Bălți 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 127 kilometres (79 mi) 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.
Bălți is situated on the tops and slopes of three hills and in two small valleys. The land in the north of Moldova is very fertile, mostly consisting of black earth or chernozem. Several extraction sites for raw materials used in the construction industry are also found in the vicinity of Bălți. The creeks Răuțel, Copăceanca, and Flămândă cross the territory of the municipality, and flow into the river Răut. Also, several lakes are situated in Bălți: City Lake, Komsolskoe Lake, Hunters and Fishermen Lake, Strâmba Lake.
The municipality covers an area of 78.0 square kilometres (30.1 sq mi), of which the city proper 41.42 square kilometres (15.99 sq mi), the village Elizaveta (an eastern suburb) 9.81 square kilometres (3.79 sq mi), and the village Sadovoe (a north-western suburb) 26.77 square kilometres (10.34 sq mi). Of these, an important portion (20.11 square kilometres (7.76 sq mi)) is agriculturally cultivated.
The all-time maximum temperature registered in the city was 38 °C (100 °F), the all-time minimum −32 °C (−26 °F). There are 450 to 450 to 550 mm (18 to 22 in) of annual rainfall, mostly during summer and fall. Winds are generally from the north-east or the north-west at about 2–5 m/s.
Bălți is a source of civil society development both locally and nationwide. Bălți is home to numerous independent and apolitical organisations such as Second Breath, one of the Moldovan NGOs for care of socially vulnerable persons, Tinerii pentru Dreptul la Viață ("Youth for the right to live"), a youth organisation.
Historically Bălți was known for producing tobacco. They also had many vineyards and orchards. Most of the city's industry centres on food processing, notably in the production of flour, sugar, and wine. Manufacturing of furniture and agricultural machinery also plays an important role in Bălți's economy. The service sector has developed after 1989 to cover the basic needs of the population.
This city is an important economic centre, with manufacturing playing an important role. Besides traditional for Moldova wine making, sugar, meat processing, flour milling, oil production, and light industry in general, Bălți is the centre for manufacturing of agricultural machinery, of various construction materials, fur, textile, chemical and furniture industries. A mammoth Soviet-type conglomerate 8,000-worker factory (called "Lenin" before 1989 and "Răut" afterwards) produced a large variety of machine building products for consumer or industry use, from irons and telephone sets to sonar equipment for Soviet military submarines. However, due to swift changes in the economic environment after the breakdown of the Soviet planned economy system, the manufacturing base of the city has severely suffered. Nevertheless, more recently, new economic ties are being created, with collaboration and direct investment mostly from the European Union.
Lisa Dräxlmaier GmbH celebrated the inauguration of its second plant in Moldova. The facility, which will be located in Balti, will produce wiring harnesses. The plant has about 13,000 square metres (140,000 square feet) of production and logistics space.