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Preface Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:37 AM

Moldova is a picturesque country of rolling green hills, whitewashed villages, placid lakes, and sunflower fields. It has an old-world charm that is hard to manufacture, and some of the best vineyards in Europe. It is densely populated, with numerous ethnic groups represented, but the majority are ethnic Romanians. The economy is heavily dependent on labor‑intensive agriculture, and Moldova must import virtually 100% of its primary energy. Chisinau is a moderate‑sized city that has preserved much of its pre‑Soviet character, with many low‑rise, older structures and tree‑shaded streets remaining in the central city.

With its cultural ties to Russia, Romania, and Turkey, Moldova is something of an enigma. It has risen from the ruins of Soviet socialism to become a democratic republic split in two, one area controlled by the government and the other by separatist rebels nominally loyal to Mother Russia, but essentially concerned with making money. Unification with Romania, its closest neighbor, has been raised, but Moldova has much in common with other former Soviet countries. The official language, Moldovan, is phonetically identical to Romanian. Often business is conducted in Russian; most Romanian-speakers also speak Russian, but many members of the Russian and Ukrainian minorities do not speak Romanian/Moldovan. A government attempt early in 2002 to reintroduce compulsory study of Russian provoked months of protests but no violent response.

Originally Moldova was part of the greater region of Moldavia - one of the principalities that made up Romania. It lies directly between Russia and Romania and has long been the focal point for border disputes and expansionist policies. Prior to its tenuous unification, it had been overrun, split up, reunited, conquered, annexed, renamed, and taken back again many times over. It has been a long and bloody journey from the principality of Moldavia to the republic of Moldova, and it seems fitting that the flag includes a band of red signifying the blood spilled in defending the country.

The region was made a focal point for the diaspora of Magyars, Slavs, and Bulgarians spreading across Eastern Europe. By the beginning of the Middle Ages, Moldavia (as part of Romania) was already a potpourri of different races and cultures.

In the mid‑14th century, Moldavia was subsumed under the Ottoman Empire, and it remained under Turkish suzerainty until 1711. In 1812 Turkey and Russia signed the Bucharest Treaty, which gave the eastern half of Moldavia to the Russians (renamed Bessarabia) while the rest of Moldavia and Wallachia became Romania.

Bessarabia remained under Russian control until the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution, when it reunited with Romania as a protective measure. In 1939 the Molotov‑Ribbentrop Pact handed Bessarabia back to the U.S.S.R., and it became the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (M.S.S.R.). The area was reoccupied by Romanian forces from 1941 until 1944, when the Soviet authorities once again took control.

With the collapse of Communism in the mid‑1980s and Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika, reform followed, and finally, in 1991, Moldova declared its full independence.

Unity and peaceful coexistence seem tenuous, as republicans struggle to keep all the pieces together and smooth over the contradictions of being part Romanian, part Russian, and wholly Moldovan.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 8/6/2003 9:40 AM

Moldova encompasses what was until August 1991 the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, and is located between Romania and Ukraine. Except for a small strip of land on the Danube River, the country is land‑locked. Moldova is a relatively small country, roughly 300 km long and 100 km across - about the same size as Maryland. Its total land boundary is 1,389 km. Its total area is 33,700 square km. The land border with Romania is 939 km and with Ukraine 450 km. The area east of the Dniester (Nistru) river, along with the city of Bender west of the Dniester, is the breakaway and officially unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, or Transnistria. Transnistria is not recognized by Moldova, the U.S., or any other country. Tiraspol is the "capital" of Transnistria. Moldova’s total population is 4.3 million, of whom 800,000 live in Chisinau. The majority of the population lives in the countryside in villages organized around former state farms.

Moldova’s climate is mild in the winter and warm in the summer—approximately that of New York City. Winter temperatures are typically in the 20s (F) but occasionally fall below zero. Highs in the summer are typically in the 80s but can go as high as 100. There are four distinct seasons, with foliage on trees between April and October. The climate is semi‑arid. The countryside is comprised mainly of gently rolling agricultural lands with a gradual slope south toward the Black Sea. Seventy percent of the soil is composed of the famous, fertile “Black Earth” (chernozim) in this region. Because of the clearing of land for agricultural cultivation—especially in the Soviet era for grape production—there are few forests or woodlands. There has been soil erosion due to farming methods. The effect in the cities is that occasionally dust can blow up from the streets in gusts. Humidity in the summer can be high but mildew and insects are not significant factors. Moldova is sparse in natural mineral resources, with some lignite, phosphorites, and gypsum. Moldova has suffered with other countries in the region from serious environmental damage from the heavy use of agricultural chemicals, including pesticides, such as DDT, that have been banned in the West. Substantial amounts of its soil and ground water are contaminated. Because of the extensive use of asbestos in construction, village and urban area soil may have, in some areas, high concentrations of asbestos mixed with the soil. The two principal rivers—the Prut on the west and Dniester in the east—are polluted. Untreated drinking water may have heavy metal contamination, as well as pollution from agricultural chemicals.

Population Last Updated: 8/6/2003 9:48 AM

Moldova has approximately 4,300,000 citizens. It is the most densely inhabited of the former Soviet Union Republics, although the poor economic condition of the country has led over 600,000 (by some estimates as many as 1,000,000) to seek emplyment outside of the country. About 65 percent of the population is ethnic Romanian, 14 percent is Ukrainian, and 13 percent Russian (the remaining 8 percent includes several ethnic groups - Jews, Bulgarians, and Gagauz - Christian Turks, among others.) Moldova is a largely agricultural country, with more than a third of the population employed in the agricultural sector and agroprocessing, including the production of wine and other alcoholic beverages (brandy, champagne), vegetables and fruits, sugar, grain, sunflower seeds and oil, cattle and pigs. The population in the countryside is largely ethnic Romanian, with a number of Ukrainian villages, especially in the north. In the main cities, ethnic Russians and Ukrainians predominate. The state language is Moldovan (Romanian), although Russian is extensively used. Most of the population of Moldova is at least nominally Orthodox, and Moldova has preserved many Orthodox traditions, including colorful Easter celebrations and church festivals.

Moldova has a proud tradition of hospitality, and is renowned for its wine, cognac and champagne. Many people, even in the city, make their own homemade wines and are eager to share them with visitors. Local cuisine shows the mixture of cultures, with traditional Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian, Turkish, and Jewish foods popular. National dishes include mamaliga (similar to polenta), placinta (a pastry filled with cheese, potatoes, or cabbage), and sarmale (stuffed cabbage); Russian‑style borscht and caviar are also favorites.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 9/5/2003 11:06 AM

Parliament amended the 1994 Constitution in July 2000 transforming the country into a parliamentary republic and changing the presidential election from a popular to a parliamentary vote. In December 2000, after several tries, Parliament was unable to elect a president, and President Petru Luchinschi dismissed the Parliament. In February 2001, parliamentary elections were held, which resulted in a new communist-majority Parliament and Government. The Party of Communists gained 71 seats, the centrist Social Democratic Alliance led by former Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis got 19 seats, and the rightist Christian Democratic Popular Party got 11 seats. International observers considered the parliamentary elections to be generally free and fair; however, authorities in the separatist Transnistria region interfered with the ability of residents there to vote. In April 2001, Communist-dominated Parliament elected Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin as President.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 8/6/2003 9:56 AM

Chisinau has an active cultural life, especially in classical music, although the institutions have suffered from the economic difficulties of the country. During the season, from mid‑autumn to late spring, there are regular performances by the opera, ballet, national symphony, and smaller musical groups. The Organ Hall and the Philharmonic Hall are frequent venues for concerts by local ensembles and touring groups. In addition to classical music, traditional folk music is very popular; Moldovan ensembles such as Flueras and Lautari are well known throughout the former Soviet Union. The folk dance ensemble “Joc” is especially admired for its performances featuring traditional dances from throughout the region. Chisinau also has several theaters performing in Romanian and Russian. The Chekhov Theater performs classic Russian plays as well as some modern works and translations. The Eugene Ionescu Theater performs avant‑garde and modern plays in Romanian. Several other theaters feature musicals, satirical plays or traditional favorites. A puppet theater in the center of town offers regular performances in Russian and Romanian, and the Circus hosts a wide variety of touring groups in addition to local performers.

