Official name: Republic of Moldova
Area: 33,843 square kilometers (13,067 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Balănesti (430 meters/1,410 feet)
Lowest point on land: Dniester River (2 meters/6.6 feet)
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 150 kilometers (90 miles) from east to west; 340 kilometers (210 miles) from north to south
Land boundaries: 1,389 kilometers (864 miles) total boundary length; Romania 450 kilometers (280 miles); Ukraine 939 kilometers (583 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
Moldova is a comh2etely landlocked country of about 33,843 square kilometers (13,067 square miles) in area; after Armenia, it is the second-smallest republic of the former U.S.S.R. It is located in southeastern Europe, east of Romania and north, west, and northeast of Ukraine. The country's entire border with Romania lies along the Prut River in the west; on the east, the Dniester (Nistru) River follows some of the northern border with Ukraine, but it flows mostly within the nation's eastern region.
Moldova has no territories or dependencies.
The Moldovan climate is continental, with conditions kept somewhat moderate by the influence of the Black Sea. Winters are generally dry and mild, with average daily temperatures in January ranging from –5°C to –3°C (3°F to 27°F). The long summers are warm; average daily temperatures in July exceed 20°C (68°F), and daily highs may even reach 40°C (104°F). Precipitation in Moldova is typically light and sometimes irregular, often resulting in dry spells. Rainfall is lightest in the south, on average 35 centimeters (14 inches) per year. At higher elevations, it can exceed 60 centimeters (20 inches). Early summer and October are the rainy seasons, with heavy showers and thunderstorms common, often causing erosion and river silting.
Moldova is mostly a hilly plain cut by the deep valleys of many rivers and streams. In general, the terrain slopes gradually south toward the Black Sea, although the country is separated from the sea by a narrow arm of Ukraine. Moldova's average elevation is only 147 meters (482 feet) above sea level.
Moldova is a landlocked nation and thus borders no oceans or seas.
Lake Stânca-Costesti, through which the Prut River flows, lies on the Moldovan-Romanian border in northwest Moldova. Two other lakes fed by the Prut in Moldova are the Manta and the Beleu. The Manta is a valuable fish spawning area; in fact, both of these lakes have been slated for wetlands protection by the Moldovan government.
Moldova has more than three thousand rivers and streams, but only eight are longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles). The two largest rivers are the Dniester (called the Nistru in Moldova) and the Prut, which both originate in the Carpathian Mountains north of Moldova in Ukraine. The longer Nistru flows south through eastern Moldova. It forms a short section of the Moldova/Ukraine border in the northeast, flows into Moldova, then borders Ukraine again in the southeast. It finally reenters Ukraine in the south shortly before emptying into the Black Sea. The second-longest river is the Prut, a major tributary of the Danube River. The Prut River forms Moldova's entire border with Romania before flowing south into the Danube. Like the Nistru, the Prut originates in the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine; it flows a total distance of 909 kilometers (564 miles). Smaller Moldovan rivers include the Ialpug, the Bâc, and the Răut.
Moldova has no deserts.
Moldova's hills are more accurately described as rolling, hilly plains that rise in elevation to the north as they approach the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The hill country is cut by deep ravines and gullies from the country's many rivers and streams.
Moldova is a generally low-lying country with no real mountain systems. Its highest point, Mount Balănesti, rises to 430 meters (1,410 feet) amid the Codri Hills of west-central Moldova.
Scientists have explored and documented a number of caves in northern Moldova. The largest is the Emil Racovita Cave located near an area of karst topography in the Edinet region. Archaeological digs have dated the Brinzeni Caves, also in the Edinet region, to the Paleolithic era.
Southern Moldova lies in an area called the Bugeac Steppe. However, in Moldova essentially the entire steppe zone has been cultivated.
The ruins of a medieval town have been unearthed at Tribuzheni, near Orhei on the Raut River.
Dawisha, Karen, and Bruce Parrot. Democratic Changes and Authoritarian Reactions in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Hawks, Tony. Playing the Moldovans at Tennis. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2001.
Sheehan, Patricia. Moldova. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2000.