As of January 1, 1997 Moldova had a population of 4,320,000 persons, consisting of the following ethnic groups: 64.5 % Moldovans, 13.8% Ukrainian, 13% Russian, 3.5% Gagauzi, 2% Bulgarian, 1.5 % Jewish and 1.7% other, including Belarussians, Germans, Polish, Turkish and Gypsies.
The population is fairly evenly divided between urban and rural areas, at 46.6% and 53.4% respectively in 1990.
The high ratio of the population in rural areas meant that while Moldova's net material product (NMP) per head was only about 80% of the Soviet Union average, living standards were high in terms of availability of food and consumer goods.
Regarding the official language of Moldova, this is determined by the Constitution, which has declared Moldovan in its latin script as the official language (it is the same as Romanian).
To be noted also is that although Russian is no longer the official language, many Moldovans, especially in urban areas, are more familiar with Russian.
Also to be noted is that due to exposure to various languages throughout schooling, some Moldovans also have a functional knowledge of French, English, as well as Spanish, Italian and German languages.
The major cities of Moldova include the capital city, Chisinau (formerly spelled Kishinev), with 735,000 people; Tiraspol with 194,000; Balti with 157,000; and Bender (Tighina) with 137,000.