MOLDOVA - Officially the poorest country in Europe.
Official name Republica Moldova/Republic of Moldova
Area 33,700 sq km or 13,000 sq miles
Capital Chişinău (Russian Kishinev)
Major towns/cities Bălţi, Tiraspol, Tighina
Physical features Undulating land largely bordered by the rivers Prut and Dniester; northern Moldova comprises the level plain of the Bălţi Steppe and uplands.
Currency leu (single) 1 Leu = 100 Bani or Lei. About 21 or 22 lei to the pound Sterling.
Moldova is a land of undulating countryside and relies to a large extent on agriculture. The fields are worked largely by hand and during the season hundreds of workers can be seen with hand tools tending the soil and the crops. School holidays are long, which enables the children to help in the fields.
Extreme poverty can be seen almost everywhere, not only in the villages but also in the towns. The centre of Chişinău is on the face of it quite prosperous but just away from the centre extreme poverty again can be found.
Generally speaking, the people are extremely hard working and generous with the very little that they have.
Schools have little equipment, sometimes even the basics, pens and papers are in very short supply. Very few of the schools in rural areas have any computers at all and the schools in the cities which may have a computer, it could be extremely old. See cr2ee introduction
A BRIEF HISTORY.
Formerly part of Romania, Moldova was incorporated into the Soviet Union at the close of World War II. Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a "Transnistria" republic. The poorest nation in Europe, Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president in 2001.
Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova emerged as an independent republic following the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
The bulk of it, between the rivers Dniester and Prut, is made up of an area formerly known as Bessarabia. This territory was annexed by the USSR in 1940 following the carve-up of Romania in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's USSR.
Moldova is the very poorest country in Europe and has a large foreign debt and high unemployment. Its once-flourishing wine trade is in the doldrums and it is heavily dependent on Russia for energy supplies.
(over a long time)
AD 106 The current area covered by Moldova, which as mentioned lies chiefly between the Prut River, bordering Romania in the west, and the Dniestr River, with Ukraine in the east, was conquered by the Roman Emperor Trajan and became part of the Roman province of Dacia.
It was known in earlier times as Bessarabia. mid-14th century Formed part of an independent Moldovan principality, which included areas, such as Bukovina to the west, that are now part of Romania. late 15th century Under Stephen IV the Great the principality reached the height of its power. 16th century Became a tributary of the Ottoman Turks. 1774/75 Moldovan principality, though continuing to recognize Turkish overlordship, was placed under Russian protectorship; Bukovina was lost to Austria. 1812 Bessarabia ceded to tsarist Russia. 1856 Remainder of Moldovan principality became largely independent of Turkish control. 1859 Moldovan Assembly voted to unite with Wallachia, to the southwest, to form the state of Romania, ruled by Prince Alexandru Ion Cuza. The state became fully independent in 1878.
A chronology of key events:
14-15th centuries - Principality of Moldova stretches roughly between Carpathian mountains and Dniester river.
16th - early 19th century - Moldovan territory disputed by several powers with the Ottoman Empire and Russia as the main rivals. Numerous wars.
1812 - Treaty of Bucharest grants Russia control of eastern Moldova or Bessarabia, the area between the River Prut and the west bank of the Dniester. The Ottoman Empire gains control of western Moldova.
1878 - Ottomans recognise independence of Romanian state including western Moldova.
1918 - Following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Bessarabia declares independence. Its parliament calls for union with Romania.
1920 - Treaty of Paris recognises union of Bessarabia with Romania. The Bolsheviks do not.
1924 - Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic established east of the Dniester river within Ukraine.
1939 - Romania carved up in pact between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's USSR. Bessarabia is one of the areas to go to the USSR.
1940 - Russia annexes Bessarabia and combines it with most of the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to form Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
1941-1945 - Following Nazi attack on USSR a Romanian puppet regime is installed in Moldavian SSR but driven out shortly before the end of the war when the Soviet Union regains control.
Late 1980s - Resurgence of Moldovan nationalism in the wake of the era of 'openness' introduced in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Gorbachev.
1989 - Romanian is reinstated as the official language. The Latin script is adopted to replace the Cyrillic script (Russian).
1990 - Moldova declares its sovereignty. The Gagauz people in the southwest declare their independence, followed by the Trans-Dniester region. The central power in Moldova annuls the declarations, but local elections are held nonetheless.
1991 - Moldova declares its independence. It joins the ommonwealth of Independent States, the successor to the Soviet Union.
1992 - Moldova becomes a member of the United Nations. An upsurge in fighting in the Trans-Dniester region leads to a state of emergency being re-imposed. Hundreds die in the fighting. Russian peacekeepers are deployed after a ceasefire agreement.
