The Republic of Moldova, geographically located in South-Eastern Europe, is bordered by 2 countries: Ukraine to the East and Romania to the West. The territory of Moldova covers 33700 sq. km, which spans approximately 350 km from North to South and about 150 km from East to West. The population estimate from 2014 is 2,913,281, excluding the population of the region of Transnistria.
Moldova is situated in a continental zone buffered by Mediterranean temperate winds where extreme temperature fluctuations are rare. Precipitation occurs throughout the year, winters are relatively dry and short and summers are hot and lengthy. The average temperature in January is -4C and in July + 21C; the absolute minimum is -36C and the absolute maximum is + 41C.
Contemporary Moldovan citizens include several ethnic groups. Approximately 64.5% of the population is native Moldovan, 13.8% Ukrainian and the other 13% includes Russians and other ethnic groups (Gagauz, Bulgarians, Jews, Belorussians, Germans and other minorities). For example, many Bulgarian villages are interspersed throughout Moldova’s Autonomous Republic of Gagauzia. 45% of the population lives in urban areas, whereas the rest resides in rural towns and villages. The capital Chisinau, Tiraspol, Balti and Bender are the largest cities of Republic of Moldova.
The Orthodox Church represents the majority of religious practitioners in Moldova, including more than 96% of the country’s Christian population. However, Moldova’s citizens are guaranteed freedom of religious practice as written in the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova. There are approximately 1035 Christian Orthodox churches and 35 monasteries located throughout Moldova.
The official language of Moldova is Romanian, officially referred to as Moldovan within the country. Other commonly spoken languages include Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian, and Polish. The variety of spoken languages are present due to the fact that the territory of modern Moldova was at the border of European and Asian empires for many centuries. In the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia in the south of Moldova, the two most widely spoken languages are Gagauz and Russian. Gagauz is a Turkic language spoken by ethnic Gagauz peoples, who constitute around 4.4% of the Moldovan population.
The majority of print materials, including product labels, marketing materials, packing instructions and any other visual information, are produced in both the Moldovan and Russian languages. In areas where the majority of the population is of Ukrainian, Gagauzian or Bulgarian ethnic origin, visual information may also be printed in the respective languages.
In the unrecognized Transnistrian Republic, located in the eastern part of Moldova, people speak in Ukrainian, while Russian and Moldovan are the other two official languages. In some regions of northeastern Moldova, such as Sloboda-Rashkov, people speak Polish.
If you ever get a chance to do EVS in Moldova but don’t speak Russian or Moldovan, don’t worry - you will easily find help. Many young locals and all of the hotel and restaurant staff have at least conversational knowledge of English or French.