Coordinates: 35°53′N 14°30′E / 35.883°N 14.500°E /
Malta (/ˈmɒltə, ˈmɔːl-/ ( listen);
Maltese: [ˈmɐltɐ]), officially known as the Republic of Malta
(Maltese: Repubblika ta' Malta), is a Southern European island country
consisting of an archipelago in the
Mediterranean Sea. It lies
80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east
of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. The
country covers just over 316 km2 (122 sq mi), with a
population of just under 450,000, making it one of the world's
smallest and most densely populated countries. The capital
Malta is Valletta, which at 0.8 km2, is the smallest national
capital in the
European Union by area.
Malta has two official
languages, which are Maltese and English. However, the Maltese
language is also regarded as the national language of the island.
Malta's location in the middle of the Mediterranean has
historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and
a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians,
Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish,
Knights of St. John, French, and British have ruled the islands.
King George VI
King George VI of the
United Kingdom awarded the
George Cross to Malta
in 1942 for the then British colony's bravery in the Second World
George Cross continues to appear on Malta's national
flag. Under the
Malta Independence Act, passed by the British
Parliament in 1964,
Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom
as the State of Malta, with
Elizabeth II as its head of state and
queen. The country became a republic in 1974. It has been a member
state of the
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations and the
United Nations since
independence, and joined the
European Union in 2004; in 2008, it
became part of the Eurozone.
Malta has a long Christian legacy and its
Archdiocese of Malta
Archdiocese of Malta is
claimed to be an apostolic see because, according to Acts of the
Apostles, St Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita", now widely taken to
Catholicism is the official religion in Malta. However,
article 40 of the Constitution states that "All persons in
have full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their
respective mode of religious worship."
Malta is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous
recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments,
including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ħal Saflieni
Hypogeum, Valletta, and seven megalithic temples, which are
some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.
2.2 Greeks, Phoenicians,
Carthaginians and Romans
2.3 Arab period and the Middle Ages
2.4 Norman conquest
Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon rule and the Knights of Malta
2.6 French period
British Empire and the Second World War
2.8 Independence and Republic
3.1 Administrative divisions
5.1 Banking and finance
5.6 Science and technology
6.2 Largest cities
6.4.1 Inbound migration
6.4.2 Outbound migration
7.3 Art and architecture
8 See also
10 External links
The origin of the term
Malta is uncertain, and the modern-day
variation derives from the Maltese language. The most common etymology
is that the word
Malta derives from the Greek word μέλι, meli,
'honey'. The ancient
Greeks called the island Μελίτη
(Melitē) meaning 'honey-sweet', possibly for Malta's unique
production of honey; an endemic subspecies of bee lives on the
island. The Romans went on to call the island Melita, which
can be considered either as a latinisation of the Greek Μελίτη
or the adaptation of the
Doric Greek pronunciation of the same word
Another conjecture suggests that the word
Malta comes from the
Phoenician word Maleth 'a haven' or 'port' in reference to
Malta's many bays and coves. Few other etymological mentions appear in
classical literature, with the term
Malta appearing in its present
form in the
Antonine Itinerary (Itin. Marit. p. 518; Sil. Ital.
History of Malta
History of Malta and Timeline of Maltese history
Malta has been inhabited from around 5200 BC, since the arrival of
settlers from the island of Sicily. A significant prehistoric
Neolithic culture marked by
Megalithic structures, which date back to
c. 3600 BC, existed on the islands, as evidenced by the temples of
Ggantija and others. The
800–700 BC, bringing their
Semitic language and culture. They
used the islands as an outpost from which they expanded sea
explorations and trade in the
Mediterranean until their successors,
the Carthaginians, were ousted by the Romans in 216 BC with the help
of the Maltese inhabitants, under whom
Malta became a municipium.
After a period of
Byzantine rule (4th to 9th century) and a probable
sack by the Vandals, the islands were invaded by the
AD 870. The fate of the population after the Arab invasion is unclear
but it seems the islands may have been completely depopulated and were
likely to have been repopulated in the beginning of the second
millennium by settlers from Arab-ruled
Sicily who spoke
The Muslim rule was ended by the
Normans who conquered the island in
1091. The islands were completely re-Christianised by 1249. The
islands were part of the
Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily until 1530, and were
briefly controlled by the Capetian House of Anjou. In 1530 Charles I
Spain gave the Maltese islands to the Order of Knights of the
Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in perpetual lease.
The French under
Napoleon took hold of the Maltese islands in 1798,
although with the aid of the British the Maltese were able to oust
French control two years later. The inhabitants subsequently asked
Britain to assume sovereignty over the islands under the conditions
laid out in a Declaration of Rights, stating that "his Majesty has
no right to cede these Islands to any power...if he chooses to
withdraw his protection, and abandon his sovereignty, the right of
electing another sovereign, or of the governing of these Islands,
belongs to us, the inhabitants and aborigines alone, and without
control." As part of the Treaty of Paris in 1814,
Malta became a
British colony, ultimately rejecting an attempted integration with the
United Kingdom in 1956.
Malta became independent on 21 September 1964 (Independence Day).
Under its 1964 constitution
Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth
II as Queen of Malta, with a
Governor-General exercising executive
authority on her behalf. On 13 December 1974 (Republic Day) it became
a republic within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of
state. On 31 March 1979
Malta saw the withdrawal of the last British
troops and the
Royal Navy from Malta. This day is known as Freedom Day
Malta declared itself as a neutral and non-aligned.
European Union on 1 May 2004 and joined the
Eurozone on 1 January
Megalithic Temples of Malta, Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, and
Pottery found by archaeologists at the
Skorba Temples resembles that
found in Italy, and suggests that the Maltese islands were first
settled in 5200 BCE mainly by
Stone Age hunters or farmers who had
arrived from the Italian island of Sicily, possibly the Sicani. The
extinction of the dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants has been linked to
the earliest arrival of humans on Malta. Prehistoric farming
settlements dating to the Early
Neolithic period were discovered in
open areas and also in caves, such as Għar Dalam.
Sicani were the only tribe known to have inhabited the island at
this time and are generally regarded as being closely related
to the Iberians. The population on
Malta grew cereals, raised
livestock and, in common with other ancient
worshiped a fertility figure represented in Maltese prehistoric
artefacts exhibiting the proportions seen in similar statuettes,
including the Venus of Willendorf.
Ġgantija megalithic temple complex
The temple complex of Mnajdra
Pottery from the
Għar Dalam phase is similar to pottery found in
Agrigento, Sicily. A culture of megalithis temple builders then either
supplanted or arose from this early period. Around the time of 3500
BCE, these people built some of the oldest existing free-standing
structures in the world in the form of the megalithic Ġgantija
temples on Gozo; other early temples include those at Ħaġar Qim
The temples have distinctive architecture, typically a complex trefoil
design, and were used from 4000 to 2500 BCE. Animal bones and a knife
found behind a removable altar stone suggest that temple rituals
included animal sacrifice. Tentative information suggests that the
sacrifices were made to the goddess of fertility, whose statue is now
in the National Museum of
Archaeology in Valletta. The culture
apparently disappeared from the Maltese Islands around 2500 BC.
Archaeologists speculate that the temple builders fell victim to
famine or disease, but this is not certain.
Another archaeological feature of the Maltese Islands often attributed
to these ancient builders is equidistant uniform grooves dubbed "cart
tracks" or "cart ruts" which can be found in several locations
throughout the islands, with the most prominent being those found in
Misraħ Għar il-Kbir, which is informally known as "Clapham
Junction". These may have been caused by wooden-wheeled carts eroding
After 2500 BCE, the Maltese Islands were depopulated for several
decades until the arrival of a new influx of
Bronze Age immigrants, a
culture that cremated its dead and introduced smaller megalithic
structures called dolmens to Malta. In most cases there are small
chambers here, with the cover made of a large slab placed on upright
stones. They are claimed to belong to a population certainly different
from that which built the previous megalithic temples. It is presumed
the population arrived from
Sicily because of the similarity of
Maltese dolmens to some small constructions found on the largest
island of the
Carthaginians and Romans
See also: Magna Graecia, Phoenicia, Cippi of Melqart, Ancient Rome,
Sicilia (Roman province), and
Phoenician traders colonised the islands sometime after 1,000
BCE as a stop on their trade routes from the eastern Mediterranean
to Cornwall, joining the natives on the island. The Phoenicians
inhabited the area now known as Mdina, and its surrounding town of
Rabat, which they called Maleth. The Romans, who also much
later inhabited Mdina, referred to it (and the island) as Melita.
Roman mosaic from the Domvs Romana
After the fall of
Phoenicia in 332 BCE, the area came under the
control of Carthage, a former Phoenician colony. During this
time the people on
Malta mainly cultivated olives and carob and
During the First Punic War, the island was conquered after harsh
fighting by Marcus Atilius Regulus. After the failure of his
expedition, the island fell back in the hands of Carthage, only to be
conquered again in 218 BC, during the Second Punic War, by Roman
Consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus. Since then,
Foederata Civitas, a designation that meant it was exempt from paying
tribute or the rule of Roman law, and fell within the jurisdiction of
the province of Sicily. Punic influence, however, remained vibrant
on the islands with the famous Cippi of Melqart, pivotal in
deciphering the Punic language, dedicated in the 2nd century
BCE. Also the local Roman coinage, which ceased in the 1st
century BCE, indicates the slow pace of the island's Romanization,
since the very last locally minted coins still bear inscriptions in
Ancient Greek on the obverse (like "ΜΕΛΙΤΑΙΩ", meaning "of the
Maltese") and Punic motifs, showing the resistance of the Greek and
Greeks settled in the Maltese islands since circa 700 BCE, as
testified by several architectural remains, and remained throughout
the Roman dominium.
