Moldova

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Posted by motoman 02/25/2009 @ 16:35

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News headlines
Moldova in presidential deadlock - BBC News
Moldova's parliament has failed to elect a new president - increasing the possibility the country will have to hold a new general election. The last election sparked violent scenes as protesters claimed the Communist Party victory was fraudulent....
Moldova family finds home in ND - Jamestown Sun
Ciubotareanu is from Moldova, a landlocked country in Eastern Europe surrounded by Romania and Ukraine. He was born in Abaclia, a town in southern Moldova. AP photo Valentin Ciubotareanu and his wife, Valentina, sit with their 1-month-old daughter,...
Moldovan wine export down 30% in first four months of 2009 - Xinhua
BUCHAREST, May 19 (Xinhua) -- The export of Moldovan wine went down by 30 percent during the first four months of 2009, amounting to 45 million dollars, according to reports by the official Moldpres news agency reaching here on Tuesday....
European Commission and Ukrainian, Belorussian and Moldovan ... - Business Wire (press release)
The deployment is part of an EU project to enhance border and customs controls in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. The new Eagle Mobile high-energy X-ray systems will help the State Customs Services of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine combat arms and drug...
Orange Moldova launches new rewards programme - Telecompaper
Mobile operator Orange Moldova has launched a new rewards programme, through which it offers bonus points to users with more than six months of service. Points are offered according to the monthly credit used for making calls, sending text messages or...
Basescu voices dissatisfaction over EC reaction to events in Rep ... - Financiarul
“I thanked the French President because France, together with Poland, were the first countries which reacted promptly to events immediately after the elections in the Republic of Moldova. I make no secret and tell you that I voiced discontent with the...
Acting president: Moldova needs political stability to overcome crisis - Xinhua
Voronin said that the willingness to accept any sound, and above all, fruitful and efficient idea which would help in the circumstances of the terrible economic crisis, is presently very high and important for Moldova. According to reports by the...
EU Foreign Ministers To Discuss Russia Summit, Moldova, Georgia - Georgiandaily
At the summit, the EU and Russia will also discuss the situation in Moldova and Georgia under the "international issues" heading. Russian officials, most recently its EU ambassador Chizhov on May 13, have accused the bloc of trying to meddle in the...
Trade Unions concerned about socioeconomic situation in Moldova - Moldpress
At the same time, the trade union's leaders voiced hope that a president will be elected soon and a new government will be created in order to settle the issues which the Moldovan economy is confronting with. The CNSM deputy head, Oleg Budza,...
Information Technologies Week starts in Moldova - BSANNA NEWS
The information and communication technologies sector, which accounts for over nine per cent of the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is a promising sector in Moldova. Acting First Deputy Premier, Economics and Trade Minister Igor Dodon has made...

Moldova

Coat of arms of Moldova

Moldova /mɔlˈdoʊvə/, /mɒlˈdoʊvə/ (help·info), officially the Republic of Moldova (Republica Moldova) is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south.

In the Middle Ages, most of the present territory of Moldova was part of the Principality of Moldavia. In 1812, it was annexed by the Russian Empire, and became known as Bessarabia. Between 1856 and 1878, one of the eight counties was returned to Moldavia, which in 1859 united with Wallachia to form modern Romania. Upon the dissolution of the Russian Empire in 1917, an autonomous, then independent Moldavian Democratic Republic was formed, which joined Romania in 1918. In 1940, Bessarabia was occupied by the Soviet Union and was split between the Ukrainian SSR and the newly-created Moldavian SSR. After changing hands in 1941 and 1944 during World War II, the country became again part of the Soviet Union until its declaration of independence on August 27, 1991. Moldova was admitted to the UN in March 1992. In September 1990, a breakaway government was formed in Transnistria, a strip of Moldavian SSR on the left bank of the river Dniester, and after a brief war in 1992 became de facto independent, although no UN member has recognized its independence.

The country is a parliamentary democracy with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. Moldova is a member state of the United Nations, WTO, OSCE, GUAM, CIS, BSEC and other international organizations. Moldova currently aspires to join the European Union, and is implementing a first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

In Antiquity Moldova's territory was inhabited by Dacian tribes. Due to its strategic location on a route between Asia and Europe, Moldova faced several invasions, including those by the Bastarns, Sarmatians, Goths, Huns, Avars, Magyars, Kievan Rus', Pechenegs, Cumans, and the Mongols.

Tatar invasions continued also after the establishment of the Principality of Moldavia in 1359, bounded by the Carpathian mountains in the west, Dniester river in the east, and Danube and Black Sea in the south. Its territory comprised the present-day territory of the Republic of Moldova, the eastern 8 of the 41 counties of Romania (which, like the present-day republic, is known to the locals as Moldova), the Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak region of Ukraine. In 1538, the principality became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire, but retained internal and partially external autonomy.

In 1812, according to the Treaty of Bucharest between the Ottoman, whose vassal Moldavia was, and the Russian Empires, the former ceded the eastern half of the territory of the Principality of Moldavia, along Khotyn and old Bessarabia (modern Budjak), despite numerous protest by Moldavians. At first, the Russians used the name "Oblast' of Moldavia and Bessarabia", allowing a large degree of autonomy, but later (in 1828) suspended the self-administration and called it Guberniya of Bessarabia, or simply Bessarabia, starting a process of Russification. The western part of Moldavia (which is not a part of present-day Moldova) remained an autonomous principality, and in 1859, united with Wallachia to form the Kingdom of Romania. In 1856, the Treaty of Paris saw three out of nine counties of Bessarabia, Cahul, Bolgrad and Ismail, returned to Moldavia, but in 1878, the Treaty of Berlin saw the Kingdom of Romania returning them to the Russian Empire.

