breakaway Transnistria territory dominated politics for much of 2003. In February, Pres. Vladimir Voronin announced plans for a federation in which Transnistria would be granted substantial autonomy. Voronin unveiled these plans shortly after a meeting in the White House with Pres. George W. Bush, for whom stability in the Black Sea region was of paramount concern, as countries adjacent to Moldova provided military facilities for U.S. operations in the Middle East. In July the European Union expressed its willingness to send a peacekeeping mission to Moldova. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), long involved as a mediator, hoped that rapid federalization could be accompanied by the withdrawal of Russian troops that had buttressed the Transnistrian regime. The OSCE requested their pullout by the end of 2003, but Moscow was unresponsive.

      These international initiatives encountered withering criticism from a range of international and local analysts and Moldovan nongovernmental organizations fearful that the OSCE plan would turn Moldova into a satellite of Russia. Prospects for a breakthrough appeared slim. The Transnistrian authorities were reluctant to lift their authoritarian controls or abandon lucrative smuggling activities that left Transnistria isolated but for its lifeline to Russia and its leaders banned from traveling to Western countries. Meanwhile, a significant exodus of adult Moldovans was taking place owing to endemic corruption at the elite level and the contraction of the economy; the country's population was a scant 39.5% of the size it was in 1990. Many people swapped professional jobs at home for menial ones in Western Europe in order to earn enough to support their families.

Tom Gallagher

▪ 2003

Area:
33,843 sq km (13,066 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 3,621,000 (excluding some 600,000 persons working abroad)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev

      On Jan. 9, 2002, Moldova's opposition Christian Democratic Popular Party (PPCD) began a marathon of protests in downtown Chisinau against the incumbent Communists' Russification policies: the planned introduction of compulsory Russian courses in primary schools, the proclamation of Russian as an official language, and the replacement of courses in the history of the Romanian people with the Soviet-style version of the history of Moldova. Although the government later backed off somewhat, it adopted a hard line against the protest organizers, suspending the PPCD on January 22. The move sparked criticism from European organizations, and the suspension was eventually annulled on February 8. On March 21 PPCD deputy chairman Vlad Cubreacov disappeared under murky circumstances and was held or remained incognito for more than two months. The anticommunist demonstrations peaked on March 31, when as many as 80,000 people demanded that the Communists step down. In a resolution on April 24, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) pressed the Communists to make concessions. On September 1, when progress seemed mired down, the Christian Democrats staged a further mass protest; the only official move, they said, had been to register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church, a branch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. A second PACE resolution on September 26, however, was less critical of the Communists' policies.

      In early July the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) presented the draft of a project to resolve the Transdniester conflict through the federalization of Moldova, which caused an immediate political uproar. For its part Russia failed to keep its pledge to withdraw its military from eastern Moldova fully by the end of 2002, although efforts were accelerated after late September. Moldova strengthened its relations with Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which held a summit in Chisinau on October 6–7. On December 7 an OSCE foreign ministers conference in Porto, Port., had to extend by one year the deadline for Russia's withdrawal from Transdniester.

Dan Ionescu

▪ 2002

Area:
33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 4,211,000 (including some 600,000 persons working abroad)
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
Presidents Petru Lucinschi and, from April 7, Vladimir Voronin
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Dumitru Braghis and, from April 19, Vasile Tarlev

      Following early general elections on Feb. 25, 2001, Moldova became the first former Soviet republic in which unreformed Communists returned to power. Playing on widespread dissatisfaction with the post-Communist transition, the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova garnered 50.1% of the votes, taking 71 of the 101 seats in Parliament. The remaining seats were divided between the Braghis Alliance, a loose centre-left bloc led by incumbent Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis, and the right-wing Christian Democratic Popular Party. On April 4 Parliament elected Communist leader Vladimir Voronin as Moldova's president, and he set up a government of technocrats led by Vasile Tarlev, a 37-year-old manager. One main goal was to increase the role of the state in the economy. Another was the introduction of Russian as the country's second official language, but this evoked protests, especially among the intelligentsia.

      As might be expected, the Communists advocated a reorientation toward Moscow and favoured joining the Russia-Belarus Union. On November 19, Voronin and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin signed a basic bilateral treaty covering cooperation in many fields and favouring the special status of the Russian language in Moldova. The Moldova Parliament ratified the treaty on December 27. Moldova was admitted to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe in June, and in July it became a full member in the World Trade Organization. Neighbouring Romania introduced strict passport controls for Moldovan citizens effective July 1, and in October Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase canceled an official visit to Chisinau following statements by Moldovan Justice Minister Ion Morei, who accused Romania of interference in Moldova's internal affairs and of “expansionism.”

      The Communists' pledge to find a firm resolution to the Transnistria conflict proved unrealistic. In September the breakaway region suspended negotiations with Moldovan authorities, whom it accused of imposing an economic blockade. In early October Putin disbanded the Russian State Commission for Transnistria, and in mid-November Russia announced that the withdrawal of heavy military equipment form the region had been completed.

Dan Ionescu

▪ 2001

Area:
33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 4,298,000
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Petru Lucinschi
Head of government:
Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis

      A turning point in Moldova's post-Soviet history was marked on July 5, 2000, when an overwhelming majority in Parliament passed an amendment to the 1994 constitution transforming the country from a semipresidential into a parliamentary republic. Parliament's decision came largely as a response to Pres. Petru Lucinschi's long-standing efforts to install a full-fledged presidential system. Lucinschi vetoed the law and continued to press for a nationwide referendum to decide which system was preferred but to no avail. Late in the year Parliament tried three times to elect a new president but failed in each effort to muster at least 61 votes for any of the candidates. On December 31 President Lucinschi signed a decree that would dissolve the present Parliament in two weeks. Elections for a new Parliament were scheduled for Feb. 25, 2001.

      The Communist-dominated Parliament was the scene of perpetual rearrangements, including an ad hoc alliance between Communist, centrist, and right-wing deputies that on April 17 rejected a bill to privatize the country's wine and tobacco industries. Since that bill was among the key conditions established by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for resuming the granting of credit to the nation, its rejection deprived Moldova of badly needed loans, and the economic situation remained precarious. This led to social tension and even open conflict.

      Moldova's main diplomatic partner remained Russia. The latter committed itself to the withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from Moldova's breakaway Transnistria region before the end of 2002. Russia failed, however, to present a final timetable for the operation, while it insisted that the withdrawal be related to a political solution of the Transnistria conflict. Following a visit to Chisinau on June 16–17, new Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin decided to set up a state commission for Transnistria headed by former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov. In August Primakov proposed a peace plan structured around the idea of confederation, an idea rejected—for different reasons—by both Moldova and Transnistria.

Dan Ionescu

▪ 2000

Area:
33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 4,301,000
Capital:
Chisinau
Chief of state:
President Petru Lucinschi
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Ion Ciubuc, Ion Sturza from March 12 and, from December 21, Dumitru Braghis

      Moldova's centre-right government, headed by Ion Ciubuc, stepped down on Feb. 1, 1999, after eight months in power. The main reasons for its collapse were the economic and social difficulties stemming from the 1998 Russian crisis. The brittleness of the loose ruling coalition, known as the Alliance for Democracy and Reforms, was exposed. Pres. Petru Lucinschi took the opportunity to involve himself in nominating candidates for prime minister and to push for more prerogatives for the president. A new Cabinet, headed by the young, reform-minded Ion Sturza, was eventually approved by Parliament on March 12, despite a boycott by the right-wing Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD). The required majority could be obtained only with the help of an absentee ballot from deputy Ilie Ilascu, who had been in prison since 1992.