Many Americans have been very impressed with the local painters, as well. There are several art galleries in town, as well as frequent exhibits at hotels and businesses. The Embassy Employee Association hosts art exhibits - featuring a different local artists every six weeks. These exhibits have been very popular, and Moldovan art is now hanging in many American homes!

Moldova has a number of institutions of higher learning, including the State University and the Independent International University, plus several pedagogical institutes and polytechnical institutes. Moldova has a special interest in agricultural research, and the Academy of Science has a large number of highly qualified specialists in this area. English is now widely taught and increasingly used, especially among young people.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:37 AM

Moldova remains the poorest country it Europe. Moldova has suffered a nearly 65% decline in income since independence. Positive economic growth returned in 2000. Moldova should record its fourth consecutive year of positive GDP growth in 2003, with year-end real GDP growth predicted at 6 percent. This growth is impressive considering that prior to 2000 Moldova had recorded only one year of positive GDP growth since independence. Equally impressive, the 2002 inflation rate was 4.4%, although the 2003 rate is predicted to be 8%. Sporadic and ineffective enforcement of the law, combined with economic and political uncertainty, and outstanding disputes with international investors, continue to discourage inflows of foreign direct investment. Relations with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) deteriorated in late 2002, and resumption of much needed financial assistances from these institutions is dependent on Moldova fulfilling various conditions. In FY 2002, the U.S. Government provided an estimated $41.68 million in assistance to Moldova, focused on agricultural post-land-privatization activities, energy-sector privatization, law enforcement, anti-trafficking, and border control. Military-to-military cooperation remained strong based on Partnership for Peace exercises, International Military Education and Training programs, and Bilateral Affairs Operations collaboration with Moldova. Moldova's economy remains largely agricultural, with the chief industries being wine-making and agricultural processing.


Automobiles Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:29 AM

Automobiles are the preferred method of getting around for Embassy staff, although some Mission members manage well without a car. Most Embassy housing is located within a 20‑30 minute walk from the Embassy. Left‑hand‑drive automobiles are used in Moldova. Embassy staff members have shipped in vehicles purchased in the U.S. or Europe. Cars shipped from the U.S. come via surface through the European Logistical Support Office (ELSO) in Antwerp, Belgium, from which they are shipped to post on trucks. Cars shipped in this manner normally arrive at post 10‑12 weeks after shipment from the U.S. There are a number of auto dealerships in Chisinau, including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, VW/Audi and Chevrolet.

An investment in the most detailed repair manual available for your car is recommended as well. Poor road conditions and aggressive local driving habits increase the possibility that a car will need service and/or repair during its stay in Moldova. A four‑wheel‑drive vehicle is desirable and advisable in this environment. Winter can be especially difficult, as roads are seldom cleared of ice and snow, increasing the difficulty of driving on rutted, narrow, often steeply sloped roads. The Embassy auto mechanic does routine maintenance and repair after hours at reasonable rates. He is very experienced with U.S. makes and models.

Embassy staff members have also bought former Soviet‑made cars locally. A new former Soviet‑made car can be purchased for from $3,000 to $8,000. Americans find the level of comfort and the quality of assembly to be below that of Western‑made automobiles, but it is easier to get a former Soviet‑made car repaired in Moldova than a Western‑made car. Our Embassy mechanic is familiar with Western vehicles, and will perform work on POVs after hours.

If you plan to ship an older car, be sure that it is in good running condition, including battery and tires. Vehicles older than 10 years may not be imported. While most people use their cars daily, the actual mileage driven during a tour in Moldova is much lower than in the U.S.

It is not possible to export a former Soviet‑made car to the U.S., as it will not meet EPA standards. Unleaded gasoline is available and new Western‑style gas stations with minimarkets and car washes are becoming more common throughout Moldova.

The Embassy GSO Section takes care of registration of official vehicles and the issuance of “CD” plates. Cost of registration is nominal. Some diplomatic vehicles have been stolen or broken into, both in Chisinau and while on trips outside the city, but there have been no reported incidents in the past year. A combination of bad roads, unclear traffic patterns, and aggressive local drivers have resulted in a number of accidents. Post strongly recommends, especially for American and other foreign‑made cars, that the most comprehensive possible theft and damage insurance be purchased prior to coming to post.

Post also requires the purchase of local third‑party liability insurance upon arrival of the vehicle in Chisinau. The Embassy GSO Section can arrange purchase through local private insurance companies. Local third‑party‑liability insurance costs about $200‑$250 per year. There is a rental car service in Chisinau (dispatcher speaks English). Cars with drivers are available for hire. Embassy staff and other Americans have rented Western cars for driving around town and for longer trips. Taxis within the city are 30 ML (about $2) for any destination in the city. A trip to the airport is about 150 ML (roughly $10.)

Local Transportation Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:31 AM

Many American staff members enjoy walking in the city. There is an extensive bus and minibus system, with low fares, but these are usually very crowded and uncomfortable. Expatriates seldom use public transport, but a few American employees and family members have used the public transportation regularly. Nonviolent theft can occur on crowded buses, and in a country with a relatively high rate of TB exposure, there are also some health concerns.

Taxis are available by telephone or on the main streets. Taxi companies offer a blend of modern vehicles and decrepit older models, and the passenger does get to choose among them. Rates are reasonable. Most local cab drivers speak only Russian or Romanian. Two telephone‑dispatch companies aimed at expatriates do have an English‑speaker dispatcher and drivers who speak at least some English. Most expatriates rely heavily on these companies, which charge a flat rate, about $2 per trip.

Between the cities and the towns of Moldova, trains and buses are available at relatively reasonable prices. However, Embassy staff members have found train and bus service unreliable and uncomfortable. American Peace Corps volunteers use local buses and trains and their experiences have not been encouraging. There are no internal air flights in Moldova.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 8/6/2003 10:14 AM

Air Moldova, Tyrolean Airlines, TAROM, Moldavian Airlines and Turkish Air serve Chisinau. The following major cities are served at least 3 days per week: Athens, Bucharest, Budapest, Istanbul, larnaca, Moscow, Rome, Timisoara, and Vienna. Americans can buy tickets in Chisinau for cash or credit cards (though we recommend being very careful about credit card use in general, a number of Embassy employees have used credit cards at two local travel agencies without any reported problems.)

American travelers have also gone to Kiev and Bucharest via train. It is less expensive than a plane, but it is a long, difficult trip. There is no heat in the winter or ventilation in the summer. Some travelers have had problems with border police on the train from Kiev.

Moldova and its neighbors have similar conditions for long‑range driving. Moldova and all nearby countries use left‑hand drive, have an extremely limited number of roads with more than two lanes, and have aggressive road police who often stop foreign cars. Carrying your diplomatic I.D. and/or your diplomatic passport at all times when driving is recommended, but especially when outside of Chisinau. In Moldova, the road police will usually not hinder any polite American diplomat carrying identification. Driving after dark is extremely dangerous, due to the tendency of Moldovans to walk in the roads in dark clothing, slow moving, hard-to-see horse carts, and the prevalence of farm animals wandering in the roads.

Travelers are advised to fill their tanks before they leave, although Moldova has seen a proliferation of gas stations along the major roads. Embassy staff members have driven to Bucharest in 8 hours and to Kiev in 10 hours (it can be done faster by going through Transnistria, but check with the RSO before planning to use that route.) Odessa can be reached in 4 hours. Travelers should expect long lines at the borders. If you are in a vehicle with diplomatic plates and are carrying a diplomatic passport, you may slowly make your way to the front of the line and receive expeditious processing through the border. Russian‑ or Romanian‑language skills are useful in these situations.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Local telephone service is generally fair to good. Installation of new phones is possible but slow, as are repairs to existing lines. International calls to the U.S. and Europe can be placed via direct dial, and reception is generally good. Rates can vary between USD 1.50 to 3.00 per minute depending on the call. Overseas telegraph and Fax facilities, though available, are not always reliable. Calls charged to personal telephone calling cards to the U.S. from the Embassy over the Embassy’s satellite line are possible.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:18 AM Cellular phone service is available. Local systems operate on the GSM system with a 900 MHz frequency. All GSM 900 phones will work here, and SIM cards can be purchased from two local companies. Service averages about $15 per month depending on the package. Most Embassy employees are issued cell phones, and some employees have chosen to buy phones for spouses and family members. Embassy-issued phone have roaming and work throughout Europe, but not in the U.S.

