MOLDOVA officially the Republic of Moldova (Republica Moldova) is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south. In the Middle Ages, most of the present territory of Moldova was part of the Principality of Moldavia. In 1812, it was annexed by the Russian Empire, and became known as Bessarabia. Between 1856 and 1878, the southern part was returned to Moldavia. In 1859 it united with Wallachia to form modern Romania. Upon the dissolution of the Russian Empire in 1917, an autonomous, then-independent Moldavian Democratic Republic was formed, which joined Romania in 1918. In 1940, Bessarabia was occupied by the Soviet Union and was split between the Ukrainian SSR and the newly created Moldavian SSR. After changing hands in 1941 and 1944 during World War II, the territory of the modern country was subsumed by the Soviet Union until its declaration of independence on August 27, 1991.