      On March 22 Lucinschi called for a nonbinding referendum on changing the constitution in favour of introducing a presidential system. The poll was held on May 23, together with local elections that were largely won by the communists. Successful, Lucinschi continued to press for a binding referendum, but he soon antagonized all parliamentary forces. On October 8 they jointly appealed to him to back off.

      A pact between the Communists and the FPCD led to the fall of Sturza's government in a no-confidence vote on November 9. Parliament rejected two candidates before approving Dumitru Braghis to replace him on December 21.

      No progress was registered in Moldova's relations with the breakaway Transdniester region, despite a new round of talks in Kiev, Ukraine, in July with the good offices of Ukrainian Pres. Leonid Kuchma and Russian Prime Minister Sergey Stepashin. Other tensions flared up in the south as ethnic Bulgarians from Taraclia protested local administration reforms and asked that their region be granted county status. Moldova's economic woes continued, as did related social problems, including huge state salary and pension arrears. Gross domestic product shrank by an estimated 5%.

Dan Ionescu

▪ 1999

      Area: 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 4,243,000

      Capital: Chisinau

      Chief of state: President Petru Lucinschi

      Head of government: Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc

      Elections to the Moldovan Parliament held on March 22, 1998, were won by the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) with 30% of the vote. The PCM was forced into opposition, however, by a loose centre-right coalition known as the Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (ADR) and made up of the Democratic Convention of Moldova, the pro-presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (MMDP), and the Party of Democratic Forces. Through his proxies in the MMDP, Pres. Petru Lucinschi was able to steer the composition of the new Cabinet and ensure that Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and the foreign affairs, defense, and security ministers retained their posts. This patched-together government was eventually approved by Parliament on May 21. Growing dissent within the ADR soon undermined the effectiveness of both the Cabinet and the legislature, however. On July 31 the PMDP joined forces with the communist opposition in Parliament to approve the transit of radioactive waste from the nuclear energy plant on the Danube River at Kozloduy, Bulg., through Moldova to Russia, much to the dismay of their ADR partners.

      Relations with the breakaway Transdniester region remained tense despite a mediation summit held on March 20 in Odessa, Ukraine, with the good offices of Ukrainian Pres. Leonid D. Kuchma and Russian Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin.

      Moldova's economy was seriously affected by the Russian financial crisis. Russia formerly had received over 60% of the country's exports. Moldova's foreign debts reached some $1.3 billion, but the national currency remained relatively stable.

DAN IONESCU

▪ 1998

      Area: 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 4,363,000

      Capital: Chisinau

      Chief of state: Presidents Mircea Snegur and, from January 15, Petru Lucinschi

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Andrei Sangheli and, from January 16, Ion Ciubuc

      Petru Lucinschi was sworn in as Moldova's new president on Jan. 15, 1997. The following day he called upon economist Ion Ciubuc to form a new Cabinet. Lucinschi, who had won the December 1996 runoff election against Mircea Snegur, soon found himself confronting the legislature much as his predecessor had done in 1995-96. Growing opposition from the Socialist Unity faction, the Communists' Party, and segments of the Agrarian Democratic Party hindered the adoption of badly needed reform legislation. Eyeing the March 1998 parliamentary elections, on February 8 Lucinschi's supporters set up the Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova. In June Snegur's Party of Revival and Accord of Moldova and the pro-Romanian Christian Democratic Popular Front joined forces as the Democratic Convention of Moldova.

      In an attempt to resolve the conflict with the breakaway Dniester region, on May 8 Lucinschi and Dniester leader Igor Smirnov signed a memorandum in Moscow on normalizing mutual relations, with Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as guarantors.

      The state of the economy remained desolate. In early November the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, pointing to a budgetary deficit that was expected to reach 7% of gross domestic product in 1997, decided that they would withhold further loan installments.

DAN IONESCU

▪ 1997

      A landlocked republic of the extreme northeastern Balkans, Moldova borders Ukraine on the north, northeast, and southeast and Romania on the west. Area: 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.) 4,372,000. Cap.: Chisinau. Monetary unit: Moldovan leu, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 4.61 lei = U.S. $1 (7.26 lei = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Mircea Snegur; prime minister, Andrei Sangheli.

      With two rounds of presidential elections—on November 17 and December 1—Moldova experienced electoral fever through most of 1996. The campaigning began when in July 1995 Pres. Mircea Snegur quit the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) to form the Party of Revival and Accord of Moldova. Subsequently, Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi engaged in a presidential race that became increasingly personal. Snegur repeatedly threatened to dismiss Sangheli's Cabinet for incompetence.

      Snegur won the support of the right-wing parties, including the Christian Democratic Popular Front and the Moldovan Party of Democratic Forces, but this could not counterbalance the leftist coalition around Lucinschi, which included the PDAM, the socialists, and the communists. Lucinschi eventually won the election with 54% of the popular vote. His victory could bring a change in Moldova's policy of rapprochement with the West. Perceived as pro-Russian, Lucinschi was the ethnic Moldovan who had held the highest position in the hierarchy of the now defunct Communist Party of the Soviet Union; he was Central Committee secretary. (DAN IONESCU)

      This article updates Moldova, history of (Moldova).

▪ 1996

      A landlocked republic of the extreme northeastern Balkans, Moldova borders Ukraine on the north, northeast, and southeast and Romania on the west. Area: 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.) 4,346,000. Cap.: Chisinau. Monetary unit: Moldovan leu, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 4.55 lei = U.S. $1 (7.19 lei = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Mircea Snegur; prime minister, Andrei Sangheli.

      The prospects of stability for the republic were greatly enhanced by the announcement on April 19 of the staged withdrawal from Transdniester of the Russian 14th Army and the resignation in June of its commander, Lieut. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed. Without the underpinning of this army, the authorities in the breakaway province of Transdniester became more conciliatory, and in July the Moldovan government granted political amnesty to those charged with crimes relating to the conflict. Transdniester's constitutional status, however, remained unresolved. By year's end the results of the December 24 elections in Transdniester were not clear, although the pro-Russian party was thought to have dominated. In a referendum on the same date, some 81.8% of voters approved the region's separatist constitution. After elections in Gagauzia, the second autonomous region, the Moldovan prime minister declared that the dispute between that area and Moldova was at an end.

      Encouraging results over the summer in the economy fueled hopes that a recovery was on the horizon. Tight monetary policy produced a dramatic fall in inflation, down to a December-to-December rate of 10%, compared with 800% in 1993 and 108% in 1994. The government's privatization program, relying partly on a voucher method in which at least 90% of Moldovans had participated by November 30, was accelerated and 800 companies earmarked. Foreign involvement in privatization was also encouraged, with the result that foreigners could purchase up to 60% of the shares in 39 companies. In July the Moldova stock exchange was opened, and on July 13 Moldova was admitted to the Council of Europe. (DENNIS J. DELETANT)

      This updates the article Moldova, history of (Moldova).

▪ 1995

      A landlocked republic of the extreme northeastern Balkans, Moldova borders Ukraine on the north, northeast, and southeast and Romania on the west. Area: 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.) 4,358,000. Cap.: Chisinau. Monetary unit: Moldovan leu, with (Sept. 27, 1994) a free rate of 4.21 lei = U.S. $1 (6.57 lei = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Mircea Snegur; prime minister, Andrei Sangheli.