Upon annexation, after the expulsion of the little Nogai Tatar population of Budjak (Little Tartary), the Moldovan/Romanian population of Bessarabia was predominant. The colonization of the region in the 19th century, generated by the need to better exploit the resources of the land,, and by the absence of serfdom in Bessarabia, lead to an increase in the Russian, Ukrainian, Lipovan, and Cossack populations in the region; this together with a large influx of Bulgarian immigrants, saw an increase of the Slavic population to more than a fifth of the total population by 1920. With the settling of other nationals such as Gagauz, Jews (Bessarabian Jews), and Germans (Bessarabian Germans), the proportion of the Moldovan population decreased from around 86% to 52% by some sources or to 70% by others during the course of the century. According to the census of 1897, the capital Kishinev had a Jewish population of 50,000, or 46%, out of a total of approximately 110,000. The Tsarist policy in Bessarabia was in part aimed at denationalization of the Romanian element by forbidding after the 1860s education and religious mass in Romanian. However, the effect was an extremely low literacy rate (in 1897 approx. 18% for males, approx. 4% for females) rather than a denationalization.

World War I brought in a rise in political and cultural (national) awareness of the locals, as 300,000 Bessarabians were drafted into the Russian Army formed in 1917; within bigger units several "Moldavian Soldiers' Committees" were formed. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Bessarabian parliament, Sfatul Ţării, which was elected in October-November 1917 and opened on December 3 1917, proclaimed the Moldavian Democratic Republic (December 15 1917) within a federal Russian state, and formed its government (December 21 1917). Bessarabia proclaimed independence from Russia (February 6 1918), and, on April 9 1918, in presence of the Romanian army that entered the region to counter a Bolshevik coup attempt in early January, Sfatul Ţării decided with 86 votes for, 3 against and 36 abstaining, to unite with the Kingdom of Romania, conditional upon the fulfilment of the agrarian reform, local autonomy, and respect for universal human rights. The conditions were dropped after Bukovina and Transylvania also joined the Kingdom of Romania.

After 1918 Bessarabia was under Romanian jurisdiction for the next 22 years. This fact was recognized in the Treaty of Paris (1920) which, however, some today argue has never come into force since it was not ratified by Japan. The newly-communist Russia did not recognize the Romanian rule over Bessarabia. Furthermore, Russia and later, the Soviet Union, considered the region to be Soviet territory under foreign occupation and conducted numerous diplomatic attempts to reclaim it. No diplomatic relations existed between the two states until 1934. Nonetheless, both countries have subscribed to the principle of non-violent resolution of territorial disputes in the Kellogg-Briand Treaty of 1928 and the Treaty of London of July 1933. Meanwhile, the neighboring region of Transnistria, part of the Ukrainian SSR at the time, was formed into the Moldavian ASSR after the failure of the Tatarbunary Uprising in 1924.

The agrarian (land) reform, implemented by Sfatul Ţării in 1918-1919, resulted in a rise of a middle class, as 87% of the region's population lived in rural areas. Together with peace and favorable economic circumstances, this reform resulted in a small economic boom. However, urban development and industry were insignificant, and the region remained primarily an agrarian rural region throughout the interwar period. Certain improvements were achieved in the area of education, the literacy rate rising from 15.6% in 1897 to 37% by 1930; however, Bessarabia continued to lag behind the rest of the country, the national literacy rate being 60%. During the inter-war period, Romanian authorities also conducted a program of Romanianization that sought to assimilate ethnic minorities throughout the country. The enforcement of this policy was especially pervasive in Bessarabia due to its highly diverse population, and resulted in the closure of minority educational and cultural institutions.

In August 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret Additional Protocal were signed, by which Nazi Germany recognized Bessarabia as being within the Soviet sphere of influence, which led the latter to actively revive its claim to the region. On June 26, 1940, Romania received an ultimatum from the Soviet Union, demanding the evacuation of the Romanian military and administration from Bessarabia and from the northern part of Bukovina, with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance. Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army retreated from these territories, and on June 28, 1940 they were occupied by the Soviet Union. During the retreat, the Romanian Army was attacked by the Soviet Army, which entered Bessarabia before the Romanian administration finished retreating. Some 42,876 Romanian soldiers and officers were unaccounted for after the retreat. The northern and southern parts, which besides ethnic Romanians had sizeable non-Moldovan communities (of Ukrainians, Bessarabian Bulgarians, Bessarabian Germans and Lipovans), were transferred to the Ukrainian SSR as the Chernivtsi and Izmail Oblasts. At the same time, the Moldavian ASSR, where Moldovans were a plurality, was disbanded, and up to half its territory was joined with the remaining territory of Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR), contiguous with present-day Moldova.

By participating in the 1941 Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania seized the territory of the MSSR, and re-established its administration there. In occupied Transnistria, Romanian forces, working with the Germans, deported or exterminated 300,000 Jews, including 147,000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina. The Soviet Army reconquered and re-annexed the area in February-August 1944.

Under early Soviet rule, deportations of locals to the northern Urals, to Siberia, and Kazakhstan occurred regularly throughout the Stalinist period, with the largest ones on 12–13 June 1941, and 5-6 July 1949, accounting for 19,000 and 35,000 deportees respectively. According to Russian historians, in 1940-1941, ca. 90,000 inhabitants of the annexed territories were subject to political persecutions, such as arrests, deportations, or executions. In 1946, as a result of a severe drought and excessive delivery quota obligations and requisitions imposed by the Soviet government, the southwestern part of the USSR suffered from widespread famine resulting in 216,000 deaths and about 350,000 cases of dystrophy in the Moldavian SSR alone. Similar events occurred in 1930s in the Moldavian ASSR. In 1944-53, there were numerous anti-Communist armed resistance groups active in Moldova; however the NKVD and later MGB managed to uproot most of them with arrests and deportation.

