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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA

History

The territory of Moldova has been populated from ancient times. Many archeological vestiges confirm that humans have been living in these places for about 500 thousand years. At the crossroads of the V-IV millennia BC, the Cucuteni-Trypillian, one of the most remarkable cultures was constituted, with incomparable performances in the field of arts of that time. The Geto-Dacian civilization is dated back to the VI-I centuries BC and it was spread throughout all the territory of Moldova. Since 105 BC, after Emperor Trajan’s victories over Dacia, its population was Romanized, taking from the conquerors the language and the culture of the Roman Empire. After the evacuation of the Roman legions from this territory in 271 during the reign of Emperor Aurelian, the age of “migrating nations” (Goths, Huns, Avars, Slavs) began, which ended up with the formation of the Moldovan feudal state in 1359. The founder of this state is considered to be Bogdan I.

The state Moldova had a prosperous politic and economic development in the 15th century, during 1457-1502, the years of reign of Stefan III, named Stefan the Great.

Towards the middle of the 15th century, the suzerainty regime was established by the Ottoman Empire. In 1775, the Ottoman Empire concedes the North-Western part of Moldova (later named Bucovina), to the Habsburg Empire. In 1812 as a result of the Russian-Turkish war (1806- 1812), the eastern part of Moldova situated between the Prut and the Dniester rivers, was annexed by the Russian Empire and a new province named Bessarabia was formed. In 1859 the Principality of Moldova united with Wallachia in one state, later named Romania.

By the Treaty of Berlin from 1878, the Romanian government was bound to concede the South of Bessarabia to the Russian Empire. It considered the Bessarabia province as an agricultural land suitable for producing cereals, tobacco, growing grapes and raising cows and horses. On this purpose railways were built for delivering these products to Odessa. It also built Russian cities (inhabited by many Jews and Armenians) near the old Moldovan boroughs of Balti, Orhei, Chisinau and Tighina.

After the revolution that took place in February 1917, the hostilities between Russia and the central powers of Bessarabia began. From 23rd to 27th of October 1917, the city council of Chisinau proclaimed the autonomy of Bessarabia and the formation of Sfatul Tarii (Parliament of Bessarabia province) as a legislative body. On 27 March 1918 Sfatul Tarii, as a legislative body of the Moldovan Democratic Republic, voted for the union with Romania in 1918.

On 12 October 1924, the soviet authorities formed an “autonomous” territorial entity as part of the Soviet Ukraine named the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (abbreviated MASSR) that covered all the Transnistrian districts of nowadays and the districts Balta, Barzula, Ocna Rosie, Codama, Cruteni, Pesceana and Ananiev of the current region Odessa from Ukraine.

In June 1940, in the context of the pact between Hitler and Stalin, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Romania concerning the annexation of Bessarabia, Northern Bucovina and Herta region of Moldova between Carpathians and Prut. Two thirds of Bessarabia were joined with Transnistria in order to establish the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Republic of Moldova declared its independence on 27 August 1991. On 2 March 1992, the Republic of Moldova adhered to the United Nations Organization, and on 29 July 1994 it adopted the Constitution.

Among the main events that took place after the independence were the joining of the UNO and the approval of the Constitution, in the modern history of the Republic of Moldova, the liberalization of the visa regime with the European Union member states on 28 April 2014 and the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union on 27 June 2014.

Geographical location

The Republic of Moldova is located in South-Eastern Europe between the rivers Prut and Dniester and covers an area of 33,843 km2, ranking 32nd in Europe. Its neighbor to the West is Romania and the one to the East and South is Ukraine.

Geographical coordinates: 45°28’ - 45°28’ North (350 km), 26°40’ - 30°06’ East (150 km). The total length of the national borders is 1906 km (955 km on land and 951 km on water), including 1222 km – with Ukraine (of which 267 km on water and 955 km on land), 684 km – with Romania.

The Republic of Moldova belongs to the group of the countries located in the Black Sea Basin. Its southern border extends almost to the Black Sea, having access to the sea through the Dniester Liman and the Danube River.

The relief of the country represents a hilly plain sloping from the northwest to the southeast and having an average elevation of about 147 m above sea level.

