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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 http://hrweb.hr.state.gov/flo/FLOSubscription.html.
For those who have Internet access, subscribe to FLO publications
online at http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c9156.htm
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.