Of course, to the border guards, this country is very real.

There are seven countries in the world today that are not internationally recognized, but are de facto existent and have been around for at least twenty years. Four of them are in the former Soviet Union, two in Africa, and the oldest one is the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Of the four ex-Soviet ones, Transnistria- theoretically part of Moldova, but in practice, situated between Moldova and Ukraine- still uses the old Soviet flag of the Moldovan SSR.

In spite of what might be a dramatic-sounding description, Transnistria is a very laid-back, hospitable place- not to mention one with amazing restaurants!

More info: Instagram

A man shows his Transnistrian passport, with the Soviet hammer and sickle still prominently displayed

Statues of Lenin are still found all over Transnistria, like this one in front of the Parliament building in Tiraspol

Or this one in a village

This man asked me to photograph him and his daughters

A man stands in front of a church in a park in Tiraspol

A boy rings church bells- not allowed by the church, but his father was fine with it

A couple who asked me to take their photo

A trolleybus driver re-attaches the cables after her bus broke down

Tiraspol Station. Shot on Provia

This man wanted me to take his portrait on a bus to Bender. Shot on Provia

A couple walks in front of a hospital

A bus with a picture of two Russian veterans of the Second World War

Soviet style apartments and bus stop

A girl looks out the window of a marshrutka, or shared taxi

Puppies at a monastery

Swimming in the Dnister River

Playing atop an old Soviet tank

Fresh produce is often sold on the street

Not everyone uses cars

A girl skates through Pobedei Park

Marshal Alexander Suvorov’s statue is probably the main landmark in Tiraspol, as he is considered the founder of the city

Trolleybuses are one of the main ways of getting around

This plane is considered a landmark in Tiraspol