Unless you’re not good at geography, you’d probably be surprised to learn that there’s even a country named Moldova that’s located in Europe. If you haven’t heard about Moldova, don’t feel too bad, it’s probably Europe’s least famous country as it’s one of the least visited countries in the world. However, there are a lot of fascinating facts about Moldova that everyone should know. That’s why we decided to write this article; to teach you some fun facts about Moldova and introduce you to this beautiful country.
General Fun Facts About Moldova
Let’s start with some basics about the country of Moldova.
Flag & Coat of Arms
The Moldovan flag consists of vertical blue, yellow, and red stripes with the coat of arms of Moldova in the middle. The obverse is a mirrored version of the reverse and the flag ratio is 1:2.
Moldova’s coat of arms consists of a shield divided into two horizontal parts; an upper part consisting of red chromatics and a lower part consisting of blue chromatics with an imposed auroch’s head between the two parts. If you don’t know what an auroch is, don’t worry, we’ll explain it below, just keep reading…
Formally, Moldova is a unitary parliamentary representative democratic republic whose governance framework is defined by the 1994 Constitution of Moldova. However, in practice, things are more complicated but more about this below…
Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe that consists mostly of hilly plains between the rivers of Prut and Dniester. The country is one of five European countries to have only two neighbors (Estonia, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Andora). In Moldova’s case, the two neighboring countries are Romania and Ukraine.
The country covers an area of 13,068 square miles (33,843 square kilometers) and most of it consists of fertile lands. The highest point is Bălăneşti Hill at 1,411 ft while the lowest point is Nistru at 6.6 ft.
Roughly three-quarters of the country’s territory is covered by agricultural landscape while the rest consists of forestland (around 15%) and wetlands (around 4%).
The main industries of Moldova include sugar, wine, vegetable oil, food processing, textiles, refrigerators, washing machines, and agricultural machinery. No surprise having in mind that roughly ¾ of the country’s territory consists of agricultural lands.
The main natural resources of Moldova are lignite, gypsum, limestone, phosphorites, and of course- arable land.
Moldova’s monetary unit is Leu. Don’t confuse this with the Romanian Leu that has the same name but is worth roughly 4 times more at the time of writing this article. One euro can be exchanged for roughly 20 Moldovan Leu ($1 USD will equal roughly 18 Moldovan Leu).
Most people in Moldova are Orthodox Christians (roughly 94%). The rest consists of unspecified (2%), Catholics (1.2%), Baptists (1%), other(0.8%), and none/atheists (+-1%).
That being said, let’s show you some more fun facts about Moldova.
Roadway Networks Length: 9359 kilometers
Railway Networks Length: 1157 kilometers
Waterways: 410 kilometers
Land Boundaries: 1885 kilometers
Airports: 1- in the capital Chisinau
It’s The Least Visited Country In Europe
With 150,000- 180,000 international arrivals per year, Moldova is convincingly the least visited country in Europe and one of the least visited countries in the world. This is surprising having in mind how easy it’s for Europeans to travel to other countries on the continent. To be fair, the number of international arrivals was increasing between 2010 and 2020 but after the world pandemic, the number of international visitors in Moldova is on the decline again.
We still believe that Moldova is an amazing and underrated country and hopefully, this list of fun facts about Moldova will give you some reasons to visit. One of my personal favorite reasons to visit Moldova is…
Moldova has more than 112,000 hectares (276,000 acres) of vineyards planted across the country. There are four historical wine regions- Codru (central Moldova), Stefan Voda (southeast Moldova), Valuj luj Trajan (southwest Moldova0, and Balti (northern Moldova). Moldovans take pride in their winemaking history that dates back to 3,000 B.C. In fact, Moldovans are so crazy about wine that they even have…
A Whole Underground Wine City
The Cricova Underground City is a symbol of Moldovan winemaking. The galleries of Cricova stretch for over 70 kilometers. Within Cricova, there are numerous streets that are named after different types of wine, such as Dionis, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Feteasca, etc. This city is located around 10 kilometers away from the capital Chisinau. Inside, there are thousands of liters of wine, kept at perfect conditions- 12-14 ˚C and 97-98% humidity.
According to urban legends, world-renowned cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin visited the cellars in 1966 and he had to be assisted when leaving two days later (because he was too drunk). Another well-known fact is that Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his 50th birthday here.
