South of Tighina, in the Nistru valley, there is a region which is famous for its natural fertility. The are is covered with vast orchards, bog forests, marshy and floodable lands. Copanca is located in the Causeni district, which encompasses the village of Copanca and also the Valea Verde village. Copanca is situated at an altitude of 53 meters above the sea level, with a population of approximately 5000 inhabitants. It is located in proximity to the Forest Reservation “Copanca” which is a stated-protected natural area with a surface of ​​167 ha.
The first-ever documented settlement appeared in this area around 2,700 years ago. Later, another village was established during the Roman Empire. However, both settlements were burned down, leaving behind 3 funeral mounds. Today, on the edge of the village, one can still see traces of the well-known Trajan’s Wall. The once tall and strong wall was built around the 2nd century A.D. and stretched from Dobrogea to southeastern Moldova. In its existence, this famous wall has witnessed many invasions and enemy attacks.
The village is located on the Zaharna estate and is mentioned in a document signed by Alexander the Good in 1429. The ruler, however, first learned about these rich in fish and game places back in 1410. Copanca is later mentioned in a document issued by Petru Rares, twice the voievod of Moldavia, in 1527, when His Majesty offered these lands as a gift to the Neamţu Monastery located across the Prut River. However, the settlement lost its monastery-village status after 1593.
In 1660, the famous Turkish traveler, Evlia Celebi, passed through the village and was amazed by the beautiful households, the rich orchards and big vegetable gardens found in the Nistru valley. While in the region, the traveler engaged in conversations with the elder of Copanca village and other neighboring areas, who was also a Turkish chief commander. The region overseen by the elder is also shown on the map of the French engineer G. Beauplan (refer to the map).
After 1812 the ownership of the households was not recognized and the village became an estate belonging to the Russian Imperial family. The first testimonies about the parochial church school in Copanca date back to 1860. In 1875 there were 281 houses and around 1,656 villagers in Copanca, which suggests that by then, Copanca was already a big and beautiful village.
In the past, Copanca enjoyed great fame, which in the end gave the village its glorious name – “Romanian California”. This is confirmed by the local orchardists. They claim that in the past, 2/3 of the total amount of fruits exported from the country came from the Copanca – Chitcani – Talmaz region. They also say that one hectare of an orchard, in full fruition, can produce around 35-38 thousand kg of fruits. The state, which owns around 1715 ha in the region, can, therefore, obtain in a year around 60-65 million kg of fruits. In turn, the villagers, who own 3285 ha, every year have the opportunity to harvest between 110-120 million kg of fruits (the total surface of the gardens in the Copanca region is estimated at 5000 ha). It is indeed a region that deserves its glory! In addition, Copanca was the subject of research of the Romanian Social Institute in Bessarabia, in the summer of 1937.
The fertility of the soil is largely due to the alluvium left after the annual flows of the Nistru River – a true Nile of Bessarabia – which became more prominent, especially in the post-war period, due to several reasons:
1). The deforestations which took place especially in the area where the Nistru River starts has contributed to the formation of torrents that degrade the land and the riverbed.
2). The protective dam built by Soviet Russia on the left bank of the Nistru River directs the flow of the water towards the Romanian territory.
3). During the agrarian reform in Bessarabia long and narrow farming lots were created. Due to the extensive plowing of these lots, canals are created, which contribute to the fertile soil being washed away down to the Nistru River.