Moldovans, or Moldavians (original name: Moldoveni; Молдовень in the Moldovan Cyrillic script, used nowadays only in Transnistria) are the native population in, depending on one's interpretation, all or part of the lands that correspond to the former Principality of Moldavia. The first chronicle Descriptio Moldaviae attesting of Moldavians dates back to the beginning of the 18th century, which itself describes Moldavians as of the XIVth century .
Moldovans constitute 76.1% of the population of Moldova
. In the breakaway region of Transnistria
, in the eastern part of the country, they compose a plurality
with 31.9% of the population. In the Republic of Moldova
, the term Moldovans
is used to officially denote an ethnicity separate from Romanians
A 1992 survey by American professor William Crowther, showed that 87% of the Romance-speaking population of Moldova considers itself "Moldovan", rather than the "Romanian". Also, according to a 2002 study, among self-declared Moldovans, more than 80% consider themselves as different from Romanians, and only 5% see no difference.
Other former Soviet republics
The 2001 census in Ukraine
counted 258,600 Moldovans. They live mostly in the Budjak
region or south-west Odessa Oblast
and the Novoselytskyi Raion
, but also in other areas of Odessa Oblast
, bordering the Republic of Moldova
In Russia 172,330 Moldovans have been counted on the 2002 Russian census. Moldovans are concentrated mostly in Moscow, but also in some rural areas in Kuban and in southern Siberia.
Around 20,000 Moldovans live in Kazakhstan, mostly in Almaty, the former Kazakh capital an in some rural areas in the northern part of the country.
It should be noted that in all these countries, people who declared themselves "Romanians" were counted separately from Moldovans in the official censae results.
claims that in Romania
, some six or seven million people consider themselves to be "Moldovans" as an integral part of, not distinct from, the Romanian nation
. In 2007 a group of Romanian citizens have attempted to seek official recognition of the minority status for the Moldovans in Romania. Around the same time, during a visit of three delegates of this movement in Moldova, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin
spoke of 10 million Moldovans living in the neighbouring country, though this number may be exaggerated. The number of people that declared themselves Moldovans
in the last Romanian census is unknown due to the fact that citizens stating their regional identities were officially classified as Romanians
Until the 1920s, specialists generally considered the Moldovans a subgroup or regional group of the Romanian ethnos. After 1924, Soviet authorities began to emphasize a distinct Moldovan language, history and culture, and to support the claim that Moldovans constitute a separate ethnic group.
Soviet policy on the Moldovan language was not constant: there were two intervals (1932-1937 and in the mid-1950s) during which the Soviet scholars declared the unity between the two languages.
Numerous Romanians, as well as a part of the Moldovan population, claim that external interference rather than any actual differences led to Moldova's increasingly separate identity. Despite this, Moldovans have pressed for recognition of an ethnic Moldovan identity, separate from that of Romanians. In the 2004 census, out of the 3,383,332 people living in Moldova, 16.5% (558,508) chose Romanian as their mother tongue, whereas 60% chose Moldovan. While 37% of all urban Romanian/Moldovan speakers chose Romanian as their mother tongue, in the countryside this percentage was just under 15.
The major denomination
in both Moldova and Romania is Eastern Orthodox Christianity
. The difference between Moldova and Romania is the acceptance of different bishop authority (see Eastern Orthodox Church organization
), expressed as affiliation to distinct autocephalous
churches (respectively Russian and Romanian) within the Eastern Orthodox communion
. Basically, there is an in Moldova ongoing politically charged bishop territorial jurisdiction and administrative succession issue which, from an ecclesiastical point of view, is subject to canon laws
(not a faith related, theological, or denominational
difference). Thus, most Eastern Orthodox in Moldova belong to the autonomous Moldovan Orthodox Church
, which depends on the Russian Orthodox Church
. Immediately after Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union (1991), the Romanian Orthodox Church
reactivated a previous structure, forming the autonomous Metropolis of Bessarabia
(1992), which was officially recognized only in 2002. The dispute's subject is the succession of the pre-WWII
of Bessarabia. The Supreme Court of Moldova ruled in favor of the Moldovan Orthodox Church, while the European Court of Human Rights
- in favor of the Metropolis of Bessarabia. This remains an open issue between the Russian and Romanian Orthodox Churches. As of 2007, the Moldovan Orthodox Church has 1255 parishes, while the Metropolis of Bessarabia has 219.
Moldovan ethnos theory and the Romanian identity
Moldovan ethnos theory
In the past, the term Moldavian
has been used to refer to the population of the historical Principality of Moldavia. However the term had gained an ethnic connotation by the 20th century: in May 1917, at a congress of the Bessarabian teachers, a dispute arose over the identification of the people from Bessarabia: a group protested against being called "Romanians", affirming they were "not Romanian", but "Moldavian, while another group, led by Alexei Mateevici
, supported the view that the Moldavians are part of the Romanian nation.
After 1924, this direction was supported by Soviet sociologists, against the one that claimed identity between Moldovans and Romanians. On December 19, 2003, the Moldovan Parliament adopted "The Concept on National Policy of the Republic of Moldova" which pro-Romanian critics have accused as a revival of the Soviet-style Moldovenist theories. The document states that Moldovans and Romanians are two distinct peoples that speak two similar languages, Romanians form an ethnic minority in Moldova, and that the Republic of Moldova is the legitimate successor to the Principality.
On the other side of the debate, the arguments go that the self-designation of Romanians
living in Transylvania
and the Principality of Moldova
as Romans is mentioned in scholarly works as early as the 16th century, such as works of Italian
humanists traveling to those lands. Thus, Tranquillo Andronico writes in 1534 that Vlachs
"now call themselves Romans". In 1532, Francesco della Valle accompanying Governor Aloisio Gritti to Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia
notes that Romanians
preserved the name of the Romans (Romani
) and "they call themselves in their language Romei
". Ferrante Capeci writes around 1575 that the inhabitants of these countries call themselves “Romanesci”
, Other evidence about the name "Romanians" comes from authors having lived in the these principalities
, such as Anton Verancsics, who writes around 1570 that Romanians living in Transylvania, Moldavia
and Wallachia call themselves "Romans
As the appellative "Romanian" was gaining more and more popularity throughout the western Ottoman-dominated Moldavia during the 19th century, its introduction in Bessarabia, a province of the Russian Empire at the time, was welcomed mostly by the Romanian-oriented elite, while the majority of local population continued to use the old ethnonym "Moldavians".
, there was no Moldovan ethnicity reported in the 2002 census because people whose self-identification is considered regional by the Romanian government having been counted as Romanians.
In the CIA World Factbook
section on Moldova, a single entry "Moldovan/Romanian" is used.
A group of international census experts observing the 2004 Moldovan census had stated that "the census had been generally conducted in a professional manner", however, they also identified certain problems in the collection of data for this census, among others in the domain of nationality and language. Experts have noted that large part of the population has responded spontaneously, however they have reported some cases when the census enumerators have encouraged respondents to declare that they were "Moldovans" rather than "Romanians". According to BBC, European observers that monitored the 2004 Moldovan census contested the data about the spoken language and the ethnic affiliation in reference to Moldovan-Romanian debate, noting that these data can not be considered as expressing the truth.
- Matthew H. Ciscel (2007) The Language of the Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and Identity in an Ex-Soviet Republic", ISBN 0739114433 - About the identity of the contemporary Moldovans in the context of debates about the their language.
- King, C. (2000) The Moldovans: Romania, Russia and the Politics of Culture, Hoover Institution Press, ISBN 0-8179-9792-X.