ABOUT The Republic of Moldova lies in the central part of Europe in the northeastern Balkans. Moldova occupies an area of 33,843.5 km2. The capital of Moldova is Chisinau. On the North, East and South Moldova is surrounded by Ukraine, and on the West it is separated from Romania by the Prut River. Post war, the Soviets created a largely artificial Moldavian language and sought to encourage the creation of a separate Moldavian nation. This fiction could not disguise the fact that the Moldavians are essentially Romanian, and although Moldova's initially expressed aspiration of union with Romania is now much more muted, the Moldovan flag is basically that of Romania with the addition of the national coat of arms on the yellow stripe.

CLIMATE The climate of the Republic of Moldova is moderately continental. It is characterized by a lengthy frost-free period, short mild winters, lengthy hot summers, modest precipitation, and long dry periods in the south. The average annual temperature increases southward from around 8-9°C in the north to around 10-11°C in the south. The average annual precipitation varies between 600-650 mm in the north and the center and 500-550 mm in the south and the southeast.

BEWARE Be alert to the risk of street crime and petty theft, particularly in Chisinau, and for pickpockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas. Try not to draw attention to yourself. Credit card and ATM fraud is on the increase. Avoid using credit/debit cards whenever possible and take precautions when using ATMs. Keep your valuables and passport in hotel safes and carry a copy of your passport with you. It is useful to carry a small torch after dark, as street lighting is poor. The Transnistria region is not under Moldovan government control and seeks independence. Since July 2006, there have been two explosions on or near public transport in the regional capital Tiraspol. While the motives remain unclear, there is no evidence to suggest that these attacks were linked to any terrorist group or organisation. Take care if you travel to Transnistria and avoid getting into difficulty with the Transnistrian authorities.