Moldova - Profile

 

Map of Moldova

Population: 4.4 million

Area: 33,844km2

Language: Moldovan/Romanian

Capital: Chişinău

Ethnic Groups:
  • Moldovan/Romanian 64.5%
  • Ukrainian 13.8%
  • Russian 13%
  • Other 8.7%
Religious Affiliation:
  • Eastern Orthodox 98%
  • Jewish 1.5%
  • Baptist and Other 0.5%

Income per capita: £ 433 (World Bank, 2006)

Percentage of children aged 7-14 who are "economically active": 33.5%

Population growth: -0.3% p.a.


Economic and Social Background
Moldova is Europe's poorest country, with average earnings just one-fortieth of those in the UK. Historically, it was part of Romania before being annexed by Russia in 1940. It gained independence in 1991 but its economy collapsed once it left the Soviet Union. Consequently, Moldovans now are poorer than 20 years ago. Social infrastructure is basic: just 1% of rural households have an indoor bathroom and 4% have sewage and running water systems. Life expectancy is 11 years less than in the UK.

In recent years Moldova has made some progress but its economy is heavily dependent on agriculture - its industrial region (Transnistria) has declared itself independent and was the scene of civil war in the early 1990s.

Moldova suffers from a range of social problems: whilst the capital is relatively prosperous, outside of Chisinau there is widespread poverty and unemployment (as high as 80% in some areas). 1 in 4 men leave the country to find work abroad and many children are sent to 'orphanages.' People trafficking, corruption and, especially, alcoholism are significant problems.

The Church in Moldova
Moldova is nominally an Eastern Orthodox country, but religious participation is low - perhaps 5% of the population. The exact relationship between evangelicals and the Orthodox Church varies across the country, from village to village.

For the last 10-15 years there has been steady growth in the number of evangelical believers in Moldova, and in many ways it is fertile ground for the gospel to be shared. Despite this growth, the number of evangelical believers remains low: as little as 0.5% of all Moldovans.

The Protestant church in Moldova is predominantly Baptist, although other denominations do exist. A genuinely Moldovan form of Christianity has emerged, one that is culturally relevant and led by Moldovan leaders. There remains a need for training of pastors, teaching materials and evangelism programmes, including youth ministry. Whilst most international mission work has focused in Chişinău, there is a need for culturally appropriate outreach in rural areas.