The postwar period saw a wide scale migration of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians into the new Soviet republic, especially into urbanized areas, partly to compensate the demographic loss caused by the emigration of Germans in 1940. The Soviet government conducted a campaign to promote a Moldovan ethnic identity, different from that of the Romanians, based on a theory developed during the existence of the Moldavian ASSR. Official Soviet policy asserted that the language spoken by Moldovans was distinct from the Romanian language (see Moldovenism). To distinguish the two, during the Soviet period, Moldovan was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, in contrast with Romanian, which since 1860 was written in the Latin alphabet. Not all things under the Soviets were however negative. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Moldavian SSR received substantial allocations from the budget of the USSR to develop industrial and scientific facilities as well as housing. In 1971, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a decision "About the measures for further development of the city of Kishinev" (modern Chişinău), that allotted more than one billion Soviet rubles from the USSR budget for building projects; subsequent decisions also directed substantial funding and brought qualified specialists from other parts of the USSR to develop Moldova's industry. This influx of investments was stopped in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Moldova became independent.

In the new political conditions created after 1985 by the glasnost policy introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1986, to support perestroika (restructuring), a Democratic Movement of Moldova (Romanian: Mişcarea Democratică din Moldova) was formed, which in 1989 became known as the pro-nationalist Popular Front of Moldova (PFM; Romanian: Frontul Popular din Moldova). Along with the other peripheral Soviet republics, from 1988 onwards, Moldova started to move towards independence. On August 27, 1989, the PFM organized a mass demonstration in Chişinău, that became known as the Great National Gathering (Romanian: Marea Adunare Naţională), which pressured the authorities of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic to adopt on August 31, 1989 a language law that proclaimed the Moldovan language written in the Latin script to be the state language of the MSSR. It's identity with the Romanian Language was also established.

The first independent elections for the local parliament were held in February and March 1990. Mircea Snegur was elected as Speaker of the Parliament, and Mircea Druc as Prime-Minister. On June 23, 1990, the Parliament adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Soviet Socialist Republic Moldova, which among other things stipulated the supremacy of Moldovan laws over those of the Soviet Union. After the failure of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, on August 27, 1991, Moldova declared its independence. On December 21 of the same year Moldova, along with most of the former Soviet republics, signed the constitutive act that formed the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Declaring itself a neutral state, it did not join the military branch of the CIS. Three months later, on March 2, 1992, the country achieved formal recognition as an independent state at the United Nations. In 1994, Moldova became a member of NATO Partnership for Peace. On June 29, 1995, Moldova became a member of the Council of Europe.

In the region east of the Dniester river, Transnistria, which includes a large proportion of Russophone ethnic Russians and Ukrainians (as of 1989, 51%, as opposed to only 40% ethnic Moldovans), and where the headquarters and many units of the Soviet 14th Guards Army were stationed, an independent "Transdnestrian Moldovan Republic" (TMR) was proclaimed on August 16, 1990, with its capital in Tiraspol. The motives behind this move were fear of the rise of nationalism in Moldova and the country's expected reunification with Romania upon secession from the USSR. In the winter of 1991-1992 clashes occurred between Transnistrian forces, supported by elements of the 14th Army, and the Moldovan police. Between March 2 and July 26, 1992, the conflict escalated into a military engagement.

The Russian military stationed in the region remains to this day east of the Dniester in the breakaway region, despite Russia having signed international agreements to withdraw, and against the will of Moldovan government. The postwar status quo remains to this day: Chişinău offers expansive autonomy, while Tiraspol demands independence. De jure, Transnistria is internationally recognized as part of Moldova, but de facto, the authorities in Chişinău do not exercise any control over that territory.

On January 2, 1992, Moldova introduced a market economy, liberalizing prices, which resulted in huge inflation. From 1992 to 2001, the young country suffered its worst economic crisis, leaving most of the population below the poverty line. In 1993, a new national currency, the Moldovan leu, was introduced to replace the Soviet ruble. The end of the planned economy also meant that industrial enterprises would have to buy supplies and sell their goods by themselves, and most of the management was unprepared for such a change. Moldova's industry, especially machine building, became all but defunct, and unemployment skyrocketed. The economic fortunes of Moldova began to change in 2001; since then the country has seen a steady annual growth of between 5% and 10%. The early 2000s also saw a considerable growth of emigration of Moldovans looking for work (mostly illegally) in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and other countries, in addition to work in Russia. Remittances from Moldovans abroad account for almost 38% of Moldova's GDP, the second-highest percentage in the world. Officially, Moldova's annual GDP is on the order of $1,000 per capita; however, a significant part of the economy goes unregistered due to corruption.

The governments of Mircea Druc (May 25, 1990 - May 28, 1991), and of Valeriu Muravschi (May 28, 1991 - July 1, 1992) were followed by a more moderate/concervative (pending on one's political interpretation) government of Andrei Sangheli, which saw the removal of most reform-oriented individuals. After 1994 elections, Moldovan Parliament adopted measures that distanced Moldova from Romania. The new Moldovan Constitution also provided for autonomy for Transnistria and Gagauzia. On December 23, 1994, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a "Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia", and in 1995 it was constituted.

After winning the presidential elections of 1996, on January 15, 1997, Petru Lucinschi, the former First Secretary of the Moldavian Communist Party in 1989-91 became the country's second president. After the legislative elections on March 22, 1998, an Alliance for Democracy and Reform was formed by non-Communist parties. However, the activity of new government of Ion Ciubuc (January 24, 1997- February 1, 1999) was marked by chronic political instability, which prevented a coherent reform program. The 1998 financial crisis in Russia, Moldova's main economic partner at the time, produced an economic crisis in the country. The level of life plunged, with 75% of population living below the poverty line, while the economic disaster caused 600,000 people to leave the country.

New governments were formed by Ion Sturza (February 19 - November 9, 1999) and Dumitru Braghiş (December 21, 1999 - April 19, 2001). On July 21, 2000, the Parliament adopted an amendment to the Constitution, that transformed Moldova from a presidential to a parliamentary republic, in which the president is elected by 3/5 of the votes in the parliament, and no longer directly by the people.