Extreme points: North: Naslavcea - 48°21’ N lat.; South: Giurgiulesti, on the Danube - 45°28’ N lat.; West: Criva, on the Prut - 26°30’ E long.; East: Palanca, on the Dniester - 30°06’ E long.

The highest point: Nisporeni district, Balanesti hill - 430 m above sea level.

The lowest point: alluvial plain of the Dniester River - 2 m below sea level.

Statehood

The Republic of Moldova is a sovereign and democratic state of law, by its form of government being a parliamentary republic. The President of the country is elected by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. The Government is headed by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President of the country and is voted by the Parliament.

National symbols

The national symbols are the state symbols that indicate the identity of the Republic of Moldova as a state. The main national symbols of the Republic of Moldova are the following: the state coat of arms, the state flag and the state anthem.

The State Flag – the Tricolour – is the official symbol of the Republic of Moldova. It symbolizes the past, the present and the future of the Moldovan state, reflecting its democratic principles, traditions and history of the Moldovan people, equal rights, friendship and solidarity amongst all the citizens of the Republic of Moldova.

The Coat of Arms is the supreme heraldic sign of a great importance, which evokes the history of the country, its significance stirring up the national feeling.

The State Anthem is a symbol of the national unity of the state, a symbol of the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Moldova.

International membership

The Republic of Moldova is a member state of the United Nations Organization, Council of Europe, and Partnership for Peace, WTO, OSCE, GUAM, CIS, BSEC, UNWTO and other organizations.

Territorial administrative organization

The territory of the Republic of Moldova, under administrative aspect, is organized in territorial administrative units: districts, cities and villages. The territorial administrative organization of the Republic of Moldova is done on 2 levels: the villages (communes), sectors and cities (municipalities) constitute the first level, while the districts, Chisinau municipality and Balti municipality form the second level.

The village is a territorial administrative unit that comprises the rural population united through territory, geographical conditions, economic, social and cultural relations, traditions and customs. Two or more villages depending on the economic, social, cultural, geographic and demographic conditions can be joined together forming a territorial administrative unit named commune. The commune is a territorial administrative unit that includes the rural population united by common interests and traditions.

The city is a territorial administrative unit which is more developed than the village from the economic, social and cultural points of view that comprises the urban population with appropriate urban and household structures and also industrial and commercial structures. The majority of the population work in the industry field, public service or other fields related to intellectual activity, cultural and political life.

The municipality is an urban type locality with a special role in the economic, social, cultural, scientific, political and administrative life of the country, having important industrial, commercial structures and institutions in the field of education, healthcare and culture.

The district is a territorial administrative unit composed by villages (communes) and cities united trough territory, economic, social and cultural relations.

Therefore, the Republic of Moldova is divided into 32 districts, 5 municipalities and 2 regions with a special status.

Language

Romanian (official), Russian (language of interethnic communication), Gagauz (a Turkish dialect).

Population

The Republic of Moldova has a population of 3.56 million people (data of the population census of 2014, excluding Transnistria that has a population of about 505.1 thousand people). The urban population constitutes 1.51 million people and the rural population – 2.05 million people. The Moldovans represent the largest ethnic group (76.1%), followed by the Ukrainians and the Russians (8.4% and 5.8% respectively). In smaller proportions - the Gagauzians (an ethnic group of Turkish origin - 4.4%) and the Bulgarians (1.9%).

Capital

Chisinau is the capital and the administrative, politic, economic, scientific, cultural and tourist centre of the Republic of Moldova. The city is located on 7 hills and is divided into 5 sectors: Centru, Buiucani, Botanica, Rascani and Ciocana, having a population of about 804, 5 thousand people. Chisinau is situated at 47° 02’ North latitude and 28° 50’ East longitude and covers a territory of about 120 km2. Chisinau is documentarily attested for the first time in 1436 as a locality situated on the banks of the Bac River.

Economic aspects

Moldova has a favorable climate and good arable lands, but it doesn’t have enough mineral deposits. Therefore, the economy highly depends on agriculture. All the necessities of energetic resources (petroleum, coal, natural gas) are fulfilled by Moldova through imports. The reforms promoted during the last years determined the achievement of positive results such as: creation of a bisector economy, the private sector contributing more than 60% to the formation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Moldova the prices are liberalized, excepting the socially important products of prime necessity, where the state regulates the trade margins. The mechanism of market economy operation is done through the enterprises, trade banks, stock exchanges, free economic zones, etc.

