Moldova is a landlocked nation in Eastern Europe located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south.
It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991 as part of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. On 29 July 1994, the new constitution of Moldova was adopted. A strip of Moldova's internationally recognized territory on the east bank of the river Dniester has been under the de facto control of the breakaway government of Transnistria since 1990.
The nation is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. Moldova is a member state of the United Nations, Council of Europe, WTO, OSCE, GUAM, CIS, BSEC and other international organizations. Moldova currently aspires to join the European Union, and has implemented the first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
The Constitution of 1994 states that the national language of the Republic of Moldova is Moldovan, and its writing is based on the Latin alphabet. The 1991 Declaration of Independence names the official language Romanian. The 1989 State Language Law speaks of a Moldovan-Romanian linguistic identity.
There is a political controversy over the name of the main ethnicity of the Republic of Moldova. During 2003–2009, the Communist government adopted a national political conception which states that one of the priorities of the national politics of the Republic of Moldova is the insurance of the existence of the Moldovan language. Scholars agree that Moldovan and Romanian are the same language, with the glottonym "Moldovan" used in certain political contexts.
Russian is provided with the status of a "language of interethnic communication" (alongside the official language), and in practice remains widely used on all levels of the society and the state. The above-mentioned national political conception also states that Russian-Moldovan bilingualism is characteristic for Moldova.
As of the 2004 census, the country has significant Russian (6%) and Ukrainian (8.4%) populations. 50% of ethnic Ukrainians, 27% of Gagauz, 35% of Bulgarians, and 54% of smaller ethnic groups speak Russian as first language. In total, there are 541,000 people (or 16% of the population) in Moldova who use Russian as first language, including 130,000 ethnic Moldovans. On the other hand, 47,000 members of ethnic minorities use Romanian as first language.
Gagauz and Ukrainian have significant regional speaker populations and are granted official status together with Russian in Gagauzia and Transnistria respectively.