      Asserting its independence and nationhood was the top priority for Moldova in 1994. High points included the adoption of the constitution in July and the signing of an agreement in October on the eventual withdrawal of the Russian 14th Army from Moldovan territory. Talks with the breakaway "Dniester republic" continued through the year but yielded little progress. A border agreement was signed with Ukraine, but no state treaty with Romania proved possible. Moldova joined NATO's Partnership for Peace and pushed hard for membership in or ties with other European bodies.

      The new constitution, which went into effect on August 27, defined Moldova as an independent, democratic, and unitary state; its official language was called Moldovan (i.e., not Romanian) and was written in Latin script, but the use and development of other languages were guaranteed; the country would be neutral, and the stationing of foreign troops on Moldovan soil was banned; and provision was made for the autonomy of Transdniester and the Gagauz area. The constitution was championed by Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and a legislature led by the nationalist (pro-Moldovan) Agrarian Democratic Party, which had decisively beaten the pro-Romanian Popular Front and Congress for Intellectuals in elections on February 27. The constitution dealt a blow to the Romanian government and the vocal pro-Romanians in Moldova, which viewed Moldova as a province temporarily separated from metropolitan Romania.

      Negotiations about the future of Russia's 14th Army under the command of Lieut. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, which was occupying the heavily Slavic-populated Transdniester area, continued. At first the size and responsibilities of the forces were to be reduced, and it looked as if Lebed would be removed, but Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin changed tack and supported the continued role of the 14th Army in Transdniester. Nonetheless, the Moldovan-Russian agreement was signed on October 21. It required all Russian troops to depart within three years. Foreign Minister Mihai Popov, however, said that Russian officers would be welcome in Moldova's army.

      Parliament ratified the charter of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in April but excluded Moldova from participation in CIS military pacts or the ruble zone. The sale of 30 MiG-29s was advertised in May, and four were sold to southern Yemen in September. (EDITOR)

      This updates the article Moldova, history of (Moldova).

▪ 1994

      A landlocked republic of the extreme northeastern Balkans, Moldova borders Ukraine on the north, northeast, and southeast and Romania on the west. Area: 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.) 4,362,000. Cap.: Chisinau. Monetary unit: ruble, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 1,165 rubles = U.S. $1 (1,765 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Mircea Snegur; prime minister, Andrei Sangheli.

       Moldova failed during 1993 to regain sovereignty over its eastern region on the left bank of the Dniester, controlled by Russia's 14th Army and the unrecognized "Dniester republic" led by local Russian residents. Although Russians form only the third-largest ethnic group in the region, after Moldovans and Ukrainians, and the region itself is separated from Russia by Ukraine, local secessionist leaders and the 14th Army command publicly broached their intention to join the region with the Russian Federation. Bilateral negotiations concerning the 14th Army remained deadlocked as Russia conditioned a future withdrawal on a political resolution of the conflict, while the breakaway republic demanded full state attributes. Moldova offered the region local autonomy short of sovereignty. In the south a tentative agreement on local autonomy defused the confrontation with the other breakaway region, the "Gagauz republic."

      Prohibitive Russian import tariffs on goods from Moldova forced it to join the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Economic Union in order to regain access to Moldova's main market and to Russian fuels. Economic conditions deteriorated, particularly in the cities, and inflation of the Moldovan coupon accelerated. Chisinau's reform programs were approved and supported with loans by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

      During the year Moldova continued distancing itself from Romania, confirming the choice of the government and the native majority for independent statehood over unification. Most non-Moldovans west of the Dniester, where a large majority of the Russians and of the other nonindigenous populations reside, demonstrated acceptance or support of Moldovan independence. (VLADIMIR SOCOR)

      This updates the article Moldova, history of (Moldova).

* * *

Introduction
Moldova, flag of  country lying in the northeastern corner of the Balkan (Balkans) region of Europe. Formerly known as Bessarabia, this region was an integral part of the Romanian principality of Moldavia until 1812, when it was ceded to Russia by its suzerain, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Bessarabia remained a province of the Russian Empire until after World War I, when it became a part of Greater Romania, and it reverted to Russian control in 1940–41 and again after World War II, when it was joined to a strip of formerly Ukrainian territory, the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, on the left bank of the Dniester River (Moldovan: Nistru) to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in August 1991, this republic declared its independence and took the name Moldova. It became a member of the United Nations in 1992. The capital city is Chișinău (Chişinău).

      Since its independence in 1991, Moldova has been beset with an array of challenges stemming from four problematic situations. First, the country has sought to establish a viable state where no tradition of self-government and sovereignty had existed before. Second, without a local political tradition, it was difficult for Moldova to agree on a constitution and to find political leaders untainted by association with the highly centralized, authoritarian Soviet Union. Third, the transition from a controlled economy to a free market economy has been rocky. A largely agricultural economy based on state and collective farms had been developed under Soviet rule. When many of these farms were broken up and turned over to individuals after independence, considerable dislocation, loss of productivity, and allegations of corruption resulted. Finally, the economic transition was further impeded by the fact that much of Moldovan industry was located in the separatist region of Transdniestria, which had proclaimed independence from Moldova in 1990, resulting in a brief civil war. Although a cease-fire was declared in 1992, relations remained tense between Moldova and Transdniestria, and Russian troops are still present in the security zone. Transdniestria is also the source of much of Moldova's electricity, which has been cut off at various times. Thus, Moldova's road to nationhood has remained bumpy—from the first efforts at nation-building to the country's pursuit of peace and prosperity in the 21st century.

Land
 Moldova is bounded by Ukraine to the north, east, and south and by Romania to the west. The bulk of the republic lies between the great meandering Prut (Prut River) and Dniester rivers.

Relief
       Moldova lies to the east of the great arc of the Carpathian Mountains. It is underlain mostly by deep sedimentary rocks covering the southwestern portion of the ancient structural block known as the Russian (Russian Plain), or East European, Plain. Harder crystalline rocks outcrop only in the north. Its surface is a hilly plain, with an average elevation of 482 feet (147 metres), cut by a deep network of river valleys, ravines, and gullies.

      The uplands of the centre of the republic, the Codri Hills, lie at an average elevation of about 1,150 to 1,300 feet (350 to 400 metres), and the highest point, Mount Bălănești, in the west, reaches 1,407 feet (429 metres). These uplands are interlaced by deep, flat valleys, ravines, and landslide-scoured depressions separated by sharp ridges. Steep forested slopes account for much of the terrain. The Dniester uplands, their eastern slopes forming the high right bank of the Dniester River, border the central uplands on the east and northeast.

      The northern landscape of Moldova is characterized by the level plain of the Bălți steppe (500 to 650 feet [150 to 200 metres] in elevation) and also by uplands averaging twice this elevation, culminating in Vysokaya Hill (1,053 feet [321 metres]). The northern uplands include the strikingly eroded Medobory-Toltry limestone ridges, which border the Prut River.

      In the south, the extensive Bugeac Plain is broken by numerous ravines and gullies, while, in the east, left-bank Moldova includes spurs of the Volyn-Podolsk Upland (Volyn-Podilsk Upland) cut into by tributaries of the Dniester.

Drainage
      Moldova has a well-developed network of rivers and streams, all draining south to the Black Sea, but only about one-tenth of these exceed 6 miles (10 km) in length, and even fewer exceed 60 miles (100 km). In fact, many of these are small, shallow streams that dry up during the summer. The Dniester (Dniester River), the rapidly flowing main artery, is navigable almost throughout the republic; the river becomes swollen by spring snowmelt from the Carpathians and by heavy summer rains. It does not freeze over during warmer winters. The other, smaller, main artery, the Prut (Prut River), is a tributary of the Danube River, which it joins at the extreme southern tip of the country. The Ialpug, Cogâlnic, and other small southern rivers drain largely into the Danubian estuary in nearby Ukraine. Underground water, extensively used for the republic's water supply, includes more than 2,000 natural springs. The terrain favours construction of reservoirs.