In the 1st century BCE, Roman Senator and orator
Cicero commented on
the importance of the Temple of Juno, and on the extravagant behaviour
of the Roman governor of Sicily, Verres. During the 1st century BC
the island was mentioned by
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder and Diodorus Siculus: the
latter praised its harbours, the wealth of its inhabitants, its
lavishly decorated houses and the quality of its textile products. In
the 2nd century, Emperor
Hadrian (r. 117–38) upgraded the status of
Malta to municipium or free town: the island local affairs were
administered by four quattuorviri iuri dicundo and a municipal senate,
while a Roman procurator, living in Mdina, represented the proconsul
of Sicily. In 58 AD,
Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle was washed up on the islands
Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist after their ship was wrecked on the
Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle remained on the islands three months,
preaching the Christian faith, which has since thrived on Malta.
In 395, when the
Roman Empire was divided for the last time at the
death of Theodosius I, Malta, following Sicily, fell under the control
of the Western Roman Empire. During the
Migration Period as the
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire declined,
Malta came under attack and was
conquered or occupied a number of times. From 454 to 464 the
islands was subdued by the Vandals, and after 464 by the
Ostrogoths. In 533 Belisarius, on his way to conquer the Vandal
Kingdom in North Africa, reunited the islands under Imperial (Eastern)
rule. Little is known about the
Byzantine rule in Malta: the
island depended on the theme of
Sicily and had Greek Governors and a
small Greek garrison. While the bulk of population continued to be
constituted by the old, Latinized dwellers, during this period its
religious allegiance oscillated between the Pope and the Patriarch of
Byzantine rule introduced Greek families to
the Maltese collective.
Malta remained under the
until 870, when it fell to the Arabs.
Arab period and the Middle Ages
Arab–Byzantine wars and Emirate of Sicily
The Majmuna Stone, a Roman period marble stone, was reused as a
12th-century tombstone believed to have been found in Gozo.
Malta became involved in the Arab–
Byzantine Wars, and the conquest
Malta is closely linked with that of
Sicily that began in 827 after
admiral Euphemius' betrayal of his fellow Byzantines, requesting that
Aghlabids invade the island. The Muslim chronicler and
geographer al-Himyari recounts that in 870 CE, following a violent
struggle against the occupying Byzantines, the Arab invaders, first
led by Halaf al-Hadim, and later by Sawada ibn Muhammad, looted
and pillaged the island, destroying the most important buildings, and
leaving it practically uninhabited until it was recolonised by the
Sicily in 1048–1049 AD. It is uncertain whether this
new settlement took place as a consequence of demographic expansion in
Sicily, as a result of a higher standard of living in
Sicily (in which
case the recolonisation may have taken place a few decades earlier),
or as a result of civil war which broke out among the Arab rulers of
Sicily in 1038. The
Arab Agricultural Revolution
Arab Agricultural Revolution introduced new
irrigation, some fruits and cotton, and the
Siculo-Arabic language was
adopted on the island from Sicily; it would eventually evolve into the
The Christians on the island were allowed freedom of religion; they
had to pay jizya, a tax for non-Muslims, but were exempt from the tax
that Muslims had to pay (zakat).
Roger I of
Malta to Christian rule.
Malta in 1091, as part of their conquest of
Sicily. The Norman leader, Roger I of Sicily, was welcomed by the
native Christians. The notion that Count Roger I reportedly tore
off a portion of his checkered red-and-white banner and presented it
to the Maltese in gratitude for having fought on his behalf, forming
the basis of the modern flag of Malta, is founded in myth.
Ottoman map of Malta, by Piri Reis
The Norman period was productive;
Malta became part of the newly
Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily which also covered the island of
the southern half of the Italian Peninsula. The Catholic Church
was reinstated as the state religion with
Malta under the See of
Palermo, and some
Norman architecture sprung up around Malta
especially in its ancient capital Mdina. Tancred, King of Sicily,
the last Norman monarch, made
Malta a fief of the kingdom and
installed a count of Malta. As the islands were much desired due to
their strategic importance, it was during this time the men of Malta
were militarised to fend off capture attempts; early counts were
skilled Genoese privateers.
The kingdom passed on to the dynasty of
Hohenstaufen from 1194 until
1266. During this period, when Frederick II of
Hohenstaufen began to
reorganise his Sicilian kingdom, Western culture and religion began to
exert their influence more intensely.
Malta formed part of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire for 72 years.
Malta was declared a county and a
marquisate, but its trade was totally ruined. For a long time it
remained solely a fortified garrison.
A mass expulsion of
Arabs occurred in 1224 and the entire Christian
male population of
Celano in Abruzzo was deported to
Malta in the same
year. In 1249 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, decreed that all
remaining Muslims be expelled from Malta or impelled to
For a brief period the kingdom passed to the Capetian House of
Anjou, but high taxes made the dynasty unpopular in Malta, due in
part to Charles of Anjou's war against the Republic of Genoa, and the
Gozo was sacked in 1275. A large revolt on
Sicilian Vespers followed these attacks, a revolt that saw the
Peninsula separating into the Kingdom of Naples.
Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon rule and the Knights of Malta
See also: County of Sicily, Kingdom of Sicily, Crown of Aragon,
History of Malta
History of Malta under the Order of
Saint John, and Great Siege of
Flag of the Aragonese Kingdom of Sicily
Malta was ruled by the House of Barcelona, an Aragonese dynasty from
1282 to 1409, with the Aragonese aiding the Maltese insurgents in
Sicilian Vespers in a naval battle in
Grand Harbour in 1283.
Relatives of the kings of Aragon ruled the island until 1409, when it
formally passed to the Crown of Aragon. Early on in the Aragonese
ascendancy, the sons of the monarchy received the title, "Count of
Malta". During this time much of the local nobility was created. By
1397, however, the bearing of the title "Count of Malta" reverted to a
feudal basis, with two families fighting over the distinction, which
caused some conflict. This led the Martin I of
Sicily to abolish the
title. Dispute over the title returned when the title was reinstated a
few years later and the Maltese, led by the local nobility, rose up
against Count Gonsalvo Monroy. Although they opposed the Count,
the Maltese voiced their loyalty to the Sicilian Crown, which so
Alfonso V of Aragon
Alfonso V of Aragon that he did not punish the people for
their rebellion. Instead, he promised never to grant the title to a
third party, and incorporated it back into the crown. The city of
Mdina was given the title of Città Notabile as a result of this
sequence of events.
Jean Parisot de Valette, the founder of Valletta
St. Paul's Cathedral,
Mdina built in the
On 23 March 1530, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, gave the islands
Knights Hospitaller under the leadership of Frenchman Philippe
Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Grand Master of the Order, in
perpetual lease for which they had to pay an annual tribute of one
single Maltese Falcon. These knights, a
military religious order now known as the Knights of Malta, had been
driven out of
Rhodes by the
Ottoman Empire in 1522.
In 1551, the population of the island of
Gozo (around 5,000 people)
were taken as slaves by
Barbary pirates and brought to the Barbary
Coast in present-day Libya.
The Beheading of
Saint John, by Caravaggio. Oil on canvas, 361 cm
× 520 cm (142.13 in × 204.72 in). Oratory
of the Co-Cathedral.
The knights, led by Frenchman Jean Parisot de Valette, Grand Master of
the Order, withstood the
Great Siege of Malta
Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans in
1565. The knights, with the help of Spanish and Maltese forces,
were victorious and repelled the attack. Speaking of the battle
Voltaire said, "Nothing is better known than the siege of
Malta." After the siege they decided to increase Malta's
fortifications, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new
city of Valletta, named in honour of Valette, was built. They also
established watchtowers along the coasts – the Wignacourt,
Lascaris and De Redin towers – named after the Grand Masters
who ordered the work. The Knights' presence on the island saw the
completion of many architectural and cultural projects, including the
embellishment of Città Vittoriosa (modern Birgu), the construction of
new cities including Città Rohan (modern Żebbuġ) and Città
Hompesch (modern Żabbar) and the introduction of new academic and
social resources. Approximately 11,000 people out of a population of
60,000 died of plague in 1675.
Main article: French occupation of Malta
The Knights' reign ended when
Malta on his way to
Egypt during the
French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars in 1798. Over the years
preceding Napoleon's capture of the islands, the power of the Knights
had declined and the Order had become unpopular. This was around the
time when the universal values of freedom and liberty were incarnated
by the French Revolution. People from both inside the Order and
outside appealed to
Napoleon Bonaparte to oust the Knights. Napoleon
Bonaparte did not hesitate. His fleet arrived in 1798, en route to his
expedition of Egypt. As a ruse towards the Knights,
Napoleon asked for
safe harbour to resupply his ships, and then turned his guns against
his hosts once safely inside Valletta. Grand Master Hompesch
Napoleon entered Malta.
Bust of Bonaparte at Palazzo Parisio in Valletta
During 12–18 June 1798,
Napoleon resided at the Palazzo Parisio in
Valletta. He reformed national administration with the
creation of a Government Commission, twelve municipalities, a public
finance administration, the abolition of all feudal rights and
privileges, the abolition of slavery and the granting of freedom to
all Turkish and Jewish slaves. On the judicial level, a
family code was framed and twelve judges were nominated. Public
education was organised along principles laid down by Bonaparte
himself, providing for primary and secondary education. He
then sailed for
Egypt leaving a substantial garrison in Malta.
