Land and People
Moldova is landlocked. The Prut River separates it from Romania in the west. In the north and east, the Dniester River forms its approximate boundary with Ukraine, on which it also borders in the south; in the east there is a narrow strip of Moldovan terrritory between the Dniester and the Ukraine border (the predominantly Russian and Ukrainian Trans-Dniester Region). Mostly a hilly plain, Moldova occupies all but the southernmost and northernmost sections of former Bessarabia. Its proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild climate.
More than 75% of the population are Moldovans, who are ethnically identical to Romanians; Ukrainians and Russians make up about 15%, and there are several smaller minorities, including the Turkish-speaking Gagauz, Bulgarians, and Jews. Most of the people belong to the Orthodox Church, and legislation passed in 2007 recognized the Orthodox Church for its special role in Moldovan history and society. The official language, which has been called alternately Moldovan or Romanian, is largely indistinguishable from Romanian.