Moldova is an Eastern European country and a former Soviet republic. Its official currency is the Moldovan leu (MDL). The Moldovan leu (plural: lei) is subdivided into 100 bani (singular: ban). The currency's name originates from a Romanian word that means "lion". When Moldova was part of Romania between 1918 and 1940, and 1941 and 1944, the Romanian leu was used in the old eastern part of the broader Romanian region of Moldavia. On 29 November 1993, the currency was established after the Soviet Union collapsed and the independent republic of Moldova was created replacing the temporary cupon currency at a rate of 1 leu = 1000 cupon.
The Moldovan leu banknotes had been in two series. The first series was momentary and included only 1, 5, and 10 lei. The front of all of these notes including the subsequent ones features a portrait of Ștefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great), the prince of Moldavia from 1457 to 1504. The back features the first two lines of the Miorița (The Little Ewe) ballad, printed vertically between the vignette of the fortress and the denomination numeral. The Miorița is an ancient Romanian pastoral ballad viewed as one of the most valuable pieces of Romanian folklore.
Moldovan leu banknotes were well-known for not utilizing intaglio printing until 2015: the main security features on every denomination were restricted, originally consisting mainly of a watermark of Ștefan, a see-through registration device, and a solid security thread. In 2015, the National Bank of Moldova eventually rolled out intaglio printing and embossing for denominations within 10 and 500 lei and introduced updated security features on all denominations except 1,000 lei. The banknote for 1,000 lei remains using the original design. Meanwhile, the first series of primarily small aluminum coins started circulating in November 1993. A second series consisting of higher denomination coins were issued in 2018. Most of the Moldovan coins are minted at the Monetăria Statului in Romania.
Moldova has endured economic crises and other challenges, but the government has stayed solid and focused on gradual economic development and growth. GDP growth reached 2.1% in 2000, and the country achieved an increased growth rate in 2001. The Moldovan economy is negatively affected by poor weather and agricultural conditions, the uncertainty of foreign investors about Moldova's trading ability, and elevated fuel prices.