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Moldova (məldōˈvə), 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. The Prut River separates it from Romania in the west. In the north and east, the Dniester River forms its approximate boundary with Ukraine, on which it also borders in the south; in the east there is a narrow strip of Moldovan terrritory between the Dniester and the border with Ukraine (the separatist, predominantly Russian and Ukrainian Trans-Dniester Region). Mostly a hilly plain, Moldova occupies all but the southernmost and northernmost sections of former Bessarabia. Its proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild climate.

More than 75% of the population are Moldovans, who are ethnically identical to Romanians; Ukrainians and Russians make up about 15%, and there are several smaller minorities, including the Turkish-speaking Gagauz, Bulgarians, and Jews. Most of the people belong to the Orthodox Church, and legislation passed in 2007 recognized the Orthodox Church for its special role in Moldovan history and society. The official language, which has been called alternately Moldovan or Romanian, is largely indistinguishable from Romanian.


Moldova's fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, vegetables, sugar beets, sunflowers, and tobacco, as well as extensive fruit orchards, vineyards, and walnut groves. Horticulture is important for the production of essences such as rose oil and lavender. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and there is beekeeping and silkworm breeding. Industries include food processing, winemaking, and the manufacture of agricultural machinery, foundry equipment, major appliances, textiles, and footwear. Remittances from Moldovans working abroad are also important to the economy. After achieving independence, Moldova took steps toward converting to a market economy and launched an ambitious privatization program, but the country remains undeveloped industrially and ranks as one of the poorest nations of Europe. Exports include foodstuffs, textiles, and machinery. Moldova imports all of its oil, coal, and natural gas, as well as machinery, chemicals, and automobiles, and is dependent on electricity from the Trans-Dniester Region. The principal trading partners are Russia, Ukraine, and Romania.


Moldova is governed under the constitution of 1994 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected (since 2016) for a four-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president, as is the cabinet. Members of the 101-seat Parliament are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Administratively, Moldova is divided into 32 raions (districts or counties), three municipalities, and two territorial units, one of which (Gagauzia) is autonomous.


A historic passageway between Asia and S Europe, Moldova was often subject to invasion and warfare. It is historically part of a greater Moldavia, the main part of which was an independent principality in the 14th cent. and came under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th cent. It became a highly fortified Turkish border region and was a frequent target in Russo-Turkish wars. East Moldavia passed to Russia in 1791. Russia acquired further Moldavian territory in 1793 and especially in 1812, when the Russians received all of Bessarabia (the name for the area of Moldavia between the Prut and Dniester rivers). The rest of Moldavia remained with the Turks and later passed to Romania, which seized Bessarabia in 1918.

In 1924, the USSR, refusing to sanction the seizure, established the Moldavian ASSR in Ukraine, with Balta and then (1929) Tiraspol as the capital. Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the USSR in 1940. The predominantly Ukrainian districts in the south and around Khotin in the north were incorporated into Ukraine, as were parts of the Moldavian ASSR; the rest was merged with what remained of the Moldavian ASSR and made a constituent republic (the Moldavian SSR). Taken by Romania in 1941, the republic was reconquered by the USSR in 1944. In June, 1990, the Moldavian SSR adopted a measure calling for greater sovereignty within the USSR. In Aug., 1991, Moldova, which is the Romanian name of the region, was declared an independent republic; Mircea Snegur was elected president, and it reluctantly joined the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

With independence, a guerrilla war began that sought secession of the Trans-Dniester Region, where there were many ethnic Russians who feared a Moldovan merger with Romania. In 1992 a cease-fire went into effect that granted limited autonomy to the region, and Russian troops were stationed there. In 1995, in a move termed illegal by the central government, residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Moldova. A peace accord was signed in 1997, giving the region more autonomy but agreeing that Moldova would remain a single state; relations between the region and central government are occasionally tense. Gagauzia, a region dominated by ethnic Turks, was granted limited autonomy in 1994, with the right to secede in the event Moldova should merge with Romania.

In the first post-Soviet parliamentary elections in Moldova (1994), Snegur's Agrarian Democratic Party (ADP), running on a centrist platform and in opposition to unification with Romania, won a majority. Intraparty conflicts led to a split in the ADP in mid-1995, when Snegur organized the new centrist Party of Revival and Harmony. The pro-Moscow faction remained within the ADP. A crisis was precipitated in Mar., 1996, when Snegur attempted to remove the defense minister. The largely ADP army resisted Snegur's order, and his actions were subsequently ruled unconstitutional.

