Oldowan flint artifacts dating back 800,000–1.2 million years were found in Bayraki in 2010. This indicates that early humans lived in Moldova during the early Paleolithic period. Moldova’s area was the center of the vast Cucuteni-Trypillian civilization that extended east beyond the Dniester River in Ukraine and west up to and beyond the Carpathian Mountains in Romania during the Neolithic stone age. The people of this civilisation, which existed approximately from 5500 to 2750 BC, engaged in agriculture, cattle raising, hunting, and the production of beautifully decorated ceramics.
Antiquity and Middle Ages
Dacian tribes occupied Moldova’s land in antiquity. Between the first and seventh century AD, the south was alternately ruled by the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Because of its important position on a trade route between Asia and Europe, contemporary Moldova was attacked many times in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, notably by Goths, Huns, Avars, Bulgarians, Magyars, Pechenegs, Cumans, Mongols, and Tatars.
Moldavia, founded in 1359, was bordered to the west by the Carpathian Mountains, to the east by the Dniester River, and to the south by the Danube River and the Black Sea. Its area included the Republic of Moldova’s current territory (excluding the land east of the Dniester), Romania’s eastern eight counties, and Ukraine’s Chernivtsi Oblast and Budjakregion. Locals referred to it as Moldova, as it does the current republic and Romania’s north-eastern area. Moldavia has been frequently invaded by Crimean Tatars and, from the 15th century, by Turks. The principality became a vassal of the Ottoman Empire in 1538, although it maintained internal and exterior autonomy.
By winning the battle of Bacău in May 1600, Michael the Brave deposed Ieremia Movilă from Moldavia’s throne, establishing the first union of the three Romanian principalities: Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania. The title used in the document dated 6 July 1600 was “The King of the Country of Romania, Ardeal, and all of Moldavia.” Michael ruled over all three provinces for less than a year when the nobility of Transylvania and some boyars in Moldavia and Wallachia revolted. Jan Zamoyski commanded a Polish force that drove the Wallachians out of Moldavia and defeated Michael at Năieni, Ceptura, and Bucov. Ieremia Movilă ascended to the throne of Moldavia as a vassal of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1621, Moldavia was ultimately restored to Ottoman vassalage.
According to the Treaty of Bucharest of 1812, and despite numerous protests by Moldavian nobles on behalf of their principality’s sovereignty, the Ottoman Empire (of which Moldavia was a vassal) ceded to the Russian Empire the eastern half of Moldavia’s territory, as well as Khotyn and old Bessarabia (modern Budjak), which Russia had already conquered and annexed. The new Russian province was known as the Oblast of Moldavia and Bessarabia, and it enjoyed considerable autonomy at first. After 1828, this autonomy was gradually eroded, and in 1871, the Oblast was converted into the Bessarabia Governorate as part of a state-imposed assimilation process known as Russification. As part of this approach, the Tsarist government in Bessarabia progressively phased out the use of Romanian in official and religious settings.
The Treaty of Paris (1856) restored three Bessarabia counties — Cahul, Bolgrad, and Ismail — to Moldavia, which remained an independent principality and merged with Wallachia to create Romania in 1859. As a consequence of the Treaty of Berlin, Romania was obliged to return the three counties to the Russian Empire in 1878.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, Russian authorities encouraged the colonization of Bessarabia by Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, Bulgarians, and Gagauzes, primarily in the northern and southern areas vacated by Turks and Nogai Tatar, the latter having been expelled in the 1770s and 1780s during the Russo-Turkish Wars; inclusion of the province in the Pale of Settlement also allowed the immigration The percentage of Romanians in the population fell from an estimated 86 percent in 1816, after the Muslim deportation, to approximately 52 percent in 1905. Thousands of Jews fled to the United States as a result of anti-Semitic riots during the period.
Russian Revolution and Greater Romania
As 300,000 Bessarabians were conscripted into the Russian Army established in 1917, there was a surge in political and cultural (ethnic) consciousness among the region’s people; within larger units, numerous “Moldavian Soldiers’ Committees” were formed. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, a Bessarabian parliament, Sfatul ării (a National Council), was elected in October–November 1917 and inaugurated on December 3 [O.S. 21 November] 1917. The Moldavian Democratic Republic was declared by the Sfatul ării (December 15 [O.S. 2 December] 1917) inside a federal Russian state, and a government was established (21 December [O.S. 8 December] 1917).
On February 6 [O.S. 24 January] 1918, Bessarabia declared independence from Russia and sought the aid of the French army stationed in Romania (general Henri Berthelot) and the Romanian army, which had seized the area in early January at the request of the National Council. The Sfatul ării voted to join the Kingdom of Romania on April 9 [O.S. 27 March] 1918, with 86 votes in favor, 3 against, and 36 abstention. The union was contingent on agricultural reform, autonomy, and respect for fundamental human rights. Although historians note that they lacked the quorum to do so, a portion of the temporary Parliament decided to remove these requirements when Bukovina and Transylvania joined the Kingdom of Romania.
The major Allied Powers acknowledged this union in the 1920 Treaty of Paris, which was not approved by all of its signatories. The emerging communist Russia refused to acknowledge Romanian authority over Bessarabia, seeing it as an occupation of Russian land.
