Il-Mosta is situated in the centre of Malta. It is located on a plain and is surrounded by fertile agricultural land. Neighbouring villages and towns include Ħal Lija, Burmarrad, ir-Rabat and in-Naxxar. Il-Mosta is found on the main route from Valletta (Città Umilissima) to iċ-Ċirkewwa and experiences daily heavy traffic flows from north to south and vice versa. Il-Mosta is 9 km away from the capital city of Malta, il-Belt Valletta (Città Umilissima).
Il-Mosta is in continuous development, new buildings are erected every day and the business community is quite active and flourishing. The population at about 18,000 inhabitants is one of the highest in the Maltese islands and has been given a boost in the last decades of the twentieth century by the establishment of a number of new housing estates (Santa Margerita, Tal-Blata l-Għolja, Ta’ Mlit, Iż-Żokrija).
Il-Mosta’s motto “Spes Alit Ruricolam” testifies to its rural past. In fact, the motto translates to “Hope Strengthens the Farmer”. Yet, today urbanisation has taken a predominant lead over the agricultural activities of the Mostin and agricultural land has diminished significantly while the built-up area has sprawled out to the former rural outskirts of the small village of il-Mosta, now a significant and bustling town.
The name ‘il-Mosta’ has two plausible roots yet it has not been established which of the two is the correct one. The first version is offered by the renowned architect George Grognet de Vasse who designed the famous Rotunda of il-Mosta According to him 'il-Mosta’ comes from the word ‘mistur’ or hidden, referring to the site which hosts the town. As this plain is surrounded by hilly land, il-Mosta seems as if it is hidden from sight. The second hypothesis focuses on the Arabic word ‘musta’, meaning central or in the middle. This version thus argues that the name comes from the position of the sight in the centre of the island of Malta.
Though there may be a question as to which of the two is the correct derivative of the town’s name, yet there is no question as to the age of il-Mosta. It is without any doubt one of the oldest settlements on the islands. Evidence for such a claim can be found in archaeological finds testifying to habitation as early as pre-history. Il-Mosta’s history has been variegated with episodes of both joy and suffering. It has been one of the settlements hit by conflict such as corsair attacks in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times as testified by folktales including that of ‘L-Għarusa tal-Mosta’ (The Bride of il-Mosta). Other attacks were experienced during more recent times in World War Two, when even the il-Mosta dome was pierced by a German bomb. As in all other towns and villages of the Maltese islands, Roman Catholicism is very much alive and active. Thus il-Mosta’s titular feast, that of St. Mary or the Assumption of Our Lady, forms an apex in the local religious and popular celebrations where the Mostin rally in front of the Rotunda in a manifestation of joy, merrymaking and social well-being.
Similar to the greatest majority of towns and villages world wide, il-Mosta too boasts of its own coat of arms. Such a symbol reflects il-Mosta’s beliefs and assets which are projected in the various component parts of its coat of arms. The silver shield has a red cross in whose centre there is a golden circle within which is placed a sky-blue five-pointed star.
The red cross symbolises the Catholic faith which has always predominated the lives and beliefs of the locals. The circle represents the Rotunda, il-Mosta’s parish church, its main landmark and the building for which it is most famous with one and all, Maltese and foreigner alike. The blue star is the symbol of the Madonna, Our Lady, patron saint of the town, whose feast is celebrated on the 15th of August.