Knowing this, you won’t be surprised that Moldova is also home to…
The World’s Largest Wine Cellar
The Guinness World Record for the largest wine cellar in the world belongs to Moldova’s Milestii Mici. This wine cellar keeps close to two million bottles of plonk in its vaults. The most valuable tipples in the collection sell as high as €480 per piece. The bottles are stored in 55 kilometers of underground galleries that were excavated during lime mining operations in the past that took place when Moldova was a part of the USSR. These facilities have been used for storing wine since 1968 with new vintages being added to the collection every year.
By this point, it’s clear; if you’re a wine lover, you will have an amazing time in Moldova (while we’re at it, here’s one of the best wine tours in Moldova; you’ll thank me later). And if that’s not enough to convince you, wait till you hear about…
The Day Dedicated To Wine
Yes, Moldovans love wine so much, they have a whole day dedicated to it. Well, actually, it’s two days (this is one of my favorite interesting facts about Moldova). Every year on the 3rd and 4th of October, wine producers from across the country open up their homes and vineyards to guests in a country-wide celebration of local hooch. On these two days, there are free buses taking visitors from one winery to the next and many wine tastings are up to 50% cheaper than they usually are.
Hearing this, it should come as no surprise that…
Moldova Is The Third-Booziest Nation On Earth
According to the WHO, Moldova is the second country in the world in alcohol consumption per capita. The average Moldovan drinks around 16-17 liters of alcohol per year, depending on the year (this excludes children under the age of 15). There are only two countries whose residents consume more alcohol per capita than Moldovans- Belarussians (17.5 liters per person per year) and Lithuanians (18 liters per person per year).
And when a country is a home to so many heavy drinkers, it’s also expected that…
It’s Home To The World’s Largest Bottle-Shaped Building
Unless you have a lot of free time on your hands, you likely never wondered where can you find the largest bottle-shaped building in the world but don’t worry, we have an answer for your anyway. The largest bottle-shaped building in the world can be found in Tirnauca in Moldova. The building is 28 meters tall and it houses the local Strong Drinks Museum, dedicated to (as you might have guessed), hard liquors.
Moldovan Wine Is Banned In Russia
Traditionally, the biggest market for the export of Moldovan wine was Russia. Since Moldova became a part of the Soviet Union until the early 2000s, Russia would consume up to 90% of Moldova’s annual wine exports. However, after a diplomatic dispute in the mid-2000s (2006 to be exact), Russia banned many products of Moldovan and Georgian origin, including wine. This was a hard blow for Moldova’s wine industry but the country is still one of the top 20 wine-producing countries in the world.
But enough about wine. There are a lot of more amazing things to see around here and a lot of other fun facts about Moldova that will make you want to visit. For example…
One Of The Oldest Monasteries In Europe
Orheiul Vechi is one of Moldova’s most important historical sites and arguably, the oldest monastery in Europe. This monastery is an open-air monastic complex that has been built more than 2,000 years ago. Sure, it’s not in its original shape today, but the crumbling ruins that feature monasteries, ancient fortifications, and other constructions are one of the most fascinating yet underrated historical sites in Europe.
Largest Monastery In Eastern Europe
Located along the rocky shore of the Nistru River, the Tipova Cave Monastery is the largest monastery in Eastern Europe. The monastery dates back to the 6th century AD but it has been abandoned for a long time before being restored in 1756. As you’re probably starting to realize, Moldova has a very rich history. Actually…
Its History Stretches Back For At Least A Millenia
Moldova has a handful of important archaeological sites (Orheiul Vechi, Trajan’s Wall, etc.) where excavations have found relics that date back to as early as 1.2 million years ago. The list of fascinating items that were found here features early weapons and tools from the Paleolithic era as well as jewelry, cooking utensils, and other artifacts from the Neolithic era.
Most Moldovans Speak 2 or 3 Languages
The official language of Moldova is Moldovan which is almost the same as Romanian. In addition to this, most people in Moldova also speak Russian, Gagauz, or both. If you’re wondering what in the world Gagauz is, don’t worry, we’ll cover that too.
Moldova Has A Critically Endangered Language
No, we don’t mean the Moldovan language that’s the official language of the country. We’re referring to Gagauz, a Turkic language that belongs to the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages. There are around 180,000 Gagauz people left in the world, out of which 120,000 live in Moldova. Their language is classified as critically endangered by UNESCO. This language is spoken in the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia.
And since we mentioned an autonomous region, one of the fun facts about Moldova that you probably didn’t know is that…
It Has A Breakaway Territory
And no, it’s not Gagauzia. Gagauzia is an autonomous region that’s a part of Moldova. The breakaway territory is Transnistria, a territory located in the east of Moldova that declared independence from Moldova in 1990, precipitating the War of Transnistria. Today, the region has its own border controls and currency but is not formally recognized by any members of the UN. It’s also probably the least developed part of Moldova and visiting will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time to the “glory days” of the Soviet Union.