Religion

The Christian traditions from Moldova have deep roots originating in the III-VIII centuries. At the moment, in accordance with some data, on the territory of Moldova, carry out their activity 23 registered religious cults that hold in total 2319 component parts (congregations, monasteries, theological institutions, missions, etc.). The religious cults with the largest number of component parts are the following: Metropolis of Moldova (1281 component parts), Metropolis of Bessarabia (309), Union of Christian Evangelical Baptist Churches of Moldova (273), Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses (162), Seventh-Day Adventists (151), Pentecostal Cult (40), Roman Catholic Episcopacy of Chisinau (33), Union of Free Christian Churches (Charismatic cult) (19). According to the population census carried out in 2004, 93.34% of the population is orthodox, among whom: 60% belong to the Metropolis of Chisinau and the entire Moldova, subordinated to Moscow Patriarchate, 23% belong to the Metropolis of Bessarabia subordinated to Romanian Patriarchate and 6.6% are orthodox belonging directly to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The other religions are the following: Muslims – 1.5%, Protestants of any religious mainstreams – 1.98%, Old believers – 0.15%, Catholics – 0.14%, Baptists – 0.5%, other – 2.39%.

Climate

The climate of the Republic of Moldova is moderately continental. The summers are long and warm, with average temperatures of more than 20 °C and the winters are poor in precipitations, with temperatures in the January month averaging −4 °C. The multiannual rainfalls, which range from 400 mm in the south to 600 mm in the north, can vary greatly; long dry spells are usual. The heaviest precipitations occur in the months of March and October when also the deluges and high waters are common. The absolute minimum temperature recorded was -36°C; the absolute maximum temperature was 41 °C.

Relief

The relief is predominantly represented by low hills and plains included in the Moldovan Plateau and the Hilly Plain of Moldova. In Transnistria there are the South-Western extensions of the Podolian Plateau.

The north of the country is occupied by the Moldovan Plateau which is a slightly undulating plain with a tilt towards the south. The altitude varies between 240 and 320 m. In the west, in the Prut area, there are many reefs, called “toltre”. To the south, the Moldovan Plateau continues with the Northern Plain of Moldova (Balti Plain) having a slightly fragmented relief, gentle slopes and absolute altitudes of 220-250 m. In the middle course of the Raut River, there are the Ciuluc-Solonet Hills with the maximum altitude of 349 m (Radoaia hill). The plateau is fragmented by valleys and dales. Between the Raut and the Dniester rivers, the Dniester Plateau is located. It has an aspect of chains of hills with slopes with the maximum altitude of 350 m (Vadeni hill). In the east, on the bank of the Dniester River, deep valleys with a shape of canyons carved by the tributaries of the river were formed.

Flora and fauna

The flora of the Republic of Moldova is diverse and rich and includes more than 5.5 thousand species of wild-growing plants. At landscape level, the territory of Moldova is situated within three natural zones: forest, forest steppe and steppe. The forests cover around 11% of the territory of Moldova. The broad-leaved forests typical for Central Europe predominate here. The forest ecosystems of the country contain 45 native species of trees, 81 native species of scrubs and 3 native species of woody vines.

The fauna of the Republic of Moldova is relatively rich and varied. More than 15.5 thousand species of animals are found in the country including 461 species of vertebrates and more than 15.000 species of invertebrates. Among the vertebrates 70 species of mammals, 281 species of birds, 14 species of reptiles, 14 species of amphibians and 82 species of fish are found.

Hydrographic network

The hydrographic network includes more than 3000 rivers and rivulets, 10 of which have a length of more than 100 km. The main rivers are: Dniester (1352 km, including 657 km within the borders of the country), Prut (976 km, including 695 km within the borders of the country), Raut (286 km), Cogalnic (243 km, including 125 km within the borders of the country), Bac (155 km), and Botna (152 km). On the territory of Moldova there are about 60 natural lakes and 3,000 storage reservoirs.

