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  • Hey everybody, so once again just like the last episode,

  • I was stupid and I booked the wrong day at the YouTube space

  • so this episode was filmed in my house.

  • The audio quality is not gonna be as good, a black backdrop is totally visible.

  • But hey, we got some good information in this episode.

  • Oh and you can get one of these shirts: The blood of those who fight for the freedom

  • Geographynow.com

  • Anyway. Enjoy the episode.

  • Imagine a person who speaks Russian, is Orthodox, eats borscht

  • and lives in a state that is slowly trying to introduce market enterprise in a partial state-run system.

  • Chances are, you're a Russian right?

  • Nope, Latin.

  • At least in Moldova.

  • *Intro*

  • It's time to learn Geography... NOW!!!

  • Everyone, I'm your host Barb's.

  • If you don't include microstates,

  • Moldova is the European country with the least amount of visitors.

  • And even then, Monaco, a microstate gets like three times more visitors.

  • This episode is gonna be very fun.

  • Because if you know me, I love diving into the obscure under-represented regions of the planet that need publicity boosts!

  • So be honored, because today,

  • you're about to enter the "Bob Saget of Europe".

  • (Political Geography)

  • Most people in the world probably won't be able to tell you where Moldova is on the map.

  • If you can, congratulations, you're probably Moldovan.

  • First of all

  • The country is landlocked, located in Eastern Europe, bordered by Romania to the west

  • and Ukraine to the north, east and south.

  • Yes, Ukraine, even took this one mile wide quarter on the Lower Dniester national park

  • cutting off the closest access they COULD HAVE HAD to the Black Sea.

  • The country is divided into 32 districts, with the capital and largest city, Chișinău,

  • located in the south center of the country.

  • In addition, they have three municipality cities:

  • Chișinău itself being one, along with Bălți and Bender

  • as well as two strange autonomous territorial units:

  • Gagauzia and Transnistria, we'll talk more about these later.

  • The country has only one main International airport: Chișinău International

  • Otherwise

  • Smaller uncertified or partially certified airports can be found in places like Bălți andrculești.

  • Now after Chișinău,

  • if you consider Transnistria part of Moldova,

  • then the city of Tiraspol, their capital, would be the second largest one.

  • Otherwise, Bălți would be next.

  • And speaking of which - let's just get it over with:

  • What exactly are those two strange autonomous guys: Transnistria and Gagauzia?

  • Well in the simplest way I can put it:

  • Both of these places are a little more Russian influence from the rest of Moldova

  • as if Moldova wasn't already Russian influence enough but to begin with but we'll talk about that later.

  • Gagauzia is kind of like a more truly autonomous state

  • in the fact that the people are culturally distinct with a Turkic Orthodox Christian background.

  • They speak their own language, Gagauz.

  • Its split into four separate enclaves made up of these localities that have over 50% Gagauz populations

  • including this small two-mile wide plot of farmland next to Carbalia.

  • Even though they politically disagree with Moldova

  • as in they've threatened that if Moldova tries to join the EU, they would opt out for independence and side with Russia.

  • Regardless they are actually pretty chilled. You can visit and easily take pictures.

  • See if you can get to one of those "Welcome to Gagauzia" signs on the road.

  • Transnistria on the other hand is a little more tricky.

  • They actually have declared independence in 1992, which has led to military conflict in the 90s.

  • After a ceasefire was established, they set up rules.

  • But today it lies in a frozen conflict zone status.

  • Today, they have their own government, military, police, postal system, currency, vehicle registration.

  • You even have to show your passport before crossing the border.

  • And with about a third of the population being Russian.

  • It's no surprise that they side with Russia and have Russian peacekeepers to maintain the border security.

  • Yeah, I know insert your opinion in the comments below.

  • You can find lots of Soviet style symbols in their streets.

  • In fact, they're the only state in the world that still uses the former USSR hammer and sickle in their flag.

  • Russia: Whoa, we started that and even we don't have that anymore.

  • Transnistria: Yeah, I'm just such a fan of your early work, you know!

