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Region, eastern Europe. It is bounded by the Prut and Dniester rivers, the Black Sea, and the Danube River delta. Greek colonies were founded on its Black Sea coast in the 7th century BC, and it was probably part of Dacia in the 2nd century AD. It became part of Moldavia in the 15th century; the Turks later annexed the southern portion into the Ottoman empire. The remainder fell to them in the 16th century when Moldavia submitted to the Turks; Bessarabia remained under Turkish control until the 19th century. Russia acquired it and half of Moldavia in 1812 and retained control until World War I. A nationalist movement developed, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917 Bessarabia declared its independence and voted to unite with Romania. The Soviet Union never recognized Romania's right to the province and in 1940 demanded that it cede Bessarabia; when Romania complied, the U.S.S.R. set up the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (see Moldova), and incorporated the northern region into the Ukrainian S.S.R. Bessarabia remained divided after Ukraine and Moldavia declared independence in 1991.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bessarabia, visit Britannica.com.