(pronounced "vlah-DEE-mear va-ROH-nin")
"The participation of the voters, and their voice, will make it possible to change the situation fundamentally. I mean changing the situation fundamentally so that all the reforms being conducted should have a beginning and an end, so that all these shortcomings over the past 10 years of democratic reforms are suspended and the necessary, correct direction is taken in the republic's development."
The Republic of Moldova (formerly named the Moldovan SSR), the second smallest of the former Soviet republics, straddles the River Dniestr (pronounced NYEH-stir) in the center of Europe. It borders Romania and Ukraine and lies adjacent to a small portion of the Black Sea. Its total land area is 33,843 sq km (13,066 sq mi). Moldova's total population was estimated at over 4.7 million in 2003, of which 64.5% are Moldovan/Romanian, 13.8% Ukrainian, 13% Russian, 3.5% Gagauzi, 2% Bulgarian, and the remainder other nationalities. The majority of Moldovans are Orthodox Christians. The 1994 Moldovan Constitution identifies the state language as Moldovan although most linguists classify the language as a dialect of Romanian. (The name of the language is a significant political issue in Moldova: supporters of the "Moldovan" designation tend to favor Moldova's independence while some supporters of "Romanian" favor merger with Romania.)
Moldova has a temperate continental climate and very fertile soil. Agriculture is the backbone of its economy, especially tobacco, fruit growing, and wine production. Moldova's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $3,000 in 2002.
President Vladimir Voronin