Moldova’s terrain is mainly flat, but at the same time it is rather hilly, and many rivers crosses the territory. The average elevation is 147 m above the sea level, the maximum – 429.5 m (Bălănești Hill). In the west, Moldova shares a border with Rumania, in the north, east and south – with Ukraine. The total length of the borders is 1389 km. In the west part of the Moldova, the river Prut makes the border with Romania. The time zone in Moldova is UTC +2.
The most popular natural resources in Moldova are limestone, plaster, clay, quartz sand, gravel, as well as small oil and natural gas outputs.
Moldova’s rich soil and the good climate has made it into one of the most productive agriculture countries in the region and the main suppliers of agricultural products.
The most important cities are the capital, Chisinau, which geographically is in the centre of the country, and Belci. The largest rivers are Prut and Dniester.
According to the May 2014 census, 2.99 million people (excluding Transnistria) live in Moldova, which is by 389,00 less than at the time of the 2004 census.
According to the 2014 census data, 75.1% inhabitants of Moldova identify themselves as Moldovans 7% - as Romanians, 6.6% - Ukrainians, 4.6% - Gagauz, 4.1% - Russians, 1.9 % - Bulgarians and 0.3% - Roma. At the same time, during the 2014 census, 80.2% of Moldovans indicated Romanian (Moldovan) as their mother tongue, 9.7% - Russian, 4.2% - Gagauz, 3.9% - Ukrainian, 1 .5% for Bulgarian and 0.5% for other languages.
Moldova is divided in 33 districts, each of them have an administrative centre (called as city residence), which is the first level unit (the district is the second level unit):
1 Anenii Noi
30. ștefan Vodă
According to economic type, the Republic of Moldova is an agro-industrial country with a significant agricultural sector. The main industry is food production, machine building, textile industry, production of building materials. Viticulture has traditionally played a very important role in Moldova.
According to the International Monetary Fund data, Moldova's GDP grew by 4.2% in 2019, while Moldova's GDP grew by 4% in 2018.
World Bank data show that the per capita GDP in Moldova in 2018 reached 3227 USD. The dominant part (63.2%) of GDP is invested by services, 20.7% by industry and 16.2% by agriculture.
In 2018 and 2019, the average inflation in the country was 4.5% and 3.9%, respectively. Inflation in 2020 is anticipated at 4.6% level.
According to statistics data, the unemployment rate remains steadily low: in 2019 it was only 3.73%.
The main export markets of Moldova in 2019 were Romania (29.27% of total exports), Italy (11.44%), Germany (8.12%), Russia (8.08%), Turkey (3.96%). ), Poland (3.6%), Belarus (3.2%) and Ukraine (3%). Moldova exports mainly agricultural products (sunflower seeds and oil, grapes, nuts, apples, wheat, barley, rapeseed, etc.) and foodstuffs (wine, juices etc.), as well as textiles (footwear, linen cloth etc.).
The largest importers to Moldova in 2019 were Romania (14.54%), Russia (12.51%), China (10.42%), Ukraine (10.01%) and Germany (8.4%). Mineral resources and fuel, as well as mechanical engineering products and medicines, are decisive in the structure of imports.
Since December 23, 2016, the President of Moldova is Igor Dodon. He was born in 1975 in Kellerasi district (state center), graduated from the Faculty of Economics of the State Agrarian University of Moldova, the Faculty of Management of the Moldovan Academy of Economic Sciences and the Faculty of Economic Law of the International Institute of Management. From 2001 to 2008, he held various public positions, including Minister of Economy and First Vice Prime Minister. In 2009 he was elected to the Moldovan Parliament from the Communist Party list. In 2011, he left the Communist Party and joined the Socialist Party. I.Dodons advocates strengthening relations with Russia and defending Orthodox values. He has also defined as his priorities the strengthening of Moldova's status as a neutral state and the prevention of the unification of Moldova and Romania.
Since November 14, 2019, the Prime Minister of Moldova is Ion Chicu. He was born on February 28, 1972, in the village of Pirzholten in the Kellerasi district. Graduated from the Faculty of Management of the Moldovan Academy of Economic Sciences. Since 2005 he has held various positions in public administration, including from 2 January to 12 December 2018 he was the Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, from 10 December 2018 to 8 June 2019 - the Minister of Finance, but from July 12 to November 15, 2019 – adviser to the President of Moldova I.Dodon on economic issues.
Since March 16, 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova is Oleg Tulea. He was born on March 31, 1980 in Kausheni. In 2002, he graduated from the Faculty of International Relations and Political Science of the Moldovan State Institute of International Relations. In 1998, O.Tulea joined the Democratic Party, becoming a member of the party's youth organization. In 2005 he was elected to the parliament from the list of the party bloc "Democratic Moldova", in 2009 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, in 2011 he again became a Deputy of Parliament. In 2016–2020, O.Cuļa was the Ambassador of Moldova to Hungary.