Only 3 of the 31 political parties passed the 6% threshold of the February 25, 2001 early elections. Winning 49.9% of the vote, the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova gained 71 of the 101 MPs, and on April 4, 2001, elected Vladimir Voronin as the country's third president. A new government was formed on April 19, 2001 by Vasile Tarlev. The country became the first post-Soviet state where a non-reformed Communist Party comes back to power. In March-April 2002, in Chişinău, several mass protests took place against the plans of the government to fulfil its electoral promise and introduce Russian as the second state language along with its compulsory study in schools. The government mainly renounced these plans. Relationship between Moldova and Russia deteriorated in November 2003 over a Russian proposal for the solution of the Transnistrian conflict, which Moldovan authorities refused to accept due to political pressure from the West, since it stipulated a 20-year Russian military presence in Moldova. The federalization of Moldova would have also turned Transnistria and Gagauzia into a blocking minority over all major policy matters of Moldova. As of 2006, approximately 1,200 of the 14th army personnel remain stationed in Transnistria. In the last years, negotiations between the Transnistrian and Moldovan leaders have been going on under the mediation of the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine; lately observers from the European Union and the United States have become involved as observers, creating a 5+2 format.

In the wake of the November 2003 deadlock with Russia, a series of shifts in the external policy of Moldova occurred, targeted at rapprochement with the European Union. In the context of the EU's expansion to the east, Moldova wants to sign a Stability an Association Agreement. Currently, it implement its first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) of the EU.

In the March 2005 elections, the Party of Communists won 46% of the vote, (56 of the 101 seats in the Parliament), Democratic Moldova Block won 28.5% of the vote (34 MPs), and the Christian Democratic People Party (CDPP) won 9.1% (11 MPs). On April 4, 2005, Vladimir Voronin was re-elected as country's president, supported by a part of the opposition, and on April 8, Vasile Tarlev was again charged as head of government. On March 31, 2008, Vasile Tarlev was replaced by Zinaida Greceanîi as head of the government.

Currently, the government is formed by the Party of the Communists, supported parliamentary by CDPP (deserted by many members because of that) and mostly (not always) by the Democratic Party of Moldova. The major opposition parties include Party Alliance Our Moldova, Liberal Party, whose candidate Dorin Chirtoacă won on June 17, 2007 the elections for the mayor of the capital Chişinău, and Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova.

The largest part of the country lies between two rivers, the Dniester and the Prut. Moldova's rich soil and temperate continental climate (with warm summers and mild winters) have made the country one of the most productive agricultural regions since ancient times, and a major supplier of agricultural products in southeastern Europe. The western border of Moldova is formed by the Prut river, which joins the Danube before flowing into the Black Sea. In the north-east, the Dniester is the main river, flowing through the country from north to south, receiving the waters of Răut, Bâc, Ichel, Botna. Ialpug flows into one of the Danube limans, while Cogâlnic into the Black Sea chain of limans.

The country is landlocked, even though it is very close to the Black Sea. While the northern part of the country is hilly, elevations never exceed 430 meters (1,411 ft)—the highest point being the Bălăneşti Hill. Moldova's hills are part of the Moldavian Plateau, which geologically originate from the Carpathian Mountains. Its subdivisions in Moldova include Dniester Hills (Northern Moldavian Hills and Dniester-Rāut Ridge), Moldavian Plain (Middle Prut Valley and Bălţi Steppe), and Central Moldavian Plateau (Ciuluc-Soloneţ Hills, Corneşti Hills (Codri Massive) - Codri, meaning "forests" -, Lower Dniester Hills, Lower Prut Valley, and Tigheci Hills). In the south, the country has a small flatland, the Bugeac Plain. The territory of Moldova east of the river Dniester is split between parts of the Podolian Plateau, and parts of the Eurasian Steppe.

Phytogeographically, Moldova is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Moldova can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Central European mixed forests, the East European forest steppe (the most territory of the country), and Pontic steppe (in the south and southeast).

The country's main cities are the capital Chişinău, in the center of the country, Tiraspol (in Transnistria), Bălţi and Tighina.

Moldova is a unitary parliamentary representative democratic republic. The Constitution of Moldova, adopted in 1994, sets the framework for the government of the country. A parliamentary majority of at least two thirds is required to amend the constitution, which cannot be revised in time of war or national emergency. Amendments to the Constitution affecting the state's sovereignty, independence, or unity can only be made after a majority of voters support the proposal in a referendum. Furthermore, no revision can be made to limit the fundamental rights of people enumerated in the Constitution.

The country's central legislative body is the unicameral Moldovan parliament (Parlament), which has 101 seats, and whose members are elected by popular vote on party lists every four years.

The head of state is the president, who is elected by Parliament, requiring the support of three fifths of the deputies (at least 61 votes). The president appoints a prime minister who functions as the head of government, and who in turn assembles a cabinet, both subject to parliamentary approval.

The Constitution also establishes an independent Constitutional Court, composed of six judges (two appointed by the President, two by Parliament, and two by the Supreme Council of Magistrature), serving six-year terms, during which they are irremovable and not subordinate to any power. The Court is invested with the power of judicial review over all acts of the parliament, over presidential decrees, and over international treaties, signed by the country.

Currently, the President of Moldova is Vladimir Voronin, who holds this post since 2001. The 2005 parliamentary elections were won by the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, which holds a majority of 55 seats. Other parties represented in the Parliament are the Alliance Our Moldova (13 seats), the Democratic Party (Moldova) (11 seats), the Christian-Democratic People's Party (7 seats), while 15 members of parliament are not members of a parliamentary fraction. The PCRM majority makes Moldova one of only three countries with democratically-elected Communist leaders, the other two being Cyprus and Nepal.

