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.