Independent republic bounded on the SE by the Black Sea, on the N and NE by the Ukraine and on the S and W by Romania. In 1924 several districts of the former Podolsk region were organized into the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1940 this merged with most of Bessarabia to form the Moldavian SSR. During World War II it was taken by Romania in 1941 and retaken by the Soviet Union in 1944. After the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Moldova became an independent nation. Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory E of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a “Transnistria” republic. One of the poorest nations in Europe, Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president in 2001. The capital of Moldova is Chisinau.