Internet Last Updated: 8/25/2003 8:43 AM

Many Embassy personnel utilize Internet and E‑mail services from their homes. Local service providers are available. The speed and reliability of E‑mail service is inconsistent due to the limitations of the telephone system. Some Embassy personnel have had ISDN lines installed, and most feel this porvides much better, faster service, but it is considerably more expensive than dial-up service ($60/year.)

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/25/2003 9:19 AM

APO/FPO facilities are not available in Moldova. Air pouches arrive by plane via Istanbul (usually) twice per week and are dispatched once a week. Transit time between the U.S. and Moldova for pouch mail varies, but normally takles at least 2 weeks. The pouch address for letters:

(Name) 7080 Chisinau Pl Dulles, VA 20189-7080 (personal mail only)

To send packages to post through the pouch use the above address with ZIP Code. For packages, no single dimension can exceed 17x18x30 inches. Maximum weight is 45 pounds. Note: post offices have quoted outdated information about package size resulting in packages being returned for "oversize." No outgoing packages may be sent by pouch. International airmail from the U.S. should be addressed as follows:

(Name) American Embassy Street Mateevici, 103 Chisinau, Moldova MD 2009

International airmail to and from the U.S. takes 10 to14 days, and delivery is fairly reliable for inbound letters. Mission personnel do not generally send or receive packages through the local post office.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 8/25/2003 9:04 AM

Several FM stations are operating. All broadcast a variety of music and programs in Romanian and Russian with some English‑language music interspersed. To receive short‑wave broadcasts, such as the VOA and BBC, you need a good short‑wave radio.

Moldova has local television stations that broadcast daily, in Romanian and Russian. Moldova also receives two other stations, one from Bucharest in Romanian and the other from Moscow, in Russian. Shows cover the full range of local and international news plus sports, musical entertainment, locally produced plays, educational broadcasts, movies, and some American TV shows. Most programming is in Romanian or Russian with two or three movies and a few shorter programs shown weekly in English (and subtitled in Romanian.) TV is transmitted by the 625 PAL D/K European system, which can be picked up with a multisystem receiver. Some local electronics firms have opened, and multi‑system televisions and VCR’s are readily available. Moldova has cable television. Most American employees subscribe to the cable system. You can receive the local stations plus 25 additional stations, 5 of which are in English, including CNN, EuroNews, and MTV. HBO is available for an additional charge. Service including HBO (subtitled in Romanian) is about $10 per month.

Some DVDs and tapes are available locally. DVDs often have an English track, and work if you have a no-code player. Be aware that most are pirated, if you shop at the open markets. The DATT's office has been generous enough to loan out their vidoes as well.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 8/25/2003 9:08 AM

Several offices at the Embassy have subscriptions to the International Herald Tribune, and local periodicals. The CLO office has subsricptions to a variety a magazines that are available for loan, as well as books and videos.

Health and Medicine Last Updated: 10/27/2003 8:00 AM

In general, Moldovan medical care is below U.S. standards. The Embassy has a medical unit with two local medical officers (Western trained) and an EFM nurse to conduct examinations and hold consultations. The Moscow-based Regional Medical Officer and Regional Psychiatrist make intermittent visits as well. American diplomats and their families may use the VIP Hospital, the VIP Polyclinic and the Republican Hospital in the event of an emergency. The Health Unit has created excellent info packages on the various hospitals and conducts periodic tours. The Regional Medical Officer in Moscow is consulted in every case of serious sickness or injury to determine if medical evacuations to London or to the U.S. are necessary. Ordinarily, personnel who need emergency medical attention in Western Europe travel at U.S. Government expense. Occasionally, employees are medevaced for testing and evaluation. All routine treatments, medical or dental, including those for orthodontics and gum disease, etc., are at the patient’s expense. Emergency dental problems are generally referred to Frankfurt or London, although there are a number of local dentists who have Western training and use western supplies and equipment. All treatments received are at employee expense. Foreign Service medical regulations now allow one evacuation trip plus 1 day per diem per year for certain kinds of required dental care. Employees and their dependents should complete all dental work before arriving at post and make a determined effort to maintain good dental health while in Moldova.

General Health Information. Local pharmacies in Moldova carry Western and local medicine but only a few of the supplies are in English. Aspirin (made in the U.S.) is available in most pharmacies. Embassy personnel can use local pharmacies, but usually rely on the Embassy medical unit stock of medical supplies. It is advised that personnel bring at least a 6‑month supply of Band‑Aids, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, acetaminophen or aspirin, cold remedies, and vitamins, as well as the makings of a basic first‑aid kit. Bring at least a 1‑year supply of any necessary prescriptions, including contraceptives. The regional medical officer can write prescriptions that can be filled by U.S. pharmacies that send medicines and health supplies overseas. Two are CVS Pharmacy, 2125 E Street NW., Washington, DC, and Columbia Plaza Pharmacy, 516 23rd Street, NW., Washington, DC 20037 (takes credit cards). These pharmacies can also send baby products, thermometers, cold remedies, aspirin, health and beauty aids, special cosmetics, after‑shave lotion, Band‑Aids, etc. Advance payment is necessary. They will ship promptly and charge accordingly for the cost of the items, plus packing, shipping, and postage. Some health and beauty aids are available from Peter Justesen in Denmark. If you have a chronic ailment, bring a large supply of the required medication.

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 8/25/2003 9:12 AM

Post has a newly refurbished medical unit on compound, with an examining room and lab, and a supply of basic medicines and vaccines. Two local doctors and an EFM nurse are currently on staff, for daignosis of minor illnesses and assistance in dealing with local medical issues. For any serious or possibly serious health problems, we med-evac staff and family members to London (or CONUS for OB/GYN.)

Community Health Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Weather and local sanitation can be a problem and aggravate certain health conditions. Garbage pick‑up is often sporadic, but street sweeping is reliable, as is sewage disposal. Winter weather is hard because of fuel shortages, apartments and work sites often being irregularly heated. In winter, soot from burning wood and soft coal may aggravate sinus problems, asthma and allergies. Dust from unpaved roads and construction may also aggravate these conditions.

Drinking water and that used for cooking should be distilled, boiled, or filtered before using. All Embassy housing includes water distillers. After periods of disuse (about 8 hours), turn on taps and run water for a full 5 seconds prior to using for purifying. Running the water in such a way helps remove the lead that leaks out of the lead pipes found in most homes during periods of disuse. Bottled drinks are considered to be safe. Cholera has been identified in one of the suburban lakes near Chisinau and in some of Moldova’s villages. Cholera can be prevented by treating drinking water and water used for cooking.

In addition, fruits and vegetables should be well washed, peeled, or cooked. These tend to be inexpensive during the summer but prove to be expensive in the winter.