Soils
      The soils of Moldova are varied and highly fertile, with chernozem—rich black soils—covering three-fourths of the republic. The best-developed chernozem, fostering the growth of grain, tobacco, and sugar beets, is found in the north and in the low-lying parts of the central and Dniester uplands, as well as in the left-bank regions. Soil quality diminishes southward, but grapes and sunflowers still can be grown. Brown and gray forest soils characterize the uplands: two-fifths are covered by forests, the rest by orchards, vineyards, and fields of grain. Alluvial soils characterize the floodplains, while the lower reaches of the Prut and southern river valleys have saline and marshland soils. In general, the excessive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides during the Soviet period has resulted in significant contamination of the soil and groundwater.

Climate
      Moldova's climate—warm and moderately continental—is characterized by a lengthy frost-free period, a comparatively mild winter, considerable temperature fluctuations, and, in the south, extended droughts. The average annual temperature is in the mid-40s F (about 8 °C) in the north and the low 50s F (about 10 °C) in the south, but the July averages rise to the upper 60s and low 70s F (about 19 and 23 °C), respectively, and the mercury seldom drops below the low 20s F (about −3 °C) in January. Extreme lows near −30 °F (about −36 °C) in the north and excessive highs near 100 °F (about 41 °C) in the south have been recorded. Moldova receives highly variable amounts of precipitation—usually averaging about 20 inches (500 mm) annually, with totals a little lower in the south—but these figures conceal variations that may double the quantity in some years and result in prolonged dry spells in others. Most precipitation occurs as rain in the warmer months, and heavy summer showers, coupled with the irregular terrain, cause erosion problems and river silting. Winter snow cover is thin. Winds tend to come from either the northwest or the southeast.

Plant and animal life
      Northern and central Moldova is a forest zone, while a steppe belt crosses the south. There are more than 1,500 species of plants in the republic, with scenic expanses of forest, covering about 1,150 square miles (3,000 square km), of particular importance, especially in the central Codri Hills region. The most common trees are hornbeam and oak, followed by a rich variety including linden, maple, wild pear, and wild cherry. Beech forests are found at the sources of the Ikel and Bâc rivers. At the beginning of the 19th century, forests covered about one-third of the country; however, a large increase in population severely reduced the forested areas. The extensive deforestation in the 19th century has also resulted in soil erosion, wind damage, a drop in the water table, flooding, and loss of fauna. Well aware of the raft of problems caused by the loss of so much of Moldova's woodlands, authorities and scientists have lobbied for increased afforestation plans, and large-scale reforestation projects have been carried out in the republic since the early 1990s. The state's plans have met resistance from peasants who are fearful that their agricultural and grazing lands will be converted into less profitable forests, however.

      Moldova's steppes originally were grass-covered, but most of them are now cultivated. Lush meadows and reed growths occur in the floodplains of the Dniester and portions of the Prut, while salt-marsh grasslands flourish in the saline valleys of the Cogâlnic, Ialpug, Botna, and lower Prut.

      The animal life of Moldova is rich, despite the republic's small size. Mammals include wild boar, wolves, badgers, wildcats, ermines, martins, and polecats. Roe deer, hare, foxes, and muskrat are of commercial importance. Siberian stags, fallow deer, and spotted deer also were successively introduced and are now prevalent.

      There are many species of birds, both resident and migratory. The marshy lower reaches of Moldova's rivers provide sanctuary for wild geese, migratory ducks, and herons, while white-tailed sea eagles are found in the floodplain forests. The wood lark, jay, song thrush, blackbird, hawk, and long-eared owl frequent the republic's forests. Plentiful fish supplies include carp (raised in artificial reservoirs), perch, bream, ruff, and pike.

People (Moldova)

Ethnic groups
      About three-fourths of Moldova's population consists of ethnic Moldovans. There are smaller populations of Ukrainians, Russians, Gagauz, Roma (Gypsies), and Bulgarians. The Ukrainian population of Moldova, the largest minority group, is divided between those who are native to the country (their ancestors having farmed for centuries in what is now Moldova) and those who migrated to Moldova during the periods of Russian and Soviet control. The former group makes up the majority of Ukrainians in Moldova.

      Moldova's Russian population arrived during the periods of Russian imperial and Soviet rule, usually as civil servants and labourers. The Gagauz, a mainly rural people, have lived on the Bugeac Plain since the late 18th century. The country's ethnic Bulgarians (Bulgar) also are mainly rural and inhabit the southern districts, where they settled at the end of the 18th century. Only a small percentage of Moldovan citizens identify themselves as Roma.

Languages
      Moldovan is designated as the country's official language in the constitution. During the Russian imperial and Soviet periods, the Moldavian language (as it was then called) was written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Soviet scholars, mainly for political reasons, insisted that this language was an independent Romance language that was distinct from Daco-Romanian (see Romanian (Romanian language)). In fact, Daco-Romanian and Moldovan are virtually identical, and differences between the two are confined to phonetics and vocabulary. In 1989 the script of the Moldovan language was changed to the Latin alphabet; thereupon began a heated debate over whether the language should be called Romanian or Moldovan. By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, there was general agreement from both sides that Moldovan and Romanian were in fact the same language. Nevertheless, Moldovan pride in the Moldovan language is reflected in the country's national anthem, "Limba Noastra" (“Our Language”), and the national motto, Limba Noastra-i o Comoara (“Our Language is a Treasure”).

      Some of Moldova's ethnic communities have preserved their respective languages, but not without accommodations brought about by urbanization. Those who have been drawn to the cities, especially ethnic Moldovans, often have accepted Russian as a second language. Few, however, have abandoned their native language, and bilingualism has become the norm. The Moldovan state acknowledges and protects the right to preserve, develop, and use Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, and any other languages spoken within the country's borders. Gagauz is the official language in the autonomous area of Gagauz, but Moldovan, Romanian, and Russian are spoken there as well. Although the Gagauz language is Turkic in origin, it was traditionally written with the Cyrillic alphabet; however, since 1989 the Gagauz have developed a Latin script.

Religion
      During the period of Soviet rule, the influence of churches in Moldovan public life was limited by the religious policy imposed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU): separation of church and state, exclusion of the churches from education, and subjection of the faithful to atheistic propaganda. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, all churches have undergone a revival and have striven to regain their former prominence. The overwhelming majority of ethnic Moldovans, Russians, Gagauz, and Ukrainians are Eastern Orthodox (Eastern Orthodoxy) Christians. There are also other Christians and smaller Muslim and Jewish (Jew) communities. The Jewish community is overwhelmingly urban and began to enter present-day Moldova in substantial numbers after 1800, but its numbers have been greatly reduced by wars, the Holocaust, and emigration (since the creation of the Moldovan republic, there has been considerable emigration of Jews to Russia, Ukraine, and Israel). About one-fifth of Moldova's residents consider themselves nonreligious.

Settlement patterns
      Economic policies imposed during the Soviet era brought significant changes to both the countryside and cities. The pace of urbanization was dramatic, in part because Moldova was the least urban of all the Soviet republics. Industrialization spurred the growth of large and small cities in every part of the republic, but nowhere more so than in the capital, Chișinău, the economic, administrative, and cultural centre of the republic. The collectivization of agriculture during the Soviet period concentrated population in large villages, most of which have between 1,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. As villages assumed new economic and administrative functions, they became more modern in level of comfort and in the public services they could provide.

