Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova emerged as an independent republic following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with its economy relying heavily on agriculture.
Two-thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent. The languages are virtually identical and the two countries share a common cultural heritage.
The industrialised territory to the east of the Dniester, generally known as Trans-Dniester or the Dniester region, was formally an autonomous area within Ukraine before 1940, when the Soviet Union combined it with Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
This area is mainly inhabited by Russian and Ukrainian speakers. As people there became increasingly alarmed at the prospect of closer ties with Romania in the tumultuous twilight years of the Soviet Union, Trans-Dniester unilaterally declared independence from Moldova in 1990.
Fierce fighting followed. Trans-Dniester’s independence has never been recognised and the region has existed in a state of limbo ever since.
- Republic of Moldova
- Capital: Chisinau
- Population 3.5 million
- Area 33,800 sq km (13,050 sq miles)
- Major languages Romanian (called “Moldovan” in official documents), Russian
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 66 years (men), 73 years (women)
- Currency leu