Transnistria, a narrow strip of land along Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine, is at times only a few kilometers wide. Although legally part of Moldova, it claims independent status, and has its own government, army and currency.
Not recognized as a sovereign state by any other nation, Transnistria was established when the Soviet Union collapsed. As nation states sprang up to replace the Soviet republics of old, the largely Russian-speaking population east of the Dniester River faced inclusion in a newly-established Moldova. Fearing a loss of rights and status, the population declared itself independent, and Transnistria was formed, its coat of arms still bearing the hammer and sickle of Soviet days. The move sparked a short but violent war in 1992, which only ended after Russian forces intervened and a ceasefire was agreed.
Though the fighting stopped, its underlying questions were never resolved. The conflict froze in place, and around 1,400 Russian troops remain on the ground to this day.