      After independence the population of Moldova became even more urban as the movement from the countryside to the cities became continuous. At that time ethnic Moldovans were relative newcomers to the cities, and in the early 21st century they accounted for only about one-third of all urban inhabitants. The majority of the remainder of ethnic Moldovans reside in the rural areas in the centre and north of the republic. A majority of the Ukrainian population lives in urban centres, with approximately one-fourth of them living in the eastern section of the breakaway region of Moldova known as Transdniestria (Transnistria; Pridnestrovie), which is located on the east bank of the Dniester River. Russians constitute about one-fourth of Moldova's urban population, but thousands of them have resettled in Transdniestria.

Demographic trends
      During the 1960s the population of the republic grew rapidly; however, starting in 1970 it increased at a steady but slower rate. Since independence, though, Moldova's population has decreased, largely owing to the emigration of Moldovans seeking economic opportunities elsewhere and to the virtual end of immigration from Russia and Ukraine, which had contributed to earlier population growth. Moreover, a sharp decline in the standard of living and in the quality and availability of public health and medical facilities in the early 1990s lowered life expectancy. Infant mortality and insufficient health care, especially in rural areas, were serious problems. The number of stillbirths and infant deaths, which had fallen significantly from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, rose in the late 1980s and remained high throughout the early 2000s. Although Moldova's birth rate remains low compared with the world average, it is higher than that of nearby Romania, Ukraine, and Russia.

Economy
      During the communist era a diversified industry was established in Moldova, agriculture was modernized, and transport and the building industry were overhauled. Following independence, the government began the gradual transformation from a command (centrally planned) to a market economy, establishing a program to privatize many state enterprises primarily through distribution of ownership vouchers to the public. The transition has been slow and uneven because of corruption, lack of foreign investment, and other economic pressures. In the early 21st century Moldova was among the poorest countries in Europe.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      More than half of the country's land is arable, and most of that land is used to grow temporary crops (those that are sown and harvested during the same agricultural year). About one-tenth of the land is used to cultivate permanent crops (those that are planted once but will not be replanted after each annual harvest). Agriculture has been highly mechanized, and almost all agricultural jobs are performed by machines. Virtually all landowners have access to electricity, and chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers are widely used. Most Moldovan farmers dedicate large shares of land for export crops.

      There was no large-scale private farming during the Soviet period, but collective farmers did have small plots for their own use. Private land ownership, consisting primarily of small holdings, was initiated in 1990. The amount of privately owned land grew slowly at first but proliferated after the advent of a government program of large-scale privatization in 1995. Conversely, collective farms (kolkhoz) (engaged mainly in cultivation of grain crops and mixed farming) and state farms (sovkhoz) (usually specializing in the cultivation and processing of a particular crop) began to diminish in importance. By the early 21st century, those who tended to privately owned farms outnumbered those who worked on collective and state farms 10 to 1.

 Since 1940 the area used for vegetables, orchards, berries, and vineyards has undergone significant expansion. Viticulture, fruit and vegetable growing, and other specialized farming activities are particularly important, constituting about one-fourth of the commodity output of arable farming. Grapes are Moldova's most important industrial crop, with the largest vineyards found in the southern and central regions. Most orchards are situated in northern and southeastern Moldova. Sunflower seeds, another significant crop, are grown throughout the republic, though the southeastern regions have the largest plantations. Sugar beets, a relatively new crop in Moldova, are cultivated in the north. Moldova also is a major tobacco grower. Vegetables are grown mainly in the southeast. The chief grain crops are winter wheat and corn (maize). Wheat is used for the republic's own needs, and corn is exported as a seed crop. Most of the grain is grown in the north. Sheep and cattle breeding also are important, as is pig farming.

      High rates of deforestation have greatly affected Moldova's forestry sector. About two-thirds of the country's forests (forest) are designated for wood supply, while the rest is protected in national nature reserves. Still, there is a shortage of forest resources, and Moldova has to import some wood from Russia. Wood in Moldova is mainly used for energy—more than one-half of the timber felled from the country's forests is used for fuel. The remainder of the wood supply is used for construction, the production of furniture and other consumer goods, and packaging. All forests are owned by the state.

      The main types of fish (commercial fishing) found in Moldova's lakes and rivers are bream, carp, roach, catfish, pike, and perch. The country's fish production decreased in the mid-1990s; thereafter, most fish-processing companies were privatized, and the amount of fish imported greatly exceeded the local catch. Dozens of foreign-owned companies are active in the importing, processing, and canning of fish. After 1991 aquaculture was largely privatized, with pond ownership being transferred to local municipal authorities, who began leasing the ponds for private fish farming.

Resources and power
      Moldova's greatest resources are its fertile soil and its climate, both of which contribute to the agricultural potential of the country. Other natural resources include limited quantities of lignite, found in the southern part of the country, and phosphorite and gypsum, which are found throughout Moldova. Deposits of natural gas also have been discovered in the southern part of the country.

      Thermoelectric power plants are located in Chișinău, Băīți, and Tiraspol, and there are hydroelectric stations in Dubăsari and Camenca (Kamenka), on the Dniester River. The republic provides electricity to the southern regions of Ukraine and also to Bulgaria through a transmission line.

Manufacturing
      Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moldova lost a large part of its manufacturing sector. This was due in part to the economic shock of the transition to a market economy and Moldova's separation from the integrated economy of the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc. Moreover, the bulk of the country's industry is located in the breakaway region of Transdniestria, though, owing to Transdniestria's isolation from the rest of the country, manufacturing in the region has failed to live up to its potential.

      The industrial sector of Moldova's economy is concentrated mainly on food processing, with the machine-building, power-engineering, consumer-goods, and building-materials industries still undergoing development.

      The food industry has numerous branches; sugar refining, wine making, canning, and oil pressing, as well as the production of essential oils, are especially significant. Moldova is an important exporter of wine, champagne, and brandy. For local needs the republic has flour and other mills and well-developed meat, dairy, and confectionery industries.

      Machine building, established in the mid-1950s and centred on Chișinău, Bălți (Bălţi), Tiraspol, and Tighina, has remained important. Tractors made in Moldova are specially equipped for use in orchards and vineyards. Light industry includes the production of furs at Bălți, garments and knitwear at Chișinău and Tiraspol, footwear at Chișinău, and silk fabrics at Tighina. Building materials produced in Moldova include brick, limestone, tile, cement, slate, and concrete blocks. Râbnița is the leading centre of this industry.

Finance
      The National Bank of Moldova began issuing its own currency, the Moldovan leu, in 1993. By the mid-1990s Moldova had stabilized the leu, brought inflation under control, and balanced the national budget. Transdniestria has its own currency, the ruble, and its own central bank.

Services
      The services sector accounts for about one-third of Moldova's gross domestic product. Most of the retail sector is located in the capital. Tourism (especially rural tourism) has grown since the 1990s. Local culture in Moldovan villages, traditional festivals, and the country's many monasteries are of particular interest to international visitors; however, owing to its lack of hotels and its poor transportation infrastructure, the country is not always able to adequately accommodate visitors.

Labour and taxation
      The pressures of inflation and the economic downturn that followed independence resulted in widespread unemployment and underemployment. As a result, average Moldovans have had to struggle to provide for their families. In many parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, the necessities of life are procured by barter rather than by purchase. Individual farmers tend to deliver their owngoods to food stores.

