The geography of Moldova

The Republic of Moldova is situated on the second meantime zone. It occupies the biggest part of the territory between Prut and Nistru, and a narrow strip of the river Nistru in its middle and inferior course (waterway). On the map the Republic of Moldova, in accordance to the configuration of its frontiers is alike a grape. The toatal area is 33 843 square km, the republic occupies in this respect the 32nd place in Europe. The distance between the north extreme limit and the south extremity limit is 350 km, and from east to west is 150km. An important specific feature of the economic-geographical position of the Republic of Moldova is the fact that the Ukraine is its neighbour.

The south frontier of the republic lies till the Black Sea, the entrance to the sea is opened by the liman Nistru and delta Danube. These are the ways the Republic of Moldova has economic relations with the countries situated in the Danubian basin (area).

The extreme points:
The lowest point: Nistru river –2m
The highest point – Mount Bălăneşti –430m
North extreme: Naslavcea
South extreme: Giurgiulesti
West extreme: Criva
East extreme: Palanca


The actual natural conditions of the Republic of Moldova formed in the biggest part on the influence of physic-geographical neighbouring regions: the south-west part of the Plain of East Europe and the mountainous system Carpaţi. That is why, in spite of the relatively short area, the territory of the republic has a diverse character, heterogeneous and natural contrastant conditions.

The relief is uniform, uneven, characterized by the alternation of plains and altitude. The climate has a passing character from the climate of the West Europe to the climate of the East Europe. The climate is moderately continental with mild winters and hot summers. The network of rivers formed by the rivers Prut and Nistru, but also of a number of short and unimportant rivers, most of them in summer dray some portions. The soil is very varied, black soil (chernozem) predominates. The natural vegetation that in past occupied big territories, now occupies only an unimportant area, but it has a diversity of species. The fauna of the republic is poorer than in past. From our formerly forests and steppes in the last centuries a lot of species of animals disappeared, or if they didn’t disappear their number decreased numerically. However, in the Republic of Moldova remained some species of animals and rare plants, different monuments of the still-life nature, natural territorial complexes that have a specific unrepeatable structure.

On the territory of the republic the atmospheric circulation is characterized by the preponderance of masses of warm air, in certain periods is wet, this one comes from West, from the Atlantic Ocean. Periodically, on the territory of Moldova there are other masses of air: the warm and wet air that comes from Mediterranean Sea, that brings abundant rains: the soft air, moderately continental from the east and south-east of the Plain of the East Europe conditioned the scorching heat and drought, the invasion of the arctic air causes an unexpectedly change of the weather and an ebbing of the temperature.

The average annual temperature of the air on the whole territory of the republic has positive values. It oscillates from +7,5°C in the north (Briceni) to +10°C in the south (Cahul).

The territory of Moldova takes part of the zone with insufficient humidity. The average annual quantity of precipitations is about 400— 550 mm, that are from 550mm in the north-west to 400mm in the south and south-east.

Beginning with the invasion of masses of cold air from east and north-east, that leads to the ebbing of the temperature. The average air temperature in January is -5°C in the north of the republic (Briceni) and -3°C in the south (Cahul). In certain years, when arctic masses of air are present for a long time on the territory, in the republic there are the lowest temperatures: -30 -36°C.

In spring the eastern circulation of masses of air characterized for winter months, step-by-step is replaced by the western circulation, but in this time on the territory of the republic the cyclones penetrate. There is an increase of the solar radiation. Every-day positive temperatures are established and grow day by day. The weather is unstable determined by the invasion of the cold arctic air that brings the spring frosts.

In summer is sunny, warm and droughty. The solar radiation attains maxim heights. Average values of temperature in July are +19,5°C (Briceni) and +22°C (Cahul). Sometimes from the south come masses of tropical air, which bring droughty and warm weather with temperatures to 30 – 35°C.

The first part of the autumn is characterized by a calm, sunny and warm weather. Step by step, in the second part of the season, there is an intensification of the penetration of masses of cold air from east and north-east, which determines the ebbing of the temperature of the air.

Water resources are about 6-7 mlrd m3 per year. There are about 85% of them, which are for water surface and 15% for underground water. Water surface is represented in the biggest part by the rivers Nistru and Prut, a less weight will be for rivers and lakes. The anual volume of water consumed is in average about 1,2 mlrd m3.

TopographyMoldavian Plateau

Most of Moldova's territory is a moderate hilly plateau cut deeply by many streams and rivers. Geologically, Moldova lies primarily on deep sedimentary rock that gives way to harder crystalline outcroppings only in the north. Moldova's hills are part of the Moldavian Plateau, which geologically originate from the Carpathian Mountains.