The French forces left behind became unpopular with the Maltese, due
particularly to the French forces' hostility towards
pillaging of local churches to fund Napoleon's war efforts. French
financial and religious policies so angered the Maltese that they
rebelled, forcing the French to depart. Great Britain, along with the
Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily, sent ammunition and aid
to the Maltese and Britain also sent her navy, which blockaded the
Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois surrendered his French forces
in 1800. Maltese leaders presented the island to Sir Alexander
Ball, asking that the island become a British Dominion. The Maltese
people created a Declaration of Rights in which they agreed to come
"under the protection and sovereignty of the King of the free people,
His Majesty the King of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland". The Declaration also stated that "his Majesty has no right
to cede these Islands to any power...if he chooses to withdraw his
protection, and abandon his sovereignty, the right of electing another
sovereign, or of the governing of these Islands, belongs to us, the
inhabitants and aborigines alone, and without control."
British Empire and the Second World War
Malta Protectorate, Crown Colony of Malta, and Siege of
Malta (World War II)
Plaque of the
Rights of man
Rights of man during the British Protectorate (1802) at
The heavily bomb-damaged Kingsway (now Republic Street) in Valletta
during the Siege of Malta, 1942
In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris,
became a part of the
British Empire and was used as a shipping
way-station and fleet headquarters. After the
Suez Canal opened in
1869, Malta's position halfway between the
Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar and
Egypt proved to be its main asset, and it was considered an important
stop on the way to India, a central trade route for the British.
Because of its position, several culinary and botanical products were
introduced in Malta; some examples (derived from the National Book of
Trade Customs found in the National Library) include wheat (for bread
making) and bacon.
Between 1915 and 1918, during the First World War,
Malta became known
as the Nurse of the
Mediterranean due to the large number of wounded
soldiers who were accommodated in Malta. In 1919 British troops
fired on a rally protesting against new taxes, killing four Maltese
men. The event, known as
Sette Giugno (Italian for 7 June), is
commemorated every year and is one of five National Days.
Before the Second World War,
Valletta was the location of the Royal
Mediterranean Fleet's headquarters. However, despite Winston
Churchill's objections, the command was moved to Alexandria,
Egypt, in April 1937 out of fear that it was too susceptible to air
attacks from Europe.
During the Second World War,
Malta played an important role for the
Allies; being a British colony, situated close to
Sicily and the Axis
Malta was bombarded by the Italian and German air
Malta was used by the British to launch attacks on the Italian
navy and had a submarine base. It was also used as a listening post,
intercepting German radio messages including Enigma traffic. The
bravery of the
Maltese people during the second Siege of
King George VI
King George VI to award the
George Cross to
Malta on a collective
basis on 15 April 1942 "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that
will long be famous in history". Some historians argue that the award
caused Britain to incur disproportionate losses in defending Malta, as
British credibility would have suffered if
Malta surrendered, as
British forces in
Singapore had done. A depiction of the George
Cross now appears in the upper hoist corner of the Flag of Malta. The
collective award remained unique until April 1999, when the Royal
Ulster Constabulary became the second – and, to date, the only
other – recipient of a collective George Cross.
Independence and Republic
See also: State of Malta
Monument to the independence of
Malta in Floriana
Malta joined the
European Union in 2004 and signed the Lisbon Treaty
Malta achieved its independence as the
State of Malta
State of Malta on 21 September
1964 (Independence Day) after intense negotiations with the United
Kingdom, led by Maltese Prime Minister George Borġ Olivier. Under its
Malta initially retained Queen
Elizabeth II as
Queen of Malta
Queen of Malta and thus head of state, with a governor-general
exercising executive authority on her behalf. In 1971, the Malta
Labour Party led by
Dom Mintoff won the general elections, resulting
Malta declaring itself a republic on 13 December 1974 (Republic
Day) within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of state. A
defence agreement was signed soon after independence, and after being
re-negotiated in 1972, expired on 31 March 1979. Upon its expiry,
the British base closed down and all lands formerly controlled by the
British on the island were given up to the Maltese government. 
Malta adopted a policy of neutrality in 1980. In 1989,
the venue of a summit between US President
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush and Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev, their first face-to-face encounter, which
signalled the end of the Cold War.
On 16 July 1990, Malta, through its foreign minister, Guido de Marco,
applied to join the European Union. After tough negotiations, a
referendum was held on 8 March 2003, which resulted in a favourable
vote. General Elections held on 12 April 2003, gave a clear
mandate to the Prime Minister, Eddie Fenech Adami, to sign the treaty
of accession to the
European Union on 16 April 2003 in Athens,
Malta joined the
European Union on 1 May 2004. Following the
European Council of 21–22 June 2007,
Malta joined the eurozone on 1
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The Courts of Justice building in Valletta
Main articles: Politics of Malta, Government of Malta, and Law of
Malta is a republic whose parliamentary system and public
administration are closely modelled on the Westminster system. Malta
had the second-highest voter turnout in the world (and the highest for
nations without mandatory voting), based on election turnout in
national lower house elections from 1960 to 1995. The unicameral
Parliament is made up of the President and the House of
Representatives (Maltese: Kamra tad-Deputati), which is elected by
direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five
years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President either
on advice of the Prime Minister or through the adoption of a motion of
no confidence carried within the House of Representatives and not
overturned within three days. In either of these cases, the President
may alternatively choose to invite another Member of Parliament who
invariably should command the majority of the House of Representatives
to form an alternative government for the remainder of the
The House of Representatives is nominally made up of 65 members of
parliament whereby 5 members of parliament are elected from each of
the thirteen electoral districts. However, where a party wins an
absolute majority of votes, but does not have a majority of seats,
that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary
majority. The 80th article of the
Constitution of Malta
Constitution of Malta provides that
the president appoint as prime minister "... the member of the House
of Representatives who, in his judgment, is best able to command the
support of a majority of the members of that House".
President of Malta
President of Malta is appointed for a five-year term by a
resolution of the House of Representatives carried by a simple
majority. The role of the president as head of state is largely
ceremonial. The main political parties are the Nationalist Party,
which is a Christian democratic party, and the Labour Party, which is
a social democratic party. The Labour Party is currently at the helm
of the government, the Prime Minister being Joseph Muscat. The
Nationalist Party, with
Adrian Delia as its leader, is in opposition.
The Democratic Party is the only small party which has two seats in
parliament; the seats were gained when the Democratic Party contested
under the Nationalist Party candidate grouping in the 2017 elections
but this arrangement was later terminated in that same year. There are
small political parties in
Malta which have no parliamentary
Until the Second World War, Maltese politics was dominated by the
language question fought out by
Italophone and Anglophone
parties. Post-war politics dealt with constitutional questions on
the relations with Britain (first with integration then independence)
and, eventually, relations with the European Union.
Main article: Local councils of Malta
Administrative divisions of Malta
Malta has had a system of local government since 1993, based on
the European Charter of Local Self-Government. The country is divided
into five regions, with each region having its own Regional Committee,
serving as the intermediate level between local government and
national government. The regions are divided into local councils,
of which there are currently 68 (54 in
Malta and 14 in Gozo). Sixteen
"hamlets", which form part of larger councils, have their own
Administrative Committee. The six districts (five on the main island)
serve primarily statistical purposes.
Each council is made up of a number of councillors (from 5 to 13,
depending on and relative to the population they represent). A mayor
and a deputy mayor are elected by and from the councillors. The
executive secretary, who is appointed by the council, is the
executive, administrative and financial head of the council.
Councillors are elected every four years through the single
transferable vote. People who are eligible to vote in the election of
the Maltese House of Representatives as well as resident citizens of
the EU are eligible to vote. Due to system reforms, no elections were
held before 2012. Since then, elections have been held every two years
for an alternating half of the councils.
Local councils are responsible for the general upkeep and
embellishment of the locality (including repairs to non-arterial
roads), allocation of local wardens and refuse collection; they also
carry out general administrative duties for the central government
such as collection of government rents and funds and answer
government-related public inquiries. Additionally, a number of
individual towns and villages in the Republic of
Malta have sister
Main article: Armed Forces of Malta
Protector-class patrol boats of the Maritime Squadron of the AFM
The objectives of the
Armed Forces of Malta
Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) are to maintain a
military organisation with the primary aim of defending the islands'
integrity according to the defence roles as set by the government in
an efficient and cost-effective manner. This is achieved by
emphasising the maintenance of Malta's territorial waters and airspace
The AFM also engages in combating terrorism, fighting against illicit
drug trafficking, conducting anti-illegal immigrant operations and
patrols and anti-illegal fishing operations, operating search and
rescue (SAR) services, and physical/electronic security/surveillance
of sensitive locations. Malta's search-and-rescue area extends from
Tunisia to west of Crete, covering an area of around
250,000 km2.
As a military organisation, the AFM provides backup support to the
Malta Police Force (MPF) and other government departments/agencies in
situations as required in an organised, disciplined manner in the
event of national emergencies (such as natural disasters) or internal
security and bomb disposal.
On another level, the AFM establishes and/or consolidates bilateral
co-operation with other countries to reach higher operational
effectiveness related to AFM roles.
Main article: Geography of Malta
Topographic map of Malta
Malta is an archipelago in the central
Mediterranean (in its eastern
basin), some 80 km (50 mi) south of the Italian island of
Sicily across the
Malta Channel. Only the three largest
Gozo (Għawdex) and Comino
(Kemmuna) – are inhabited. The smaller islands (see below) are
uninhabited. The islands of the archipelago lie on the
a shallow shelf formed from the high points of a land bridge between
Sicily and North Africa that became isolated as sea levels rose after
the last Ice Age. The archipelago is therefore situated in the
zone between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates. Malta
was considered an island of North Africa for centuries.
