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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Moldova

Ethnicity

Most of the people in Moldova claim to be either "Moldovan" or "Romanian," both of which are identical ethnically. There are also significant minority groups of Russians, Ukrainians, and to a lesser degree Roma (gypsies) and Gagauz. The Moldovans and Romanians, as an ethnic group, are somewhat unique in Europe; their closest relatives are minor groups found throughout the Balkan Peninsula and the difference between the two is based on identity, not genetics. The Russians and Ukrainians are eastern Slavic, the Roma are most closely related to the people of India, and the Gagauz are also Slavic, but are more genetically similar to the southern Slavs in the Balkan Peninsula.

Language

Moldovan is the official language of Moldova, but is a language identical to Romanian other than a few phonetic and vocabulary variations. Moldovan is a Romance language very closely related to Latin; it is written in the Latin script in most of the country, but in the region of Transnistria is commonly written in the Cyrillic script.

The Russians natively speak Russian and the Ukrainians generally speak both Ukrainian and Russian, but neither group tends to learn Moldovan, making Russian the de facto language of communication in the country, despite not having official status. The Gagauz speak a language called Gagauz, which is in the Turkish language family, but these people again tend to speak Moldovan or Russian. English and other popular international languages are rarely taught in Moldova, but are growing in popularity. Many young people today speak at least a minimal amount of English, but fluency is rare.

Religion

Almost the entire population of Moldova is Orthodox Christian (Moldovan Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, or Ukrainian Orthodox) including most of the Turkish-speaking Gagauz. There is also a very small Jewish population, which has significantly decreased since World War II, before which time Jews made up nearly half of Chisinau's population.

Orthodoxy is a Christian religion that claims to be the most loyal to the Christian faith and religion as it was described by Jesus and the Gospels in the New Testament. Christianity, including Orthodoxy, was founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD; various branches of Orthodoxy were officially recognized by governments long before Catholicism was recognized in the Roman Empire.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism have many of the same beliefs; both believe that there is a single God who created everything and a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins. However, Orthodoxy is very decentralized so each bishop oversees their local country or region, giving each orthodox country a different leader. In this way, no bishop has more power than any other, meaning the tenants and interpretations of the faith remain relatively unchanged. These beliefs are based on the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, in particular the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

This page was last updated: May, 2014