Petru Lucinschi, a former Communist running as an independent, won a presidential runoff election against Snegur in Dec., 1996. A coalition of center-right parties formed a goverment following legislative elections in 1998, although Communists won the largest bloc of seats in parliament. In 1999, Russia agreed to withdraw its remaining troops from Moldova by 2001, but about 1,500 remain in the Trans-Dniester Region. The Communist party won nearly 50% of the vote and 71 parliamentary seats in the 2001 elections; subsequently, Vladimir Voronin, a Communist, was elected president. Although they came to power advocating closer relations with Russia (and provoked antigovernment demonstrations by attempting to require Russian in schools and make it a second official language), the Communists became somewhat more pro-Western during the subsequent four years.

A Russian-sponsored accord on the Trans-Dniester Region was rejected in Nov., 2003, after mass demonstrations against it by Moldovans; the agreement would have permitted Russian troops to stay in the region in a buffer zone until 2020. An attempt by Trans-Dniester to force the use of the Cyrillic alphabet in its Moldovan-language schools led to heightened tensions between the breakaway region and Moldova in 2004, and led to economic retaliation by Moldova.

In the 2005 parliamentary elections the Communists won 46% of the vote and 56 seats, and the new parliament reelected Voronin. In mid-2005 the parliament passed a law that offered Trans-Dniester a special regional status in exchange for an end to its separatist movement. Moldova secured some leverage over Trans-Dniester in Mar., 2006, when Ukraine, partly in response to European Union concerns about smuggling, began requiring that goods coming from Trans-Dniester clear Moldovan customs. Russia subsequently (Apr., 2006) imposed a ban on the importation of Moldovan wines, brandies, and meat, ostensibly for sanitary reasons.

In Sept., 2006, Trans-Dniester held a referendum in which voters called for the region's independence and union with Russia, but it had little effect on the stalemate concerning the region's status. After Moldova threatened (Nov., 2006) to link its trade dispute with Russia to Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, Russia and Moldova reached an agreement under which the importation bans were lifted. In Apr., 2008, there were talks between the leaders of Moldova and Trans-Dniester following signs of an accommodation between Moldova and Russia over Moldovan ties with the West. Further talks have been held since then, but have produced no significant change in the situation.

In Apr., 2009, the Communists again won the parliamentary elections, with roughly half the vote and 60 seats. The opposition accused the government of fraud and demanded a recount or a re-vote, and protests in the capital turned violent, leading to the storming of government buildings. The president accused Romania fomenting the violence, which Romania angrily denied; Moldova also expelled the Romanian ambassador. After the violence, President Voronin, who had rejected a recount, called for one. The recount confirmed the results, but the opposition called the recount procedure too narrow and boycotted it. The Communists, however, lacked enough seats in parliament to elect a president, and after two unsuccessful votes, parliament was dissolved in June and new elections called for July.

Although the Communists won a plurality of the seats, three pro-European opposition parties combined won a majority. In September, Voronin, who had remained on as acting president, resigned, and Mihai Ghimpu, the parliamentary speaker elected by the pro-European coalition, became acting president. The governing coalition, however, also was unable to secure enough votes to elect a president. A Sept., 2010, referendum on electing the president by direct popular vote failed to secure a large enough turnout to be binding, and parliament was subsequently dissolved.

Elections in November again gave a majority to the pro-European coalition, but not enough to guarantee that they could elect a president. Marian Lupu was elected parliamentary speaker in Jan., 2011, and became acting president; subsequent attempts to elect a president were unsuccessful until Mar., 2012, when Nicolae Timofti, a senior judge, was narrowly elected to the office. Disagreements in the governing coalition led the government to lose a confidence vote in Mar., 2013, and the cabinet resigned. In May a new government was formed.

Russia banned Moldova's wine and spirits in Sept., 2013, saying they contained impurities, but the ban as seen as political one resulting from Russia's displeasure with Moldova's moves toward joining the European Union. The move in 2014 by Trans-Dniester to seek Russian annexation (after Crimea was occupied and annexed) was denounced by Moldova. Moldova signed a partnership agreement with the European Union in June, 2014. In July, Russia signed several agreements with Trans-Dniester and announced it would seek closer ties with the breakaway region; it also banned imports of fresh fruit from Moldova and subsequently imposed import duties on Moldovan products.