AIDS and seropositive HIV have come to the forefront in Moldova as a public health problem, although there have been only about 20 cases registered. AIDS surveillance programs are being discussed in Moldova as well as programs for screening for HIV and Hepatitis B. Syphilis and tuberculosis are on the rise.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:40 AM

All immunizations should be current upon arrival. One should have Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, rabies, and meningitis inoculations. Children should have up‑to‑date DPT, MMR, and HIB vaccines. Bring blood‑type records and immunization cards for all family members. Bring fluoride drops and vitamins with fluoride for small children. Respiratory, orthopedic, or other disorders that prohibit climbing stairs should be considered before traveling to Moldova. In Moldova, usually one flight of stairs is required to enter a building, and once inside the building, stairs abound, with either no elevator or occasionally a non-functioning one. Western‑quality prescription glasses are available locally; however, it would be prudent to bring an extra pair of glasses and/or a copy of your prescription. Dental care is available and a few dentists have Western training and equipment. Most Embassy personnel have been happy with the quality and prices of local dental care.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 9/2/2003 9:22 AM

Paid employment opportunities within the Moldovan economy are very limited. Family members do not need special work permits; however, salaries and work conditions are far below Western standards. Most jobs require fluency in both Russian and Romanian. Some family members have used their time in Moldova to acquire professional experience and skills through volunteer work with nongovernmental organizations. Humanitarian aid groups and international organizations are often in need of qualified individuals and professionals to teach and work within Moldova. Although the majority of these opportunities are on a volunteer basis, most are meaningful positions that can augment and enhance a resume.

Recently a spouse was hired by one of the local universities to serve as a professor in her area of professional expertise. Several family members have been able to arrange telecommuting work opportunities with private companies and government agencies in the United States. Quality Schools International will occasionally hire native English speaking teachers. USAID, International Office of Migration and UNICEF have hired diplomatic spouses in the past. Interested family members are encouraged to contact these agencies directly.

The Family Liaison Office in Washington DC has several publications available to help with international job searches. For those individuals with Intranet access, you can subscribe to these publications online at

For those who have Internet access, subscribe to FLO publications online at

FS Direct - a newsletter for the Foreign Service community, emailed to subscribers bi-monthly.

The Network - a newsletter for Foreign Service family members seeking employment in the Washington, DC area, published monthly.

Global Employment Connections - a newsletter which covers current information, resources, and job search strategies to help build a global career in a mobile lifestyle. It also features real-life success stories from spouses in the global workforce as well as employment advice from family members who want to share their lessons learned with others.

American Embassy - Chisinau

Post City Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:32 AM

Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, is located almost in the center of the country on the river Bik. The first written mention of Chisinau dates to the 14th century when the region was under Turkish domination. The old section of town, where the Embassy is located, runs along the river and extends up into the central business zone of town. During WW II, extensive portions of Chisinau were destroyed. The post‑war reconstruction includes many typical examples of Soviet architecture, but the older sections of town retain much of their charm. Despite the size of the city (approximately 800,000 people), Chisinau still has a small town feeling. There are numerous pastel‑colored single‑ and two‑story houses in the city proper, built by traders and merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. With large trees lining almost all of the streets in the city center, and rose gardens in parks, medians, and even at gas stations, Chisinau is one of the greenest cities on earth from April to October.

Security Last Updated: 9/2/2003 9:25 AM

Moldova is currently rated a “medium” threat country for criminal activity. Visitors and residents here are generally as safe as, or safer than, in many large metropolitan areas in the United States. Crimes directed at Westerners or expatriates are not common, and most crimes affecting mission personnel are property crimes or "crimes of opportunity." Visitors should, however, exercise the same common sense precautions they would in any big city: refrain from leaving valuables in plain sight, lock doors to vehicles and residences, be wary of pickpockets (especially in crowded areas like markets and buses), avoid walking alone at night, and try to avoid “standing out” as an American. Importation of personal firearms is limited under Moldovan law and strictly controlled by the Embassy. Personnel wishing to import a personal firearm should contact the RSO well in advance of their scheduled move and obtain all necessary paperwork. Ultimate approval rests with the Chief of Mission, in consultation with the RSO.

For further information, please contact the Regional Security Officer at +373(2)40-84-57 during business hours, or after hours via mobile telephone at +373- 912-6849.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:48 AM

The Embassy, at 103 Strada Alexei Mateevici, is situated in the historic central zone of the city, on the edge of the downtown section in a mainly residential area. The grounds of the Embassy slope down towards a man‑made lake, which is surrounded by a park offering boating, jogging, fishing, and recreational rides for children. Several fitness-minded employees run around the lake at lunchtime during spring, summer, and fall. The Consular Section currently operates out of the administrative annex situated on the Embassy grounds. The GSO Section continues to operate out of a temporary structure. The Embassy switchboard telephone numbers are 40-83-00, 23-37-72, 23-73-45, and 40-84-45. The Embassy’s fax number is 233‑044. The IVG code is 548. The country and city codes are 373‑2. Chisinau does not have a Marine Security Guard detachment, but one is planned for activation in 2004. Local guards are on duty at the Embassy 24 hours a day and can assist visitors who arrive outside of normal business hours. They may be reached at 237‑345. Embassy office hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and we observe all American and Moldovan holidays.

The Embassy staff consists of about 30 direct-hire Americans and 150 Locally Employed Staff, currently organized into the Executive, Regional Affairs, Political/Economic, Public Affairs, Management, and Consular Sections within the State Department, and including American and LES employees of USAID, DAO, MLT, Peace Corps, DOJ, and U.S. Customs . Currently, a Foreign Service National employee represents USDOC at post. The USDOC program is managed by BISNIS (Business Information Services for the Newly Independent States). The USAID office and the Information resource Center are located in the business district at 57/1 Banulescu Bodoni Street, ASITO Building. USAID's telephone numbers are: 40-84-33, 23-74-60 or 40-84-34, and Fax is 23-72-77. Peace Corps has its offices at 12, Gregore Ureche Street. Its telephone numbers are: 54-74-20 or 54-40-52, Fax is 54-50-22.

New arrivals can expect to be met at the airport by a sponsor, and should be contacted by their sponsirs well in advance of arrival. New arrivals who plan to travel overland through Europe, or who have not heard from a sponsor, should contact the Mangement Office well in advance, at 40-89-39. Sponsors will ensure that new arrivals report to the Management Office for a general briefing and to complete essential arrival formalities.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:51 AM

There are a number of hotels in town that have been used by the Embassy. There are several hotels near the Embassy: the Monte Nelly (1 and 2), the Nobil Club, the Dedeman, the Jolly Alon, the Codru, and the Dacia. The Monte Nelly, Nobil Club, and Dedeman are the most comfortable, and will take Western credit cards (Master Card or Visa). THe Dedeman is the largest - a new (March 2003) Turkish venture. Monte Nelly and Nobil Club are smaller, and more like bed and breakfasts. Room rates are at or below per diem. Employees generally move directly into their quarters and will not stay in a hotel upon arrival. Welcome Kits are provided until airfreight arrives. The Kit includes linens, dishes, flatware, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, iron and ironing board (with pad), toaster, coffee maker, and vacuum cleaner. All houses are equipped with American refrigerators and freezers, and micorwaves.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/26/2003 7:57 AM

The Embassy has a nice pool of leased single-family homes. With many newly constructed homes coming on the rental market, the Embassy is steadily upgrading housing. Houses tend to be at the upper end of the OBO space limits and usually include a small, fenced yard. The layout of most houses reflects Moldovan priorities, which are different from those in the West. For example, a house that seems short of living room/dining room space may boast a sauna and an excessively large bathroom, but we have found more and more houses with what Americans consider good layouts.

The Embassy pays all rent and utilities (except telephone, cable, and internet service). Employees pay for gardening service, if desired, and maid services, which are extremely affordable. Theoretically, Embassy landlords maintain housing. In practice, however, the Embassy staff or contractors handle most routine residential repair work. Housing improvements‑especially safety and security improvements‑are being done on an ongoing basis, as circumstance and funding permit. Post has a Housing Board, and housing assignments are proposed by the GSO and Management Officer and discussed and finalized by the Housing Board. The Ambassador lives in Government-owned house on a private lot. The house has three stories and a full basement and has been decorated and furnished by OBO/IDF. It has a generator and guards. The Residence was purchased in 2002.