Culture and heritage

The Republic of Moldova has an important cultural heritage: archeological sites, dwelling houses, manors, fortresses, monasteries and churches, monumental art works, monuments and technical equipment, building ensembles – squares, streets, quarters, villages and urban centers or traditional architecture ethnographic areas. The mobile cultural heritage is owned by 87 country museums, 5 museums and 7 branches of which are directly subordinated to the Ministry of Culture; 66 of them – to the local public administration bodies. Their funds include about 700,000 heritage objects which are part of the national and world culture and history. The archeological heritage of the Republic of Moldova is rich in ancient works of art. Sculptural models dating from the late Paleolithic age were discovered. The ceramics of “Cucuteni-Tripyllian” culture from the Eneolithic Age is attested in several localities of the Republic of Moldova and has incontestable artistic valences representing a whole mythology in pictures.

Cuisine

Traditional for the national cui- sine is the food prepared from the most diverse vegetables, used in salads and sauces. They are baked, stewed, pickled or marinated thus becoming real culinary works of art. The great diversity of maize and maize flour dishes gives a specific color to the traditional cuisine. The most common is “mamaliga” – a maize porridge with a fine and delicious taste. “Mamaliga” is served together with greaves, roasted meat, cheese, cream, etc. The hot meat dishes and meat appetizers, most of them being cooked over the carbon of fusty timber, have a special place in the Moldovan cuisine.

A great range of traditional drinks are served in the Moldovan cuisine: stewed fruits, fruit juices, as well as alcoholic drinks such as: wines, sparkling wines, divines, brandy, “tuica”, etc.

Traditions

Moldova is a European country with a rich history, being mostly populated by Moldovans, but also by other nation- al minorities: Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Gagauzians, Russians, etc. The most important quality of the Moldovans is the hospitality. The guests are usually invited in “Casa Mare” – a traditional room in each peasant house, where all the holidays are celebrated. There are a lot of holidays in Moldova, those from winter, for example, are accompanied by Christmas carols, “uratura” (whishing performed by people in the New Year’s Eve), plays per -formed by children and adults.

A very important traditional Moldovan holiday is “Martisor” – the symbol of spring. In March everybody in our country hangs on their clothes near the chest two knitted, red and white, strings which symbolize the revival of the nature. Another holiday celebrated in spring is Easter – a religious holiday that is popular in Moldova Cultural and tourist events The guests of Moldova during their visits can attend a number of cultural events, concerts, plays, parades and mass manifestations on the Independence Day, on “Limba noastra” (Our language) Day and Christmas and Easter holidays.

Among the most important cultural and tourist events are the following: International Music Festival “Martisor”, International Opera and Ballet Festival “Maria Biesu”, Wine Festival, Ethno Music Festival “Gustar”, International Folklore Festival “Nufarul Alb”, International Folklore Festival “Mesterul Manole”, Popular Traditions Festival “Ia MANIA”, National Tourist Festival of Traditions “Duminica Mare”, Medieval Festival, International Potters’ Fair “At the Native Place of Potter Vasile Gonciari”, “Bostaniada”, “Tulburel”, cities and villages days, etc. During these events the foreign tourists can get acquainted with the folklore, traditional costumes, handicraft articles, hospitality and authenticity.

Major tourist attractions

Natural monuments: “Butesti Keys”, “Magura Knoll”.

Caves: “Emil Racovita” Cave, “Surprises” Cave.

Natural reserves: “Padurea Domneasca”, “Codrii”, “Prutul de Jos”, “Plaiul Fagului”.

Landscape reserves: “Toltrele Prutului”, “The Hundred Knolls”, “Taul Park”, “Duruitoarea” Gorge, “Trinca” Gorge.

Museums: National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, National History Museum of Moldova, National Arts Museum of Moldova, National Gagauz Museum of History and Ethnography “D. Cara-Ciobanu”.

Houses-museums: “Alexei Mateevici”, “Aleksandr Puskin”, “Alexandru Donici”, “Constantin Stamati” “Constantin Stere”.