Moldova is divided into thirty-two districts (raioane, singular raion); three municipalities (Bălţi, Chişinău, Bender); and two autonomous regions (Găgăuzia and Transnistria). The cities of Comrat and Tiraspol, the administrative seats of the two autonomous territories also have municipality status.

The final status of Transnistria is still disputed, as the central government does not control that territory.

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. The air of the country is very clean.

Moldova must import all of its supplies of petroleum, coal, and natural gas, largely from Russia.

After the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991, energy shortages contributed to sharp production declines. As part of an ambitious economic liberalization effort, Moldova introduced a convertible currency, liberalized all prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatization, removed export controls, and liberalized interest rates. The government entered into agreements with the World Bank and the IMF to promote growth. Recent trends indicate that the Communist government intends to reverse some of these policies, and recollectivise land while placing more restrictions on private business. The economy returned to positive growth, of 2.1% in 2000 and 6.1% in 2001. Growth remained strong in 2007 (6%), in part because of the reforms and because of starting from a small base. The economy remains vulnerable to higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the skepticism of foreign investors.

Following the regional financial crisis in 1998, Moldova has made significant progress towards achieving and retaining macroeconomic and financial stabilization. It has, furthermore, implemented many structural and institutional reforms that are indispensable for the efficient functioning of a market economy. These efforts have helped maintain macroeconomic and financial stability under difficult external circumstances, enabled the resumption of economic growth and contributed to establishing an environment conducive to the economy’s further growth and development in the medium term. Despite these efforts, and despite the recent resumption of economic growth, Moldova still ranks low in terms of commonly-used living standards and human development indicators in comparison with other transition economies. Although the economy experienced a constant economic growth after 2000: with 2.1%, 6.1%, 7.8% and 6.3% between 2000 and 2003 (with a forecast of 8% in 2004), one can observe that these latest developments hardly reach the level of 1994, with almost 40% of the GDP registered in 1990. Thus, during the last decade little has been done to reduce the country’s vulnerability. After a severe economic decline, social and economic challenges, energy uprooted dependencies, Moldova continues to occupy one of the last places among European countries in income per capita.

In 2005 (Human Development Report 2008), the registered GDP per capita US $ 2,100 PPP, which is 4.5 times lower than the world average (US $ 9,543). Moreover, GDP per capita is under the average of its statistical region (US $ 9,527 PPP). In 2005, about 20.8% of the population were under the absolute poverty line and registered an income lower than US $ 2.15 (PPP) per day. Moldova is classified as medium in human development and is at the 111th spot in the list of 177 countries. The value of the Human Development Index (0.708) is below the world average. Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe in terms of GDP per capita: $ 2,500 in 2006.

The GDP in 2007 constituted $4,104 mln. That constituted a grow with 3% from the 2006 indicator.

In agriculture, the economic reform started with the land cadastre reform.

Moldova is famous for its wines. For many years viticulture and winemaking in Moldova were the general occupation of the population. Evidence of this is present in historical memorials and documents, folklore, and the Moldovan spoken language.

The country has a well established wine industry. It has a vineyard area of 147,000 hectares (360,000 acres), of which 102,500 ha (253,000 acres) are used for commercial production. Most of the country's wine production is made for export. Many families have their own recipes and strands of grapes that have been passed down through the generations.

The question whether Moldovans and Romanians form different or a single ethnic group, and how should it be called, is politically controversial.

For the 2004 census, Eastern Orthodox Christians, who make up over 90% of Moldova's population, were not required to declare the particular of the two main churches they belong to. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, autonomous and subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church of Bessarabia, autonomous and subordinated to the Romanian Orthodox Church, both claim to be the national church of the country.

Located geographically at the crossroads of Latin, Slavic and other cultures, Moldova has enriched its own culture adopting and maintaining some of the traditions of its neighbors and of other influence sources.

The country's cultural heritage was marked by numerous churches and monasteries build by the Moldavian ruler Stephen the Great in the 15th century, by the works of the later renaissance Metropolitans Varlaam and Dosoftei, and those of scholars such as Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin, Nicolae Milescu, Dimitrie Cantemir, Ion Neculce. In the 19th century, Moldavians from the territories of the medieval Principality of Moldavia, then split between Austria, Russia, and an Ottoman-vassal Moldavia (after 1859, Romania), made the largest contribution to the formation of the modern Romanian culture. Among these were many Bessarabians, such as Alexandru Donici, Alexandru Hâjdeu, Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, Constantin Stamati, Constantin Stamati-Ciurea, Costache Negruzzi, Alecu Russo, Constantin Stere.

Mihai Eminescu, a late Romantic poet, and Ion Creangă, a writer, are the most influential Romanian language artists, considered national writers both in Romania and Moldova.

Moldova has produced artists with works that are recognized worldwide: composers (Gavriil Musicescu, Ştefan Neaga, Eugen Doga), sculptors (Alexandru Plămădeală), and architects (Alexey Shchusev, a Moldovan-born Russian architect).

Ethnic Moldovans, 78.3% of the population, are Romanian-speakers and share the Romanian culture. Their culture has been also influenced (through Eastern Orthodoxy) by the Byzantine culture. The country has also important minority ethnic communities. Gagauz, 4.4% of the population, are the only Christian Turkic people. Greeks, Armenians, Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, although not numerous, were present since as early as 17th century, and had left cultural marks. The 19th century saw the arrival of many more Ukrainians and Jews from Podolia and Galicia, as well as new communities, such as Lipovans, Bulgarians and Germans. In the second part of the 20th century, Moldova saw a massive Soviet immigration, which brought with it many elements of the Soviet culture. The country has now important Russian (6%) and Ukrainain (8.4%) populations. 50% of ethnic Ukrainians, 27% of Gagauzians, 35% of Bulgarians, and 54% of smaller ethnic groups speak Russian as first language. In total, there are 541,000 people (or 16% of the population) in Moldova who use Russian as first language, including 130,000 ethnic Moldovans. By contrast, only 47,000 ethnic minorities use Moldovan/Romanian as first language.