In the Nov., 2014, election the governing coalition won a narrow majority, but the election was marred by the banning, on charges of being financed from abroad, of a new pro-Russian party that was popular with many voters. Two of the former governing parties formed a minority government in Feb., 2015, with the support of the Communist party, but questions about the educational credentials of the prime minister led to brought the government to an end in June. Meanwhile, in 2015 it became clear that $1 billion in loans from three Moldovan banks had been looted in Nov., 2014, most likely through transfer to offshore accounts, leading to a political and financial crisis.

In July the three-party pro-European coalition re-formed and formed a government, but it lost a confidence vote in October that followed months of anticorruption protests. Formation of a new government proved difficult and extended into Jan., 2016, when two of the pro-European parties and some members of the third and of the Communist party approved a new cabinet. In Mar., 2016, the constitutional court ruled that election of the president by the parliament was unconstitutional and that the president should be popularly elected. In the November presidential runoff election, pro-Russian Socialist Igor Dodon won the office. Subsequently, there were tensions between the president and the government over relations with Russia and the West as well as increased tensions with Russia.

In May, 2017, the smaller pro-European party quit the government, leaving the Democratic party as the sole party in the government. In July the Democratic and Socialist parties, Moldova's largest parties, enacted changes to parliamentary representation that alloted half the seats to individual constituencies, ending full proportional representation. Tensions between Dodon and the government led several times in late 2017 and 2018 to the president's suspension when he overstepped his constitutional bounds by refusing to assent to lawful government actions.

In the Feb., 2019, parliamentary elections the Socialists won the largest bloc of seats, but pro-European parties won majority, divided between the Democrats and the ACUM (NOW) coalition, the latter of which was opposed to cooperating with either the Socialists or Democrats. In June, ACUM and the Socialists agreed to form a goverment, with ACUM's Maia Sandu as prime minister, but the Democrats and the constitutional court called for new elections, arguing that the deadline for forming a government had passed (by a day). In the ensuing crisis, the court sought to dismiss Dodon and appoint Democrat Pavel Filip interim president, but ultimately reversed itself; Filip then resigned, as did the entire court.

In Nov., 2019, Sandu's government lost a no-confidence vote after a split with the Socialists, and Ion Chicu, a former finance minister and presidential adviser, became prime minister with the support of the Socialists and Democrats. A year later, in the presidential election, Dodon faced Sandu, who had won the first round, in the runoff, and Sandu easily won the office; she became the first woman to serve as Moldova's president. Chicu's government resigned in Dec., 2020, and in Jan., 2021, Sandu named Foreign Minister Aurel Ciocoi acting prime minister.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a historical region in eastern Rumania situated between the Eastern Carpathians on the west and the Prut River on the east. Today the region encompasses the districts of Bacău, Vaslui, Vrancea, Galaţi, Neamţ, and laşj and part of the districts of Botoşani and Suceava.

The first human settlements in Moldova date from the Paleolithic. From the sixth century B.C. it was settled by the Thracian Geto-Dacian tribes, Scythians, Bastarnians, and other peoples. In the middle of the first century B.C., Burebista, leader of the Geto-Dacian military tribal alliance centered in Transylvania, extended his rule over Moldova. In the fourth and fifth centuries the region was invaded by the Huns, and in the sixth and seventh centuries it was settled by Slavs, who had a considerable influence on the local population and played a large role in the development of feudal relations in Moldova. Between the tenth and 12th centuries Moldova suffered devastating raids by the Pechenegs and Polovtsy, and in the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries it was under the domination of the Golden Horde. In the 14th century it became a vassal of the Hungarian crown. In 1359, Moldova, along with Bessarabia and Bukovina, became part of the Principality of Moldavia, which contributed to the further development of feudal relations in Moldova. In 1456, during the reign of Hospodar Petru Aron (1454-57), the Principality of Moldavia was obliged to recognize the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan and pay tribute.

The Principality of Moldavia was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The oppression of local and Turkish feudal lords provoked antifeudal peasant uprisings. The principality’s struggle for liberation was supported by other states, particularly Russia. Its hospodars concluded numerous military and political alliances with the Russian state. Stephen III the Great (ruled 1457-1504) entered into an alliance with Ivan III, Petru Rares (1527-38 and 1541-46) with Ivan IV, and Dmitrii Kantemir (1710-11) with Peter I. In the reign of the Walachian hospodar Michael the Brave (1593-1601), Moldova, Walachia, and Transylvania briefly formed a single state. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1710-13 the population of Moldova fought alongside Russian troops. After 1711 the Turkish sultan began to appoint hospodars for Moldova from among the Greek Phanariots, and Turkish-Phanariot oppression led to increased feudal exploitation of the peasantry. The intensification of national and social oppression gave rise to a broad liberation movement among the masses.

