Moldova (, sometimes), officially the Republic of Moldova (Republica Moldova), is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south. The capital city is Chișinău.
Most of the Moldovan territory was a part of the Principality of Moldavia from the 14th century until 1812, when it was ceded to the Russian Empire by the Ottoman Empire (to which Moldavia was a vassal state) and became known as Bessarabia. In 1856, southern Bessarabia was returned to Moldavia, which three years later united with Wallachia to form Romania, but Russian rule was restored over the whole of the region in 1878. During the 1917 Russian Revolution, Bessarabia briefly became autonomous and then the independent Moldavian Democratic Republic until it was integrated into Romania in 1918 following a vote of its assembly. The decision was disputed by Soviet Russia, which in 1924 allowed the establishment, within the Ukrainian SSR, of a Moldavian autonomous republic (MASSR) on partial Moldovan-inhabited territories to the east of the Dniester. In 1940, as a consequence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Romania was compelled to cede Bessarabia to the Soviet Union, leading to the creation of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian SSR), which included the greater part of Bessarabia and the westernmost strip of the former MASSR.
On 27 August 1991, as the dissolution of the Soviet Union was under way, the Moldavian SSR declared independence and took the name Moldova. The Constitution of Moldova was adopted in 1994. The strip of the Moldovan territory on the east bank of the Dniester river has been under the de facto control of the breakaway government of Transnistria since 1990.
Due to a decrease in industrial and agricultural output following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the service sector has grown to dominate Moldova's economy and is over 60% of the nation's GDP. Its economy is the poorest in Europe in per capita terms and has the lowest Human Development Index in the continent. Moldova is also the least visited country in Europe by tourists with only 11,000 annually recorded visitors from abroad.
Moldova is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. It is a member state of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and aspires to join the European Union.
The name "Moldova" is derived from the Moldova River; the valley of this river served as a political centre at the time of the foundation of the Principality of Moldavia in 1359. The origin of the name of the river remains unclear. According to a legend recounted by Moldavian chroniclers Dimitrie Cantemir and Grigore Ureche, Prince Dragoș named the river after hunting an aurochs: following the chase, the prince's exhausted hound Molda drowned in the river. The dog's name, given to the river, extended to the Principality.
For a short time in the 1990s, at the founding of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the name of the current Republic of Moldova was also spelled "Moldavia". After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the country began to use the Romanian name, Moldova. Officially, the name Republic of Moldova is designated by the United Nations.