Moldova is a country located in the northeastern corner of the Balkans in Europe. It is wedged between Ukraine (which borders the country on the north, east and south) and Romania (to the west). Moldova is dominated by hills, sloping slightly southward towards the Black Sea. These verdant rolling hills make up the Moldavian Plateau, which are part of the Carpathian Mountains. The Dniester river takes up a small part of this country’s border with Ukraine, while the Prut river takes up the entire border with Romania. The Nistru and Byk are two additional important rivers in Moldova.
Moldova has a moderately continental climate, with slight variations near the Black Sea. The summers are hot and lengthy, with an average temperature of between 20ºC and 25ºC, though powerful heat waves can raise the temperature to a sweltering 40ºC! Winter is cold and dry, with temperatures during the day of between -7ºC and -4ºC. On particularly cold days, temperatures can sometimes fall beneath -10ºC. Moldova’s rainiest months are in the early summer and in October. Rain is heaviest near the coast of the Black sea.
Moldova is famous for its winemaking industry; the country has been growing vineyards for nearly 5,000 years and is currently one of the top 12 wine exporters in the world. One of Moldova’s most famous citizens is Cleopatra Stratan, who was the youngest artist to receive an MTV award. Moldova is also a nature lover’s paradise, with over 40 parks to its name. The biggest is Taul, a park built around a stunning manor house belonging to the prominent Pommer family and designed by renowned architect, I.V. Vladislavschi-Padalco.
Owing to its strategic location between Asia and the south of Europe, Moldova has been invaded by various civilisations, including the Romans, Greeks, and Huns. After enjoying its independence under Stefan the Great, the territory was conquered and came to form part of the Ottoman Empire. The Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) saw the Ottomans clash with the Eastern Orthodox alliance led by the Russians and comprising Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria. The result was the division of Moldova into east (governed by Russia) and west (remaining under Turkish control). In 1918, Russia took over the west as well. During World War II, Germany (aided by the Romanians) crossed the border in Moldavia (then known as Bessarabia) and deported the Jewish population. Many of the latter perished. In 1944, the Russians once again took Moldavia as their own. In 1990, Moldova declared its independence following the demise of the Soviet Union.
Because of Moldova’s unique location, it is home to typically Western European flora (such as cherry, beech and walnut trees), as well as plant life normally found in continental dry climates (such as sheep fescue, ground cherry and feather grass). The Moldovan steppe contains large oak and oak-hornbeam forests, as well as meadow steppes and various types of herbs. Moldovian fauna includes the red deer, badger, ermine, and beaver rat. The wetlands of the Lower Dniester and Prut include various types of sandpiper, herons, greylag geese and pintails.
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