I like geography–how about you? I got a big map on my bedroom wall that I study from time to time and say things like, “Hmmm, I didn’t know Somalia was east of Israel.”
And more than looking at all the countries and cities and seas, is thinking about all the people living in these far-off lands—people we typically know little about.
So I’ve decided that I’m going to help raise awareness of our big, blue planet of ours by, every once in a blue moon, featuring a new country we don’t hear about all too often—some of which you may not have heard of at all. (Well at least not since high school geography—if you were paying attention.)
Yeah, we all know about the Italies and Frances and Japans of the World, but what about a place like Moldova?
Recently I met a young woman from there. Doing so inspired this idea for an article series, and so we start with her homeland, taking you to new plateaus of knowledge of the world you live in…
Alright, first off, can you guess which continent Moldova is on?
Asia? Africa? Antarctica? (Oh, come on!)
Okay, it’s actually in Europe. Eastern Europe. Over there in that part of the continent you probably don’t look at too much:
Moldova was founded in 1359 as the Principality of Moldova, inhabited by a people of Roman descent over an area that encompassed parts of modern day Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. The Middle Ages saw this land invaded by many different groups. And Russian involvement in the 1900’s included it in the USSR. Through all this activity, Moldova is as you see it on the map today. It’s capital is Chisinau.
Despite Ukraine gettin greedy there with the coast, having Moldova land-locked, the proximity to the Black Sea gives it a lovely climate with long, warm summers and relatively mild winters. It has lovely rolling hills and is ideal for agriculture with rich soils lining the Dniester and Prut river valleys. In fact, its wines are world famous and a strong source of tourism dollars:
Unfortunately, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe as it is small with a small population (3.5 million) and like a lot of countries in the region, has struggled to regain footing following the fall of the USSR.
Regaining independence in 1991, Moldova had to find its place in the economic ideological scheme of things. Would it remain communist or completely free up its markets? Well, at first it did the latter. And like a lot of countries that did so during this time, the whiplash of such freedoms in the marketplace caused rapid inflation. The economic difficulties caused many citizens to emigrate to other neighboring countries.
By the 2000′s, the economy has stabilized, but there’s a constant struggle between the stifling blanket that is communist policy and the perceived vulnerability of the free market. The swaying between the two, and the consequences of it, is a source of strife in Moldova today.
So who are the Moldovans? Well, ethnically, they’re considered a branch of the Romanians. The Moldovan language is a dialect of Romanian—a romance language like Italian or Spanish. So instead of the sounds of Slavic languages you might expect in this part of the world, Moldovan has a softer feel to it.
Because of its Soviet involvement, Moldovan had been written in the “Russian” Cyrillic alphabet throughout the 1900’s. Today, though, it is written with Latin script (the alphabet I use to write this article) just as Romanian is.
And despite a very strong minority of its citizens identifying as Romanian, most Moldovan citizens see the uniqueness of being Moldovan. Thus we have this independent state—-the small peninsula of the old Roman lineage jutting into the giant Slavic nations to the north and east.
Moldova is currently seeking acceptance into the European Union. The vast majority of Moldovans are Orthodox Christians.
And now your world geography has reached a new plateau,