The Republic of Moldova is a small country situated between Romania and Ukraine. Moldova resides in a smaller portion of the territory historically known as Bessarabia. Bessarabia was the name given to the land between the Prut River on the west and the Nistru River to the east, the Carpathian Mountains in the north and the Black Sea in the south. The territory rests in the hinter lands of competing influences of Latin, Slavic and Turkish cultures. In 1940 Bessarabia was occupied by the Soviet Union, and the Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic emerged. After 51 years of Soviet rule, Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union on August 27, 1991.
Today, Moldova is struggling to leave its Soviet past behind. It is the poorest country in Europe. The approximately 4 million people survive off of a largely agricultural economy. Opportunities are scarce and salaries are insufficient to survive. Most Moldovan families supplement their incomes with remittances from family members working abroad. The difficulty of obtaining a visa forces many Moldovans to travel abroad illegally, providing fertile ground for human trafficking. Corruption is a persistent problem in most segments of society. Social, economic and political tension exists between the ethnic Romanians who represent the majority of the population and the Russians who immigrated to the area during Soviet times. These tensions are epitomized by conflict with Transnistria, a breakaway region on the east bank of the Nistru River.
In 2001 Moldova was the first former Socialist Soviet Republic to elect a Communist government to power and only former state to be ran by a Communist administration. Vladimir Voronin just ended his second term as president and cannot serve again according to constitutional law.
On April 7th 30,000 Moldovans took to the streets in protest to the controversial 2009 Presidential elections in which the incumbent Communist party won by getting 50% of the votes. Many youth declare the election as fraudulent. Because so many Moldovans are abroad in Europe they do not have the possibility to VOTE in the current elections, therefore allowing the older generation to have a bigger influence in the outcome of the current elections. It seems that this isn’t the Youth vs. Communism rather the grandparents vs their grandchildren.
Neighboring countries Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union January 1, 2007 making Moldova a new border to the EU. Ukraine, Moldova’s neighbor to the North, East, and South, is said to be a priority partner within the European Neighborhood Policy. Ukraine’s growing democracy and cooperation into becoming a EU member would make Moldova an island country surrounded by the European Union.