Numerous bays along the indented coastline of the islands provide good
harbours. The landscape consists of low hills with terraced fields.
The highest point in
Malta is Ta' Dmejrek, at 253 m
(830 ft), near Dingli. Although there are some small rivers at
times of high rainfall, there are no permanent rivers or lakes on
Malta. However, some watercourses have fresh water running all year
Baħrija near Ras ir-Raħeb, at l-Imtaħleb and San Martin,
and at Lunzjata Valley in Gozo.
Malta belongs to the Liguro-Tyrrhenian province
Mediterranean Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to
the WWF, the territory of
Malta belongs to the ecoregion of
Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands and Scrub".
Maltese landscape, Għadira
The minor islands that form part of the archipelago are uninhabited
Barbaġanni Rock (Gozo)
Dellimara Island (Marsaxlokk)
Fungus Rock, (Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral) (Gozo)
Għallis Rock (Naxxar)
Ħalfa Rock (Gozo)
Large Blue Lagoon Rocks (Comino)
Islands of St. Paul/Selmunett Island (Mellieħa)
Manoel Island, which connects to the town of Gżira, on the mainland,
via a bridge
Mistra Rocks (San Pawl il-Baħar)
Taċ-Ċawl Rock (Gozo)
Qawra Point/Ta' Fraben Island (San Pawl il-Baħar)
Small Blue Lagoon Rocks (Comino)
Sala Rock (Żabbar)
Xrobb l-Għaġin Rock (Marsaxlokk)
Ta' taħt il-Mazz Rock
Main article: Climate of Malta
Blue Lagoon Bay between
Malta has a
Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification
Csa), with mild winters and hot summers, hotter in the inland
areas. Rain occurs mainly in autumn and winter, with summer being
The average yearly temperature is around 23 °C (73 °F)
during the day and 15.5 °C (59.9 °F) at night. In the
coldest month – January – the typically maximum
temperature ranges from 12 to 18 °C (54 to 64 °F) during
the day and minimum 6 to 12 °C (43 to 54 °F) at night. In
the warmest month – August – the typically maximum
temperature ranges from 28 to 34 °C (82 to 93 °F) during
the day and minimum 20 to 24 °C (68 to 75 °F) at night.
Amongst all capitals in the continent of Europe, Valletta – the
Malta has the warmest winters, with average temperatures of
around 15 to 16 °C (59 to 61 °F) during the day and 9 to
10 °C (48 to 50 °F) at night in the period
January–February. In March and December average temperatures are
around 17 °C (63 °F) during the day and 11 °C
(52 °F) at night. Large fluctuations in temperature are
rare. Snow is very rare on the island, although various snowfalls have
been recorded in the last century, being the last one reported in
various locations across
Malta in 2014.
Average annual temperature of the sea is 20 °C (68 °F),
from 15–16 °C (59–61 °F) in February to 26 °C
(79 °F) in August. In the 6 months – from June to
November – the average sea temperature exceeds 20 °C
Sunshine duration hours total around 3,000 per year, from an average
5.2 hours of sunshine duration per day in December to an average above
12 hours in July. This is about double that of cities in the
northern half of Europe, for comparison: London – 1,461;
however, in winter it has up to four times more sunshine; for
comparison: in December, London has 37 hours of sunshine whereas
Malta has above 160.
Climate data for
Luqa in the south-east part of main island,
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Meteo Climate (1981–2010 Data), climatetemp.info (Sun
The main urban area of Malta.
Valletta is the central peninsula.
According to Eurostat,
Malta is composed of two larger urban zones
nominally referred to as "Valletta" (the main island of Malta) and
"Gozo". According to Demographia, state is identified as urban
area. According to European Spatial Planning Observation Network,
Malta is identified as functional urban area (FUA). According to
United Nations, about 95 per cent of the area of
Malta is urban and
the number grows every year. Also, according to the results of
ESPON and EU Commission studies, "the whole territory of Malta
constitutes a single urban region".
Occasionally in the media and official publications
Malta is referred
to as a city-state. Also, the Maltese coat-of-arms bears a
mural crown described as "representing the fortifications of
denoting a City State". Malta, with area of 316 km2
(122 sq mi) and population of 0.4 million, is one of
the most densely populated countries worldwide.
Main article: Economy of Malta
Valletta's maritime industrial zone
Malta is classified as an advanced economy together with 32 other
countries according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Malta depended on cotton, tobacco and its shipyards for
exports. Once under British control, they came to depend on Malta
Dockyard for support of the Royal Navy, especially during the Crimean
War of 1854. The military base benefited craftsmen and all those who
served the military.
In 1869, the opening of the
Suez Canal gave Malta's economy a great
boost, as there was a massive increase in the shipping which entered
the port. Ships stopping at Malta's docks for refuelling helped the
Entrepôt trade, which brought additional benefits to the island.
However, towards the end of the 19th century the economy began
declining, and by the 1940s Malta's economy was in serious crisis. One
factor was the longer range of newer merchant ships that required less
frequent refuelling stops.
The dolphin show at Mediterraneo Marine Park. Tourism generates a
significant part of the GDP of Malta.
Currently, Malta's major resources are limestone, a favourable
geographic location and a productive labour force.
Malta produces only
about 20 per cent of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies
because of the drought in the summer and has no domestic energy
sources, aside from the potential for solar energy from its plentiful
sunlight. The economy is dependent on foreign trade (serving as a
freight trans-shipment point), manufacturing (especially electronics
and textiles) and tourism.
Film production is a growing contributor to the Maltese economy.
The first film was shot in
Malta in 1925 (Sons of the Sea); over
100 feature films have been entirely or partially filmed in the
country since then.
Malta has served as a "double" for a wide variety
of locations and historic periods including Ancient Greece, Ancient
and Modern Rome, Iraq, the Middle East and many more. The Maltese
government introduced financial incentives for filmmakers in
2005. The current financial incentives to foreign productions as
of 2015 stand at 25 per cent with an additional 2 per cent if Malta
stands in as Malta; meaning a production can get up to 27 per cent
back on their eligible spending incurred in Malta.
Malta is part of a monetary union, the eurozone (dark blue)
The government is investing heavily in education, including college.
In preparation for Malta's membership in the European Union, which it
joined on 1 May 2004, it privatised some state-controlled firms and
liberalised markets. For example, the government announced on 8
January 2007 that it was selling its 40 per cent stake in MaltaPost,
to complete a privatisation process which has been ongoing for the
past five years. In 2010,
Malta managed to privatise
telecommunications, postal services, shipyards and shipbuilding.
Malta has a financial regulator, the
Malta Financial Services
Authority (MFSA), with a strong business development mindset, and the
country has been successful in attracting gaming businesses, aircraft
and ship registration, credit-card issuing banking licences and also
fund administration. Service providers to these industries, including
fiduciary and trustee business, are a core part of the growth strategy
of the island.
Malta has made strong headway in implementing EU
Financial Services Directives including UCITs IV and soon AIFMD. As a
base for alternative asset managers who must comply with new
Malta has attracted a number of key players including IDS,
Iconic Funds, Apex Fund Services and TMF/Customs House.
Tunisia are currently discussing the commercial exploitation
of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for
petroleum exploration. These discussions are also undergoing between
Libya for similar arrangements.
Malta does not have a property tax. Its property market, especially
around the harbour area, has been in constant boom, with the prices of
apartments in some towns like St Julian's,
Sliema and Gzira
Eurostat data, Maltese GDP per capita stood at 88 per
cent of the EU average in 2015 with €21,000.
Banking and finance
Portomaso Business Tower, the tallest building in Malta
The two largest commercial banks are Bank of
Valletta and HSBC Bank
Malta, both of which can trace their origins back to the 19th century.
Central Bank of Malta
Central Bank of Malta (Bank Ċentrali ta' Malta) has two key areas
of responsibility: the formulation and implementation of monetary
policy and the promotion of a sound and efficient financial system. It
was established by the
Central Bank of Malta
Central Bank of Malta Act on 17 April 1968. The
Maltese government entered
ERM II on 4 May 2005, and adopted the euro
as the country's currency on 1 January 2008.
Malta is the quasi-governmental organisation tasked with
marketing and educating business leaders in coming to
Malta and runs
seminars and events around the world highlighting the emerging
Malta as a jurisdiction for banking and finance and
Transport in Malta
Transport in Malta and
Malta drives on the left. Car ownership in
exceedingly high, considering the very small size of the islands; it
is the fourth-highest in the European Union. The number of registered
cars in 1990 amounted to 182,254, giving an automobile density of
577/km2 (1,494/sq mi).
Malta has 2,254 kilometres (1,401 miles) of road, 1,972 km
(1,225 mi) (87.5 per cent) of which are paved and 282 km
(175 mi) were unpaved (as of December 2003). The main roads
Malta from the southernmost point to the northernmost point are
Birżebbuġa in Birżebbuġa,
Għar Dalam Road and
Tal-Barrani Road in Żejtun,
Santa Luċija Avenue in Paola, Aldo Moro
Street (Trunk Road), 13 December Street and Ħamrun-Marsa Bypass in
Marsa, Regional Road in Santa Venera/Msida/Gżira/San Ġwann, St
Andrew's Road in Swieqi/Pembroke, Malta, Coast Road in Baħar
iċ-Ċagħaq, Salina Road, Kennedy Drive, St. Paul's Bypass and
Xemxija Hill in San Pawl il-Baħar, Mistra Hill, Wettinger Street
Mellieħa Bypass) and Marfa Road in Mellieħa.
