World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Europe

Moldova Travelling Guide
Moldova Travelling Guide

General 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.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than Maryland.

Climate: Moderate winters, warm summers

Terrain: Rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea.

Population: 4,434,547 (July 2002 est.)

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)

Language: Moldovan (official, virtually the same as the Romanian language), Russian (official), Gagauz (a Turkish dialect)

Government type: Republic

Capital: Chisinau

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.

Economic overview: Moldova enjoys a favourable 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 break-up 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 privatisation, 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.

Communication/Telephone system: Inadequate, outmoded, poor service outside Chisinau, some effort to modernize is under way.

Places of interest: Moldova is a picturesque country - all rolling green hills, whitewashed villages, placid lakes and sunflower fields - with an old-world charm that's hard to manufacture. It also has some of the best vineyards in Europe.

Travel tips: Care should also be taken in Transdniestr. Separatist rebels, put out by being annexed to Moldova, can occasionally stir up trouble, although travel in the self-declared republic is usually safe. Stay away from military objects and installations - Transdniestrians tend to be suspicious of anyone showing the slightest curiosity about them.