Moldova is essentially landlocked with rolling steppes gradually sloping south towards the Black Sea. It is well endowed with various sedimentary rocks and minerals including sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone. Natural hazards are relatively few but there are frequent landslides due to extensive soil erosion from poor farming methods. The lowest point is the Dniester River at 2m above mean sea level, while the highest point of Dealul Balanesti is only 430m.
The capital of Moldova is Chişinău. The local language is Romanian, based on the Latin alphabet, but Russian is widely used. Moldova is a multi-ethnic republic that has suffered from violent ethnic conflict. In 1990 the self-proclaimed Transnistria Republic in eastern Moldova declared independence and a civil war was fought during the first half of 1992. A ceasefire was declared and Transnistria has maintained de facto independence with its own government and currency but is not recognized by any other country. Economic links have been re-established between these two parts of Moldova despite failure in political negotiations. The major religion in Moldova is Orthodox Christian.
Moldova's population is occupied mainly in food production and processing. Once known as "the garden" of the Soviet Union, Moldova has now lost most of its traditional Russian markets for agricultural products and is exploring new international markets.
Independence27 August 1991 from Soviet Union
National holidayIndependence Day, 27 August 1991
Constitutionnew constitution adopted 28 July 1994; replaces old Soviet constitution of 1979
Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a "Transnistria" republic.