Buses (xarabank or karozza tal-linja) are the primary method of public
transport. Established in 1905, they operated in the Maltese islands
up to 2011 and became popular tourist attractions in their own
right. To this day they are depicted on many Maltese
advertisements to promote tourism as well as on gifts and merchandise
The bus service underwent an extensive reform in July 2011. The
management structure changed from having self-employed drivers driving
their own vehicles to a service being offered by a single company
through a public tender (in Gozo, being considered as a small network,
the service was given through direct order). The public tender
was won by
Arriva Malta, a member of the
Arriva group, which
introduced a fleet of brand new buses, built by
King Long especially
for service by
Malta and including a smaller fleet of
articulated buses brought in from
Arriva London. It also operated two
smaller buses for an intra-
Valletta route only and 61 nine-metre
buses, which were used to ease congestion on high density routes.
Malta operated 264 buses. On 1 January 2014 Arriva
ceased operations in
Malta due to financial difficulties, having been
Malta Public Transport by the Maltese government, with
a new bus operator planned to take over their operations in the near
future. The government chose Autobuses Urbanos de León as
its preferred bus operator for the country in October 2014. The
company took over the bus service on 8 January 2015, while retaining
Malta Public Transport. It introduced the pre-pay
'tallinja card'. With lower fares than the walk-on rate, it can be
topped up online. The card was initially not well received, as
reported by several local news sites. During the first week of
August 2015, another 40 buses of the Turkish make
Otokar arrived and
were put into service.
From 1883 to 1931
Malta had a railway line that connected
the army barracks at
Mdina and a number of towns and
villages. The railway fell into disuse and eventually closed
altogether, following the introduction of electric trams and
buses. At the height of the bombing of
Malta during the Second
World War, Mussolini announced that his forces had destroyed the
railway system, but by the time war broke out, the railway had been
mothballed for more than nine years.
Malta Freeport, one of the largest European ports
Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island:
Grand Harbour (or Port il-Kbir), located at the eastern side of
the capital city of Valletta, has been a harbour since Roman times. It
has several extensive docks and wharves, as well as a cruise liner
terminal. A terminal at the
Grand Harbour serves ferries that connect
Catania in Sicily.
Marsamxett Harbour, located on the western side of Valletta,
accommodates a number of yacht marinas.
Marsaxlokk Harbour (
Malta Freeport), at
Birżebbuġa on the
south-eastern side of Malta, is the islands' main cargo terminal.
Malta Freeport is the 11th busiest container ports in continent of
Europe and 46th in the World with a trade volume of 2.3 million
TEU's in 2008.
There are also two-man-made harbours that serve a passenger and car
ferry service that connects
Ċirkewwa Harbour on
Malta and Mġarr
Harbour on Gozo. The ferry makes numerous runs each day.
Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport (Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta) is
the only airport serving the Maltese islands. It is built on the land
formerly occupied by the RAF
Luqa air base. A heliport is also located
there, but the scheduled service to
Gozo ceased in 2006. The heliport
Gozo is at Xewkija. Since June 2007, Harbour
Air Malta has operated
a thrice-daily floatplane service between the sea terminal in Grand
Harbour and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.
Two further airfields at
Ta' Qali and
Ħal Far operated during the
Second World War
Second World War and into the 1960s but are now closed. Today, Ta'
Qali houses a national park, stadium, the Crafts Village visitor
attraction and the
Malta Aviation Museum. This museum preserves
several aircraft, including Hurricane and
Spitfire fighters that
defended the island in the Second World War.
Air Malta Airbus A320.
The national airline is Air Malta, which is based at Malta
International Airport and operates services to 36 destinations in
Europe and North Africa. The owners of
Air Malta are the Government of
Malta (98 per cent) and private investors (2 percent). Air Malta
employs 1,547 staff. It has a 25 per cent shareholding in Medavia.
Air Malta has concluded over 191 interline ticketing agreements with
other IATA airlines. It also has a codeshare agreement with Qantas
covering three routes. In September 2007,
Air Malta made two
agreements with Abu Dhabi-based
Etihad Airways by which Air Malta
wet-leased two Airbus aircraft to
Etihad Airways for the winter period
starting 1 September 2007, and provided operational support on another
Airbus A320 aircraft which it leased to Etihad Airways.
The mobile penetration rate in
Malta exceeded 100% by the end of
Malta uses the GSM900, UMTS(3G) and LTE(4G) mobile phone
systems, which are compatible with the rest of the European countries,
Australia and New Zealand.
Telephone and cellular subscribers' numbers have eight digits. There
are no area codes in Malta, but after inception, the original first
two numbers, and currently the 3rd and 4th digit, were assigned
according to the locality.
Fixed line telephone numbers have the
prefix 21 and 27, although businesses may have numbers starting 22 or
23. An example would be 2*80**** if from Żabbar, and 2*23**** if from
Marsa. Gozitan landline numbers generally are assigned 2*56****.
Mobile telephone numbers have the prefix 77, 79, 98 or 99. When
Malta from abroad, one must first dial the international
access code, then the country code +356 and the subscriber's number.
The number of pay TV subscribers fell as customers switched to
Internet Protocol television (IPTV): the number of
doubled in the six months to June 2012.
In late 2012, GO began expanding its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network
and capabilities, offering speeds of up to 200Mbit/s for its 'rapido'
In early 2012, the government called for a national FttH network to be
built, with a minimum broadband service being upgraded from 4Mbit/s to
Maltese euro coins
Maltese euro coins and Euro gold and silver
commemorative coins (Malta)
Maltese euro coins
Maltese euro coins feature the
Maltese cross on €2 and €1 coins,
the coat of arms of
Malta on the €0.50, €0.20 and €0.10 coins,
Mnajdra Temples on the €0.05, €0.02 and €0.01
Malta has produced collectors' coins with face value ranging from 10
to 50 euro. These coins continue an existing national practice of
minting of silver and gold commemorative coins. Unlike normal issues,
these coins are not legal tender in all the eurozone. For instance, a
€10 Maltese commemorative coin cannot be used in any other country.
From 1972 until introduction of the Euro in 2008, the currency was the
Maltese lira, which had replaced the Maltese pound. The pound replaced
Maltese scudo in 1825.
Mellieħa Bay beach
Main article: Tourism in Malta
Malta is a popular tourist destination, with 1.6 million tourists
per year. Three times more tourists visit than there are
residents. Tourism infrastructure has increased dramatically over the
years and a number of hotels are present on the island, although
overdevelopment and the destruction of traditional housing is of
growing concern. An increasing number of Maltese now travel abroad on
In recent years,
Malta has advertised itself as a medical tourism
destination, and a number of health tourism providers are
developing the industry. However, no Maltese hospital has undergone
independent international healthcare accreditation.
Malta is popular
with British medical tourists, pointing Maltese hospitals towards
seeking UK-sourced accreditation, such as with the Trent Accreditation
Science and technology
Malta signed a co-operation agreement with the European Space Agency
(ESA) for more-intensive co-operation in ESA projects. The Malta
Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is the civil body
responsible for the development of science and technology on an
educational and social level. Most science students in
University of Malta
University of Malta and are represented by S-Cubed (Science
Student's Society), UESA (University Engineering Students Association)
and ICTSA (
University of Malta
University of Malta ICT Students' Association).
Main article: Demographics of Malta
Census population and growth rate between censuses
Malta conducts a census of population and housing every ten years. The
census held in November 2005 counted an estimated 96 per cent of the
population. A preliminary report was issued in April 2006 and the
results were weighted to estimate for 100 per cent of the population.
Maltese people make up the majority of the island. However,
there are minorities, the largest of which are Britons, many of whom
are retirees. The population of
Malta as of July 2011[update] was
estimated at 408,000. As of 2005[update], 17 per cent were aged 14
and under, 68 per cent were within the 15–64 age bracket whilst the
remaining 13 per cent were 65 years and over. Malta's population
density of 1,282 per square km (3,322/sq mi) is by far the
highest in the EU and one of the highest in the world. By comparison,
the average population density for the "World (land only, excluding
Antarctica)" was 54 pop./km² as of July 2014.
The only census year showing a fall in population was that of 1967,
with a 1.7 per cent total decrease, attributable to a substantial
number of Maltese residents who emigrated. The Maltese-resident
population for 2004 was estimated to make up 97.0 per cent of the
total resident population.
All censuses since 1842 have shown a slight excess of females over
males. The 1901 and 1911 censuses came closest to recording a balance.
The highest female-to-male ratio was reached in 1957 (1088:1000) but
since then the ratio has dropped continuously. The 2005 census showed
a 1013:1000 female-to-male ratio. Population growth has slowed down,
from +9.5 per cent between the 1985 and 1995 censuses, to +6.9 per
cent between the 1995 and 2005 censuses (a yearly average of +0.7 per
cent). The birth rate stood at 3860 (a decrease of 21.8 per cent from
the 1995 census) and the death rate stood at 3025. Thus, there was a
natural population increase of 835 (compared to +888 for 2004, of
which over a hundred were foreign residents).
Valletta, Malta's capital city
The population's age composition is similar to the age structure
prevalent in the EU. Since 1967 there was observed a trend indicating
an ageing population, and is expected to continue in the foreseeable
future. Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio rose from 17.2 per cent in
1995 to 19.8 per cent in 2005, reasonably lower than the EU's 24.9 per
cent average; 31.5 per cent of the Maltese population is aged under 25
(compared to the EU's 29.1 per cent); but the 50–64 age group
constitutes 20.3 per cent of the population, significantly higher than
the EU's 17.9 per cent. Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio is expected
to continue rising steadily in the coming years.
