Capital city Chisinau
Surface 33,946 km²
Population 3,151,000
Road network length 12,730 km
Length of highway network 50km
First highway
Motorway name Autostrad / омагистраль
Traffic drives Right
License plate code MD

Moldova (Romanian: Moldova), formally the Republic of Moldova (Romanian: Republica Moldova) is a country in Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. The country has 3.1 million inhabitants (including Transnistria) and the capital is Chişinău. The area is 33,846 square kilometers and the country is therefore slightly smaller than the Netherlands. It is the poorest country in Europe.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the name Moldova was derived from the Moldova River in the 14th century. This river is now entirely in Romania. In a short period after independence the name was also spelled Moldava, later this became Moldova. The Dutch spelling Moldova comes via Russian: Молдавия, Moldaviya.


Moldova is a landlocked country that is not located by the sea. The country is on the transition from Southeastern to Eastern Europe and borders Ukraine and Romania. The country measures a maximum of 340 kilometers from north to south and 140 kilometers from west to east. In eastern Moldova lies the de facto independent Transnistria. The country is wedged between the Dniester and Prut rivers. The country consists mainly of rolling steppe, which is largely cultivated. There are only a few small forest areas. The highest point is the 430 meter high Bălănești.

Moldova has a mild and sunny climate due to its location near the Black Sea. It is a moderate continental climate with warm summers and fairly cold winters. In the capital Chișinău, the average maximum temperature is 28 °C in summer and the average minimum temperature is -4 °C in winter. Due to the continental climate, outliers between -35 °C and 40 °C occur.


Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, the average income is comparable to many third world countries. The industrial base is limited and many people work in agriculture and often grow their own food. Much of the economy is informal. The country introduced a free market economy in 1992, which led to massive inflation. After 2000 the situation stabilized. About a quarter of Moldovan GDP comes from the Moldovan diaspora who send money to relatives in the country. The investment level remains low. The most famous export product is the Moldovan wine. In Moldova they pay with the leu (MDL).


About 70% of the inhabitants are Moldovan, who are often placed under the same ethnic group as Romanians. See Moldova population density. About 11% of the population consists of Ukrainians and 9% of Russians. The Gagauz live in the south. Romanian is spoken in Moldova. About 76% of the inhabitants of Moldova speak this as their mother tongue. Russian is widely spoken. English is taught at school.

By far the largest city is the capital Chișinău, where 1 in 5 Moldovans lives. Tiraspol and Bălți also have more than 100,000 inhabitants. The other cities are smaller, there are only 6 cities in total with more than 50,000 inhabitants, 3 of which are in Transnistria.

Moldova had 2,682,000 inhabitants in 2019 (excluding Transnistria). Transnistria has about 469,000 inhabitants. Together, Moldova has 3,151,000 inhabitants, a sharp decline compared to the 4,364,000 inhabitants in 1990. Between 1997 and 2019 Moldova (excluding Transnistria) shrank by almost one million inhabitants. This shrinkage is largely a result of mass migration to other countries, where Moldovans often work illegally. It is estimated that there are half a million Moldovans as guest workers in Russia. These guest workers send money back to Moldova, which accounts for about a quarter of the total GDP, one of the highest ratios in the world.


The M1/M5 junction on the north side of Chișinău, Moldova’s most complex junction.

The principality of Moldavia was founded in the 14th century and also included the northeastern part of present-day Romania. From the 16th century, it came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, but retained a high degree of autonomy. In 1812 the eastern part of the principality of Moldavia was transferred to the Russian Empire. This was then called the Moldavia and Bessarabia Oblast. It was initially relatively autonomous, but the Romanian/Moldavian identity was gradually more constrained by the Russian Tsar. In 1859 the western part of the former principality of Moldova became part of Romania. At that time, it was stimulated to migrate from the Russian Empire to the southwest, so that the proportion of Moldovans fell sharply.

After World War I, Moldova became part of the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. Eastern Moldova, east of the Dniester, became part of the Soviet Union as the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1940, Romania was forced by the Soviet Union to cede the rest of Moldova to the Soviet Union. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Romanian army conquered the region of Moldova. The area was recaptured by the Red Army in 1944, leading to the re-establishment of the Moldavian ASSR. The country was then part of the Soviet Union for a long time. The Soviets promoted a Moldovan identity and introduced a Cyrillic alphabet for Moldavian (Romanian).

In 1991 Moldova declared itself independent and Romania was the first country to recognize it. Eastern Moldova proclaimed the Pridnestrovian-Moldavian Soviet Republic in 1990. This was an area where the proportion of non-Moldovians was higher and was an important military base of the Soviet Union. A conflict with the Moldovan police ensued, which developed into a military conflict in 1992, but ended fairly quickly with the status quo of a de facto independent Transnistria. The Moldovan government has no influence there and there are border controls between Moldova and Transnistria. The problem for Moldova is that most industry is located in Transnistria as well as a Russian army base. Moldova would like to join the European Union, but the status of Transnistria remains a problem.

Moldova Location Map