Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldovan SSR in 1991, as part of the devolution of the Soviet Union. A strip of Moldova's internationally recognized territory on the east bank of the river Nistru has been under the de facto control of the breakaway government of Transnistria since 1990.
The culture of Moldova is a combination of Romanian culture and Soviet culture. The traditional Latin origins of Romanian culture reach back to the second century A.D., the period of Roman colonization in Dacia.
Although the folk arts flourished, similarities with Romanian culture were hidden. Music and dance, particularly encouraged by Soviet authorities, were made into a showcase, but were subtly distorted to hide their Romanian origins. For example, the national folk costume, in which the traditional Romanian moccasin (opinca — shown above) was replaced by the Russian boot. Moldova's traditional folk culture is very rich. The ancient folk ballads, such as "Mioriţa" and "Meşterul Manole" play a central role in this traditional culture.