Moldova Geography

Moldova Geography and Population

Moldova – geography

Most of Moldova consists of fertile plains with black soils, chernozem, between the rivers Prut (Romanian Prutul) in the west and the land around the Dniester (Nistru) in the east. Prut forms the western border with Romania until it joins the Danube. To the north and in the central part there are low mountains. The natural vegetation is steppe and forest steppe, but over 80 percent is agricultural land. The former large forests disappeared in the early 1900’s, and now only 8 percent of the area is forest.

The climate is moderate mainland climate with long, hot summers and short, cold winters; monthly average for resp. July and January are 19-22 °C and −3-−5 °C. To the great inconvenience of viticulture, much precipitation falls in heavy rain and hailstorms; the total annual precipitation is 400-650 mm.


Moldova is a multi-ethnic state. The majority of the population of Moldova excluding the Dniester Republic are Moldovans who speak Moldovan, a dialect of Romanian. Most Moldovans also speak Russian. Ukrainians and Russians together make up 60 percent of the Dniester Republic and 40 percent of Moldovans. In the southern part of the country, around the town of Komrat, they live approximately 4 percent gagausere, a Turkish Orthodox Christian people who in the 19th century were granted land here by the Russian emperor. Most Gagausians cite Russian as their language; only a few speak Moldovan. In 1995, the Gagau region gained the status of an autonomous region in Moldova. As a result of the Holocaust, the formerly very large Jewish population now amounts to only approximately 1.5 percent. Other minorities are 2 percent Bulgarians as well as Belarusians, Poles and Roma.

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Although there was a sharp industrialization after World War II, still in 1998 a majority of the population lived in the countryside. Life expectancy in 2005 was 64 years for men and 71 for women, while child mortality was 14 per mille, which has been a significant improvement since 1995, when it was 22 per mille and among Europe’s highest. The over-fertilization and unrestrained use of pesticides by Moldovan agriculture is cited as a major cause of the high infant mortality rate and the general poor health of the population. In January 2005, it was estimated that approximately 400,000 Moldovans worked outside the country’s borders.


Moldova is a very fertile country, and agriculture with associated service and processing companies forms the backbone of the economy. Agriculture’s share of GDP is 18 percent, and it employs almost 1/4of the workforce (2004), but is characterized by outdated technology and structure. The main products are wine, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, sunflower oil and cereals. Special products such as rose oil and other essential oils are also produced. Large parts of the arable land are the artificial water from damming the rivers. Agriculture is characterized by large operating units. In 1996, a national land reform was launched with a view to dismantling the 961 collective farms from the Soviet period and creating 1 million. private use. The first phase of the reform was completed in 2000, when agriculture was almost 100 percent privatized. After this, the second phase began, which was to build centers for the marketing of agricultural products. The reforms were sought to be slowed down by the Communists when they came to power in 2001, but they have had to bow to the positive results.

Moldova was a backward peripheral area under both Russian rule (“Siberia to the west”) and under Romanian rule. After World War II, a comprehensive industrialization program was launched, mainly companies for processing agricultural production, but also machine factories, chemical and electronic companies and a number of light industries. Many of the new industries were located around the capital, Chişinău, and in the area east of the Dniester. Cities like Bendery and Tiraspol grew into real industrial cities. With the De facto Republic’s de facto independent status, a large part of Moldova’s industry is outside the administration of the government and is not affected by the privatization process, which already in 1995 had transferred two thirds of industry, trade and services to private individuals through a voucher. system. In 2000, three electricity distribution companies were sold to a Spanish company, and in 2002, the sale of large state-owned companies in the wine industry began, but otherwise privatization is slow. On the other hand, a large number of large companies in the Republic of Denmark have been privatized since 2003. However, as the Republic of Denmark is not recognized as a state, the legality of these privatizations is questionable. The Moldovan parliament has passed a law that only sales approved by the Moldovan government are legal. However, Moldova has not yet (2005) filed a lawsuit against foreign investors in the Dniester Republic.

Like other Soviet republics, Moldova was fully integrated into the USSR’s planned economy and, after the dissolution of the Union in 1991, remained heavily dependent on trade with the CIS countries, in particular Russia and Ukraine. Among other things. the dependence on energy from here is very large. Apart from the Dubossary hydropower plant on the Dniester, which provides approximately 1.5 percent of the country’s electricity supply, Moldova is completely dependent on energy imports, and this accounts for a fifth of total imports. Moldova (minus the Dniester Republic) gets all its gas from Russia and most of its electricity from Russia, Ukraine, Romania and a thermal power plant in the Dniester Republic.

Efforts to turn foreign trade to the west have only succeeded to some degree; however, trade with the EU is increasing and the EU’s share of Moldova’s exports in 2004 was 30 percent. Russia accounts for 36 percent of exports (2004). In 2002-2004, Ukraine, a major electricity supplier, took over Russia’s place as Moldova’s leading import partner. Foreign investment has also been limited. Only in the tobacco, wine and light industry (electric pumps) investment interest from the West was shown in the 1990’s, and a poor investment climate still (2005) discourages many Western investors.

Moldova – language

Official language is the Romanian dialect Moldovan, whose pronunciation and vocabulary are to some extent influenced by Russian. Moldovan, spoken by approximately 72% of the population, was written in 1940-89 with the Cyrillic alphabet, then just like Romanian again with the Latin. The written language officially differs from the Romanian in not following the orthographic reform of 1993, but this is circumvented in practice by many media. In the Dniester Republic, where Russian and Ukrainian dominate, the Cyrillic alphabet is still used in Moldovan. The questions of the official name and status of the language, the spelling and use of the alphabet are all politically charged and occasionally lead to conflicts. Ukrainian and Russian are spoken throughout Moldova by, respectively. 11 and 9%, gagausic of approximately 4% and Bulgarian andromani of quite a few (2004). For culture and traditions of Moldova, please check aparentingblog.

Moldova Geography