This Eastern European country technically doesn't exist - but it's home to 500,000 people


Transnstrian patriots

Justin Barton

Sergey Cheban, the Deputy Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of Transnistrian Moldovan Republic.

Transnistria, a 125-mile-long territory on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, is home to half a million people. It has its own military, police, parliament, and postal system - and yet, you can't find it on an international map, and it is completely unrecognized by the United Nations.

In 1990, Transnistria declared independence from Moldova, hoping to remain part of the Soviet Union when Moldova broke away. It later fought a bloody war for self-rule from Moldova in 1992.


Now, Transnistria cannot truly achieve its independence until at least one other country decides to recognize it. Many Transnistrians hold strong pro-Russian views, and the area is dotted with relics of the Soviet era.

Photographer Justin Barton visited Transnistria in 2015 and had an opportunity to photograph officials and residents of the state.

"Patriotism in a country that remains unrecognized feels like a contradiction to many," Barton tells Business Insider. "But perhaps it's part of the human condition."


Below, meet some officials and locals of the country that technically doesn't exist.