Moldovans or Moldavians (Romanian: moldoveni, pronounced [moldoˈvenʲ]; Moldovan Cyrillic: Молдовень) are the largest ethnic group of the Republic of Moldova (75.1% of the population, as of 2014), and a significant minority in Ukraine and Russia. Under the variant Moldavians, the term may also be used to refer to all inhabitants of the territory of historical Principality of Moldavia, currently divided among Romania (47.5%), Moldova (30.5%) and Ukraine (22%), regardless of ethnic identity.
This article refers to the Moldovan/Romanian language-speaking population native to the Republic of Moldova, the historical Bessarabia and diaspora originating from these regions, self-identified as Moldovans (in Moldova, another 7% of the Moldovan/Romanian language-speaking native population self-identified as Romanians).
The largest share (47.5%) of the territory of the historical Principality of Moldavia together with all its formal capitals (Târgul Moldovei, Suceava, a
The largest share (47.5%) of the territory of the historical Principality of Moldavia together with all its formal capitals (Târgul Moldovei, Suceava, and Iaşi) and the famous painted churches are located in Romania. The river Moldova (possibly, the origin of the name of the Principality, see Etymology of Moldova) now flows entirely through Romania. After the Russian annexation of Bessarabia in 1812, and Austrian annexation of Bukovina in 1775, the rest of Moldova united with Wallachia and formed the modern Romania.
In 1998, Constantin Simirad, the former mayor of Iaşi founded the Party of the Moldavians (Partidul Moldovenilor) which later joined the Social Democratic Party.Iaşi founded the Party of the Moldavians (Partidul Moldovenilor) which later joined the Social Democratic Party. However, the party's declared objective was to represent the interests of the Moldavia region in Romania rather than any ethnic identification.
According to the Romanian census of 2002, there are 4.7 million Romanian speakers in the eight counties that were once part of the Principality of Moldavia. The number of people, if any, who possibly declared themselves as Moldovans in this census is impossible to know, since "Moldovan" is officially considered a regional identity in Romania.[failed verification] The Romanian-speaking inhabitants of these counties generally refer to themselves as "Moldavians", but declare Romanian ethnicity.
In February 2007, a small group of Romanian citizens who created the "Moldovan/Moldavian Community in Romania" (Comunitatea moldovenilor din România) attempted unsuccessfully to gain recognition of the minority status for Moldovans from Romania. The organization was initially registered legally, but the decision was soon reverted. Around the same time, during a visit to Moldova, three delegates met with President Vladimir Voronin, who promised them his support. Being denied legal recognition the Community eventually dissolved.
In Romania, the Moldovans from Bessarabia region (contemporary Republic of Moldova included) are usually called Bessarabians (basarabeni) in order to distinguish them from the inhabitants of Eastern Romania.
The major denomination in Moldova is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The majority of Moldovan Orthodox Christians belong to the Moldovan Orthodox Church, a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, while a minority belongs to the Metropolis of Bessarabia, a branch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Both bodies are in full communion, the dispute between them being purely territorial and revolves around the legitimate succession of the interwar Metropolitan See of Bessarabia. As of 2007, the Moldovan Orthodox Church has 1255 parishes, while the Metropolis of Bessarabia has 219.