The Bessarabian Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a government in exile in May 1919. Following the defeat of the Tatarbunary Uprising in 1924, Soviet Russia established the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian ASSR) on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR, which is now Transnistria.
World War II and Soviet era
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and its secret supplementary protocol were signed in August 1939, recognizing Nazi Germany’s recognition of Bessarabia as being within the Soviet sphere of influence, prompting the latter to aggressively renew its claim to the area. On June 28, 1940, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Romania demanding the cession of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, which Romania agreed with the next day. Soon after, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian SSR, MSSR) was formed, consisting of about 70% of Bessarabia and 50% of the now-defunct Moldavian ASSR. In 1940, ethnic Germans departed.
Romania acquired the regions of Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and Transnistria as part of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Working with the Germans, Romanian troops deported or murdered about 300,000 Jews, including 147,000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina. Approximately 90,000 people perished as a result of the latter. In February–August 1944, the Soviet Army re-captured the area and re-established the Moldavian SSR. 256,800 Moldavian SSR residents were conscripted into the Soviet Army between the conclusion of the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive in August 1944 and the end of the war in May 1945. 40,592 of them died.
Deportations of locals to the northern Urals, Siberia, and northern Kazakhstan happened on a regular basis throughout the Stalinist eras 1940–1941 and 1944–1953, with the biggest ones being on 12–13 June 1941 and 5–6 July 1949, accounting for 18,392 and 35,796 deportees from the MSSR alone. Other types of Soviet persecution of the people included political detention and, in 8,360 instances, death.
The southern portion of the USSR experienced a significant famine in 1946 as a consequence of a severe drought and high delivery quota requirements and requisitions enforced by the Soviet authorities. Historians in the Moldavian SSR alone accounted for at least 216,000 fatalities and perhaps 350,000 instances of dystrophy in 1946–1947. Similar occurrences happened in the Moldavian ASSR in the 1930s. There were numerous anti-Soviet resistance organizations in Moldova between 1944 and 1953, but the NKVD and subsequently the MGB ultimately arrested, executed, or deported its members.
Between the postwar era, the Soviet authorities coordinated the immigration of working-age Russian speakers (primarily Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians) into the new Soviet republic, particularly into metropolitan areas, to compensate for the population loss caused by the war and emigration in 1940 and 1944. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Moldavian SSR got significant budgetary allocations from the USSR to build industrial and scientific institutions, as well as housing. In 1971, the USSR Council of Ministers issued a resolution titled “About Measures for Further Development of the City of Kishinev” (modern Chișinău), allocating more than one billion Soviet rubles from the USSR budget for construction projects.
Based on a notion established during the existence of the Moldavian ASSR, the Soviet authorities launched a campaign to promote a Moldovan ethnic identity distinct from that of the Romanians. Official Soviet policy claimed that the Moldovan language was different from the Romanian language. To differentiate the two, Moldovan was written in the Cyrillic script throughout the Soviet era, while Romanian had been written in the Latin alphabet since 1860.
All independent groups were harshly punished, with National Patriotic Front leaders serving lengthy jail sentences in 1972. The Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Moldova is evaluating the communist totalitarian regime’s activities.
In the 1980s, under the political circumstances produced by glasnost and perestroika, the Democratic Movement of Moldova was founded, afterwards renamed the Nationalist Popular Front of Moldova in 1989. (FPM).
 Moldova, along with many other Soviet republics, began to seek independence in 1988. The FPM planned a large protest in Chișinău on August 27, 1989, which became known as the Grand National Assembly. The parliament pushed the Moldavian SSR’s authorities to pass a language legislation on August 31, 1989, declaring the Moldovan language written in Latin script to be the MSSR’s official language. It also developed its identity with the Romanian language. In November 1989, when resistance to the Communist Party increased, there were massive riots.
In February and March of 1990, the first democratic elections for the local parliament were conducted. Mircea Snegur was elected Speaker of Parliament, and Mircea Druc was appointed Prime Minister. On June 23, 1990, the Parliament passed the Declaration of Sovereignty of the “Soviet Socialist Republic Moldova,” which established, among other things, the superiority of Moldovan laws over Soviet Union legislation. Following the collapse of the Soviet coup d’état attempt in 1991, Moldova proclaimed its independence on August 27, 1991, with Romania becoming the first state to recognize it.
Moldova, along with the majority of the other Soviet republics, signed the foundational act that established the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States on December 21, the same year (CIS). On December 25, Moldova was granted formal recognition. The Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 26, 1991. Moldova declared itself a neutral state and did not join the CIS military branch. Three months later, on March 2, 1992, the nation was granted official UN recognition as an independent state. Moldova joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and the Council of Europe on June 29, 1995.
Transnistria, which includes a large proportion of predominantly russophone East Slavs of Ukrainian (28%) and Russian (26%) descent (altogether 54 percent as of 1989), while Moldovans (40%) have been the largest ethnic group, and where the headquarters and many units of the Soviet 14th Guards Army were stationed, an independent Pristine Republic was established. Fear about the growth of nationalism in Moldova, as well as the country’s anticipated reunion with Romania after its independence from the USSR, motivated this action. Conflicts erupted between Transnistrian troops, backed by parts of the 14th Army, and Moldovan police in the winter of 1991–1992. The dispute erupted into a military confrontation between March 2 and July 26, 1992.