Maltese legislation recognises both civil and canonical
(ecclesiastical) marriages. Annulments by the ecclesiastical and civil
courts are unrelated and are not necessarily mutually endorsed. Malta
voted in favour of divorce legislation in a referendum held on 28 May
2011. Abortion in
Malta is illegal. A person must be 16 to
marry. The number of brides aged under 25 decreased from 1471 in
1997 to 766 in 2005; while the number of grooms under 25 decreased
from 823 to 311. There is a constant trend that females are more
likely than males to marry young. In 2005 there were 51 brides aged
between 16 and 19, compared to 8 grooms.
At the end of 2007 the population of the Maltese Islands stood at
410,290 and is expected to reach 424,028 by 2025. At the
moment,[when?] females slightly outnumber males, making up 50.3 per
cent of the population. The largest proportion of persons – 7.5
per cent – were aged 25–29, while there were 7.3 per cent
falling into each of the 45–49 and 55–59 age brackets.
The total fertility rate (TFR) as of 2013[update] was estimated at
1.53 children born/woman, which is below the replacement rate of
2.1. In 2012, 25.8 per cent of births were to unmarried
women. The life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 79.98 years
(77.69 years male, 82.41 years female).
Il-Kantilena by Pietru Caxaro, the oldest text in Maltese language,
Main article: Languages of Malta
See also: § Education
Maltese language (Maltese: Malti) is the constitutional national
language of Malta, having become official, however, only in 1934.
Previously, Sicilian was the official and cultural language of Malta
from the 12th century, and
Tuscan dialect of Italian from the 16th
century. Alongside Maltese, English is also an official language of
the country and hence the laws of the land are enacted both in Maltese
and English. However, article 74 of the Constitution states that "...
if there is any conflict between the Maltese and the English texts of
any law, the Maltese text shall prevail."
Maltese is a
Semitic language descended from the now defunct
Sicilian-Arabic (Siculo-Arabic) dialect (from southern Italy) that
developed during the Emirate of Sicily. The Maltese alphabet
consists of 30 letters based on the Latin alphabet, including the
diacritically altered letters ż, ċ and ġ, as well as the letters
għ, ħ, and ie.
Maltese has a Semitic base with substantial borrowing from Sicilian,
Italian, a little French, and more recently and increasingly,
English. The hybrid character of Maltese was established by a
long period of Maltese-Sicilian urban bilingualism gradually
transforming rural speech and which ended in the early 19th century
with Maltese emerging as the vernacular of the entire native
population. The language includes different dialects that can vary
greatly from one town to another or from one island to another.
Eurobarometer states that 100 per cent of the population speak
Maltese. Also, 88 per cent of the population speak English, 66 per
cent speak Italian, and 17 per cent speak French. This widespread
knowledge of second languages makes
Malta one of the most multilingual
countries in the European Union. A study collecting public opinion on
what language was "preferred" discovered that 86 per cent of the
population express a preference for Maltese, 12 per cent for English,
and 2 per cent for Italian. Still, Italian television channels
from Italy-based broadcasters, such as
Mediaset and RAI, reach Malta
and remain popular.
Main article: List of cities in Malta
Largest administrative units in Malta
Malta Government Gazette - Estimated Population by Locality 31st
Saint Paul's Bay
Saint Paul's Bay
Mosta Dome known as "Ir-Rotunda"
(1) The religion of
Malta is the Roman Catholic apostolic religion.
(2) The authorities of the Roman Catholic apostolic church have the
duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are
(3) Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic apostolic faith shall be
provided in all state schools as part of compulsory education.
Chapter 1, Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta
Religion in Malta
Religion in Malta (2016)
Jehovah's Witnesses (0.4%)
Other Christian (0.8%)
Only believe in God (1.8%)
Other religions (1.3%)
Atheists and non-religious (4.5%)
Main article: Religion in Malta
Further information: History of the Jews in Malta, Christianity in
Islam in Malta
The predominant religion in
Malta is Roman Catholicism. The second
article of the
Constitution of Malta
Constitution of Malta establishes
Catholicism as the
state religion and it is also reflected in various elements of Maltese
culture, although entrenched provisions for the freedom of religion
There are more than 360 churches in Malta,
Gozo and Comino, or one
church for every 1,000 residents. The parish church (Maltese:
"il-parroċċa", or "il-knisja parrokkjali") is the architectural and
geographic focal point of every Maltese town and village, and its main
source of civic pride. This civic pride manifests itself in
spectacular fashion during the local village festas, which mark the
day of the patron saint of each parish with marching bands, religious
processions, special Masses, fireworks (especially petards) and other
Malta is an Apostolic See; the
Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles tells of how St.
Paul, on his way from Jerusalem to Rome to face trial, was shipwrecked
on the island of "Melite", which many Bible scholars identify with
Malta, an episode dated around AD 60. As recorded in the Acts of
the Apostles, St. Paul spent three months on the island on his way to
Rome, curing the sick including the father of Publius, the "chief man
of the island". Various traditions are associated with this account.
The shipwreck is said to have occurred in the place today known as St
Paul's Bay. The Maltese saint,
Saint Publius is said to have been made
Malta's first bishop and a grotto in Rabat, now known as "St Paul's
Grotto" (and in the vicinity of which evidence of Christian burials
and rituals from the 3rd century AD has been found), is among the
earliest known places of Christian worship on the island.
Further evidence of Christian practices and beliefs during the period
of Roman persecution appears in catacombs that lie beneath various
sites around Malta, including St Paul's
Catacombs and St Agatha's
Catacombs in Rabat, just outside the walls of Mdina. The latter, in
particular, were beautifully frescoed between 1200 and 1480, although
marauding Turks defaced many of them in the 1550s. There are also a
number of cave churches, including the grotto at Mellieħa, which is a
Shrine of the Nativity of Our Lady where, according to legend, St.
Luke painted a picture of the Madonna. It has been a place of
pilgrimage since medieval times.
The Acts of the
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon record that in 451 AD a certain
Acacius was Bishop of
Malta (Melitenus Episcopus). It is also known
that in 501 AD, a certain Constantinus, Episcopus Melitenensis, was
present at the Fifth Ecumenical Council. In 588 AD, Pope Gregory I
deposed Tucillus, Miletinae civitatis episcopus and the clergy and
Malta elected his successor Trajan in 599 AD. The last
recorded Bishop of
Malta before the invasion of the islands was a
Greek named Manas, who was subsequently incarcerated at Palermo.
Giovanni Francesco Abela
Giovanni Francesco Abela states that following their
conversion to Christianity at the hand of St. Paul, the Maltese
retained their Christian religion, despite the
Abela's writings describe
Malta as a divinely ordained "bulwark of
Christian, European civilization against the spread of Mediterranean
Islam". The native Christian community that welcomed Roger I of
Sicily was further bolstered by immigration to
Malta from Italy,
in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Żejtun city centre parish church
For centuries, the Church in
Malta was subordinate to the Diocese of
Palermo, except when it was under Charles of Anjou, who appointed
bishops for Malta, as did – on rare occasions – the
Spanish and later, the Knights. Since 1808 all bishops of
been Maltese. As a result of the Norman and Spanish periods, and the
rule of the Knights,
Malta became the devout Catholic nation that it
is today. It is worth noting that the Office of the Inquisitor of
Malta had a very long tenure on the island following its establishment
in 1530: the last Inquisitor departed from the Islands in 1798, after
the Knights capitulated to the forces of
Napoleon Bonaparte. During
the period of the Republic of Venice, several Maltese families
emigrated to Corfu. Their descendants account for about two-thirds of
the community of some 4,000 Catholics that now live on that island.
The Greek Orthodox church of St. Georg in Valletta
The patron saints of
Saint Publius and Saint
Agatha. Although not a patron saint, St
George Preca (San Ġorġ
Preca) is greatly revered as the second canonised Maltese saint after
St. Publius Malta's first acknowledged saint (canonised in the year
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI canonised him on 3 June 2007. Also, a number
of Maltese individuals are recognised as Blessed, including Maria
Adeodata Pisani and Nazju Falzon, with
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II having
beatified them in 2001.
Various Roman Catholic religious orders are present in Malta,
including the Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans and Little Sisters of
Most congregants of the local
Protestant churches are not Maltese;
their congregations draw on the many British retirees living in the
country and vacationers from many other nations. There are
approximately 600 Jehovah's Witnesses. The Church of Jesus Christ
Saints (LDS Church), the Bible Baptist Church, and the
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches each have about 60 affiliates.
There are also some churches of other denominations, including St.
Andrew's Scots Church in
Valletta (a joint
Presbyterian and Methodist
congregation) and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, and a Seventh-day
Adventist church in Birkirkara. A
New Apostolic Church
New Apostolic Church congregation
was founded in 1983 in Gwardamangia.
The Jewish population of
Malta reached its peak in the Middle Ages
under Norman rule. In 1479,
Sicily came under Aragonese rule
Alhambra Decree of 1492 forced all Jews to leave the country,
permitting them to take with them only a few of their belongings.
Several dozen Maltese Jews may have converted to Christianity at the
time to remain in the country. Today, there is one Jewish
Mariam Al-Batool Mosque
Mariam Al-Batool Mosque in Paola, Malta
There is one Muslim mosque, the Mariam Al-Batool Mosque. A Muslim
primary school recently opened. Of the estimated 3,000 Muslims in
Malta, approximately 2,250 are foreigners, approximately 600 are
naturalised citizens, and approximately 150 are native-born
Zen Buddhism and the
Bahá'í Faith claim some 40
In a survey held by the
Malta Today, it was found that approximately
4.5 per cent of the population of
Malta gives no preference to any
Non-religious people have a higher risk to suffer
from discrimination, such as lack of trust by society and unequal
treatment by institutions. The number of
Atheists has exponentially
grown, by doubling from 2014 to 2016. According to European standards,
non-religious groups and individuals are considered to suffer from
"severe discrimination". By a constitutional amendment adhering to EU
Malta gives the right for the freedom to any religion or none at
all but de jure not de facto.