      A taxation system was created in Moldova in 1992 to facilitate the transition from a planned economy to a market economy. It was reformed in 1996 to improve the collection process. There are two levels of tax collection in Moldova—national and local. National taxes include an income tax, a value-added tax (VAT), excise taxes, property taxes, and customs and road duties. Local taxes are collected on land, property, and use of natural resources.

Trade
      Prior to 1991 Moldova traded almost exclusively within the Soviet Union. Today the states of the former Soviet Union remain important markets for Moldova, whose main trading partners are Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Belarus, as well as Germany and Italy. Foodstuffs, beverages (notably wine), and tobacco products make up the bulk of Moldova's exports, followed by apparel and agricultural goods. Moldova's main imports are mineral products (notably petroleum products), machinery, chemical products, and textiles for reexport.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Railway and motor transport are the basis of the republic's transport system. The railway network includes two main lines—one linking Tiraspol, Chișinău, and Ungheni and the other linking Tiraspol and Reni. Incoming freight includes coal, petroleum products, iron and nonferrous metals, timber, mineral fertilizers, and machines and equipment. Motor transport generally carries freight inside Moldova, over a road network that is nearly all paved but generally needing repair. River transport is of local importance, and air transportation links Moldova with other countries. The republic's main airport is in Chișinău.

      Telecommunications are regulated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The industry was privatized in 1997; nevertheless, Moldova has one of the lowest numbers of cellular phone and Internet users of all the former countries of the Soviet Union.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
 A new constitution, which replaced the 1978 document that had provided for a Soviet-style government structure, was approved by the Moldovan parliament in July 1994 and promulgated on August 27 of that year. Describing the republic as a “sovereign, independent” state in which “justice and political pluralism” are guaranteed, this constitution formally established a unicameral parliament whose members are directly elected to four-year terms. By secret ballot they elect the president, who serves as the head of state, to a four-year term.The president shares executive power with the Council of Ministers (cabinet), which is led by the prime minister, who is designated by the president (after consultation with the parliamentary majority) and approved by the parliament. The council is responsible for implementing the domestic and foreign policy of the state.

      Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Gagauz in the south and Russians east of the Dniester River declared their own independent republics. The Moldovan government addressed the desires of the Gagauz in January 1995 by establishing an autonomous administrative region known as Găgăuzia. Its capital is in Comrat, where a governor (bașkan), an executive committee, and a legislature sit (foreign policy, defense, and monetary issues in Găgăuzia are still under the control of the Moldovan government). Neither the Moldovan government nor the international community has recognized the independent republic of Transdniestria (Pridnestrovie; Transnistria), whose name is derived from its location beyond (on the eastern side of) the Dniester River. Under Transdniestria's constitution its president also serves as prime minister, and there is a unicameral legislature. The self-proclaimed republic also has its own flag and anthem. In response to the region's aspirations, the 1994 Moldovan constitution had authorized “special status” for the semiautonomous territory of Transdniestria, as it had for Găgăuzia. This offer was rejected by Transdniestria's government, and an overwhelming majority of Transdniestrian residents voted for independence in a 2006 referendum (though the subsequent declaration of independence was not recognized elsewhere).

Local government
      Following Soviet rule, Moldova was reorganized into județ (counties), the municipality of Chișinău, and the autonomous region of Găgăuzia. In 2003 the country was restructured again, with previous divisions replaced by raione (districts), municipii (municipalities; including Chișinău), and Găgăuzia. At a more local level, Moldova is administered by elected town and village councils and mayors; their activities are coordinated by district councils, which also are elected.

Justice
      The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court of Justice (with members appointed by the parliament), a Court of Appeal, and lower courts (whose members are appointed by the president). The Higher Magistrates' Council nominates judges and oversees their transfer and promotion.

Political process
      The Communist Party of Moldavia—until 1990 the only legal party—was dissolved in 1991 but was legalized as the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (Partidul Comuniștilor din Republica Moldova; PCRM) in 1994. Following independence a variety of political parties emerged, many of them later to divide or to merge with other parties or coalitions. Some of these parties are based on ethnicity (including the Gagauz People's Party) and advocacy of independence or unification with either Romania or Russia. A national referendum on Moldova's status as an independent country was held on March 6, 1994, with a large turnout of eligible voters. More than 95 percent voted in favour of continued independence. Moldovans aged 18 or older are eligible to vote in elections. In elections in the 1990s and early 2000s, about three-fifths of eligible voters cast ballots.

Health and welfare
      Since the mid-1990s the quality and availability of health care in Moldova have improved. In 1991 the Moldovan government established social service programs to supplement the monthly income of the average citizen during the transition from a command to a market economy. These programs were designed to preserve and strengthen the social safety net put in place during the Soviet period. The Social Assistance Fund supplies the needy with medical payments and housing and food subsidies. The Social Security Fund provides pensions for workers, invalids, and soldiers, assists workers during illness or temporary disability, and aids the unemployed.

Education
      Significant changes occurred in Moldovan society during the Soviet era. Illiteracy was eradicated, and, as in other Soviet republics, emphasis was placed on technical education in order to satisfy the steadily growing needs of agriculture and industry for specialists and a highly skilled workforce. Before 1940 the republic had only a few institutions of higher education and teacher-training colleges, as well as a theological seminary and an agricultural institute. Since then several institutions of higher education and numerous specialized middle schools have been established. Notable universities include the Moldovan State Agrarian University (founded in 1933 as an offshoot of the agriculture department of the University of Iași), the Moldova State University (1946), and the Technical University of Moldova (1964). They all provide instruction in Romanian and Russian, and since the early 1990s the Moldovan language has increasingly been introduced into the educational system. A vigorous program of Moldovan instruction in primary and secondary schools was implemented in 2000.

      The Moldova Academy of Sciences, established in Chișinău in 1946, coordinates the activities of scientific institutions. In addition, dozens of research centres in the fields of viticulture, horticulture, beet growing, grain cultivation, and wine making have been set up, and Moldovan scientists have won international acclaim in these fields.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
      The historical ties between Bessarabia and Romania and the ethnic kinship of Moldovans and Romanians are still reflected in the culture of Moldova. The development of Moldovan culture after World War II, however, followed the prevailing pattern of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) as a whole. The state assumed responsibility for the content and direction of all cultural and intellectual life. The theatre, motion pictures, television, and printed matter were subject to censorship and close ideological scrutiny. Until the waning days of Soviet influence, private initiative in cultural endeavours was rare.

Daily life and social customs
      As a mainly Eastern Orthodox country, Moldova celebrates Christian holidays. Its various ethnic groups tend to follow the customs and eat the foods of their own nationality. Moldova's Independence Day, August 27, commemorates the country's breakaway from the Soviet Union (an event that is not celebrated in Transdniestria, which has retained many Soviet holidays and symbols of Soviet life). Moldovans observe a calendar of planting and harvest fairs that feature traditional dancing, singing, and folk arts. The village of Ivancho, near Chișinău, is a centre for these traditional cultural activities, as is the Orheiul Vechi, a restored monastery near the capital. Chișinău remains a musical centre, boasting dozens of nightclubs, discotheques, and concert halls.

The arts
      Notable Moldovan artists include painters Mihail Petrik, Valentin Coreachin, and Vitaly Tiseev and sculptors Iury Kanashin and Vladimir Moraru. Moldova was known in the Soviet era for the quality of its musical instruction, with many Russian composers and conductors serving on the faculty of Chișinău's Academy of Music. One of the academy's graduates is the internationally known composer Arkady Luxemburg.