Moldova implemented a market economy on January 2, 1992, liberalizing prices, resulting in significant inflation. From 1992 to 2001, the nation had a severe economic downturn, with the majority of the people living in poverty. To replace the interim cupon, the government established a new national currency, the Moldovan leu, in 1993. Moldova’s economy started to shift in 2001, and the nation saw consistent yearly growth of 5% to 10% until 2008. In the early 2000s, there was also a significant increase in emigration of Moldovans seeking work (mostly illegally) in Russia (particularly the Moscow region), Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and other countries; remittances from Moldovans abroad account for nearly 38 percent of Moldova’s GDP, the second-highest percentage in the world after Tajikistan (45 percent ).
The Democratic Agrarian Party won a majority of parliamentary seats in 1994, marking a watershed moment in Moldovan politics. With the nationalist Popular Front being in legislative minority, new measures aimed at reducing racial tensions in the country may be implemented. Plans for a union with Romania were scrapped, and the new Constitution granted Transnistria and Gagauzia autonomy. The Parliament of Moldova passed a “Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia” on December 23, 1994, and the latter was established in 1995.
Following his victory in the 1996 presidential elections, Petru Lucinschi, the former First Secretary of the Moldavian Communist Party in 1989–91, was elected as the country’s second president (1997–2001), replacing Mircea Snegur (1991–1996). The Constitution was modified in 2000, converting Moldova into a parliamentary republic with the president elected indirectly rather than directly by popular vote.
With 49.9 percent of the vote, the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (reestablished in 1993 after being banned in 1991) won 71 of the 101 MPs and elected Vladimir Voronin as the country’s third president on April 4, 2001. (re-elected in 2005). The nation became the first post-Soviet state to re-establish a non-reformed Communist Party in power. Vasile Tarlev (19 April 2001 – 31 March 2008) and Zinaida Greceanîi (31 March 2008 – 14 September 2009) established new administrations. Relations between Moldova and Russia improved in 2001–2003, but then briefly worsened in 2003–2006 as a result of the Kozak memorandum’s failure, culminating in the 2006 wine exports crisis. The Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova remained in power for eight years. The fracturing of the liberal coalition (also known as the Democrats) aided in its consolidation of power. The Communist Party began to collapse in 2009, when Marian Lupu joined the Democratic Party, attracting many of the Communist Party’s supporters.
The Communist Party received 49.48 percent of the votes in the April 2009 legislative elections, followed by the Liberal Party with 13.14 percent, the Liberal Democratic Party with 12.43 percent, and the Alliance “Moldova Noastră” with 9.77 percent. The contentious election results prompted social unrest.
In August 2009, four Moldovan parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Democratic Party, and Our Moldova Alliance – agreed to form a governing coalition, thus putting the Communist Party in opposition. This alliance elected a new parliament speaker (Mihai Ghimpu) on August 28, 2009, in a vote boycotted by Communist lawmakers. Vladimir Voronin, Moldova’s President since 2001, resigned on September 11, 2009, but the Parliament failed to elect a new president. Acting President Mihai Ghimpu established the Commission for Constitutional Reform in Moldova in order to approve a new version of the Moldovan Constitution. Following the failure of the constitutional referendum to ratify the change in September 2010, the parliament was dissolved once again, and a new parliamentary election was planned for November 28, 2010. Marian Lupu was elected Speaker of the Parliament on December 30, 2010. He will serve as the Republic of Moldova’s Acting President in line with the Constitution. On 30 May 2013, the Pro-European Coalition was established after the Alliance for European Integration was defeated in a no-confidence vote.
Moldova’s central bank seized control of Banca de Economii, the country’s biggest lender, as well as two smaller banks, Banca Sociala and Unibank, in November 2014. Investigations into the operations of these three banks revealed a large-scale theft of money totaling about $1 billion US dollars via fraudulent loans to company companies owned by a Moldovan/Israeli tycoon, Ilan Shor. The enormous magnitude of the crime in comparison to the size of the Moldovan economy, as well as the hopelessness that the money, now believed to be in offshore bank accounts, will be retrieved, are considered to be influencing Moldovan politics in favor of the pro-Russian Socialist Party. Shor was still at loose in 2015, after a spell of house imprisonment.
Following a period of political unrest and widespread public demonstrations, a new government headed by Pavel Filip was installed in January 2016. Petras Autreviius, MEP, remarked on Moldova’s trust issue during a later EU visit: “Stealing a billion dollars! … You’ll need a lot of bags to transport that money… I hope the names of those responsible are made public…. Corruption in Moldova is a political illness, a sickness that has become systemic and touches all levels of authority… it is destroying the nation from within “.. During the visit, similar concerns were expressed about statewide corruption, the independence of the judiciary, and the intransparency of the banking system; Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle also expressed concern about the alleged influence of Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc over the Pavel government.