The northern landscape of Moldova is characterized by gently rolling uplands of the Dniester Hills (up to 300 meters, or 1000 feet, in elevation) interlaced with small flat plains in the valleys of the numerous creeks (at 150 meters or 500-foot elevation). These hills, which have an average altitude of 240 meters and a maximum altitude of 320 meters, can be divided into the Northern Moldavian Hills and the Dniester Ridge, and continue further occupying the northern part of the Chernivtsi oblast in Ukraine. The eastern slopes of the Dniester Ridge (average 250 meters, max 347 meters), form the high right bank of the Dniester River.

Geology of Moldova

The Moldavian Plain has an average of 200 meters and a maximum altitude of 250 meters, and can be divided into the Bălţi Steppe and the Middle Prut Valley. Originally forested, it has been extensively de-forested for agriculture during the 19th and 20th centuries. In contrast to the region to the north and south, which is smore slant, this area is referred to as plain, although it has relief very different from that of a flatland, and vegetation different from that of the steppe.

Natural habitat of Moldova

The hills of central Moldova, the Central Moldavian Plateau, at an average elevation of about 350 to 400 meters (1150–1300 feet), are ridges interlaced by deep, flat valleys, ravines, and landslide-scoured depressions. Steep forest-clad slopes account for much of the terrain, where the most common trees are hornbeam, oak, linden, maple, wild pear, and wild cherry. The term Codri refers more generally to all the forests between the Carpathians and the Dniester river, and even more generally to all forests in the area of the Carpathians, yet since in Moldova most of them were preserved in the central part, Codri sometimes can colloquially refer to the remaining forests in the hills west and north of Chişinău. The Dniester Ridge border Central Moldavian Plateau to the north along the river Răut.

The plateau can be divided into 5 parts: Ciuluc-Soloneţ Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Ciuluc-Soloneţ), alongated in the north along the right side of the Răut river, 1,690 km^2, Corneşti Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Corneştilor), also known as Cordi Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Codrilor), 4,740 km^2, Lower Dniester Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Nistrului Inferior), alongated to the south of the Botna river, 3,040 km^2, Tigheci Hills (Romanian: Dealurile Tigheciului), alongated in the south along the left side of the Prut river, 3,550 km^2, and between the latter and the Prut river, the Lower Prut Valley (Romanian: Valea Prutului Inferior), 1,810 km^2.

The country's highest point, Bălăneşti Hill, which reaches 1407 feet (429 m) or 1410 feet (430 m), depending on the source, is situated in the Corneşti Hills, the western part of the Central Moldavian Plateau. Northwest of it are the Ciuluc-Soloneţ Hills (average 250 meters, max 388 meters). In the south, the Tigheci Hills (average 200 meters, max 301 meters) are a prolongation, and run to the south parallel to the Lower Prut Valley.

To the south-east, the southern part of the Central Moldavian Plateau, which averages 150-200 meters, max 250 meters, and has numerous ravines and gullies, gradually vanishs into the extensive Bugeac Plain, with most of the Budjak region already in Ukraine.

Transnistria (the left bank of the Dniester) has spurs of the Podolian Plateau (Romanian: Podişul Podoliei, Ukrainian: Volyno-Podil's'ka vysochyna), (average 180, max 275 meters), which are cut into by tributaries of the Dniester River. The southern half of Transnistria, the Lower Dniester Plain, can be regarded as the western end of the Eurasian steppe, and has an average elevation of 100 meters, with a maximum of 170 meters. The high right bank and low left bank of the Dniester are in sharp contrast here, where visibility is not impeded by forests.

About 75 percent of Moldova is covered by a soil type called black earth or chernozem. In the northern hills, more clay textured soils are found; in the south, red-earth soil is predominant. The soil becomes less fertile toward the south but can still support grape and sunflower production. The hills have woodland soils, while a small portion in southern Moldova is in the steppe zone, although most steppe areas today are cultivated. The lower reaches of the Prut and Dniester rivers and the southern river valleys are saline marshes.

Drainage in Moldova is to the south, toward the Black Sea lowlands, and eventually into the Black Sea, but only eight rivers and creeks extend more than 100 kilometers. Moldova's main river, the Dniester, is navigable throughout almost the entire country, and in warmer winters it does not freeze over. The Prut river is a tributary of the Danube, which it joins at the far southwestern tip of the country. Over 95% of the water circulation in Moldova flows into one of the two rivers - the Prut or Dniester. Of Moldova's well-developed network of about 3,000 creeks and streams, all draining south to the Black Sea, only 246 exceed 6 miles (10 kilometres) in length, and only 8 exceed 60 miles (100 km).

Underground water, extensively used for the country's water supply, includes about 2,200 natural springs. The terrain favours construction of reservoirs of various size.

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: an unnamed point on the bank of the Dniester River 2 m
highest point: Dealul Bălăneşti 430 m

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