Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Moldova has been an independent country since 1991. Though very close to the Black Sea, Moldova is landlocked, bordering Romania in the west and the Ukraine in the north, east and south. The main part of the country lies between two rivers: the Prut in the west, which forms the border to Romania, and the Nistru (Dniestr) in the east. On the eastern bank of the Nistru lies the breakaway region of Transnistria, a narrow strip of land that is legally part of Moldova but de facto functions as an independent state, with border controls, its own government, constitution, currency etc. Moldova recognizes Transnistria as one of two autonomous regions within Moldova, the second being Gagauzia. The Gagauz people are of Turkish origin, but are unique in being the only Turkish people group that traditionally adhere to Russian-orthodox beliefs.
State of the Church: The vast majority of Moldovans are nominally Orthodox Christians, but many have never heard the gospel or had the opportunity to read the Bible. After the collapse of the Soviet Union there was a big spiritual openness and many people turned to God, but today there is no longer such growth in the number of believers. There has been significant progress of understanding and acceptance between different evangelical denominations, however, and churches increasingly take ownership of ministries. Evangelical believers, who make up about 4% of the population, are still often regarded with suspicion and in some places can face fierce opposition by the Orthodox Church. In many places, however, the witness of the local believers’ lives disproves prejudices and with time builds acceptance by the population.
Socio-Economic Situation: Despite EU integration attempts in recent years, Moldova continues to be the poorest country in Europe, crippled by a high level of corruption, political instability and a failing economy. The extreme poverty, especially in rural areas where unemployment is up to 80%, aggravates related problems like a high rate of alcoholism and an exodus of the working population to other countries, while children and elderly are left behind. The Information and Security Service of the Republic of Moldova has estimated that 1,200,000 to two million Moldovan citizens (almost 45% of the population) are working abroad, but only around 80,000 are estimated to be in their destination country legally. According to the World Bank, in 2015 personal remittances from Moldovans abroad accounted for 23.4% of Moldova's GDP, the sixth-highest percentage in the world.
Area: 33,846 km2 (13,067 sq.mi)
Population: 3.5 million
Principal Languages: Romanian (official language), Russian
Regional Languages: Gagauz (a Turkish language), Ukrainian, Bulgarian
Moldova also has a significantly big Roma population, using their own (unstandardized) language.
Main Religion: Eastern Orthodoxy (96%)
Evangelical Christians: 3.7%