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Country Profile

Moldova is a Post-Soviet country. In May of 1991, upon independence, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova was renamed Republic of Moldova. Moldova is an extremely multi-ethnic society for a country of its size. According to the 2004 census, Moldova has an ethnic breakdown of 78.2% Moldovan/Romanian, 8.4% Ukrainian, 5.8%, Russian,  4.4% Gagauz, 1.9% Bulgarian, and 1.3% other groups. Moldova’s official language is Moldovan, a dialect of Romanian, and Russian is also used as a means of inter-ethnic communication. As of 1995, Moldova has been recognized by over 170 Nations.

A variety of push and pull factors influence Moldovan migration. Although it is difficult to identify one main catalyst for migration, the current Moldovan immigration situation can be attributed to many factors including:

Political Conflict

Moldova contains two self-proclaimed republics, “Gagauzia” which is recognized and granted autonomy, and “Dnestr Moldovian Republic” which has an elected, extralegal separatist government. The separatist movement is said to be backed by Russian Military forces, while the Russian forces say that they are not acknowledging Dnestr independence. Nonetheless, Russia still remains a strong presence in the region, causing a very tense relationship between Russia and Moldova. Also in 1992 the country declared a state of emergency as the conflict escalated to a “full scale civil war” between the separatist armed militia and the Moldovan military. In 1992 a ceasefire was reached, but the region still complains of unfair treatment. In 1994, during the parliamentary elections authorities in Transnistria refused to allow balloting and discouraged people in the region from voting.

Cultural and Religious Tensions

In conjunction with the political conflict mentioned above, Transnistria’s ethnic populations is also different from the rest of Moldova. One distinction is its large Jewish population. This region is home to almost one-quarter of Moldova’s Jews. Anti-Semitic attitudes in the region have be linked to Moldovan Jewish emigration.

Economic Factors

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. Its economy resembles that of a Central Asian republics, and 40% of the country’s GDP is from agriculture.  Industry makes up only 20% of its labor force. Moldova has experienced many economic difficulties. As a former Soviet republic, Moldova was highly dependent on the Soviet Union for energy and raw materials. Economic instability and inflation are a widespread phenomenon. Economic policies have become more liberalized and moves towards a free market economy have been made.  Moldova is the recipient of foreign aid from the U.S. as well as other countries.

BBC Series: Places That Don't Exist

This BBC series offers a way to learn about Moldova as a country and the Transnistria region specifically.


Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4