  • Some notable spots of interest might include places like:

  • He's like the hero of the nation

  • The sites of Old Orhei

  • So many monasteries like these

  • The State Circus in Chișinău

  • And probably the most iconic landmark: the underground wine city of

  • The Guinness world record largest wine collection in the world with over 120 kilometers of tunnels and corridors.

  • Yeah, they love wine.

  • Let's talk more about resources and such in:

  • (Physical Geography)

  • Now if you don't know anything about Moldova's land.

  • One thing you definitely should know is:

  • WINE.

  • Most houses in the countryside and even some of the cities have wine cellars.

  • It's kind of like what saunas are to Finland.

  • Finland: Huh. great analogy. Yeah, I get it.

  • First of all

  • Moldova's land is mostly situated between the two longest rivers of the country:

  • The Prut which makes up the entire western border with Romania

  • and the Dniester with Ukraine

  • but then was Transnistria a series of arbitrary lines through flat farm fields goals passed the river.

  • Hence, where the name Transnistria comes from, "Across the Dniester".

  • The country is made up of small short forested hills cut by numerous creeks and rivers.

  • The tallest point being only 430 meters high, Bălănești hill

  • and all of which are part of the Moldovan plateau

  • which extends into the larger Carpathian mountain chain.

  • The largest natural lakes would be either the Manta and the Beleu,

  • located right on the border with Romania.

  • And right at the very southernmost tip of Moldova,

  • they have a small 200 metre coast with the Danube and their only shipping port with access at Giurgiulești

  • which is essentially the only indirect point of access they have to the Black Sea

  • which is kind of important.

  • All right, animation is done. So you know what that means?

  • This is the time for my triple shot of espresso break.

  • Noah takes over as co-host in this segment

  • so I don't end up losing my voice before this episode is over.

  • But the man, I think you have a problem.

  • Don't care, take it away!

  • About half the country is arable and chances are no matter where you travel, you will find a vineyard.

  • As mentioned before, Moldova takes wine very seriously.

  • And for a nation as far as they are on the world stage, it's amazing they've ranked 12th in wine production.

  • They even have a holiday to celebrate it.

  • Their lush landscape is home and various animal species like

  • Brown bears

  • European hares

  • Minxes

  • Great egrets

  • White storks

  • And the national animal: the Oryx

  • You can even find it on their coat of arms.

  • Just north of the capital, you can find one of the largest gypsum caves in the world

  • containing over 20 underground lakes.

  • Food-wise, they pretty much follow the same format as Romania.

  • You have things like:

  • You'll notice everything kind of has a Slavic twist to it.

  • Lots of sour cream added to soups. Borscht, a sour tasting soup is popular

  • as well as pickled vegetables.

  • Economy-wise, things really changed up after independence from the Soviet Union.

  • Paid policy changed and for a while, they had a huge inflation rate after switching currencies.

  • Today, they are classified as the poorest country in Europe in terms of GDP per capita.

  • And to address if they had to switch up a few things.

  • One thing they did was they greatly lose the foreign investment barriers to pretty much anything

  • as long as it didn't go against the interest of national security in order.

  • Also purchasing agriculture in forested lands are forbidden.

  • Even so, not much changed and it's partially because

  • Well, it kind of went like this:

  • Moldova: All right, independence!

  • Ready to take on the world!

  • Sweet. So what are you gonna do now?

  • You're gonna open up a market economy?

  • Moldova: Yes...

  • Technically...

  • I mean, you know, I'm still gonna lie

  • kind of haven't really regulate wages and prices and add a few legal restrictions.

  • But yes! Privatization and whatnot.

  • Okay. In that case, when are you going to announce this globally?

  • Moldova: Ehh, we'll get to that later. First I need some wine.

  • Yep, Moldova kind of lacks in the PR department for now.

  • Otherwise there is a slow but steady overall growth, but it's always kind of hindered by domestic problems

  • Looks like a great time to discuss more of that, in:

  • (Demographics)

  • Thank You, Noah! Follow him on Instagram.

  • Now it really does kind of seem like in order to understand Moldova,

  • you kind of have to understand Romania first because it's so important.

  • But alas, these videos are done alphabetically. So sorry

  • Romania: I shouldn't name myself

  • "Lomania"

  • Chinese: Someone said Lo mein?

  • Getting off topic. Anyway,

  • including the disputed autonomous regions of Gagauzia and Transnistria,

  • Moldova has about 3.3 million people and has seen a decline since the peak at 3.7 in 1992.

  • The country is made up of about three-quarters that identify as Moldovan and 7% Romanian,

  • but in all honestly, they're pretty much the same people.

  • After that, there is a noticeable Ukrainian minority at about 6.6%,

  • Gagauz at about 4.6%,

  • and the rest are mostly Russian, Bulgarians, Romani and other groups.

  • They use the Moldova leu as their currency.

  • They use the type C plug outlet

  • and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • Now what exactly is a Moldovian?

  • Well in the shortest simplest way I can put it:

  • Unless you talk to want to one of the incredibly nationalistic ones that will start a debate:

  • They're basically Romanians.

  • They speak pretty much the exact same language

  • except the Moldovan might use a few Russian slang words here and there

  • but essentially they're pretty much just speaking the same thing.

  • For those who don't know, the Romanian language is actually a Latin based Romance language related to French, Italian and Spanish.

  • It is the easternmost Romance language in Europe.

  • I've heard stories from Latin Americans and Romanians meeting each other.

  • They're kind of like "Hmm, I kind of understand a bit of what you're saying."

  • Where they differ though would be politics and history.

  • This is kind of what separated them.

  • Very similar to what happens at the Koreas, remember those episode.

  • My mom was in one of them.

  • Essentially even though they were part of the Warsaw Pact,

  • Romania never became a Soviet republic whereas Moldova did

  • and then they kind of became somewhat Russia-fied.

  • Eventually, Romania leaned more towards capitalistic interests and eventually joined the EU.

  • Moldova never did.

  • So basically, what you have are two siblings that were brought up in different schools and taught very different lessons from the two drastically different faculties.

  • Today, most Moldovans are bilingual with Russian

  • and you can still see hints of the Soviet past and influence.

  • But like it's 50 times stronger in Transnistria.

  • They are like turbo-Russia fans!

  • One way you can see the influence for example would be the fact that

  • over 90% of the nation, to varying degrees of devotion, identify as being part of the Orthodox Church.

  • Nonetheless, they still held on pretty well to their roots.

  • They have a plethora of traditional Moldovan folk arts and music.

  • Ancient ballads like these.

  • They have a holiday in July where everyone just kind of puts on a culture show.

  • Moldovan ceramics and weaving culture has always been a trademark of the country's identity.

  • Keep in mind

  • They also have a noticeable Gypsy or Roma community especially in the town of Soroca.

  • They even have a "King of gypsies"

  • This guy, he acts more of like a communal facilitator rather than an actual ruler.

  • It's interesting though, because no matter how hard the Slavic culture has tried to permeate through their populace,

  • they just could not let go with their passionate Latin roots.

  • Moldovans have always kind of had like a little bit of a humor aside.

  • They don't mope around and let life or struggle get to them.

  • They love it when anybody notices them and when they do they don't hesitate to put on the show

  • especially when it comes to Eurovision

  • Wow

  • They celebrate harvest festivals, a car-free day, a huge music festival in March.

  • Anyway, we go on and on but we got to discuss the history.

  • In the quickest way I can put it:

  • The Trypillia culture

  • The Dracians

  • The Romans

  • Bulgars, Hungarians and other tribes invade

  • Mongols came by

  • Turks come in

  • Stephen the Great, the hero of the nation wins 44 battles

  • They end up becoming an Ottoman vassal state

  • Russia comes in and annex what they called Bessarabia

  • After WWI, Romania came in they unified

  • After WWII, the Soviet Union came back in

  • They become a Soviet republic

  • Moldova becomes very Russianised

  • until 1991 independence

  • The Dniester war with Transnistria

  • Scandals, protests. They can't figure out who they want as a president for like three years,

  • And here we are today.

  • Now