- Area: 34,000 km2
- Population: 4,000,000
- Infant mortality: 10.3 deaths/1,000 live births
- Life expectancy: 71.63
- Urbanisation: 45%
- Literacy: 99%
Moldova’s recent history has been one of changing borders and, as a result, changing rulers. Once it was part of Romania, then for decades it was under the Soviet Union until that empire began to crumble with the fall of Communism in the early nineties; then it became an independent republic in its own right. Since then, it has not been immune from internal troubles having experienced war in the breakaway region of Transnistria. This section of the country is not recognised by any major country in the world, its claim to fame being that it has a division of the Russian army there. During the Russian era of dominance, Moldova was a reasonably prosperous country with a flourishing agriculture, much heavy industry, and fruitful vineyards spreading over its low sprawling hills. The capital Kishinev was a favourite holiday haunt of some of the Soviet leaders. Underachievement Since its independence it seemed to proceed down the road to democracy, only to return the Communist Party to power again. Its story has been one of underachievement because of corruption and lack of visionary leadership.
The largest part of the nation lies between two rivers, the Dniester and the Prut. The western border of Moldova is formed by the Prut river, which joins the Danube before flowing into the Black Sea. Moldova has access to the Danube for only about 480 m (1,575 ft), and Giurgiulești is the only Moldovan port on the Danube. In the east, the Dniester is the main river, flowing through the country from north to south, receiving the waters of Răut, Bîc, Ichel, Botna. Ialpug flows into one of the Danube limans, while Cogîlnic into the Black Sea chain of limans. The country is landlocked, though it is close to the Black Sea. While most of the country is hilly, elevations never exceed 430 m (1,411 ft) – the highest point being the Bălănești Hill. Moldova's hills are part of the Moldavian Plateau, which geologically originate from the Carpathian Mountains. Its subdivisions in Moldova include the Dniester Hills (Northern Moldavian Hills and Dniester Ridge), the Moldavian Plain (Middle Prut Valley and Bălți Steppe), and the Central Moldavian Plateau (Ciuluc-Soloneț Hills, Cornești Hills—Codri Massive, "Codri" meaning "forests"—Lower Dniester Hills, Lower Prut Valley, and Tigheci Hills). In the south, the country has a small flatland, the Bugeac Plain. The territory of Moldova east of the river Dniester is split between parts of the Podolian Plateau, and parts of the Eurasian Steppe. The country's main cities are the capital Chișinău, in the centre of the country, Tiraspol (in the eastern region of Transnistria), Bălți (in the north) and Bender (in the south-east). Comrat is the administrative centre of Gagauzia.
After the breakup from the USSR in 1991, energy shortages, political uncertainty, trade obstacles and weak administrative capacity contributed to the decline of economy. As a part of an ambitious economic liberalization effort, Moldova introduced a convertible currency, liberalized all prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatization, removed export controls, and liberalized interest rates. The government entered into agreements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to promote growth. The economy reversed from decline in late 90's. Since 1999 the GDP (PPP) had a steady growth