Furnishings Last Updated: 8/26/2003 8:18 AM

Chisinau is a furnished post. All houses and apartments are equipped by the Embassy with furniture (18th‑century style except for children's and guest bedrooms) and include area carpets, curtains and blinds, refrigerator and freezer, gas or electric cooking range and oven, washer, dryer, microwave oven, transformers, split-pack heating/cooling units in living area and occupied bedrooms, water distiller, and a vacuum cleaner, if needed. Bedroom furniture includes a queen‑sized bed for the master bedroom and twin‑sized beds for all other bedrooms. Baby and juvenile furniture is not available - although we do have one crib for lending to newly arrived families whose HHE has not arrived.) The Ambassador’s residence is furnished with china, glassware, silverware and silver serving pieces. Space heaters supplement the local heating system when necessary. Bring dishes, glasses, flatware, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, bathroom rugs, shower curtains and hooks, a good supply of coat hangers, kitchen appliances, an ironing board, and an iron. Bring a complete set of linens: sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads, pads, towels, tablecloths, napkins, and dishtowels. Electric blankets, down comforters, and flannel sheets are welcome in winter; U.S. model electric blankets generally work well with a transformer.

Bring wall hangings and art, seasonal decorations, shelf and freezer paper, household tools, ashtrays, stereo and cassettes/CDs/records. Light bulbs purchased in the U.S. (120v) will not function in Moldova. The Embassy provides an initial supply of 220v light bulbs. Thereafter, you must buy your own. Light bulbs are available locally, and GSO will sell you locally procured light bulbs if it has them in stock. Locally purchased bulbs last about half the time of the average American light bulb. No unusual climatic factors adversely affect household furnishings here, but dust and grime must be combated year round.

Many Embassy personnel have acquired local art and machine-made rugs at very affordable prices, but for many household furnishings, locally available products are not available in the sizes and quality Americans are used to.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/26/2003 8:22 AM

Most Embassy properties have local gas heaters and electric hot water heaters. Interruptions of electricity and (less frequently) water have occurred. Residences have been equipped with back-up water systems that will be sufficient for an outage of one or two days. Embassy houses have generators to deal with power outages.

Electricity in Moldova is 220v, 50‑cycle, AC. The Embassy 3 transformers per residence, but employees should bring transformers if they wish to use a large number of 110v appliances and electronics. Items which depend on a stable supply of cycles (e.g., clock radios, answering machines with “date/time stamp” feature) are not recommended: local 50 cycle current causes them to lose time every day. Bring 220v voltage stabilizers or surge protectors to protect sensitive, high fidelity computers or similar equipment. A 110v computer with a voltage stabilizer or UPS will work through a transformer. You may want to bring a good‑quality short wave radio that can run off 220v electricity as well as batteries.

Bring a supply of European electrical adapters and wall plugs. These can be purchased at General Electronic, Inc., 4513 Wisconsin Ave., NW Washington, DC 20016. Appliances are becoming easier to find. Locally built appliances are often reasonably priced but undependable. Appliances imported from Western Europe are more dependable but also much more expensive.

Food Last Updated: 8/26/2003 8:29 AM

Shopping for Food in Chisinau. There are three Western‑quality supermarkets in Chisinau: Green Hills, No. 1, and Fidesco. These supermarkets have a good Western‑made selection of goods, sanitary refrigerated meats, packed fruits and vegetables and pasteurized dairy products, but prices are much higher than in the markets and local stores, and meats may notbe as fresh as at the markets. Still, many Americans do most of their food shopping at these places. In spring and summer, fruits and vegetables are abundant in this agricultural country. Every visitor to Chisinau should experience the Central Market—it is the largest market in town for fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. There are many smaller neighborhood markets. Most Moldovans have kitchen gardensand poultry, even in Chisinau. In season, personnel learn what “vine-ripened” and “fresh‑picked” really mean. During summer, people eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and Moldovans spend considerable time canning and preserving for winter months. Embassy personnel often freeze vegetables and fruits, such as vine-ripened raspberries and strawberries. Unfortunately, no one has found a way to preserve lettuce, which appears in the open markets briefly in early May, but is becoming more and more reliably available in the supermarkets. Beef, chicken and pork are available year round. The latter two meats are of excellent quality: beef usually requires a longer cooking time to become tender.

Many people ship consumables to post and have found that ordering the permitted number of smaller shipments, rather than one huge one, makes life a lot easier. Some have ordered an initial shipment before they left, and then followed up with an additional order once they have a better idea of what is and is not available. Some food products that are not usually available in Moldova are: peanut butter, brown sugar, dry yeast, baking powder, good quality confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa, and unsweetened baking chocolate. Local spaghetti sauces resemble ketchup more than anything else, and require a good bit of doctoring.

Dining Out. Chisinau’s restaurants, small and large, are quite good, and with new restaurants opening fairly frequently, the scene is improving. One can have a good meal at very reasonable prices. Some restaurants accept credit cards but prefer to receive cash. Tips are generally not included in the bill, except for large parties. The standard tip is 10% or less. Reservations are recommended. Moldovan cooking is an interesting combination of Balkan, Romanian, Russian, Turkish and Ukranian influences. Mamaliga (cornmeal, similar to polenta), feta cheese, and the abundant seasonal fruits and vegetables are staple items. The cuisine is not spicy but uses liberal amounts of onions, peppers, and garlic. Upscale restaurants serve a more international Eastern European cuisine, rather than true Moldovan cooking. There are also Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Georgian, Lebanese, Azeri, Moldovan‑Mexican, German, and Japanese restaurants.

In summertime there is a wonderful explosion of sidewalk cafes with colorful Sprite and Coca‑Cola umbrellas. McDonald’s has three locations.

Clothing Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Moldovans are quite fashion conscious, and enjoy getting dressed up for social events, although there are few true “black tie” events in Chisinau. For most formal receptions, a dark suit is the norm for men, and a long or short dress for women. Dress at the Embassy is somewhat more relaxed than in Washington, but not casual. Men wear suits or slacks and blazers. Women wear suits or dresses all year, but many find slacks the warmest winter option. It is a good idea to bring a lot of warm winter clothes, as many public (and private) buildings are only minimally heated during the winter months. Long down or wool coats are a must, as are sturdy waterproof snow boots, since the streets are icy and muddy throughout the winter. Also plan to bring lots of warm socks and gloves or mittens. Locally made fur hats are both fashionable and practical. Clothes are available in Chisinau although they are labeled in European sizes. Business clothes are of poor quality or are very expensive. Mail order shopping is popular at post.

Men Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:19 AM

Men have had fairly good luck in obtaining business clothing in Chisinau. Ionel Suit Factory, which produces suits for export, sells well-made and attractive suits for extremely reasonable prices, and also has a good selection of winter coats. Casual clothing is not as readily available. Some Embassy employees have hired tailors to make clothing for them, and some have had very good luck. Fabric tends to be expensive locally, but can be ordered.

Women Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:23 AM

Women's clothing is not avialable in the quality and quantity that Americans are used to, and Eastern European styles are quite different from American tastes. Stylish clothes tend to be available only in very small sizes. Some women have found good bargains at the Ionel Suit Factory, but while their selection of winter coats is usually very good, the women's suit selection is not usually as big or as classic as the men's, so timing is everything. Some Embassy women have had clothes made by local seamstresses, but finding a good one is a challenge, as many have been slow, with poor customer service skills and a tendency to make clothes that fit like a second skin and may show more of yours than you are comfortable with. Mail-order catalogs are a staple of existence for many Embassy families.

Children Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:43 AM

Some children's clothing is available locally, but selection and quality are spotty. Bring children's clothes and shoes with you. Many Embassy families do a lot of mail-order and internet shopping, and this can be a good option.