But that’s enough about wars, autonomous regions, and breakaway territories. Let’s share a few words about the capital…
Its Name Isn’t Pronounced The Way You Think It Is
When reading the name Chisinau, it’s natural to pronounce it as chee-see-now but this is far from the right pronunciation. The city’s name actually pronounces kee-shuh-naw. But that’s not the only interesting fact about the capital…
It Was Completely Destroyed In 1940
1940 was not a very good year for Moldova’s capital. First, the city was invaded by the Red Army in June of 1940. After a few months (in October), the city suffered one of the most fearsome earthquakes in Moldova’s history that destroyed most of the city. And as if that was not enough a few months later, the city was bombed by the German armed forces. This is the main reason why you will not see many old buildings and landmarks in the capital.
The National Dish Is Porridge
Moldova’s national dish is Mămăligă which is basically a porridge made of yellow maize flour. Traditionally, it’s garnished with cottage cheese, pork rind, or sour cream and served alongside meat, fish, or hearty stews.
The National Animal Is Extinct
An auroch is a large extinct cattle species with a shoulder height of up to 180 cm (71 in) in bulls and 155 cm (61 in) in cows. The arouch happens to be the national animal of Moldova and can be seen on Moldova’s coat of arms. If you’re curious, you can find an auroch skeleton in the Ethnographic Museum of Moldova.
Speaking of animals, let’s share a few fun facts about Moldova and its animals.
For its size, Moldova has surprisingly rich wildlife. In Moldova, you can find, boars, badgers, wolves, deer, hare, muskrats, deer, wildcats, foxes, and more than 300 species of birds. The reason why Moldova has such rich and diverse wildlife is because of…
Close to 5% of Moldova’s total territory is protected. Most of this is covered by the country’s five nature reserves- Codru Natural Reservation, Lagoric Reservation, Padurea Domneasca (Royal Forest) Natural Reservation, Plaiul Fagului (Land Of Beeches) Natural Reservation, and Prutul De Jos (Lower Prut) Natural Reservation. In one of these nature reserves, you’ll also find…
One Of The Oldest Oak Trees In Europe
The largest nature reserve, the Royal Forest (Padurea Domneasca) that stretches across 6,032 hectares (14,905 acres) is home to one of the oldest oak trees in Europe. The tree can be found in the eastern part of the reserve and is more than 600 years old.
With so much of nature and protected areas, it’s no wonder that…
Most Of Moldova’s Land is Fertile
Close to 60% of Moldova’s land is arable which makes Moldova the fourth country with the most arable land as a percentage of its total territory. There are only three countries with more arable land (as a % of the total land) than Moldova- Bangladesh, Denmark, and Ukraine. The main reason for this is that close to three-quarters of Moldova is covered in fertile black soil locally known as chernozem.
If these interesting facts about Moldova are not enough and you need more reasons to visit, here’s one.
It’s Very Cheap
One-way ticket in the capital’s tramway costs 2 leu (around 10 cents), while a monthly pass will cost you no more than 10 euros. You can find decent accommodation for less than 30 euros per day. In total, a single person’s estimated monthly costs would not exceed $400. One of the main reasons why things are so cheap is because…
It’s The Poorest Country In Europe
Moldova has been Europe’s undisputed “champion” of poverty since its independence. With a GDP per capita of $4,551 USD, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe before Ukraine and Kosovo. This brings us to the next point…
Close to 20% of Moldova’s rural population lives in poverty. In the urban areas, the percentage is a lot lower; only 5% of people living in urban areas live in poverty. The main economic opportunities in Moldova are mostly limited to agriculture. Outside of this, the higher-paying jobs are concentrated in the bigger cities like Chisinau, Tiraspol, Bălți, and Bender.
Fortunately for Moldovans, things are getting better. The national poverty rate has dropped from 68% in 2000 to 12% in 2020.
This is one of the main reasons for…
Moldova’s Brain Drain Problem
In addition to poverty, Moldova also struggles with a phenomenon known as brain drain. This phenomenon means that many young, smart, and capable people are leaving the country looking for better opportunities elsewhere. This phenomenon affects mainly developing nations and it’s not surprising that Moldova, the poorest country in Europe suffers from brain drain. Unofficial estimates point out that nearly every fourth Moldovan works abroad. Most Moldovans take advantage of having dual Romanian citizenship that allows them to work in the EU countries.