Since March 16, 2020 Alexandru Pinzari is the Minister of Defence in Moldova. He graduated from Police Academy named after Sh.Chelmari (Kishinev) and Marine College in Odessa. Prior to the post of Minister of Defence A.Pinzari’s professional activity was connected with work in structures of Ministry of Interior. In 2016-2019 he was the head of General Police Inspectorate.
During the first decade of independence, Moldova’s democracy was turbulent and eventful. Between 2001 and 2009, the Moldova’s home policy was in a relatively stable period that was characterized by the Communist Party’s dominance within the Moldova home policy. In the 2001 election it won and gained the absolute majority (71 from 101 seats) in the Moldovan Parliament, but in 2005 election it obtained 56 from 101 seats. The aforementioned ensured a strong support for the leader of the Communist Party, President of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, by promoting the foundation of authoritarianism tendencies.
The situation changed in 2009, when, taking into account the suspicion about election result falsification, demonstrations began in the country that lasted for a week. According to the sociological research data, the Communist party and opposition parties had similar chances in winning, the initial results announced in 6 April, indicated that the Communist Party gained an absolute majority. According to the initial data from the Central Election Committee, the Communist Party received 49.48% of the votes, although exit poll data, carried out by the non-governmental organizations, indicated that only 44% of voters have voted about this party; the pre-election sociological surveys indicated that only 36% of the voters supported the party.
In 7 April 2009, believing that the election result has been falsified, approximately 30 000 people took over the Chisinau streets, some of them attacked the representatives of law enforcement structures and occupied the President’s residency and Parliament building, displaying Romania and EU flags there. President Voronin, reacting to the crowd’s behaviour, accused the leaders of the opposition in trying to start an uprising in the country.
Although, the demonstrations ended after a week, the parties that were in the Parliament boycotted the Presidential election and thus creating a constitutional crisis, in the result of which the Parliament was dismissed; in 29 July 2009, another Parliamentary election took place. Despite the fact that the Communist Party received the largest support (44.69%) and obtained 48 seats in the Parliament, it stayed in opposition, because the opposition parties that got in the Parliament – Liberal Democratic Party (18 seats), Liberal Party (15 seats), Democratic Party (13 seats) and party Alliance Our Moldova (7 seats) – established a coalition (Alliance for Integration in Europe).
In September 2009, Voronin resigned from the Presidential position, and the Parliament was unsuccessful in electing a new President. Chairman of the Parliament, Mihai Ghimpu (the Liberal Party) was appointed as Acting President, he established the Moldova Constitutional Reform Committee in order to develop a new constitution. Following the failed 2010 September referendum, due to low citizen activity, that was initiated by the authorities for the change of the state constitution (only 29.67% of voting population participated, it was necessary to have at least 33.34% of voters). New Parliament election was announced, and it took place in 28 November 2010. Following that election, four political powers were elected in the Parliament: The Communist Party (42 seats), Liberal Democratic Party (32 seats), Democratic Party (15 seats) and Liberal Party (12 seats), the last three of them established coalition (Alliance for Integration in Europe II). In December 2010, Marian Lupu was appointed as the Chairman of the Parliament (Democratic Party).
In March 2012, when Timofti was elected as the President, it ended the three-year long Parliament crisis, during which, all the previous Presidential elections were without a result. Although, Timofti’s election did not provide a long-term home policy stability.
Since 2009, when the Alliance for Integration in Europe came into power, process for power re-division began in Moldova. The largest winners of this process were the leaders of the two largest parties in coalition, Liberal Democratic and Democratic, Vlad Filat and Vlad Platnotniuc. They gained complete influence over sectors and institutions that that corresponded with their party field. It not only gave them control over the finance flow of the state budget, but also the opportunity to maintain the political influence; with the help of law enforcement and judicial structures, go against political competition or approve political decisions that are beneficial for them.
A defining feature of the Filat and Platnotniuc’s system was the broad political instability because, despite the formal ally status, there was a constant fight for influence and resources between Filat and Platnotniuc.
In Autumn of 2012, the disagreements between leading coalition parties started to aggravate, it turned into reciprocal accusations and wars with incriminating information. However, n the beginning of 2013, the internal government conflict escalated, when the Prime Minister at the time, Filat, demanded the resignation of Prosecutor General Valeriy Zubko (he was associated with the Democratic Party), who was accused in killing a person during illegal hunting. In response to Filat, the Democratic Party used its influence in the Prosecutor General Office and judicial system, accusing several Ministers from Prime Minister’s at the time, Filat, government and other officials that were connected to the Liberal Democratic Party, in over exceeding and malevolent abuse of their power.