Office Attire Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:26 AM

Embassy employees dress professionally. Dress for after-hours receptions is business, but Moldovan women tend more toward cocktail attire. The Moldovans in general are fashion-conscious and tend to dress well, and often more formally than Americans would in similar settings.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:30 AM

Although Chisinau shops carry an ever‑greater variety of items, do not rely solely on the local economy since supplies are erratic ( though improving) and the price/quality ratio is higher than in the U.S. The following items are available, although supply, quality and price fluctuate wildly: toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, first‑aid items, tobacco products, laundry detergent and other basic home, recreational and entertainment supplies. Ship a large stock of items you use regularly in your household goods or consumables shipment before coming to post, especially if you prefer a particular brand name. A good basic rule is to decide how devoted you are to a specific brand or kind of product. The vast majority of generic items is available. Simple household items (pails, brooms, etc.) can be bought locally, but the quality is lower than in the U.S. Some glassware and crystal is also available locally. Bring garment bags, hot water bottles, heating pads, contraceptives, hangers, tools such as hammers and screwdrivers, assorted screws and nails, glues, clothespins, Scotch tape, European‑style converter plugs (NOT British), extension cords, picture‑hanging hooks and wire, flashlights (large and pocket‑sized), batteries, and lighter fluid. If your child uses disposable diapers, send a supply in your household effects and airfreight. Cloth diapers shipped in your luggage and airfreight are good insurance against shipping delays. Shipping a small non‑electric barbecue grill may prove useful. Bring gift‑wrapping paper and accessories, birthday candles, stationery items, greeting cards (especially Christmas cards), party decorations, party games for children and adults, and party favors. The Embassy does not sell U.S. postage stamps; bring a good supply (Note: the Embassy Employee Association plans to begin selling stamps in the near future.) You may wish to bring an artificial Christmas tree and decorations. As the local emphasis is either on New Year’s Day (formerly the Soviet, customary “Christmas”) or Orthodox Christmas, January 7, fir trees are in limited supply for the Western Christmas. The Embassy has obtained them in the past from local nureseries, but they are not the full, beautifully shaped firs Americans envision - more the tall, spindly, "Charlie Brown" variety!

Some children’s toys are sold locally, but they are not as durable or attractive as those you bring or order. If you have small children, include small toys, games and birthday greeting cards. If you have a pet, ship food, pet shampoo, and other necessary items in your household effects or consumables. Plants, flowers, and seeds are available locally, but household and outdoor gardening supplies and sprays are generally not. Indoor gardeners should ship pots. Bring art supplies: brushes, canvas, poster board, drawing pencils, and paints; and needlework and sewing supplies. Bring sporting equipment, clothing and supplies. Bring photographic supplies and equipment. Western‑style color film developing is good quality and inexpensive in Moldova, although currently, local developers are not able to handle Advantix film.

Basic Services Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:31 AM

GSO handles most household repairs. Generally, basic supplies and services are expensive and irregularly available. Most repairs are hindered by a lack of spare parts. Barbershops are, in most cases, satisfactory. Beauty salons offer a range of services from pedicures and manicures to hair and eyelash coloring. The variety of salon‑quality products is limited. Therefore, if you use a specific brand of hair coloring and/or treatment products, you should purchase them where available. Good quality dry cleaning is available.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:33 AM

Most Embassy personnel employ a Moldovan to help with cleaning and/or cooking and gardening. The Embassy CLO Office maintains an employment file and can be a source of referrals and personal references. Personnel have easily found serving and cooking help for representational functions, and there are some goodl ocal caterers. Good, reliable help is available very inexpensively, and English‑speakers are becoming easier to find, though still the majority of domestic employees do not speak English.

Host country laws concerning payment and legal employment of local help are still vague and changing. Contact the Administrative Section after your arrival for the latest information in this area. If you plan to bring any sort of servant or governess with you, notify the Administrative Section early to initiate arrangements for the required documentation and registration with the Moldovan Government.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:35 AM

Although most residents of Moldova are at least nominally Orthodox, Protestant churches have increased their activities in recent years with the increased religious freedom. Baptists, Seventh‑day Adventists, the Church of Latter‑day Saints, and other denominations hold services in churches around Chisinau and in many other areas. The Salvation Army is active in Moldova, and provides space for a weekly English language service led by a lay Lutheran minister from the Embassy community; these services will last as long as the family is here. There is a small Roman Catholic community, with one Catholic Church in Chisinau. It holds services in Romanian, Russian, Polish, and German (sometimes during the same mass). Occasionally an English-language service is held. There is one working synagogue in Chisinau for the Jewish community.

Education Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Presently, most people at post send their children to the QSI International School of Chisinau, an affiliate of Quality Schools International. All classes are taught in English and the school uses an American curriculum. Several English-speaking, non‑Embassy children attend the QSI in Chisinau. Some expatriate families follow home‑study courses with their children. Enrollment (pre‑K‑8) at the QSI for the 1999–2000 school year was 22 students.

There are several, excellent private pre‑K and grammar schools with curriculums taught either in Romanian or Russian. Both the Romanian and Russian curriculums emphasize foreign language training, English being one of the most widely taught languages. A growing number of expatriate children are enrolled in local pre‑K and kindergarten programs (kindergarten typically is extended through age six, with children starting grammar school at age seven). Presently, there are no high‑school age, expatriate dependents attending school in Chisinau. University‑level education in Moldova normally requires mastery of Russian or Romanian as a basic prerequisite.

Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 9/2/2003 9:28 AM Quality School International (QSI) is the only school in Chisinau offering a U.S. curriculum. QSI is a private, American-owned co-educational school offering instruction to children from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. Enrollment for the 2002-2003 school year was 11 children. There is no American-curriculum high school available in Chisinau. Children of DOS and DOD employees are given an option to attend grades 9-12 in boarding schools in Europe or the United States. QSI’s after-school activities include computer classes, Romanian and Russian language classes, art classes and karate. The school has a cafeteria where Moldovan-style lunches may be purchased. The U.S. Embassy provides transportation to and from school for all USG dependents.

Pre-school is offered at QSI. The annual tuition for QSI pre-school is around $8000.00. There are several options for pre- school on the local economy. Many expats and diplomats have been very pleased with the local “detskii sads” or Moldovan pre-schools. The CLO has a complete list of local pre-schools.

Away From Post Last Updated: 9/2/2003 9:34 AM No American-style accedited schools are available in Chisinau for high school students. Department of Defense dependents attend a boarding school in London, while State dependents have attended other European boarding schools, but most families at Post have not had high school-aged children.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 9/2/2003 9:34 AM

There are no facilities locally for special needs children, and the QSI School does not have a special needs program.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 8/29/2003 8:37 AM

There are a number of tennis courts in Chisinau that are fairly inexpensive. Clay courts predominate. There is a large new bowling facility, and several pools (the CLO keeps information on cleanliness and hours.) Horse-back riding is possible.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/2/2003 9:41 AM

Chisinau has a number of nice parks to walk through, including the Stefan cel Mare Park, downtown, complete with fountain and busts of famous Moldovans, the Botanical Gardens, for the more serious hiker, and even a park behind the Embassy. Many Embassy employees have enjoyed day trips to some of Moldova's many monasteries, such as Old Orhei (Orheiul Vechi), Capriana, Saharna, and the fortress at Soroca. Many date from the times of Stefan cel Mare.

Entertainment Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:49 AM

Like any other city, Chisinau has a charm and warmth all its own. Visitors can easily find some interesting activities in Chisinau. In the fall and winter the local opera and concert circuit comes alive. The quality of the performances is good, and tickets are very inexpensive. Embassy em,ployees sometimes find attending weekday performances difficult, as most start at 6:00 pm, making it necessary to leave work early. Chisinau’s numerous music schools support and promote classical music. Concerts are held at the Organ Hall, the National Palace, the Philharmonic Hall, and the Theater of Opera and Ballet.

There are two local movie theaters that meet Western standards: comfortable seating, surround sound, and large screens. The Patria theater screens American movies dubbed over in Russian. The Odeon Theater screens American movies in English with Romanian subtitles. In addition there is a local club that shows films in English throughout the week. The CLO maintains a library of books and videos to borrow, as well, and the local cable company offers HBO from Romania, which is mostly English-language programming with Romanian subtitles.

The National Library of the Republic of Moldova carries primarily Russian and Romanian books but has a small selection of English- and other foreign-language books. There are several museums in town, including the Museum of Natural History and Ethnography, the National History Museum, and the Pushkin Museum. (The famous Russian poet lived in Moldova 1820–23.)

There are a new amusement park and a variety of circus shows in Chisinau. Chisinau has a small city zoo and a lovely Botanical Garden.

