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Independence date: 27 August 1991

Population: 4.5 million

Capital: Chisinau

President: Petru Lucinschi (since 15 January 1997)

 Country profile


In spite of the fact that materially Iím much better off today than 10 years ago, I still feel nostalgic for the Soviet days. I had less money then, but I slept well, not worrying about how I would provide for myself in my old age. You canít survive on a government pension anymore. During Soviet times, we had stability. We donít anymore.

Zinauda Bunu, 40, entrepreneur

After Moldovaís declaration of independence I had the opportunity to become a Romanian citizen. I went to Bucharest, where I worked as a psychoanalyst. I had a private clinic, and at first my practice was fairly successful. I was able to travel around, see how people live in Western Europe, and make comparisons. Two years ago I returned to Kishenev, where I also tried to set up a private practice. But most people are too poor to afford psychoanalysis. I next opened a clothes shop for young women, which proved successful. I donít get the satisfaction from it that I did from my old job, but it would be stupid to wait until my profession is in demand.

Lilia Markautsan, 42, shop owner

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Student protest against government cutbacks in 2000
Moldovans are angry at the economic situation

Ten years after independence, Moldova is officially the poorest country in Europe.

Nationalist stirrings began in the late 1980s, but the republic was already deeply divided. The Gagauz region in the south-west and the Trans-Dniester region in the west both wanted independence from the rest of Moldova.

The mainly Russian and Ukrainian populations from the Trans-Dniester region feared that politicians in Chisinau were planning to join the republic to Romania. Hundreds died in a bitter secessionist war.

Both regions were granted special autonomy status in 1994, but Russian peacekeeping forces have yet to be withdrawn from Trans-Dniester.

In February 2001 Moldova became the first former Soviet republic to elect a Communist president through free and fair elections.

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