Foreign population in Malta
Main article: Immigration to Malta
Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or
retired British nationals and their dependents, is centred on Sliema
and surrounding modern suburbs. Other smaller foreign groups include
Italians, French, and Lebanese, many of whom have assimilated into the
Maltese nation over the decades.
Since the late 20th century,
Malta has become a transit country for
migration routes from Africa towards Europe.
As a member of the
European Union and of the Schengen agreement, Malta
is bound by the
Dublin Regulation to process all claims for asylum by
those asylum seekers that enter EU territory for the first time in
Irregular migrants who land in
Malta are subject to a compulsory
detention policy, being held in several camps organised by the Armed
Malta (AFM), including those near
Ħal Far and Ħal Safi.
The compulsory detention policy has been denounced by several NGOs,
and in July 2010, the
European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights found that
Malta's detention of migrants was arbitrary, lacking in adequate
procedures to challenge detention, and in breach of its obligations
under the European Convention on Human Rights.
In January 2014
Malta started granting citizenship for a €650,000
contribution plus investments, contingent on residence and criminal
Child Migrants' Memorial at the
Valletta Waterfront, commemorating the
310 child migrants who travelled to
Australia between 1950 and 1965
Main article: Emigration from Malta
In the 19th century, most emigration from
Malta was to North Africa
and the Middle East, although rates of return migration to
high. Nonetheless, Maltese communities formed in these regions.
By 1900, for example, British consular estimates suggest that there
were 15,326 Maltese in Tunisia, and in 1903 it was claimed that 15,000
people of Maltese origin were living in Algeria.
Malta experienced significant emigration as a result of the collapse
of a construction boom in 1907 and after the Second World War, when
the birth rate increased significantly, but in the 20th century most
emigrants went to destinations in the New World, particularly to
Canada and the United States. After the Second World War,
Malta's Emigration Department would assist emigrants with the cost of
their travel. Between 1948 and 1967, 30 per cent of the population
emigrated. Between 1946 and the late-1970s, over 140,000 people
Malta on the assisted passage scheme, with 57.6% migrating to
Australia, 22% to the UK, 13% to
Canada and 7% to the United
Emigration dropped dramatically after the mid-1970s and has since
ceased to be a social phenomenon of significance. However, since Malta
joined the EU in 2004 expatriate communities emerged in a number of
European countries particularly in
Belgium and Luxembourg.
Main article: Education in Malta
See also: List of schools in Malta
University of Malta
Library in Valletta
Primary schooling has been compulsory since 1946; secondary education
up to the age of sixteen was made compulsory in 1971. The state and
the Church provide education free of charge, both running a number of
Malta and Gozo, including De La Salle College in Cospicua,
St. Aloysius' College in Birkirkara,
St. Paul's Missionary College
St. Paul's Missionary College in
Rabat, Malta, St. Joseph's School in
Blata l-Bajda and
Girls' School in Mosta. As of 2006[update], state schools are
organised into networks known as Colleges and incorporate kindergarten
schools, primary and secondary schools. A number of private schools
are run in Malta, including
San Andrea School
San Andrea School and
San Anton School in
the valley of L-Imselliet (l/o Mġarr),
St. Martin's College in Swatar
and St. Michael's School in San Ġwann. St. Catherine's High School,
Pembroke offers an International Foundation Course for students
wishing to learn English before entering mainstream education. As of
2008[update], there are two international schools, Verdala
International School and QSI Malta. The state pays a portion of the
teachers' salary in Church schools.
Education in Malta
Education in Malta is based on the British model. Primary school lasts
six years. At the age of 11 pupils sit for an examination to enter a
secondary school, either a church school (the Common Entrance
Examination) or a state school. Pupils sit for SEC O-level
examinations at the age of 16, with passes obligatory in certain
subjects such as mathematics, English and Maltese. Pupils may opt to
continue studying at a sixth form college such as Gan Frangisk Abela
Junior College, St. Aloysius' College, Giovanni Curmi Higher
Secondary, De La Salle College, St Edward's College, or else at
another post-secondary institution such as MCAST. The sixth form
course lasts for two years, at the end of which students sit for the
Matriculation examination. Subject to their performance, students may
then apply for an undergraduate degree or diploma.
University of Malta
University of Malta (U.o.M.) provides Tertiary education at
diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate level. The adult literacy rate
is 99.5 per cent.
Maltese and English are both used to teach pupils at primary and
secondary school level, and both languages are also compulsory
subjects. Public schools tend to use both Maltese and English in a
balanced manner. Private schools prefer to use English for teaching,
as is also the case with most departments of the University of Malta;
this has a limiting effect on the capacity and development of the
Maltese language. Most university courses are in
Of the total number of pupils studying a first foreign language at
secondary level, 51 per cent take Italian whilst 38 per cent take
French. Other choices include German, Russian, Spanish, Latin, Chinese
and Arabic.[dead link]
Malta is also a popular destination to study the English language,
attracting over 80,000 students in 2012.
Main article: Healthcare in Malta
The Sacra Infermeria was used as a hospital from the 16th to 20th
centuries. It is now the
Mediterranean Conference Centre.
Mater Dei Hospital
Medical Student taking blood pressure during an event organised by the
local medical student association
Malta has a long history of providing publicly funded health care. The
first hospital recorded in the country was already functioning by
Malta has both a public healthcare system, known as
the government healthcare service, where healthcare is free at the
point of delivery, and a private healthcare system. Malta
has a strong general practitioner-delivered primary care base and the
public hospitals provide secondary and tertiary care. The Maltese
Ministry of Health advises foreign residents to take out private
Malta also boasts voluntary organisations such as Alpha Medical
(Advanced Care), the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (E.F.R.U.), St
John Ambulance and Red Cross
Malta who provide first aid/nursing
services during events involving crowds.
The Mater Dei Hospital, Malta's primary hospital, opened in 2007. It
has one of the largest medical buildings in Europe.
University of Malta
University of Malta has a medical school and a Faculty of Health
Sciences, the latter offering diploma, degree (BSc) and postgraduate
degree courses in a number of health care disciplines.
Medical Association of Malta represents practitioners of the
medical profession. The
Malta Medical Students' Association
Malta Medical Students' Association (MMSA) is
a separate body representing Maltese medical students, and is a member
of EMSA and IFMSA. MIME, the Maltese Institute for Medical Education,
is an institute set up recently to provide CME to physicians in Malta
as well as medical students. The
Foundation Program followed in the UK
has been introduced in
Malta to stem the 'brain drain' of newly
graduated physicians to the British Isles. The
Malta Association of
Dental Students (MADS) is a student association set up to promote the
rights of Dental Surgery Students studying within the faculty of
Dental Surgery of the University of Malta. It is affiliated with IADS,
the International Association of Dental Students.
See also Health in Malta
Main article: Culture of Malta
The culture of
Malta reflects the various cultures, from the
Phoenicians to the British, that have come into contact with the
Maltese Islands throughout the centuries, including neighbouring
Mediterranean cultures, and the cultures of the nations that ruled
Malta for long periods of time prior to its independence in
Main article: Music of Malta
Manoel Theatre, Europe's third-oldest working theatre. Now Malta's
National Theatre and home to the
Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.
While Maltese music today is largely Western, traditional Maltese
music includes what is known as għana. This consists of background
folk guitar music, while a few people, generally men, take it in turns
to argue a point in a sing-song voice. The aim of the lyrics, which
are improvised, is to create a friendly yet challenging atmosphere,
and it takes a number of years of practice to be able to combine the
required artistic qualities with the ability to debate effectively.
Main article: Maltese literature
Maltese literature is over 200 years old. However, a
recently unearthed love ballad testifies to literary activity in the
local tongue from the
Malta followed a Romantic
literary tradition, culminating in the works of Dun Karm Psaila,
Malta's National Poet. Subsequent writers like
Ruzar Briffa and
Karmenu Vassallo tried to estrange themselves from the rigidity of
formal themes and versification.
The next generation of writers, including
Karl Schembri and Immanuel
Mifsud, widened the tracks further, especially in prose and poetry.
Typical architecture built in recent years in Malta
Art and architecture
Lower Barrakka Gardens
Maltese architecture has been influenced by many different
Mediterranean cultures and British architecture over its history. The
first settlers on the island constructed Ġgantija, one of the oldest
manmade freestanding structures in the world. The
builders 3800–2500 BC endowed the numerous temples of
Malta and Gozo
with intricate bas relief designs, including spirals evocative of the
tree of life and animal portraits, designs painted in red ochre,
ceramics and a vast collection of human form sculptures, particularly
the Venus of Malta. These can be viewed at the temples themselves
(most notably, the Hypogeum and
Tarxien Temples), and at the National
Archaeology in Valletta. Malta's temples such as Imnajdra
are full of history and have a story behind them.
Malta is currently
undergoing several large-scale building projects, including the
construction of SmartCity Malta, the
M-Towers and Pendergardens, while
areas such as the
Valletta Waterfront and
Tigné Point have been or
are being renovated.
The Roman period introduced highly decorative mosaic floors, marble
colonnades and classical statuary, remnants of which are beautifully
preserved and presented in the Roman Domus, a country villa just
outside the walls of Mdina. The early Christian frescoes that decorate
the catacombs beneath
Malta reveal a propensity for eastern, Byzantine
tastes. These tastes continued to inform the endeavours of medieval
Maltese artists, but they were increasingly influenced by the
Southern Gothic movements. Towards the end of the 15th
century, Maltese artists, like their counterparts in neighbouring
Sicily, came under the influence of the School of Antonello da
Messina, which introduced
Renaissance ideals and concepts to the
decorative arts in Malta.