Turkey’s defeats in the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th and 19th centuries reduced both Moldova’s and Walachia’s dependence on Turkey. The Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji of 1774 confirmed Russia’s protection over the Danubian principalities (Moldova and Walachia). However, after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12 and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, where they had been stationed since the beginning of the war, the authority of the Turkish sultan was reestablished over the area. Under the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812, the territory between the Dnestr and the Prut (Bessarabia) and part of northern Bukovina passed to Russia; the remainder of Bukovina had been under Hapsburg rule since 1774. The uprising against the Turkish feudal lords, local boyars, and Greek Phanariots that broke out in Walachia in 1821 also enveloped many parts of Moldova. Although the uprising was defeated, the Phanariot regime was abolished and hospodars were henceforth appointed from among the local boyars.

The Russo-Turkish Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 gave greater autonomy to Moldova and Walachia and stipulated that Russian troops were to remain in both regions. In 1832 the Organic Statute was adopted, providing for socioeconomic, political, and administrative changes and promoting closer relations between Moldova and Walachia. A further step toward the unification of Moldova and Walachia was the abolition of customs barriers between them in 1847. A movement to introduce bourgeois reforms began in Moldova in March 1848. Although the movement was suppressed, it dealt a strong blow to the feudal order.

During the Crimean War (1853-56), Moldova was occupied by Russian and later by Austrian and Turkish troops. Under the Treaty of Paris of 1856, Russian protection of the Danubian principalities was replaced by a “guaranty” of the signatory powers, and southern Bessarabia was incorporated into Moldova. In accordance with the Paris Convention of Aug. 7, 1858, signed by Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Prussia, Turkey, and Piedmont, Moldova and Walachia were designated the United Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. The convention provided for the creation of joint governmental organs, although in fact power remained in the hands of the separate governments of Moldova and Walachia under the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan. Unification was achieved through the election of Colonel A. Cuza as hospodar of Moldova on Jan. 5, 1859, and of Walachia on Jan. 24, 1859. The united Principality of Rumania was established in January 1862.



a river in Rumania and a right tributary of the Siret in the Danube basin. It is 205 km long and drains an area of about 4,300 sq km. Rising in the Eastern Carpathians, in its upper course it flows through a narrow, deep valley that broadens to 3-5 km. High water occurs in spring and low water in summer, and the river is frozen for two to three months in winter. It is not navigable but is used to float timber. The city of Roman is situated near its mouth.

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


Official name: Republic of Moldova

Capital city: Chisinau (Kishinev; pronounced kee-shee­now)

Internet country code: .md

Flag description: Same color scheme as Romania - three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, and red; emblem in center of flag is of a Roman eagle of gold out­lined in black with a red beak and talons carrying a yel­low cross in its beak and a green olive branch in its right talons and a yellow scepter in its left talons; on its breast is a shield divided horizontally red over blue with a styl­ized ox head, star, rose, and crescent all in black-outlined yellow

National anthem: “Limba noastr˘a-i o comoar˘a” (first line), lyrics by Alexei Mateevici, music by Alexandru Cristea

Geographical description: Eastern Europe, northeast of Romania

Total area: 13,000 sq. mi. (33,843 sq. km.)

Climate: Moderate winters, warm summers

Nationality: noun: Moldovan(s); adjective: Moldovan

Population: 4,320,490 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Moldovan/Romanian 78.2%, Ukrainian 8.4%, Russian 5.8%, Gagauz 4.4%, Bulgarian 1.9%, other 1.3%

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

Religions: Eastern Orthodox 98%, Jewish 1.5%, Baptist and other 0.5%

Legal Holidays:

Independence DayAug 27
International Women's DayMar 8
Labor DayMay 1
Limba Noastra National Language DayAug 31
New Year's DayJan 1
Victory DayMay 9
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in SE Europe: comprising the E part of the former principality of Moldavia, the E part of which (Bessarabia) was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1940 and formed the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic until it gained independence in 1991; an agricultural region with many vineyards. Official language: Romanian. Religion: nonreligious and Christian. Currency: leu. Capital: Kishinev. Pop.: 4 263 000 (2004 est.). Area: 33 670 sq. km (13 000 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005