      Moldovan literature experienced the vicissitudes of Soviet literature generally during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Building socialism and creating the new Soviet citizen were the dominant themes, and socialist goals prevailed over aesthetic considerations. Characteristic of these trends were the early prose and poetry of Emilian Bucov and Andrei Lupan, who followed the principles of Socialist Realism; later they and younger writers diversified their techniques and subject matter. Perhaps the most outstanding modern writer is the dramatist and novelist Ion Druța. His novel Balade de câmpie (1963; “Ballads of the Steppes”), an investigation of the psychology of the village, marked a significant turning point in the evolution of Moldovan fiction, and his play Casa Mare (1962; “The Parlour”) turned away from the concept of collectivity to probe the individual conscience. The work of contemporary essayist and novelist Vitalie Ciobanu is well known in Moldova.

Cultural institutions
      Most of the country's theatres, museums, music halls, and libraries are in Chișinău. The most significant museums are the National Museum of Fine Arts of Moldova and the National History Museum of Moldova. During the period of Soviet rule, the state gave particular attention to the expansion of cultural opportunities. Numerous amateur theatres and musical and art groups were supported. The state also attempted to preserve the rich heritage of Moldovan folk art and music through such ensembles as the Doina choir and Zhok popular ballet and through local and national museums. Economic changes and urbanization, however, undermined traditional society and curtailed artistic creativity. Moreover, the economic deprivations and hardships since independence have left the average Moldovan little time for cultural interests, and the national budget deficits have left few governmental resources with which to subsidize cultural activities.

Sports and recreation
      Moldovans are avid football (football (soccer)) (soccer) fans. Games are played throughout the country by organized local teams that compete each year for the national Moldovan Cup. Wrestling has become significant, made popular by Moldovan world championLukman Jabrailov. Judo, archery, and athletics (track and field) are also popular. Other favourite sports are rugby, tennis, martial arts, cycling, boxing, volleyball, and canoeing. Chess is a common pastime. In past years ethnic Moldovans have competed on the Olympic teams of both the Soviet Union and Romania. At the 1992 Games in Barcelona, the country participated as part of the Unified Team. Moldova competed for the first time as an independent country at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Nor. Because Moldova lacks both mountains and a seashore, many recreational opportunities are limited.

Media and publishing
      The 1994 Moldovan constitution protects freedom of expression in the press; nevertheless, Moldovan media have received widespread criticism for being overly influenced by the government, and there have been occasional incidents of politically motivated prosecution of journalists. There has been concern that Chișinău-based publications that question Moldova's independence or promote Transdniestria's separatist policies will be subject to censorship.

      The initial outpouring of publications at the time of independence has been considerably reduced in the years since, largely as a result of economic pressures. Most publications that started as dailies have cut back production schedules. Notable existing dailies, all published in Chișinău, are the government organ Moldova Suverenă (“Sovereign Moldova”), Nezavisimaya Moldova (“Independent Moldova”), and the Christian Democratic People's Party (Partidul Popular Creștin și Democrat; PPCD) organ Țara (“Homeland”). The national news agency, known by its acronym Moldpres, is the country's official news service. All broadcasting activities have been consolidated under the State Radio and Television Company of Moldova, which was founded in 1994.

Fyodor Nikolayevich Sukhopara Ernest Latham, Jr.

History
       Bessarabia—the name often given to the region of historical Moldavia between the Dniester and Prut rivers—has a long and stormy history. Part of Scythia in the 1st millennium BCE, Bessarabia later came marginally under the control of the Roman Empire as part of Dacia. Lying on one of the principal land routes into Europe, it was invaded by successive waves of barbarians, and the area had many masters. Gradually, under varying influences, the Vlach (or Romanian) nationality developed. Part of the area came under the rule of Kievan Rus between the 10th and 12th centuries CE and later passed to the Galician princes. From 1241 to the 14th century Moldavia was vassal to the Tatars.

Old Moldavia
      The Genoese (Genoa), founding fortified commercial outposts on the Dniester in the 14th century, paved the way for contact with Western culture, but Bessarabia's development depended on the rise of the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia, which soon expanded to include the territory. The southern area, which originally fell into the Walachian sphere, probably took its name from the Basarab dynasty. The whole province became part of Moldavia in the 15th century but was soon exposed to the Turkish onslaught; the key points of Cetatea Albă and Chilia (modern Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyy and Kiliya, Ukraine, respectively) were captured in 1484, and this conquest was ratified by treaty (in 1503 and 1513). The southern part of Bessarabia was again detached and organized by the Turks into two sanjaks (districts) of the Ottoman Empire.

      Beginning with Peter I (the Great), Russia drove toward the Danube delta. The Russians occupied Moldavia five times between 1711 and 1812 and finally secured Turkey's cession of Bessarabia—approximately half of historic Moldavia—in the Treaty of Bucharest (1812).

The Russian administration (1812–1917)
      In 1829, in the Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne, Treaty of), Russia pushed the frontier south to include the Danube delta. After the Crimean War, the Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaty of) in 1856 restored southern Bessarabia (at that time divided into three districts: Izmail, Kagul [or Cahul], and Bolgrad) to Moldavia; but in 1878, despite Romania's having fought on the Russian side against Turkey, the Treaty of Berlin (Berlin, Congress of) assigned these three districts once more to Russia, giving the Dobruja to Romania as compensation.

      The Russian administration had at first been liberal. Autonomy had been granted in 1818 and had remained in force until 1828; a Moldavian boyar had been made governor and a Moldavian archbishop installed. Nevertheless, many Moldavian peasants, fearing the introduction of serfdom, fled across the Prut (Prut River). The introduction of the zemstvo system in 1869 provided a measure of local autonomy, but a policy of Russification in both civil and ecclesiastical administration was thereafter pursued, with little effect on the largely illiterate peasantry. The founding of the kingdom of Romania (1881) formed a centre of attraction for Moldavian nationalism, but no lively movement developed in Bessarabia until after the Russian Revolution of 1905. The movement's strength was drawn not from the boyars (largely Russified) but from schoolteachers and parish priests. Bessarabia achieved some prosperity under Russian rule. The empire formed a good market for Bessarabia's agricultural produce, which was dispatched by river or by the railway system built to link the region with the north-south main line to Odessa. Chişinău was a relatively flourishing town, though its large Jewish population suffered severely in a pogrom in 1903.

World War I and the Russian Revolution
      During World War I the Central Powers tempted Romania to side with them by offering to restore Bessarabia. The scales were tipped in favour of the Allies, however, by counteroffers of Transylvania and Bukovina, as well as by the Francophile sentiment of the Romanian people, so that by 1916 Romania was fighting as Russia's ally. The revolutionary and nationalist ferment in the Russian Empire spread quickly to Bessarabia, which proclaimed support for the moderate Socialist Revolutionary Aleksandr Kerensky in March 1917. In April the National Moldavian Committee demanded autonomy, land reform, and the use of the Romanian language; similar rights were claimed for the Moldavians, about 400,000 in number, settled east of the Dniester. A move toward complete independence was encouraged by events in Ukraine, and in November 1917 a council known as the Sfatul Ţării (Sfat) was set up on the model of the Kiev Rada. On Dec. 15, 1917, the Sfat proclaimed Bessarabia an autonomous constituent republic of the Federation of Russian Republics. Disorders caused by the revolutionary Russian soldiery led the Sfat to appeal to the Allies' representatives and to the Romanian government at Iaşi for military help, whereupon the Bolsheviks occupied Chişinău in January 1918. They were driven out by Romanian forces within two weeks; and on February 6 the Sfat, again following Kiev, proclaimed Bessarabia an independent Moldavian republic, renouncing all ties with Russia. Recognizing the economic impossibility of isolation and alarmed by the pretensions of the German-sponsored Ukrainian government, the Sfat voted for conditional union with Romania in April 1918. Reservations about the union were abandoned with the defeat of the Central Powers and the creation of Greater Romania, and unconditional union was voted at the final session of the Sfat in December 1918. The union of Bessarabia with Romania was recognized by a treaty (part of the Paris Peace Conference) signed on Oct. 28, 1920, by Romania, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan; the treaty eventually was ratified by all signatories but Japan. The Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) never recognized Romania's right to the province, and in 1924 it established the tiny Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on Ukrainian territory across the Dniester. The frontier along the Dniester was closed, but railway connections were reestablished in 1936, two years after the resumption of diplomatic relations.