In localities with significant minority populations, other languages also are used alongside the state language. Russian is provided with the status of a "language of interethnic communication", and remains widely used on all levels of the society and the state. According to the above-mentioned National Political Conception, Russian-Moldovan bilingualism is characteristic for Moldova. Gagauz and Ukrainian and have significant regional speaker populations and are granted official status together with Russian in Gagauzia and Transnistria respectively.

The Moldovan armed forces consist of the Ground Forces and Air and Air Defense Forces. Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits. It acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 in Washington, DC. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994.

1 Has part of its territory outside Europe.  2 Entirely in West Asia but having socio-political connections with Europe.  3 Has dependencies or similar territories outside Europe. 4 Name disputed by Greece; see Macedonia naming dispute. 5 Declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 and is recognised by 55 United Nations member states.

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Geography of Moldova

Satellite image of Moldova in September 2003

Located in southeastern Europe, Moldova is bordered on the west by Romania and on the north, south, and east by Ukraine. Most of its territory lies between the area's two main rivers, the Dniester and the Prut. The Dniester forms a small part of Moldova's border with Ukraine in the northeast and southeast, but it mainly flows through the eastern part of the country, separating Bessarabia and Transnistria. The Prut River forms Moldova's entire western boundary with Romania. The Danube touches the Moldovan border at its southernmost tip, and forms the border for 200 m.

Moldova's proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate.

Moldova's climate is moderately continental: the summers are warm and long, with temperatures averaging about 20°C, and the winters are relatively mild and dry, with January temperatures averaging -4°C. Annual rainfall, which ranges from around 600 millimeters in the north to 400 millimeters in the south, can vary greatly; long dry spells are not unusual. The heaviest rainfall occurs in early summer and again in October; heavy showers and thunderstorms are common. Because of the irregular terrain, heavy summer rains often cause erosion and river silting.

Most of Moldova's territory is a moderate hilly plateau cut deeply by many streams and rivers. Geologically, Moldova lies primarily on deep sedimentary rock that gives way to harder crystalline outcroppings only in the north. Moldova's hills are part of the Moldavian Plateau, which geologically originate from the Carpathian Mountains.

The northern landscape of Moldova is characterized by gently rolling uplands of the Dniester Hills (up to 300 meters, or 1000 feet, in elevation) interlaced with small flat plains in the valleys of the numerous creeks (at 150 meters or 500-foot elevation). These hills, which have an average altitude of 240 meters and a maximum altitude of 320 meters, can be divided into the Northern Moldavian Hills and the Dniester Ridge, and continue further occupying the northern part of the Chernivtsi oblast in Ukraine. The eastern slopes of the Dniester Ridge (average 250 meters, max 347 meters), form the high right bank of the Dniester River.

The Moldavian Plain has an average of 200 meters and a maximum altitude of 250 meters, and can be divided into the Bălţi Steppe and the Middle Prut Valley. Originally forested, it has been extensively de-forested for agriculture during the 19th and 20th centuries. In contrast to the region to the north and south, which is smore slant, this area is referred to as plain, although it has relief very different from that of a flatland, and vegetation different from that of the steppe.

The hills of central Moldova, the Central Moldavian Plateau, at an average elevation of about 350 to 400 meters (1150–1300 feet), are ridges interlaced by deep, flat valleys, ravines, and landslide-scoured depressions. Steep forest-clad slopes account for much of the terrain, where the most common trees are hornbeam, oak, linden, maple, wild pear, and wild cherry. The term Codri refers more generally to all the forests between the Carpathians and the Dniester river, and even more generally to all forests in the area of the Carpathians, yet since in Moldova most of them were preserved in the central part, Codri sometimes can colloquially refer to the remaining forests in the hills west and north of Chişinău. The Dniester Ridge border Central Moldavian Plateau to the north along the river Răut.

The plateau can be divided into 5 parts: Ciuluc-Soloneţ Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Ciuluc-Soloneţ), alongated in the north along the right side of the Răut river, 1,690 km^2, Corneşti Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Corneştilor), also known as Cordi Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Codrilor), 4,740 km^2, Lower Dniester Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Nistrului Inferior), alongated to the south of the Botna river, 3,040 km^2, Tigheci Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Tigheciului), alongated in the south along the left side of the Prut river, 3,550 km^2, and between the latter and the Prut river, the Lower Prut Valley (Romanian: Valea Prutului Inferior), 1,810 km^2.

The country's highest point, Bălăneşti Hill, which reaches 1407 feet (429 m) or 1410 feet (430 m), depending on the source, is situated in the Corneşti Hills, the western part of the Central Moldavian Plateau. Northwest of it are the Ciuluc-Soloneţ Hills (average 250 meters, max 388 meters). In the south, the Tigheci Hills (average 200 meters, max 301 meters) are a prolongation, and run to the south parallel to the Lower Prut Valley.

To the south-east, the southern part of the Central Moldavian Plateau, which averages 150-200 meters, max 250 meters, and has numerous ravines and gullies, gradually vanishs into the extensive Buceac Plain, with most of the Budjak region already in Ukraine.

Transnistria (the left bank of the Dniester) has spurs of the Podolian Plateau (Romanian: Podişul Podoliei, Ukrainian: Volyno-Podil's'ka vysochyna), (average 180, max 275 meters), which are cut into by tributaries of the Dniester River. The southern half of Transnistria, the Lower Dniester Plain, can be regarded as the western end of the Eurasian steppe, and has an average elevation of 100 meters, with a maximum of 170 meters. The high right bank and low left bank of the Dniester are in sharp contrast here, where visibility is not impeded by forests.

