(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||Formerly part of Romania, Moldova was incorporated into 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.|
|History||Moldova’s territory was inhabited in ancient times by Dacians. Due to its strategic location on a route between Asia and Europe, Moldova faced several invasions, including those by the Huns, Kievan Rus’ and the Mongols. During the Middle Ages, the territory of Republic of Moldova, that of the Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak of Ukraine, as well as that of the eastern 8 of the 41 counties of Romania comprised the Principality of Moldavia (which, like the present-day republic, was known in Romanian as Moldova). The principality became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. In 1775 the northwestern part of Moldavia was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, and called Bukovina.
In 1812, according to the Treaty of Bucharest between the Ottoman and the Russian Empires, the latter annexed the eastern half of the territory of the Principality of Moldavia, including Khotyn and old Bessarabia (modern Budjak). 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. The western part of Moldavia remained an autonomous principality, and in 1859, united with Wallachia to form the Kingdom of Romania. In 1856, the Treaty of Paris saw two out of nine counties of Bessarabia, Cahul 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 large Tatar population of Budjak, the Moldovan/Romanian population of Bessarabia was predominant. The colonization of the region in the 19th century 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, and Germans, the proportion of the Moldovan population decreased from around 80% to 52% by some sources or to 70% by others during the course of the century. The Tsarist policy in Bessarabia was in part aimed at denationalization of the Romanian element by forbidding after the 1860s education and 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 (October-November 1917), which was opened on December 3 [O.S. November 21] 1917, proclaimed the Moldavian Democratic Republic (December 15 [O.S. December 2] 1917) within a federal Russian state, and formed its government (December 21 [O.S. December 8] 1917). Bessarabia proclaimed independence from Russia (February 6 [O.S. January 24] 1918), and, under pressure from the Romanian army that entered the region in early January, on April 9 [O.S. March 27] 1918, Sfatul Ţării decided with 86 votes for, 3 against and 36 abstaining, on union with the Kingdom of Romania, conditional upon the fulfillment 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. The union was recognized in the Treaty of Paris (1920), which, however, has never came into force since it was not ratified by Japan. The newly-communist Russia did not recognize the Romanian rule over Bessarabia. A mutual treaty between the Soviets and Romania was not signed due to the former’s claims over Bessarabia. In the Kellogg-Briand Treaty of 1928 and the Treaty of London of July 1933, the Soviet Union and Romania have subscribed to the principle of non-violent resolution of territorial disputes. Transnistria, at the time part of the Ukrainian SSR, itself part of the USSR, was formed into the Moldavian ASSR (1924-1940) after the failure of the Tatarbunary Uprising.
The agrarian (land) reform, settled by Sfatul Ţării in 1918-1919, resulted in a rise of a middle class, as the rural population of the region represented 80%. Together with peace and favorable economic circumstances, it produced a small economic boom. However, urban development and the industry were insignifiant, the region remaining an agrarian rural region throughout the interwar period. The literacy rate grew from 10.5% to 37% by 1930; however the region still remained lagging in the aspect of education, compared to a 60% literacy rate country average. In an attempt to separate the Bessarabian ethnic minorities from the Russian influence, the Romanian authorities allowed education in any language desired; with time, while Romanian replaced Russian in cities, the authorities sought to reduce the number of people in minority-language education and educate them in Romanian instead.
As a result of Ribbentrop-Molotov pact (Article 4 of the secret Annex to the Treaty), Bessarabia was annexed by the USSR, as part of the sphere of influence agreed with Nazi Germany. 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 noncompliance. Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war. On June 28, 1940, these territories 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 had sizable non-Moldovan communities (of Ukrainians, Bessarabian Bulgars, 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 1/2 of its territory was joined with the remaining territory of Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, contiguous with present-day Moldova.
By participating in the 1941 Axis invasion of of the Soviet Union, Romania seized the territory of the MSSR, and reestablished its administration there. Later, the Soviet Army reconquered and re-annexed the area in February-August 1944. In the region known as Transnistria, Romanian forces, working with the Germans, deported or exterminated 300,000 Jews, including 147,000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina. 
Under early Soviet rule, deportations of locals to the northern Urals, 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. In 1946, a severe drought, exaggerated delivery quota obligations the Soviet state imposed on farmers, the forced agricultural requisitions employed by the Soviets because most farmers could not meet these, and the absence of a large part of the male work force (most of the Bessarabians enrolled in 1944 into the Soviet Army were not discharged until late 1946) resulted in a famine (1946-1947), which resulted in 216,000 deaths and about 350,000 cases of dystrophy in MSSR alone. Similar events occurred in 1930s in Transnistria. In 1944-53, there were many anti-Communist armed resistance groups active in Moldova; however the NKVD/MGB managed to uproot most of them with arrests and deportation.
