The origin of the Moldavians has a long and complicated history. They trace their descent from eastern Romance tribes (referred to in Russian chronicles as the Volokhs) that migrated to the territory between the Prut and the Dniester, where they began in the sixth century to mingle gradually with Slavs and other local ethnic groups.
The formation of the Moldavian nationality at the foothills of the Carpathians had been completed by the fourteenth century, when the areas they inhabited entered the Moldavian Principality. In the first half of the sixteenth century it came under the domination of the Osman Empire. Without altering the Moldavians' ethnic appearance, the Turkish influence left its mark on their cultural tradition, which is reflected, among other things, in the interior furnishing of the typical Moldavian dwelling. In the late eighteenth century the left bank of the Dniester, and in 1812 also the southern part of Moldavia, known as Bessarabia, were reconquered from Turkey and annexed to Russia, whereupon the final consolidation of the Moldavian nationality was achieved.
The Moldavians, their self-designation being Moldoven, speak a language belonging to the Romance group of the Indo-European family of languages, although they are culturally close to eastern Slavs. Their religion is Christian Orthodoxy. Today, their number totals about 3.5 million, with 2,800,000 living in Moldavia and 172,330 in the Russian Federation.
The Volokhs (or Valakhs) are an ethnic community tracing its descent from the Thracian tribes inhabiting the Carpathian Mountains and the norther part of the Balkan Peninsula and Romanized in the early years of Our Era. Since the sixth century, part of the Volokhs who settled in the eastern Carpathian foothills have maintained contact with the Slavic world.