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People, Language & Religion


Moldovans/Romanians are the largest ethnic group in Moldova. According to the combined data of the census in the government controlled area and the census in Transnistria in 2004 they account for 71.5%. The proportion of Ukrainians and Russians decreased considerably in comparison to the last Soviet-census in 1989: from 13.8% to 11.2% and from 13.0% to 9.4%. This is mostly due to emigration. Ukrainians mostly live in the east (Transnitria) and the north, while Russians mostly live in urban areas: 27% of all Russians live in Chisinau, 18% live in Tiraspol, 11% in Tigana and 6% in Bălţi. The Gagauzians are the fourth ethnic group (3.8% in 2004). Most of them live in the south of Moldova in the autonomous region of Gagauzia.


Moldovan, the official language, is considered a dialect of Romanian rather than a separate language. It is derived from Latin but, unlike the other Romance languages, preserved the neuter gender and a system of three cases. There are a large number of Slavonic-derived words. Under Soviet rule the language was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but Roman script was restored in 1989. Russian and Gagauz, a Turkish dialect, are also spoken.


Though there is no state religion, the Moldovan Orthodox Church has a privileged status with the state. Over 90% of the population belong to one of two Orthodox denominations: the Moldovan Orthodox or the Bessarabian Church. About 3.6% of the population belongs to the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers). Other Christian denominations include Roman Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Mormons. The Jewish community has about 31,300 members. There are also communities of Muslims and Baha'is.




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