Moldova is a small, landlocked country in Eastern Europe—largely unknown and undiscovered by the outside world. Most recently, Moldova was part of the former Soviet Union, until it gained independence in 1991. Its natural beauty and agricultural fertility have been overshadowed by its reputation as the poorest country in Europe. Culturally, Moldovans represent a unique blending of Russian, Romanian and Eastern Orthodox traditions; and a fascinating interplay between old and new. Although Romanian is Moldova’s official language, Russian is almost equally used.
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 Nistru (Dnister) River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a “Transnistria” republic. Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a communist as its president in 2001.
Currently, Moldova faces the struggle between looking forward to integration into the European Union or renewing ties with the Russia Federation.
Population: 3.56 million, excluding the estimated Transnistrian population of 520,000.
Ethnic groups: Moldovans 75.8%, Minor ethnic groups: Ukrainians 8.4%, Russians 5.8%, Gagauz 4.4%, Bulgarians 1.9%.
Main religions: Christian Orthodox (93.3%), Baptist (1%), others.
Languages: Romanian (officially known as Moldovan), Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz.