Moldova's cultural tradition has been influenced
the Romanian origin of its majority population and cannot
understood outside of the development of classical
culture, in which it played a significant role.
The roots of Romanian culture reach back to the second
century A.D., the period of Roman colonization in Dacia.
the centuries following the Roman withdrawal in A.D. 271,
population of the region was influenced by contact with
Byzantine Empire, neighboring Slavic and Magyar
later the Ottoman Turks. Beginning in the nineteenth
strong West European (particularly French) influence came
evident in Romanian literature and the arts. The resulting
mélange has produced a rich cultural tradition. Although
contacts were an inevitable consequence of the region's
geography, their influence only served to enhance a vital
resilient popular culture.
The regional population had come to identify itself
"Moldovan" by the fourteenth century but continued to
close cultural links with other Romanian groups. The
Moldovans, however, those inhabiting Bessarabia and
were also influenced by Slavic culture from neighboring
During the periods 1812-1917 and 1944-89, the eastern
were influenced by Russian and Soviet administrative
well and by ethnic Russian immigration.
Bessarabia was one of the least-developed and
European regions of the Russian Empire. In 1930 its
was only 40 percent, according to a Romanian census.
Soviet authorities promoted education (not the least to
communist ideology), they also did everything they could
the region's cultural ties with Romania. With many ethnic
Romanian intellectuals either fleeing, being killed, or
deported both during and after World War II, Bessarabia's
cultural and educational situation worsened.
To fill the gap, Soviet authorities developed urban
and scientific centers and institutions that were
filled with Russians and with other non-Romanian ethnic
but this culture was superimposed and alien. Urban culture
from Moscow; the rural ethnic Romanian population was
express itself only in folklore or folk art.
Although the folk arts flourished, similarities with
culture were hidden. Music and dance, particularly
Soviet authorities, were made into a showcase but were
distorted to hide their Romanian origins. An example is
national folk costume, in which the traditional Romanian
(opinca) was replaced by the Russian boot.
Moldova's folk culture is extremely rich, and the
folk ballad, the "Miorita," plays a central role in the
traditional culture. Folk traditions, including ceramics
weaving, continue to be practiced in rural areas. The folk
culture tradition is promoted at the national level and is
represented by, among other groups, the republic's dance
Joc, and by the folk choir, Doina.
The first Moldovan books (religious texts) appeared in
mid-seventeenth century. Prominent figures in Moldova's
development include prince and scholar Dimitrie Cantemir
1723), historian and philologist Bogdan P. Hasdeu
author Ion Creanga (1837-89), and poet Mihai Eminescu
Prominent modern writers include Vladimir Besleaga,
Botu, Aureliu Busioc, Nicolae Dabija, Ion Druta, and
Vieru. In 1991 a total of 520 books were published in
which 402 were in Romanian, 108 in Russian, eight in
two in Bulgarian.
In the early 1990s, Moldova had twelve professional
All performed in Romanian except the A.P. Chekhov Russian
Theater in Chisinau and the Russian Drama and Comedy
Tiraspol, both of which performed solely in Russian, and
Licurici Republic Puppet Theater (in Chisinau), which
in both Romanian and Russian. Members of ethnic minorities
a number of folklore groups and amateur theaters
Data as of June 1995