However, not everything is so dark and gloomy over here. For example, one of my favorite fun facts about Moldova is that it has…
A Super-Fast Internet Connection
Out of all the countries in the world, Moldova has the third-best coverage of superfast internet in the world. Close to 90% of the people in Moldova have access to superfast gigabit internet access (meaning a speed of 1 GB per second).
Home To The Largest Village In Europe
In today’s era, most people want to get away from the village and seek better opportunities in the city. However, despite this, you would still expect the largest village in Europe to be located in some of the bigger countries of the old continent. However, that’s not the case. The largest village in Europe is Congaz. The village is located in the autonomous region of Gagauzia and is home to more than 12,500 residents.
Speaking of largest things, Moldova is also home to…
Europe’s Largest Jewish Cemetery
If you search for the largest Jewish Cemetery in Europe, you’ll probably come across The Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee in Germany. However, things are not that simple. Even many locals actually don’t know that there’s a large but abandoned Jewish cemetery that no one seems to be taking care of just outside of Chisinau. Up until the 19th century, the region of Bessarabia and the city of Chisinau were home to one of Europe’s most vibrant Jewish communities.
Estimates suggest that roughly 10-15% of Moldova’s total population was Jewish. Unfortunately, things went south in the 1930s and 1940s for Moldova’s Jewish community. It’s estimated that more than 147,000 Jewish Moldovans were deported to concentration camps and another 90,000 went missing. These abandoned graveyards are the last memory of Moldova’s once-vibrant Jewish community.
Home To One Of Europe’s Most Unlikely Tourist Attractions
Despite poverty being one of Moldova’s biggest problems, if you ever end up in the town of Soroca, you’ll see a completely different story. Here, residents have been flaunting their wealth for years by building fabulous homes, largely inspired by famous landmarks (i.e. St Peter’s Basilica of Saint Petersburg). Following these events, the town has been dubbed Gypsy Hill and has actually turned into a tourist attraction, as people come and go to see and admire the madcap architecture of Soroca.
Interestingly, even before it became famous, during the Soviet Union days Soroca was named…
The Gipsy Capital Of The World
For reasons that I honestly don’t understand, Soroca has been nicknamed the Gypsy capital of the world during the Soviet Union era. True, there are a few thousand Romani people living in Soroca and they do/did represent a majority of the population but I think that a much more appropriate example of a “gypsy capital of the world” would be the municipality of Shuto Orizari in Skopje that to this day is the only municipality in the world where Romani people have their own local governance. But that’s just my opinion.
To round up this list of interesting facts about Moldova, we have three more interesting facts that didn’t quite flow within the lines of this article but I decided to keep them here because they’re quite amusing.
For example, did you know that…
Moldova Went For Three Years Without Having A President?
Between 2009 and 2012, Moldova was stuck in political limbo. At the time, the president was elected by parliament, not through a popular vote. However, the difference between the main political blocs in Moldova was very tight and the majority couldn’t agree on a candidate for almost 3 years. In 2012, after 917 days of political gridlock, Moldova finally got a president again.
Shoes Go Off
With many Eastern European people, it’s customary to take your shoes off and Moldova is no exception. In Moldova, it’s actually offensive to walk into someone’s home with your shoes on unless told otherwise. Traditionally, after taking their shoes off, guests are always provided with slippers.
Quirky Birth Custom
Lastly, we round up this list of quirky fun facts about Moldova with an interesting birth tradition. Apparently, whenever a baby is born in Moldova, its first bath should always be given by the oldest lady on the father’s side of the family. During this custom, the lady puts flowers (for the baby to see pretty things in life), milk (so life would flow as easy as milk), honey (for life to be as sweet as possible), and even some money (open for interpretation) in the bathwater.
Helpful resources for visiting Moldova
Get up to 20% off on car rentals in Moldova by using this link.
Use this Booking special offer to get the best accommodation deals in Moldova.
Don’t forget to check whether you need a visa for Moldova. If you do, you can easily obtain it through Ivisa. I used their services in the past and I always recommend them.
Last but not least, don’t forget about travel insurance. Moldova is a relatively safe country but you never know what might happen to you when traveling. Also, travel insurance will likely be mandatory before entering Moldova (depending on where you are coming from). Personally, I always use World Nomads and I recommend them too. True, their services are more expensive than most average travel insurance providers but World Nomads has you covered no matter what, unlike most other travel insurance providers that have cheap packages but don’t provide coverage for a lot of emergencies.
How did you like these interesting facts about Moldova? Which one was the most surprising for you? Do you have any more fun facts about Moldova you think we didn’t share but should have? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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