In 13 February 2013, Filat’s announcement about Liberal Democratic Party leaving the leading coalition began a new phase in the home policy crisis. The Communist Party tried to use the crisis within the leading coalition, few days later, together with the Liberal Democratic Party, they voted for the elimination of the position for Vice Chairman of the Parliament, thus leaving leader of the Democratic Party, Platnotniuc, as a simple deputy.
In 5 March 2013, Democratic and Communist Parties announced their distrust towards Filat’s government; in 25 April, Liberal Democratic and Communist Parties voted for the resignation of the Chairman of the Parliament, Marian Lupu (Democratic Party). The situation was further complicated following the announcement from the leader of the third coalition partner the Liberal Party, Mihai Ghimpu, that he will not agree on the establishing of coalition in which the Prime Minister again will be Filat. After the decision of the Constitutional Court (which was under the control of the Democratic Party), Filat lost the possibility to become the next leader of the government, due to the distrust that was directed at him in the Parliament. The Communist Party insisted on having emergency election. The Liberal Democratic and Democratic Parties began discussions about establishing a new coalition, after acknowledging that the emergency election could threaten on the chance of the former coalition partied remaining in charge; they were joined also by a group of seven deputies that has separated from the Liberal Party.
In 30 May 2013, it was announced that a new coalition will be established, with 53 deputies, and a contract has been signed; in 31 May, President of Moldova, approved the government that was established by the representative of the Liberal Democratic Party, Yuriy Lanke.
The aforementioned conflicts left a noticeable impact on the so-called pro-Europe party popularity before the Parliamentary election that took place in 30 November 2014. The election basically turned into a referendum about the country’s further foreign policy development vector. The election marked the fall of the so-called pro-Europe party popularity and made changes in the left political wing, in the result of which the Communist Party obtained 21 seats in the Parliament, but the largest support was received by the Socialist Party (25 seats). Despite the Socialist Party’s victory in the election, the Liberal Democratic, Democratic and Liberal Parties received enough votes (55) to establish a new coalition.
However, the reciprocal contradictions did not allow them to create a stable majority. Instead, the government of the officially non-party entrepreneur, Kiril Gaburich (who was considered connected to Filat), was established; it was supported by the deputies of Liberal Democratic, Democratic and Communist Parties.
In 16 June 2015, Gaburich’s government collapsed due to a banking scandal, which revealed that 1 billion USD has been defrauded from three Moldovan banks (Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank); it resulted in three pro-Europe parties resuming the discussions regarding the establishing of coalition and in 31 July 2015, government of representative of the Liberaldemocratic Party, Valeriy Strelec, was approved.
In 15 October 2015, a new home policy crisis began, when, due to the banking scandal, Filat was taken away his deputy immunity, after the request of Moldovan Prosecutor General, Corneliu Gurin (he was connected to the donor of the Democratic Party, Platnotniuc). Filat was arrested and being accused in receiving a 250 million USD bribe from Moldovan entrepreneur, Ilan Shor, who is considered to be the author of the mentioned banking scheme.
Filat’s arrest ensured Platnotniuc with an absolute power monopoly and allowed him to marginalise the Liberal Democratic Party, which, a political project that is oriented on a specific personality, not only swiftly lost the support from the society, but also the financial base of the party. The aforementioned promoted a partial disintegration of the party, regional deputies of the Liberal Democratic Party were seen to change their political affiliation, seven deputies separated from the Parliamentary faction and they provided support for the government established by the Democratic Party. In order to ensure the approval of government that is beneficial for him, Platnotniuc, after not being able to reach an agreement with Voronin, ensured that the Communist Party separates as well; majority of Parliamentary faction deputies (14 out of 21) left the party. In the process of establishing the government, the Democratic Party managed to ensure the support from the leader of the Liberal Party, Ghimpu.
In the end of 2015, along with the consolidation of power, Platnotniuc was trying to become the Prime Minister, but the President at the time, Timofti, despite the political pressure, rejected his candidacy and nominated the former Prime Minister, Ion Sturza (February – November 1999). Moldova’s Parliament did not support Sturza’s candidacy. Although, the Constitutional Court (under Platnotniuc’a control) made a decision that the President has no right to nominate a Prime Minister candidate of his own initiative, Timofti, referencing the Constitutional Court decision made in 2013 (state highest positions cannot be occupied by people with questionable reputation), repeatedly refused to appoint Platnotniuc for the position of the Prime Minister. In January 2016, he nominated the Head of the Presidential Administration, Ion Pedurar. Following Pedurar’s resignation from the candidacy, without giving an explanation (The Moldovan press reported that it was due to pressure from Platnotniuc), the Democratic Party agreed to nominate for the position a compromise person – Pavel Filip, who was connected to Platnotniuc. The President accepted this offer and in 20 January 2016, Moldova’s Parliament voted in support of the establishing of Filip’s government. The aforementioned, promoted the aggravation of protests that has been happening since September 2015, they had the pro-Europe and pro-Russia forces united. The protesters demanded to announce the voting regarding Filip’s government approval as illegitimate and insisted on emergency Parliamentary election. Although, protesters broke in the Parliament building during the voting, which led to violent collisions and Filip’s government was forced to save themselves by escaping through the backdoor of the building, in the end, there was major violence. This incident led to the demonstrations to die-out as the Moldovan society was not ready to participate in violent demonstrations, taking into account the 2013-2014 Ukrainian winter demonstrations, which it saw as an element for country’s destabilisation.