Monasteries: Capriana, Hancu, Curchi, Varzaresti, Saharna, Tipova, Frumoasa, Raciula, Harjauca, Harbovat, Cosauti, Japca, Rudi, Calarasauca. Wine cellars: Cricova, Milestii Mici, Purcari, Chateau Vartely, Branesti. Fortresses: Soroca, Tighina.

UNESCO monuments: Struve Geodetic Arc.

Guinness Book of Records: Wine cellar “Milestii Mici”.

Official holidays

1 January – New Year

7 and 8 January – Christmas (old rite)

8 March – International Women’s Day First and second day Easter and Memorial Easter – according to ecclesiastical calendar

1 May – International Workers’ Solidarity Day

9 May – Victory Day and Day of Commemoration of the heroes fallen for the independence of our homeland

27 August – Independence Day of the Republic of Moldova

31 August - “Limba Noastra” (Our language) Holiday

25 December - Christmas (new rite)

Transport

Rail transport. The main rail junctions of the Republic of Moldova are in Chisinau, Tighina, Ungheni, Ocnita, Balti and Basarabeasca. The external direct liaisons with Odessa (in Ukraine) at the Black Sea and with the Romanian cities Iasi and Galati interconnect the network of the Republic of Moldova. Through these connections, the Moldovan rail routes diversify and include the following destinations: Russia (Moscow and Saint Petersburg), Belarus (Minsk), Ukraine (Kiev, Odessa, Nikolaev, Cernauti, Herson, Ivano-Frankovsk, Krivoi Rog, etc.), Romania (Bucharest, Iasi, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, etc.), Turkey (Istanbul), Bulgaria (Sofia), Czech Republic (Prague) and Germany (Berlin). Many of these routes are daily.

Road transport. The Republic of Moldova has a public road network of 12719 km, 87% of which is paved area. Of this total, 3669 km constitute the national roads, and 6834 km - the local roads. The public roads are the main way of internal transport, interconnecting the big cities of Moldova. The regular bus and microbus routes allow the passengers to travel on the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

Fluvial transport. In the Republic of Moldova, the Dniester and the Prut rivers are navigable, but the fluvial transport plays a very little role in the transport system of the country. On the Dniester River excursions on ships having an average capacity of 30 - 200 places are organized for tourists. In 2006, the International Port Giurgiulesti on the Danube River was opened, fact that allowed the access of the country, through the Danube, to the sea.

Air transport. The air transport is becoming increasingly popular among the foreign tourists for travelling to the Republic of Moldova. The airlines of the Republic of Moldova, together with the foreign airlines, provide transport services to the passengers through regular air routes and charter flights, ensuring direct connections with about 20 destinations, and with transfers – with most of the world countries. During the last years, a decrease in the number of destinations and routes to the CIS countries has been noticed, but there is an increasing trend in the number of destinations and services provided to the western and southern European countries./p>

The main airport of the country is Chisinau International Airport. Chisinau International Airport offers direct flights to international destinations such as Bucharest, Timisoara, Athens, Verona, Rome, Venice, Milan, Budapest, Istanbul, Kiev, Larnaca, Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Prague, Tel Aviv, Frankfurt, Munich, London and Vienna. In Moldova there aren’t any internal flights because the country is small.

Time

The Republic of Moldova is situated in the Eastern European time zone, 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +2, summer time GMT +3).

Money and parity

The national currency of the Republic of Moldova is Moldovan leu (MDL). The credit cards are accepted in banks, hotels, travel agencies and shops. The banks are open from 09.00 am to 17.00 pm from Monday until Saturday. The money exchange is done by all the banks, and also the exchange offices, located on the entire territory of the Republic of Moldova.

Useful telephone numbers

Firefighters – 901

Police – 902

Ambulance – 903

Information bureau – 1188

Bureau for Migration and Asylum -54-46-07

Chisinau International Airport – 52-51-11

Railway station – 83-27-33

Taxi services: 14022, 14005, 14008, 14009, 14120, 14415, 14222, 14250, 14428, 14747, 14448, 14499, 14554, 14555, 14466, 14700, 14474, 14777.

Other useful information

Electricity: 220 V (230), 50 Hz, standard electrical sockets with 2 pins of European continental type.

Telephone country code: +373 Code of Chisinau municipality (22)
Internet domain: .md