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(bĕsərā`bēə), historic region, c.17,600 sq mi (45,600 sq km), largely in MoldovaMoldova
, officially Republic of Moldova, republic (2015 est. pop. 4,066,000), c.13,000 sq mi (33,670 sq km). Chişinău (formerly Kishinev) is the capital and largest city. Land and People

Moldova is landlocked.
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 and Ukraine. It is bounded by the Dniester River on the north and east, the Prut on the west, and the Danube and the Black Sea on the south. Consisting mainly of a hilly plain with flat steppes, it is an extremely fertile agricultural area, especially for wine grapes, fruits, corn, wheat, tobacco, sugar beets, and sunflowers. Dairy cattle and sheep raising are also important. Agricultural processing is the chief industry. There are some stone quarries and lignite deposits. Bessarabia's leading cities are ChişinăuChişinău
, formerly Kishinev
, city (1996 est. pop. 735,229), capital of Moldova, on the Byk River, a tributary of the Dniester. Major industries include food and tobacco processing, the assembly of consumer and electrical goods, and the manufacture of
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 and TiraspolTiraspol
, city (1995 est. pop. 203,870), Trans-Dniester Region, E Moldova, on the Dniester River. It has diversified light industries, including the production of foodstuffs, furniture, and electrical goods.
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 in Moldova and IzmayilIzmayil
, city (1989 pop. 93,000), extreme S Ukraine, on an arm of the Danube delta and near the Romanian border. It is a rail junction, river port, commercial center, and the naval base of the Danube fleet. Orchards and vineyards surround the city.
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 and Bilhorod-DnistrovskyyBilhorod-Dnistrovskyy
, Rus. Belgorod-Dnestrovsky, city (1989 pop. 56,000), S Ukraine, a port at the mouth of the Dniester River. It is also a rail junction and a trade center for wine.
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 in Ukraine. The population consists of Moldovans (about two thirds), Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, and Bulgarians. As the gateway from Russia into the Danube valley, Bessarabia has been an invasion route from Asia to Europe. Greek colonies were planted on the Black Sea coast of Bessarabia as early as the 7th cent. B.C. The region was later part of Roman DaciaDacia
, ancient name of the European region corresponding roughly to modern Romania (including Transylvania). It was inhabited before the Christian era by a people who were called Getae by the Greeks and were called Daci by the Romans.
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, but after the 4th cent. A.D. it was subject to incursions by Goths, Huns, Avars, and Magyars. Slavs first settled in Bessarabia in the 7th cent. in the midst of these incursions. From the 9th to the 11th cent., the area was part of Kievan RusKievan Rus
, medieval state of the Eastern Slavs. It was the earliest predecessor of modern Ukraine and Russia. Flourishing from the 10th to the 13th cent., it included nearly all of present-day Ukraine and Belarus and part of NW European Russia, extending as far N as Novgorod
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, and in the 12th cent. it belonged to the duchy of Halych-Volhynia. Cumans and later Mongols overran Bessarabia; after the latter withdrew it was included (1367) in the newly established principality of MoldaviaMoldavia
, historic Romanian province (c.14,700 sq mi/38,100 sq km), extending from the Carpathians in Romania east to the Dnieper River in Moldova. Land and Economy

Moldavia borders on Ukraine in the northeast and on Walachia in the south.
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. The region probably derives its name from the Walachian princely family of Bassarab, which once ruled S Bessarabia. In 1513 the Turks and their vassals, the khans of the Crimean Tatars, conquered Bessarabia. After the Russo-Turkish wars, the region was ceded to Russia by the Treaty of Bucharest (1812). The Crimean War resulted (1856) in Russia's cession of S Bessarabia to Moldavia; but the Congress of Berlin (1878) returned the district to Russia. After the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) the anti-Soviet national council of Bessarabia proclaimed the region an autonomous republic; however, in 1918, Bessarabia renounced all ties with Soviet Russia and declared itself an independent Moldovan republic, later voting for union with Romania. Although the Treaty of Paris (1920) recognized the union, Russia never accepted it. In 1940 Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the USSR; the Romanian peace treaty of 1947 confirmed Bessarabia as part of the USSR. The larger part of the region was merged with the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to form the Moldavian SSR (now Moldova); the southern and northern sections, with a predominantly Ukrainian-speaking population, were incorporated into Ukraine.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



part of the territory of the USSR located between the Dnestr, Prut, and lower reaches of the Danube. Until the early 19th century, only Budzhak—the southern part of the interfluve of the Prut and the Dnestr—was called Bessarabia. During the tenth and 11th centuries, Bessarabia was part of Kievan Rus’; during the 12th and 13th centuries, part of the principality of Galicia-Volhynia; and from the mid-14th century, part of the Moldavian feudal state. At the start of the 16th century, Bessarabia, along with Moldavia, fell under the power of sultanate Turkey. As a result of the Russo-Turkish war of 1806–12, Bessarabia became part of Russia by the Treaty of Bucharest of 1812. By the Treaty of Paris of 1856, Russia lost the southern part of Bessarabia, which passed to Rumania. It was returned once more to Russia by a decision of the Berlin Congress of 1878. In January 1918, boyar Rumania occupied Bessarabia. In February 1918 a protocol liquidating the Russo-Rumanian conflict was signed, and from March 5 to March 9 an agreement was concluded between the RSFSR and Rumania on the evacuation of Bessarabia by Rumania. According to the protocol, Rumania was obliged to withdraw its forces from Bessarabia over a two-month period. However, exploiting the complicated situation of Soviet Russia (the invasion of the Ukraine by Austro-German forces and the temporary retreat by Soviet troops), the Rumanian government violated the agreement and annexed Bessarabia. The population of Bessarabia struggled stubbornly against the occupiers (Khotin Uprising of 1919 and Tatarbunary Uprising of 1924). The Soviet government never recognized Rumania’s seizure of Bessarabia; on June 26, 1940, it addressed a note to the Rumanian government proposing that it return Bessarabia and also the northern part of Bukovina, most of the population of which was tied to the Ukrainian SSR by a community of historical fate, language, and national composition. On June 28, 1940, Bessarabia was returned to the USSR as a result of the peaceful resolution of the Soviet-Rumanian conflict. In accordance with the law adopted by the seventh session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on Aug. 2,1940, the Moldavian SSR, of which Bessarabia became a part, was formed. The districts of Izmail, Akkerman, and Khotin were joined to the Ukrainian SSR.


Istoriia Moldavskoi SSR, vols. 1–2. Kishinev, 1965–68.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a region in E Europe, mostly in Moldova and Ukraine: long disputed by the Turks and Russians; a province of Romania from 1918 until 1940. Area: about 44 300 sq. km (17 100 sq. miles)
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