Bălți (; , , and ,, ,) is a city in Moldova. It is the second largest in terms of area and economic importance after Chișinău, and the third largest in terms of population after Chișinău and Tiraspol. The city is one of the five Moldovan municipalities. Sometimes also called "the northern capital", it is a major industrial, cultural and commercial centre and transportation hub in the north of the country. It is situated north of the capital Chișinău, and is located on the river Răut, a tributary of the Dniester, on a hilly landscape in the Bălți steppe.
Coat of arms
A shield, with alternating six silvery strips (symbolizing water), and six blue strips (symbolizing earth) form the background (symbolizing the name of the city). The central element of the shield is an archer in red clothes, in the military outfit (yellow) of Stephen III of Moldavia (Romanian: Ștefan cel Mare) times (15th century). The archer represents the medieval military recruitment, formed by local free peasants.
On top of the shield there is a silver crown in the shape of fortress wall, with seven towers. (The crown represents the fact that the locality is a city. Apart from Bălți, only the capital Chişinău, and Tiraspol are allowed to have seven towers, while other cities must limit this number to three or five.) The shield is supported by two rearing silver horses (the white horse is the traditional symbol of the region, which was part of Iași County before 1812). Under the shield there is a ribbon with the Latin inscription CIDANT ARMA TOGAE, meaning arms yield to togas.
In the Middle Ages, the archer was featured on the coats of arms of the region. In the 19th century, the city and district coats of arms also featured a horse head. In the early 20th century, a shield representing an archer, standing on a hill, the sun, and three bullrush sticks (elements quite sufficient to identify the place where Bălți is situated in the landscape of the north of Moldova) formed the coat of arms of the Bălți county, while these and horse elements - the coat of arms of the city proper.
The city's flag is composed of two horizontal strips: a blue one on the bottom, and a silver one on top. The shield and archer elements from the coat of arms are also present in the centre of the flag.