The 4 March 2016 decision made by the Constitutional Court for direct Presidential election, became an additional calming factor for the society. It not only corresponded with the Protester demands, but also with Platnotniuc’s interests, allowing him to avoid potential political crisis as the Parliamentary majority controlled by Platnotniuc was unstable and was not able to ensure at least 61 out of 101 votes needed in order to elect a President.
In the Presidential election that took place in Autumn of 2016, despite the pro-Europe forces consolidation and nominating a united Presidential candidate, the former Minister of Education, Maya Sandu, won the candidate of the Socialist Party, Dodon. It confirmed the long-lasting tendency that showed the increase in popularity of left political forces and Russia-oriented political forces.
Dodon’s election ensured a permanent President, and Platnotniuc’s controlled Parliament and government opposition. In January 2017, a first serious conflict between parties took place, regarding the issue of President and government’s power to appoint and dismiss ambassadors. After, Dodon took away Moldova’s citizenship from the former President of Romania, Trajan Besesk, Moldova’s ambassador in Romania, Mihai Grinbich, during an interview with Romanian publication Digi24, announced that Moldova’s Constitutional Court can decide the Presidential decision to be unconstitutional.
In reaction to these statements, Dodon demanded on an immediate dismissal of Grinbich. After the government did not support this demand, Dodon gave an ultimate, announcing that he will not approve new ambassadors until Grinbich is still in his position.
In April 2017, Dodon criticized the law proved by the Parliament, regarding the commemoration days and holidays in Moldova, in which 9 May was set as not only as the Victory Day, but also European Day.
Confrontation between Dodon and the government increased after the government’s decision in 29 May 2017 to banish five Russian diplomats from Moldova. Dodon did not hide his dissatisfaction that this decision was made without consulting him. The President was also outraged by the government’s decision in 2 August 2017 to declare the Vice Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitri Rogozin, as persona non grata.
At the same time, the government ignored Dodon’s ban in 6 September 2017 for Moldova National Army’s soldiers to participate in the international military training Rapid Trident 2017 that took place in Ukraine in 7 – 23 September 2017.
Despite the public statements, announced during these disagreements, Dodon, due to this restricted power, could not make the government and Parliament to listen to his opinion. In 27 March 2017, Dodon announced to organize a consultative referendum that will take place in 24 September 2017, that anticipated the increase in Presidential power, giving him the right to dismiss the Parliament and announce emergency Parliamentary election.
However, in 27 July 2017, Moldova’s Constitutional Court announced that this order made by Dodon is illegal.
Dodon’s possibilities to influence Moldova’s internal processes were decreased by 20 October 2017 decision made by the Constitutional Court that defined, in cases, when the President has twice rejected the moved laws by the government or Parliament, the Prime Minister of the Chairman of the Parliament can temporarily hold the President’s authority to approve the law.
As a result of the parliamentary elections held on February 24, 2019, an internal political crisis arose in the country, which was aggravated by the fact that three political forces with mutually exclusive ideologies won the most support. Namely, the largest representation in parliament (35 seats) was won by the pro-Kremlin Socialist Party, while 30 seats were won by the former ruling Democratic Party, which formally advocated Moldova's EU integration tycoons and their close ties with the country’s most influential tycoon Vlad Plahotnyuk was made it “toxic” to other potential partners of coalition. Another 26 parliamentary seats were won by the pro-Western party bloc ACUM, which had expressed a decision during the pre-election period not to form a coalition with the Democratic Party.
In these circumstances, after the active intervention of the EU, the USA and Russia, a coalition of the Socialist Party and the ACUM was formed in Moldova in June 2019, resulted to V.Plahotnyuk's escape from the country. Considering the ideological contradictions between the Socialist Party and ACUM, this coalition existed only for six months, but on November 13, 2019, the informal Socialist Party leader I.Dodon came up with the idea of forming a technocratic government. On November 14, 2019, the Socialist Party and the Democratic Party, weakened as a result of V.Plahotnyuk’s escape from the state, voted for this government proposed by I.Dodon. On March 16, 2020, the Socialist and Democratic Party signed an agreement to form a official coalition.