The Romanian administration (1918–40)
      The Romanian government immediately put through a drastic land reform, initiated by Sfatul Ţării, whereby the maximum holding allowed was 247 acres (100 hectares). Notwithstanding this, the province languished economically. The uncertainty caused by the continued pretensions of the Soviet Union hindered development; Romania had little need of Bessarabia's fruit, grain, and wine; roads were inadequate; the railway system was geared to that of Russia; and the closing of the Dniester and the loss of the natural outlet, Odessa, had a disastrous effect. The province was put under a centralized regime, at times military in character; in 1938 King Carol II attempted to break up its historical unity by dividing it among newly created regions. Some tardy concessions to the minorities were made in 1939.

      After the German-Soviet pact of August 1939, the Soviet Union revived claims to Bessarabia, and the collapse of the western European front to the Germans in 1940 precipitated action. In late June a Soviet ultimatum to Romania demanded the cession of Bessarabia and of northern Bukovina. The Romanian government was forced to submit, and Soviet troops marched in (June 28). On July 11 the districts of central Bessarabia inhabited predominantly by Moldavians were joined to part of the autonomous Moldavian republic across the Dniester to form, in August, a Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (S.S.R.), with Chişinău as its capital. The Hotin district in the north was incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as were the southern districts of Cetatea Albă and Izmail. Further land was expropriated and collectivization launched. Many Moldavians left, some Jews entered, and the whole German population was removed to western Poland under an agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union. In July 1941 Romania, having entered the war as Germany's ally against the Soviet Union, reoccupied Bessarabia. By December 1942 it was fully governed as Romanian territory, though a formal decree of annexation was postponed until the end of hostilities. Some Moldavian peasants from Transdniestria (Transnistria; Pridnestrovie), the newly organized Romanian province between the Dniester and the Southern Buh, were settled on the farms of departed Germans, and many Jews were killed or deported.

The Moldavian S.S.R.
      Following the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia in 1944, the province was reintegrated into the Soviet Union as the Moldavian S.S.R. Thereafter, policies formulated in Moscow became the norms for political and economic development until the Soviet system began to weaken in the late 1980s. The Communist Party coordinated all public activities, justifying its monopoly of power as necessary to create the material foundations for the building of communism. The party vigorously promoted industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture, abolishing private ownership of land and of the means of production and distribution. So predominant was the party that civil society ceased to exist. The history of Moldavia during the Soviet period was, in effect, the history of the Communist Party.

Independent Moldova
      The weakening and eventual collapse of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union made possible the revival of civil society and open public debate in Moldavia, and a number of new political parties were formed. The Moldovan majority took the lead in severing ties with Moscow: sovereignty was declared in June 1990, and the independent Republic of Moldova was proclaimed on Aug. 27, 1991. The Gagauz in the south and the Russians east of the Dniester (Dniester River) responded by declaring independent republics of their own, mainly as a defense against Moldovan nationalism. The Moldovan majority found itself divided over the question of union with Romania, and the Moldovan-dominated government found it impossible militarily to subdue Russian separatists. Such political stalemates complicated efforts to reshape Moldova's socialist economy through investment and trade from abroad.

Barbara Buckmaster
      The parliamentary elections of February 1994 brought about a political realignment. Shortly before falling into decline, the Agrarian Democratic Party won an electoral majority, defeating parties that favoured either unification with Romania or a close alliance with Russia. In March of that year, Moldovans voted overwhelmingly to maintain independence, and in April the parliament approved limited membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States. At the same time “Moldovanism,” an ideology of self-determination emphasizing the country's distinctiveness from Romania, became a significant force in political and cultural life. A new constitution, ratified by the parliament on July 28, 1994, granted substantial autonomy to Transdniestria and Gagauzia, though the former remained problematic because of the ongoing Russian military presence there. Relations between Moldova and Transdniestria remained strained over the latter's attempt to secure independence, a goal the majority of voters there supported again in a referendum in 2006.

      A constitutional amendment in 2000 refashioned Moldova into a unitary parliamentary republic, as direct presidential elections were dropped. The Communist Party was victorious in the 2001 and 2005 elections, making Moldova the first former Soviet republic to return unreformed communists to power; though by the time of its 2005 electoral victory, the party had signaled a shift away from Russia and toward the European Union (EU). This move relaxed tensions with Romania, which in 2005 offered support for Moldova's entry into the EU. But Moldova's concern with security and independence led to further disputes with Romania, especially when that country gained entry into the EU in 2007 and started granting citizenship to Moldovans who applied for it. Moreover, conflicts with Russia over Transdniestria and trade issues had caused Russia to interrupt gas shipments to Moldova and to prohibit the importation of Moldovan wines in 2006. As Moldova moved cautiously toward a market economy, struggling to complete its post-Soviet transformation, it continued to suffer economically as one of the poorest countries in Europe. Yet, the Communist Party maintained its popularity, winning the 2007 elections handily, and the first female prime minister, Zinaida Greceanii, took office.

Keith Arnold Hitchins

Additional Reading

General works
A general overview of Moldova can be found in Helen Fedor (ed.), Belarus and Moldova: Country Studies (1995). A detailed discussion of ethnic relations is found in Michael Bruchis, One Step Back, Two Steps Forward: On the Language Policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the National Republics: Moldavian, a Look Back, a Survey, and Perspectives, 1924–1980 (1982). Wim P. Van Meurs, The Bessarabian Question in Communist Historiography (1994), examines fundamental questions of politics, culture, and nationhood. The postcommunist landscape is surveyed in Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, Democratic Changes and Authoritarian Reactions in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova (1997).Ernest Latham, Jr.

History
An outline of the early history of the Dacian people in present-day Moldova and Romania is found in G. Bichir, The Archaeology and History of the Carpi from the Second to the Fourth Century AD, 2 vol. (1976; originally published in Romanian, 1973). Victor Spinei, Moldavia in the 11th–14th Centuries (1986; originally published in Romanian, 1982), is a study of Moldova in the Middle Ages. The incorporation of the territory into the Russian Empire is described in George F. Jewsbury, The Russian Annexation of Bessarabia, 1774–1828 (1976). Charles Upson Clark, Bessarabia: Russia and Roumania on the Black Sea (1927), focuses on the period of World War I. Nicholas Dima, From Moldavia to Moldova: The Soviet-Romanian Territorial Dispute, updated ed. (1991), analyzes, among other historical topics, the history of the ethnic character of the region and its socioeconomic development during the Soviet period. Charles King, The Moldovans: Romania, Russian, and the Politics of Culture (2000), surveys Moldovan political and cultural history with a particular focus on issues of national identity in the 20th century. Andrei Brezianu, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Moldova (2000), is a useful resource.Keith Arnold Hitchins

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