1993 - The leu is introduced to replace the rouble.
1994 - A new constitution proclaims Moldova's neutrality, grants special autonomy status to Trans-Dniester and the Gagauz region, and declares Moldovan to be the official language.
1995 Death penalty abolished.
1996 - Petru Lucinschi elected president.
1997 - Negotiations resumed with Trans-Dniester. Agreement is signed granting further autonomy and calling for more talks.
1998 - Elections see communists emerging as biggest party, but a centrist, reform-minded coalition forms the government.
1999 - OSCE summit in Istanbul sets end of 2002 as deadline for withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition from Trans-Dniester, despite opposition of authorities there.
2000 - Moldovan parliament fails to agree on a successor to President Lucinschi. Parliament is dissolved and early elections are called for February 2001.
2001 February - The elections see the communists under Vladimir Voronin win just over 50% of the vote. Voronin is elected president in April.
2001 April - Parliament dismisses the heads of state radio and TV in a move which critics say consolidates the Communists' hold on society.
2001 December - Trans-Dniester authorities halt withdrawal of Russian arms which had been proceeding in accordance with international agreements.
2002 January - Announcement of plans to make Russian an official language and compulsory in schools sparks months of mass protests which end only when the scheme is shelved.
2002 September - Trans-Dniester authorities agree to allow resumption of Russian withdrawal in exchange for a Russian promise to cut gas debts.
2002 December - OSCE extends deadline for withdrawal of Russian weapons from Trans-Dniester until end of 2003. The deadline is later extended into 2004.
2003 January - Opposition parties resume anti-Communist protests because of what they say is the government's failure to tackle poverty and its attempts to strengthen ties with Russia.
2003 November - President Voronin pulls out of signing Russian-proposed deal on Trans-Dniester settlement following protests by nationalists who say it gives too much influence to Russia.
2004 February - Russia says it will complete withdrawal of its forces from Trans-Dniester only when a solution to the conflict is reached.
2004 July - Dispute over closures of Moldovan-language schools in Trans-Dniester using Latin rather than Cyrillic script. Moldova imposes economic sanctions on region and pulls out of talks on its status.
2004 October - Defence Minister Gaiciuc dismissed in row over thefts from arms depots.
2005 March - Communist Party tops poll in parliamentary elections.
2005 April - New parliament returns Vladimir Voronin for second term as president.
2005 June - Parliament backs a Ukrainian plan for Trans-Dniester region autonomy within Moldova, calls on Russia to withdraw troops by end of year.
2006 January - Russian gas giant Gazprom cuts off supplies when Moldova refuses to pay twice the previous price. A temporary compromise is reached as talks continue.
Former Defence Minister Valery Pasat jailed for 10 years after being convicted of abuse of office on charges related to arms sales. He says the affair is political. Some charges are later dropped and his sentence is cut to five years.
2006 March - Dniester leadership reacts angrily to new regulations requiring goods entering Ukraine from Dniester to have Moldovan customs stamp. Moldova says the rules, backed by the EU, US and OSCE, aim to stop smuggling.
Chisinau protests against a Russian decision to suspend imports of Moldovan wine on health grounds, saying the move is politically motivated.
2006 July - Eight die and several dozen are injured as minibus explodes in Dniester.
2006 September - Dniester referendum vote backs independence from Moldova and a plan eventually to become part of Russia.
Tensions with Romania
2007 March - Government accuses Romania of undermining the country by easing Romanian citizenship application procedures for Moldavans. Romanian citizenship allows Moldovans to travel without visas within the EU. Government reverses decision to allow Romania to open two new consulates in Moldova.
2008 March - Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev resigns, saying the country needs a government with more public appeal. President Voronin nominates deputy prime minister Zinaida Greceanii, another Communist, as Moldova's first woman premier.
2008 April - President Vladimir Voronin and Dniester leader Igor Smirnov meet for the first time in seven years; agree on the need to restart peace talks which broke down in 2001.
2009 January - Russian-Ukrainian dispute over gas prices leaves Moldova without supplies for several weeks, and Moldovans in several towns without any heating.
2009 April - Ruling Communist Party wins general election. Demonstrators storm the parliament in protest. President Voronin accuses Romania of stirring up the riots. Official recount confirms Communist win, which opposition still disputes.
2009 May - Communist MPs elect outgoing President Voronin as parliament speaker.
2009 May-June - Opposition MPs succeed in blocking two attempts to have Communist prime minister and Voronin ally Zinaida Greceanii elected to succeed him as president, making fresh elections likely.