Social Activities Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Social activities include private parties and governmental and diplomatic receptions. The International Women’s Club of Moldova sponsors activities and interest groups for its members. The Moldova‑International Charity Association formed by expatriates, raises funds for Moldovan children. These two organizations sponsor several annual events that expatriates look forward to and attend: The October Charity Ball, the December Christmas Bazaar, and the March St. Patrick’s Day Auction. The Embassy’s Fourth of July celebration is a big event in Chisinau. Moldovans are generally curious to see how Americans live, and will respond to social invitations. They are generous hosts and appreciative guests, as Moldovans are willing to experiment with most foods. The music culture is very deep in Moldova and many people include the performance of music in an evening of dinner with guests.

Among Americans Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:53 AM The CLO organizes frequent group outings and events, and Embassy community members find themselves running into one another frequently at receptions and other events. The small size of the American community means that many Embassy families form close friendships and spend time together. With no Marine Security Guard Detachment as yet, and a relatively young employee's Association, there aren't established Happy Hour traditions, but the occasional CLO-sponsored movie night or chili cook-off are fun-filled affairs.

International Contacts Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:55 AM Chisinau's diplomatic community is small but growing, and there are many familiar faces at most receptions. The staff of the small British Embassy and the OSCE Mission have excellent relations with our Embassy staff. Chisinau has an active Internation Women's Club, and its meetings, fundraisers, and dinners provide both a social outlet and an opportunity for philanthropy and networking for employees and spouses alike.

Official Functions Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Moldovan Government official entertaining is infrequent, with business dress appropriate for all occasions. About 15 diplomatic missions or international organizations celebrate their respective national days or hold other official functions. Officers entertain small groups of Moldovans who often reciprocate with meals at a rural residence of their family or a family friend. During a 2‑year tour, 500 business cards can evaporate. Cards can be printed locally, and Moldovans often appreciate a Cyrillic version on the reverse. The number of invitation cards needed would vary greatly with personal style and type of housing obtained.

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:57 AM

Most official functions are standard cocktail/buffet receptions. The Defense Attache and Ambassador are frequently asked to participate in wreath-layings, ribbon-cuttings and other ceremonies.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 9/4/2003 7:59 AM

Standards of conduct here are much the same as at the majority of Embassies, with few unique customs or requirements, although it is much more likely here than in the U.S. that a morning meeting could include the offer of cognac. Most Moldovan interlocutors will understand if you politely refuse or request coffee instead.

Special Information Last Updated: 9/4/2003 8:02 AM

Travel. Travel by car into Moldova from the West through the Albita-Leuseni crossing in Romania is the most convenient Romanian border crossing for international land traffic. Crossings by car at some other Moldovan‑Romanian border posts are possible but are less convenient. A traveler should expect possible delays at immigration and customs going in both directions at the Albita‑Leuseni crossing. A traveler with a diplomatic passport is entitled to move around the line of cars and trucks, which are frequently backed up, and proceed to the border post. CD license tags facilitate this travel, but the display of the diplomatic passport can accomplish the same expedited treatment. Visas are not required in diplomatic passports, but travelers with tourist passports should arrange to get visas before attempting a border crossing.

Travelers in cars should expect to be occasionally waved over by local police for routine inspections. Travelers driving by car into the Eastern region of the country Transnistria should expect to be stopped by Russian “Peacekeepers” and then by Transnistria border guards at the outskirts of Tighina (Bender) and when crossing over to the left bank driving toward Tiraspol. Depending upon where a traveler is driving in or around Transnistria, a car may be stopped by Transnistrian authorities, Russian forces, Moldovan police, or joint patrols consisting of two or three of the above. Discipline of forces in the security zone and at internal checkpoints in Transnistria is problematic at night. The city of Tighina (Bender) is in the security zone.

Drinking water is a concern. Several small Western‑style food shops sell bottled water as well as other light provisions‑cheese, bread, and snacks.

Travel by air:

Air travel is often expensive and can involve many legs. Daily service is available only to Budapest, Vienna, Bucharest, and Moscow.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/7/2003 10:09 AM

All flights to Moldova come into Chisinau airport, located roughly 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the city center and the Embassy. There are daily flights from Moscow, Bucharest, Vienna, and Budapest , and several weekly flights from Amsterdam, Istanbul, Timisoara, Athens and Rome. Budapest and Vienna are the most heavily used connections, with Amsterdam as a good alternative. Travelers are reminded that they must comply with the “Fly America Act” and other regulations when traveling on official trips (PCS, TDY, R&R, or any travel paid for by the Department.)

Chisinau may be reached by land from Western Europe, with Embassy staff finding the trip to be very scenic but tiring. The eastern Carpathian Mountains in Romania require slow driving, even in good weather. Some travelers have taken a picturesque route through northern Transylvania and Bukovina, crossing the Carpathians near the Romanian city Suceava. Others have taken a southern route, crossing the Carpathians south of the Romanian city Brasov. Travelers may note that maps show routes over the mountains between these two points. These mountain passes can be dangerous and should be avoided without prior information on road conditions and weather. See the “Passage” section of this Post Report for further relevant details about border crossing.

Many gas stations are available en‑route. Gasoline in Moldova and Romania may be purchased with local currency. Full‑service stations (with windshield washing and oil checks) are available mainly in large cities, so be sure that your vehicle is in good condition before traveling. Carry spare belts, etc., for small emergency repairs on the road. In general, fill up the tank before traveling. Winter driving on Moldovan roads is hazardous, and you will not find places to stop should the need arise. Do not drive to Chisinau in winter. Avoid driving in threatening or treacherous weather no matter how sturdy or well equipped your car is. Bring nonperishable foods and soft drinks or bottled water for consumption on the road. The drive to Chisinau can be made from Budapest in two driving days. From the Greek or Turkish borders driving to Chisinau should take about 24 hours. Employees traveling with small children may need to add an extra day. Roads in Eastern Europe are two lane, and traffic is light to moderate by Western standards. Encountering slow moving trucks, tractors, tractor‑trailer trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, and horse‑drawn carts is not unusual. Allow ample time for these inconveniences. Be sure your Moldovan visa is in order before arriving at the border, unless you have a diplomatic passport.

Do not drive at night in Eastern Europe. The road and most vehicles are poorly lighted, and people and livestock are often in the middle of the road. Never drive fast and be alert to pedestrians (who fail, in most cases, to look before stepping out into traffic) and other obstacles. In Moldova, pedestrians do not obey traffic signals, and the streets are dimly lit. Caution is strongly advised for evening driving. Fog can be a problem in fall and winter. Highways can be slippery when wet and one must beware of dirt and mud left by farm vehicles. Become familiar with international road signs before driving into Moldova. Have available your car’s registration papers and the internationally recognized “green card” third‑party liability insurance.

Americans may transit (or visit) Romania and Hungary without a visa. If you plan to drive to post, inform the Embassy of your itinerary. Advise the post if you encounter any unusual difficulties. Obtain an international drivers license before driving to post, which is available in the U.S. from the American Automobile Association. You must have a valid U.S. or foreign license and maintain its validity.

International rail connections are possible from Bucharest, Moscow, and Kiev. However, staff who have used these routes have not reported favorably about the experience. Some travelers have been victims of theft. Post strongly recommends against traveling to post by train if you have accompanying children. Carefully check routes and train changes (if any) before boarding. Holders of official passports might be detained at the border crossing if visas are not in order. Bring plenty of food and snacks when traveling by car or train in Eastern Europe.

Personal airfreight is sometimes slow in arriving, even from points in Western Europe or the U.S. (make allowance for at least 3 weeks). Bring as much as you can in your accompanied baggage, especially seasonal clothing, toiletries, and any special medications. Address airfreight to:

American Embassy Chisinau, Moldova

Please advise GSO of the planned routing and if your airfreight will contain any special items other than clothing and household goods (e.g., electric items, cameras, jewelry, etc.). Do not ship firearms or ammunition in your accompanied baggage or airfreight, or alchohol in your airfreight.