After World War II, ethnic Russians and Ukrainians (commonly known as Russophones) immigrated into the new Soviet republic, especially into urbanized areas.
The Soviet government began a campaign to promote a Moldovan ethnic identity, different from that of the Romanians, based on a theory developed during the existence of the Moldovan ASSR. Official Soviet policy asserted that the language spoken by Moldovans was distinct from the Romanian language (see History of the Moldovan language). The Moldovan was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, in contrast with Romanian, which was written in the Latin alphabet (the language had used a different variant of the Cyrillic alphabet before 1860); to distinguish the two, when there is a chance of confusion, Moldovans commonly refer to the former as “the Russian alphabet”. Moldovan Cyrillic incorporated slight changes to the Cyrillic alphabet, most notably the use of the letter zhe with a breve (Ӂ – ӂ) to indicate the sound /dʒ/.
In 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”, that alloted more than one billion Soviet rubles from the USSR budget; 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.
Along with the other peripheral Soviet republics, Moldova started to move towards independence from 1988 onwards; on August 31, 1989 a language law was passed, adopting the Latin alphabet for Moldovan and declaring it the state language of the MSSR. The first free elections for the local parliament were held in February and March 1990.
After the attempted Moscow Putsch, Moldova declared its independence on August 27, 1991, and in December of that year signed to be a member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) along with most of the former Soviet republics. Declaring itself a neutral state, it did not join the military branch of the CIS. At the end of that year, a former communist reformer, Mircea Snegur, won an unchallenged election for the presidency. Three months later, the country achieved formal recognition as an independent state at the United Nations.
The part of Moldova east of the Dniester river, Transnistria, which included a larger proportion of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, claimed independence in 1990, fearing the rise of nationalism in Moldova and the country’s expected reunification with Romania upon secession from the USSR. This caused a brief military conflict between Moldova and forces supporting the secession of Transnistria in 1992. Russian military stationed in the region (14th Army) intervened on the Transnistrian side; it also remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester after the end of the military conflict, despite signing international obligations to withdraw, and against the will of Moldovan government. They still remain stationed in Transnistria. 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 USA have become involved.
The March 1994 referendum for a new constitution that stated the independence of the republic saw an overwhelming majority of voters in support.
Since 2001, the country is a member of the WTO.
|Geography||Location: Eastern Europe, northeast of Romania
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 29 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 33,843 sq km
land: 33,371 sq km
water: 472 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: 54.52%
permanent crops: 8.81%
other: 36.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: 3,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 11.7 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.31 cu km/yr (10%/58%/33%)
per capita: 549 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: landslides
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 agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; well endowed with various sedimentary rocks and minerals including sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone
|Politics||During the first 10 years of independence, Moldova was governed by coalitions of different parties, led mostly by former communist officials. The 1998 economic crisis in Russia, Moldova’s main economic partner at the time, produced a political and economic crisis in the country. The political flux was cleared in 2001 when elections saw the Party of Communists of Moldova win the majority of seats in the Parliament. Its leader Vladimir Voronin was appointed president. In economic terms, the crisis provoked an emigration of labor, as well as permanent emigration from Moldova. According to the census data, from 1989 to 2004, Moldova has lost about 400,000 inhabitants, or 9% of the population. Analysts estimate that actual emigration could be higher, as many seasonal workers remain registered as living in the country. Over 100,000 people from other former Soviet states have migrated to Moldova in the 10 years after its independence. Ethnically, the dominant group (Moldavians/Romanians) has somewhat strengthened its position, representing 79% outside Transnistria, or 71.5% including Transnistria. In absolute numbers, the Moldovan-Romanian population declined by about 50,000 people compared to 1989, while for Ukrainians and Russians this figure has reached 200,000 of each nationality; most of this change is believed to have occurred between 1998 and 2004.
Relationships 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. In the following election, held in 2005, the Communist party made a formal 180 degree turn and was re-elected on a pro-Western platform, with Voronin being re-elected to a second term as a president. Since 1999, Moldova has constantly affirmed its desire to join the European Union, and implement its first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of the EU.
|People||Population: 4,324,450 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.3% (male 361,000/female 341,785)
15-64 years: 72.9% (male 1,528,080/female 1,622,620)
65 years and over: 10.9% (male 174,448/female 296,517) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 34.3 years
male: 32.4 years
female: 36.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.092% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.01 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.8 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female
total population: 0.91 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.5 years
male: 66.81 years
female: 74.41 years (2008 est.)