About 75 percent of Moldova is covered by a soil type called black earth or chernozem. In the northern hills, more clay textured soils are found; in the south, red-earth soil is predominant. The soil becomes less fertile toward the south but can still support grape and sunflower production. The hills have woodland soils, while a small portion in southern Moldova is in the steppe zone, although most steppe areas today are cultivated. The lower reaches of the Prut and Dniester rivers and the southern river valleys are saline marshes.

Drainage in Moldova is to the south, toward the Black Sea lowlands, and eventually into the Black Sea, but only eight rivers and creeks extend more than 100 kilometers. Moldova's main river, the Dniester, is navigable throughout almost the entire country, and in warmer winters it does not freeze over. The Prut river is a tributary of the Danube, which it joins at the far southwestern tip of the country. Over 95% of the water circulation in Moldova flows into one of the two rivers - the Prut or Dniester. Of Moldova's well-developed network of about 3,000 creeks and streams, all draining south to the Black Sea, only 246 exceed 6 miles (10 kilometres) in length, and only 8 exceed 60 miles (100 km).

Underground water, extensively used for the country's water supply, includes about 2,200 natural springs. The terrain favours construction of reservoirs of various size.

Moldova's natural habitat is characterized by forest steppes, a temperate-climate habitat type composed of grassland interspersed with areas of woodland or forest. A belt of forest steppes cross Eurasia from eastern Europe to Eastern Siberia, forming a transition between temperate broadleaf and mixed forests and temperate grasslands. In the 19th century Moldova witnessed a sharp decrease in the forested areas, sacrificed for agriculture due to rich soil.

Moldova's communist-era environmental legacy, like that of many other former Soviet republics, is one of environmental degradation. Agricultural practices such as overuse of pesticides and artificial fertilizers were intended to increase agricultural output at all costs, without regard for the consequences. As a result, Moldova's soil and groundwater were contaminated by lingering chemicals, some of which (including DDT) have been banned in the West.

Such practices continue in Moldova to the present day. In the early 1990s, use of pesticides in Moldova averaged approximately twenty times that of other former Soviet republics and Western nations. In addition, poor farming methods, such as destroying forests to plant vineyards, have contributed to the extensive soil erosion to which the country's rugged topography is already prone.

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Demographics of Moldova

Demographics of Moldova, Data of FAO, year 2005 ; Number of inhabitants in thousands.

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Moldova, including distribution, ethnicity, languages, religious affiliation and other statistical data.

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write.

According to the 2004 Moldovan Census, 3,383,332 people lived in the areas controlled by the central government of Moldova. According to the 2004 Census in Transnistria, 555,347 people lived in the breakaway Transnistria. Thus, total population of the country in 2004 amounted to 3,938,679.

Romanian is the official language of Moldova. In political contexts it is sometimes also called Molodvan.

Currently, 2,588,355 people or 76.51% of the inhabitants of right bank Moldova (proper) have Moldovan/Romanian as native language, of which 2,029,847 (60.00%) declared it Moldovan and 558,508 (16.51%) declared it Romanian. 380,796 people or 11.26% have Russian as native language, 186,394 or 5.51% - Ukrainian, 137,774 or 4.07% - Gagauz, 54,401 or 1.61% - Bulgarian, 21,504 or 0.63% - another language, and 14,108 or 0.41% did not declare one.

In the Soviet census of 1989 members of most of the ethnic groups in Moldavian SSR claimed the language of their ethnicity as their mother tongue: Moldovans (95%), Ukrainians (62%), Russians (99%), Gagauz (91%), Bulgarians (79%), and Roma people (82%). The exceptions were Jews (26% citing Yiddish), Belarusians (43%), Germans (31%), and Poles (10%).

In the Soviet census of 1989, 62% of the total population claimed Moldovan as their native language. Only 4% of the entire population claimed Moldovan as a second language.

In 1979, Russian was claimed as a native language by a large proportion of Jews (66%) and Belarusians (62%), and by a significant proportion of Ukrainians (30%). Proportions of other ethnicities naming Russian as a native language ranged from 17% of Bulgarians to 3% of Moldovans (Russian was more spoken by urban Moldovans than by rural Moldovans). Russian was claimed as a second language by a sizeable proportion of all ethnicities: Moldovans (46%), Ukrainians (43%), Gagauz (68%), Jews (30%), Bulgarians (67%), Belarusians (34%), Germans (53%), Roma (36%), and Poles (24%).

According to the 2004 census, 2,543,354 people or 75.17% of the inhabitants of Moldova (proper) have Moldovan/Romanian as first language, of which 1,988,540 (58.77%) declared it Moldovan and 554,814 (16.40%) declared it Romanian. 540,990 people or 15.99% have Russian as first language, 130,114 or 3.85% - Ukrainian, 104,890 or 3.10% - Gagauz, 38,565 or 1.14% - Bulgarian, 11,318 or 0.34% - another language, and 14,101 or 0.41% did not declare one.

Percentages are calculated from the number of people declaring a religion; 75,727 (2.24%) of the population did not declare a religion. a Known as Creştini după Evanghelie. b Traditionally Orthodox Lipovans.

The Soviet government strictly limited the activities of the Orthodox Church (and all religions) and at times sought to exploit it, with the ultimate goal of abolishing it and all religious activity altogether. Most Orthodox churches and monasteries in Moldova were demolished or converted to other uses, such as administrative buildings or warehouses, and clergy were sometimes punished for leading services. Still, many believers continued to practice their faith.

In 1991, Moldova had 853 Orthodox churches and eleven Orthodox monasteries (four for monks and seven for nuns). In addition, the Old Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) had fourteen churches and one monastery in Moldova.

In the interwar period, the vast majority of ethnic Moldovans belonged to the Romanian Orthodox Church (Bucharest Patriarchate), but today both Romanian and Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) have jurisdiction in Moldova, with the latter having more parishes. According to the local needs, liturgy is performed in Romanian, Russian, and Turkic (Gagauz). After the revival of religious activity in the last 20 years, a minority of the clergy and the faithful wanted to return to the Bucharest Patriarchate (Metropolis of Bessarabia). Because higher-level church authorities were unable to resolve the matter, Moldova now has two episcopates, one for each patriarchate. In late 1992, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia issued a decree upgrading its eparchy of Chişinău and Moldova to a metropolis.

