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Culture & People


The culture of Moldova is a combination of Romanian culture and Soviet culture. The traditional Latin origins of Romanian culture reach back to the 2nd century, the period of Roman colonisation in Dacia.

During the centuries following the Roman withdrawal in 271, the population of the region was influenced by contact with the Byzantine Empire, neighbouring Slavic, Magyar and other smaller populations, and later by the Ottoman Turks. Beginning in the 19th century, a strong West European (particularly French) influence came to be evident in Romanian literature and the arts. The resulting mixture has produced a rich cultural tradition. Although foreign contacts were an inevitable consequence of the region's geography, their influence only served to enhance a vital and resilient popular culture.

The population of what once was the Principality of Moldavia had come to identify itself widely as "Moldovan" by the 14th century, but continued to maintain close cultural links with other Romanian groups. After 1812, the eastern Moldavians, those inhabiting Bessarabia and Transnistria, were also influenced by the Slavic culture

By 1918, Bessarabia was one of the least developed, and least educated European regions of the Russian Empire. In 1930, its literacy rate was only 40%, according to a Romanian census, itself a huge increase from 12% some 30 years earlier under the Russian Empire. Especially low was the literacy rate for women: less than 10% in 1918 to just under 50% in 1940. Although Soviet authorities promoted education, they also did everything they could to break the region's cultural ties with Romania. With many ethnic Romanian intellectuals, either fleeing, being killed after 1940, or being deported both during and after World War II, Bessarabia's cultural and educational situation worsened. The country became more Russified.

After 1960s, Soviet authorities developed urban cultural and scientific centers and institutions that were subsequently filled with Russians, and with other non-Romanian ethnic groups, but this culture was superimposed and alien. Much of the urban culture came from Moscow; the rural ethnic Romanian population was allowed to express itself only in folklore or folk art.


The most important work of early literature is the ballad Mioriţa. Oral literature and folklore were prevalent until the 19th century. This and the classical Moldovan literature of the 19th century can hardly be distinguished from Romanian literature.

The first Moldovan books, religious texts, appeared in the mid-17th century. Prominent figures in Moldova's cultural development include Metropolitans Varlaam and Dosoftei, Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin, Metropolitan of Kiev Petru Movilă, scholars Nicolae Milescu-Spãtaru, Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), and Ion Neculce, Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni, Alexandru Hîjdău, Alexandru Donici, Constantin Stamati, Costache Negruzzi, historian and philologist Bogdan P. Hasdeu (1836-1907) and author Ion Creangă (1837-1889). Cantemir wrote the first thorough geographical, ethnographical and economic description of the country in Descriptio Moldaviae (Berlin, 1714). The greatest Romanian writer, Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889), was born in the western part of Moldova and is perceived by Moldovans as part of their national heritage.

Other renowned Moldovan writers include Alexei Mateevici, the author of the poem Limba Noastră and the playwright Vasile Alecsandri.

Contemporary writers and poets include Vladimir Beşleagă, Pavel Boţu, Aureliu Busuioc, Nicolae Dabija, Ion Druţă, Victor Teleucă, Leonida Lari, Dumitru Matcovschi and Grigore Vieru. In 1991, a total of 520 books were published in Moldova, of which 402 were in Romanian, 108 in Russian, eight in Gagauz, and two in Bulgarian.

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