Air Moldova will charge for hand baggage over 20 kilograms. If so, be sure to get a receipt. Have cases no larger than 28 inches (71 centimeters) high by 55 inches (140 centimeters) long by 43 inches (109 centimeters) wide. Larger cases will not fit into the cargo holds of some Air Moldova planes. Contact GSO regarding routing, addressing, and consignment or surface shipments and automobiles sent to Chisinau. Bring as much documentation as you can about your shipment with you to post. Inventories of surface shipments must specifically list special items such as art objects, coin and stamp collections, photographic equipment or other electronic equipment, jewelry, and other unusual or valuable objects.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 8/7/2003 10:01 AM

Personnel may import duty free the following: household effects (HHE), foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco products, automobiles and other items for personal use during their tour of duty. Post regulations do not permit importing arms, ammunition, explosives, or drugs without prior post approval. Personal effects for diplomatic and official personnel are exempt from customs inspections except when they are believed to contain forbidden items or goods subject to quarantine.

All personal shipments for diplomatic personnel must be cleared through customs. Airfreight can easily be tracked if you know your airway bill number. The State Department Transportation Office can provide this information a few days after your airfreight is packed out.

The Embassy has limited storage facilities. Shipments should not arrive long before the employee. Shipments are held in ELSO Antwerp and requested so that the arrival of the goods coincides as closely as possible with the arrival of the employee. Shipments originating in the US usually take 2 -3 months to arrive.

Embassy personnel order a number of personal items in packages through the State Department Diplomatic Pouch. These packages are not subject to inspection by Moldovan authorities. This should not be used to circumvent local law or Embassy regulations, however.

Routine personal belongings and HHE for all personnel can be exported duty free. Automobiles for diplomatic personnel can be imported duty free. Alcohol may be includied in your outward shipment, but should be noted on the packing list. Employees will be responsible for any customs fees.

Passage Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:57 AM

Entering Moldova involves a minimum of formalities for holders of diplomatic passports, and treatment is usually courteous at all border points. Those American travelers by car who already have their Moldovan visas can cross the Moldovan‑Romanian border at the three officially specified points, in the Moldovan cities of Sculeni, Leuseni, and Cahul. There are several border crossings that may only be used by Moldovan and Romanian nationals. Americans without diplomatic passports may purchase visas upon arrival at the airport, but not at the land crossings.

Bearers of diplomatic passports are not required to have visas in order to cross at the border. Diplomats in cars receive the courtesy of driving to the front of the line. Immunization records are not routinely checked. Have an international license plate issued by the country of sale for new cars purchased in Europe. No special regulations restrict incoming baggage: use common sense, as incoming baggage may be X‑rayed at the airport and a suspicious‑looking item could cause problems. Moldova has its own currency, the “leu,” which by law must be used for all purchases. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted, so that one should bring a major Western currency, preferably U.S. dollars, for exchange purposes. Since pickpockets and other thieves are becoming more common, a neck pouch, money belt, or similar compartment is recommended.

Bring extra passport‑sized photos for use in obtaining visas if travel is planned outside Moldova, especially to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Pets Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:55 AM

No regulations restrict importing cats and dogs. Before arrival, pet owners should ensure that their pets are properly immunized and that they have immunization records (primarily rabies vaccine within one year prior to arrival in Moldova) and health certificate records, certified by a public health authority in the sending country. The health certificate should have been issued within 1 week prior to the animal’s departure (this is not strictly enforced.) Bring or ship any special needs such as worm medicine or particular food. Properly documented animals are cleared quickly through customs. Be sure all pet records are completely up‑to‑date before arrival. Bring the pet with you to post. Do not send the pet as unaccompanied baggage, as local airlines may refuse to accept it. If you are arriving at Post with a pet or pets, please inform the GSO Travel Assistant in advance for help with travel arrangements and customs clearance. There is a small fee at the airport ($2-3 per pet) for veterinary services.

Do not ship your pet in advance of your own arrival since the post has no boarding facilities. Since local veterinarians do not always have vaccines, make sure your pet has all needed shots before you come. If you anticipate a need for particular medicines, ship a supply or make arrangements with a veterinarian to send additional supplies. Many local veterinarians have worked with Embassy animals and they are generally very inexpensive and pleasant. They even make house calls - but few speak English.

Employees are financially responsible for any damage to Embassy housing and furniture caused by pets. Some pet owners have made arrangements with local veterinarians to make home visits. However, immunization for distemper and rabies differ from those used in the West, and the Embassy does not keep a supply of veterinary medicines on hand. Chisinau has a fair number of homeless cats and dogs that live on the streets. Another danger to domestic animals may be from rodent‑control poison, which can be set out without notice around garbage areas, resulting in reports of accidental poisoning, although no cases have been reported in the past year.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:50 AM

Since conditions relating to the importation of firearms and ammunition may change, consult the post security officer before considering importation of weapons or ammunition. Permission of the Chief of Mission is necessary to bring a weapon, and local registration can be difficult.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:49 AM

Since November 1993, the Moldovan currency has been the leu (plural, lei; fractions, banii). It is convertible on the current account, and trades at a market rate against any other market currency, though it is not a “hard” currency. Bank transfers can be made into Moldova and bank accounts in hard currency can be opened, but checking accounts are virtually unknown and personal checks are essentially nonnegotiable. Traveler’s checks are accepted by at least some banks and currency exchanges, but commissions for cashing them for hard currencies can be high (for lei transactions, the normal commission is 2%). Credit cards are only slowly becoming accepted for purchases, and use of credit cards can be risky, so that Moldova remains largely a cash economy. This is in transition, and some ATMs have even come on‑line. By law, all payments in Moldova must be made in lei, not in dollars (many businesses will take dollars, but will convert it to lei at less favorable rates than those available at the exchanges or at the Embassy cashier.) Moldova is on the metric system.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:47 AM

Restrictions Moldovan customs regulations stipulate that a diplomat’s personal effects and goods are imported duty‑free under diplomatic privilege are for the sole use of the diplomat and family who import the goods, and may not be resold duty-free to Moldovan citizens or any other resident non‑diplomat. Upon transfer from post, you may sell personal property only with the approval of the Chief of Mission or designee. All sales must be in accordance with Department policy. Moldovan regulations do not currently distinguish between staff and officers.

Moldovan currency regulations stipulate that an incoming traveler may bring in any amount of foreign currency or travelers checks, but amounts must be stated in a declaration and a currency exchange declaration form (a loose piece of paper) is placed in the passport. Travelers should ensure this paper remains in the passport until departure from Moldova. When leaving Moldova, the traveler must show the same currency and checks as upon entry, or list any amount named in a certificate of exchange from the Moldovan National Bank. Moldovan authorities enforce this rule unpredictably. Holders of diplomatic passports are exempt from this regulation and should firmly refuse to make a currency declaration on entry. Non-diplomatic personnel, however, should comply with the regulation and should make a declaration. Moldovan authorities prohibit the import or export of Moldovan lei.

Currency exchange services are prevalent and generally rates do not vary significantly.

Diplomats may request refund of the VAT tax (20%) with proper receipts. The Financial Section can help you with this.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 8/7/2003 9:44 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Dima, Nicolae. From Moldavia to Moldova.

Fonseca, Isabel. Bury Me Standing: the Gypsies and Their Journey. New York: Vintage Press, 1995.

Goma, Paul. My Childhood at the Gates of Unrest. Columbia, La.: Readers International, Inc., 1990.

Horton, Nancy. Chisinau, Moldova: The Essential Guide. Chisinau: Lonely Peasant Publications, 1999.

King, Charles. The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1999

Sugar, Pete S. Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1977.

Hawks, Tony. Playing the Moldovans at Tennis.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 6/30/2000 6:00 PM

Orthodox Christmas Date varies Easter Sunday Date varies Orthodox Easter Date varies Memorial Easter 7 days after Orthodox Easter International Women’s Day March 8 Labor Day May 1 Victory Day May 9 National Day August 27 Language Day August 31

The Embassy also celebrates U.S. holidays.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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