Moldova also has a Greek Catholic minority, mainly among ethnic Ukrainians, although the Soviet government declared the Greek Catholic Churches illegal in 1946 and forcibly united them with the Russian Orthodox Church. However, the Greek Catholic Churches had survived underground until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Despite the Soviet government's suppression and harassment, Moldova's practicing Jews managed to retain their religious identity. About a dozen Jewish newspapers were started in the early 1990s, and religious leaders opened a synagogue in Chişinău; there were six Jewish communities of worship throughout the country. In addition, Moldova's government created the Department of Jewish Studies at Chişinău State University, mandated the opening of a Jewish high school in Chişinău, and introduced classes in Judaism in high schools in several cities. The government also provides financial support to the Society for Jewish Culture.

Other religious denominations in Moldova are the Armenian Apostolic Church, Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostals, and Molokans (a Russian Orthodox sect).

Citizens in the independent Moldova have much greater religious freedom than they did in Soviet times. Legislation passed in 1992 guarantees religious freedom, but requires all religious groups to be officially recognized by the government. In 1992 construction or restoration of 221 churches was underway, but clergy remained in short supply.

Although Moldova was the most densely populated of the former Soviet republics (129 inhabitants per square kilometer in 1990, compared with 13 inhabitants per square kilometer for the Soviet Union as a whole), it has few large cities.

The largest and most important of these is Chişinău, the country's capital and its most important industrial center, with a population of 712,218 in 2004. The city's population is 72.11% Romanian/Moldovan, 13.92% Russsian, 8.28% Ukrainian, and 5.69% others (Bulganians, Gagauzians, Jews, Poles, Gypsies, others). The proportion of Russophones living in Moldova decreased in the years immediately after 1989 because of the emigration.

The second largest city in the country, Tiraspol, had a population of 184,000 in 1990. Located in Transnistria, with a population of 158,069 in 2004, it is the major city in the breakaway Transnistria. In contrast to Chişinǎu, Tiraspol has only some 15.2% ethnically Moldovan, with Russians comprising 41.6%, and Ukrainians 33%. Due to deportations and emigration during and after the 1992 War of Transnistria, it has been reported that the Moldovan population has gone down by up to 10,000 since 1990.

Other important cities include Bălţi, with a population of 162,000 in 1990, and 127,561 in 2004, and Tighina, with a population of 132,000 in 1990 and 100,027 in 2004. Other major cities include Râbniţa, population 53,648, Cahul, population 35,488, Ungheni, population 32,530, Soroca, population 28,362, and Orhei, population 25,641.

Traditionally a predominantly rural country, Moldova gradually began changing its character in the 20th century. As urban areas became the sites of new industrial and intellectual jobs and amenities such as hospitals, the population of cities and towns grew. The Soviets kept the population of Moldova under control with the famous Soviet policy of propiska, which forbid a person to live in another locality than the one written in his/her identity documents without approval of Soviet authorities. The new residents Moldova's cities during the Soviet era were not only Moldovans, who had moved from the nearby rural areas, but also many Russians and Ukrainians who had been recruited to fill positions in industry and government, moving in from other parts of the Soviet Union.

Many people have emigrated to Romania in 1940 (estinated at 200,000) and 1944 (estimated at more than 200,000), and others had lost their lives during the war (over 100,000 as conscripts), in Stalinist persecutions (over 8,000 executed, over 80,000 sent to Gulag, ~200,000 deported), or during the 1946-1947 famine (216,000 deceised). As a consequence of industrial growth after 1956, there was significant immigration to the Moldavian SSR by representatives of other ethnic groups, especially Russians and Ukrainians.

At the time of the 1989 census, Moldova's total population was 4,335,400. The largest ethnic group, Moldovans, numbered 2,795,000, accounting for 64.5 % of the population. The other major ethnicities were Ukrainians, about 600,000 (14%); Russians, about 562,000 (13.0%); Gagauz, about 153,000 (4%); Bulgarians, about 88,000 (2%); and Jews, about 66,000 (2.0%). There were also smaller but appreciable numbers of Poles and Gypsies in the population. In Transnistria ethnic Moldovans accounted for only 40% of the population in 1989, followed by Ukrainians (28%), and Russians (25%). In the early 1990s, there was significant emigration from the republic, primarily from urban areas and mainly by non-Moldovan minorities. Moldovans made up a sizable proportion of the urban population in 1989 (about half the population of Chişinǎu and other cities), as well as a large proportion of the rural population (over 80%), but only 23% of the ethnic Moldovans lived in the republic's ten largest cities, with the rest of the community being predominantly rural.

Unlike Moldovans, Russians tend to be urban dwellers in Moldova; more than 72% of them lived in the ten largest cities in 1989. Many of them came to the Moldova after it was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Some of them came to alleviate the postwar shortage of qualified labor in the Moldavian SSR, which was created by the rapid industrialization, but also by the lass of human life during the war, deportations, and famine. Ethnic Russians settled mainly in Chişinǎu, Bălţi, Bender, and in the cities of the eastern bank of the Dniester, such as Tiraspol, Rîbniţa, and Dubăsari. Only about 25% of Moldova's Russians lived in Transnistria in 1990, as many as in Chişinǎu alone.

In 1990, Moldova's divorce rate of 3.0 divorces per 1,000 population had risen from the 1987 rate of 2.7 divorces per 1,000 population. The usual stresses of marriage were exacerbated by a society in which women were expected to perform most of the housework in addition to their work outside the home. Compounding this were crowded housing conditions (with their resulting lack of privacy) and the growing economic crisis.

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Source : Wikipedia