Saint Jerome Writing, by Caravaggio. Held in St John's Co-Cathedral,
The artistic heritage of
Malta blossomed under the Knights of St.
John, who brought Italian and Flemish
Mannerist painters to decorate
their palaces and the churches of these islands, most notably, Matteo
Perez d'Aleccio, whose works appear in the Magisterial Palace and in
the Conventual Church of St. John in Valletta, and Filippo Paladini,
who was active in
Malta from 1590 to 1595. For many years, Mannerism
continued to inform the tastes and ideals of local Maltese
The arrival in
Malta of Caravaggio, who painted at least seven works
during his 15-month stay on these islands, further revolutionised
local art. Two of Caravaggio's most notable works, The Beheading of
Saint John the Baptist and
Saint Jerome Writing, are on display in the
Oratory of the Conventual Church of St. John. His legacy is evident in
the works of local artists Giulio Cassarino (1582–1637) and Stefano
Erardi (1630–1716). However, the
Baroque movement that followed was
destined to have the most enduring impact on Maltese art and
architecture. The glorious vault paintings of the celebrated Calabrese
Mattia Preti transformed the severe,
Mannerist interior of the
Conventual Church St. John into a
Baroque masterpiece. Preti spent the
last 40 years of his life in Malta, where he created many of his
finest works, now on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.
During this period, local sculptor Melchior Gafà (1639–1667)
emerged as one of the top
Baroque sculptors of the Roman
The Siege of Malta – Flight of the Turks, by Matteo Perez
During the 17th and 18th century, Neapolitan and
emerged in the works of the Italian painters Luca Giordano
Francesco Solimena (1657–1747), and these
developments can be seen in the work of their Maltese contemporaries
such as Giovanni Nicola Buhagiar (1698–1752) and Francesco Zahra
Rococo movement was greatly enhanced by the
Malta of Antoine de Favray (1706–1798), who assumed
the position of court painter to Grand Master Pinto in 1744.[citation
Neo-classicism made some inroads among local Maltese artists in the
late-18th century, but this trend was reversed in the early 19th
century, as the local Church authorities – perhaps in an effort
to strengthen Catholic resolve against the perceived threat of
Protestantism during the early days of British rule in Malta –
favoured and avidly promoted the religious themes embraced by the
Nazarene movement of artists. Romanticism, tempered by the naturalism
Malta by Giuseppe Calì, informed the "salon" artists of
the early 20th century, including Edward and Robert Caruana
Parliament established the National School of Art in the 1920s. During
the reconstruction period that followed the Second World War, the
emergence of the "Modern Art Group", whose members included Josef
George Preca (1909–1984), Anton Inglott
(1915–1945), Envin Cremona (1919–1987),
Frank Portelli (b.
1922-2004), Antoine Camilleri (b. 1922-2005) and
Esprit Barthet (b.
1919-1999) greatly enhanced the local art scene. This group of
forward-looking artists came together forming an influential pressure
group known as the Modern Art Group. Together they forced the Maltese
public to take seriously modern aesthetics and succeeded in playing a
leading role in the renewal of Maltese art. Most of Malta's modern
artists have in fact studied in Art institutions in England, or on the
continent, leading to the explosive development of a wide spectrum of
views and to a diversity of artistic expression that has remained
characteristic of contemporary Maltese art. In Valletta, the National
Museum of Fine Arts features work from artists such as H. Craig
Maltese cuisine and List of Maltese dishes
Pastizzi, a typical Maltese snack
Ftira, a type of Maltese bread
Maltese cuisine shows strong Sicilian and English influences as well
as influences of Spanish, Maghrebin and Provençal cuisines. A number
of regional variations, particularly with regards to Gozo, can be
noted as well as seasonal variations associated with the seasonal
availability of produce and Christian feasts (such as Lent,
Christmas). Food has been important historically in the development of
a national identity in particular the traditional fenkata (i.e., the
eating of stewed or fried rabbit).
Main article: Maltese folklore
Charities Aid Foundation
Charities Aid Foundation study found that the Maltese were the
most generous people in the world, with 83% contributing to
Maltese folktales include various stories about mysterious creatures
and supernatural events. These were most comprehensively compiled by
the scholar (and pioneer in Maltese archaeology) Manwel Magri in
his core criticism "Ħrejjef Missirijietna" ("Fables from our
Forefathers"). This collection of material inspired subsequent
researchers and academics to gather traditional tales, fables and
legends from all over the Archipelago.
Magri's work also inspired a series of comic books (released by Klabb
Kotba Maltin in 1984): the titles included Bin is-Sultan Jiźźewweġ
x-Xebba tat-Tronġiet Mewwija and Ir-Rjieħ. Many of these stories
have been popularly re-written as Children's literature by authors
writing in Maltese, such as Trevor Żahra. While giants, witches and
dragons feature in many of the stories, some contain entirely Maltese
creatures like the Kaw kaw,
L-Imħalla among others.
The traditional Maltese obsession with maintaining spiritual (or
ritual) purity means that many of these creatures have the role
of guarding forbidden or restricted areas and attacking individuals
who broke the strict codes of conduct that characterised the island's
pre-industrial society.
Traditional Maltese proverbs reveal a cultural importance of
childbearing and fertility: "iż-żwieġ mingħajr tarbija ma fihx
tgawdija" (a childless marriage cannot be a happy one). This is a
Malta shares with many other
Mediterranean cultures. In
Maltese folktales the local variant of the classic closing formula,
"and they all lived happily ever after" is "u għammru u tgħammru, u
spiċċat" (and they lived together, and they had children together,
and the tale is finished).
Malta shares in common with
Mediterranean society a number of
superstitions regarding fertility, menstruation and pregnancy,
including the avoidance of cemeteries during the months leading up to
childbirth, and avoiding the preparation of certain foods during
menses. Pregnant women are encouraged to satisfy their cravings for
specific foods, out of fear that their unborn child will bear a
representational birth mark (Maltese: xewqa, literally "desire" or
"craving"). Maltese and Sicilian women also share certain traditions
that are believed to predict the sex of an unborn child, such as the
cycle of the moon on the anticipated date of birth, whether the baby
is carried "high" or "low" during pregnancy, and the movement of a
wedding ring, dangled on a string above the abdomen (sideways denoting
a girl, back and forth denoting a boy).
Traditionally, Maltese newborns were baptised as promptly as possible,
should the child die in infancy without receiving this vital
Sacrament; and partly because according to Maltese (and Sicilian)
folklore an unbaptised child is not yet a Christian, but "still a
Turk". Traditional Maltese delicacies served at a baptismal feast
include biskuttini tal-magħmudija (almond macaroons covered in white
or pink icing), it-torta tal-marmorata (a spicy, heart-shaped tart of
chocolate-flavoured almond paste), and a liqueur known as rożolin,
made with rose petals, violets and almonds.
On a child's first birthday, in a tradition that still survives today,
Maltese parents would organise a game known as il-quċċija, where a
variety of symbolic objects would be randomly placed around the seated
child. These may include a hard-boiled egg, a Bible, crucifix or
rosary beads, a book, and so on. Whichever object the child shows most
interest in is said to reveal the child's path and fortunes in
Money refers to a rich future while a book expresses intelligence and
a possible career as a teacher. Infants who select a pencil or pen
will be writers. Choosing Bibles or rosary beads refers to a clerical
or monastic life. If the child chooses a hard-boiled egg, it will have
a long life and many children. More recent additions include
calculators (refers to accounting), thread (fashion) and wooden spoons
(cooking and a great appetite).
Re-enactment of a traditional Maltese 18th century wedding
Traditional Maltese weddings featured the bridal party walking in
procession beneath an ornate canopy, from the home of the bride's
family to the parish church, with singers trailing behind serenading
the bride and groom. The Maltese word for this custom is il-ġilwa.
This custom along with many others has long since disappeared from the
islands, in the face of modern practices.
New wives would wear the għonnella, a traditional item of Maltese
clothing. However, it is no longer worn in modern Malta. Today's
couples are married in churches or chapels in the village or town of
their choice. The nuptials are usually followed by a lavish and joyous
wedding reception, often including several hundred guests.
Occasionally, couples will try to incorporate elements of the
traditional Maltese wedding in their celebration. A resurgent interest
in the traditional wedding was evident in May 2007, when thousands of
Maltese and tourists attended a traditional Maltese wedding in the
style of the 16th century, in the village of Żurrieq. This included
il-ġilwa, which led the bride and groom to a wedding ceremony that
took place on the parvis of St. Andrew's Chapel. The reception that
followed featured folklore music (għana) and dancing.[citation
The statue of St. George at the festa of Victoria, Gozo
Local festivals, similar to those in Southern Italy, are commonplace
Malta and Gozo, celebrating weddings, christenings and, most
prominently, saints' days, honouring the patron saint of the local
parish. On saints' days, the festa reaches its apex with a High Mass
featuring a sermon on the life and achievements of the patron saint,
after which a statue of the religious patron is taken around the local
streets in solemn procession, with the faithful following in
respectful prayer. The atmosphere of religious devotion quickly gives
way to several days of celebration and revelry: band processions,
fireworks, and late-night parties.
Carnival (Maltese: il-karnival ta' Malta) has had an important place
on the cultural calendar after Grand Master
Piero de Ponte
Piero de Ponte introduced
it to the islands in 1535. It is held during the week leading up to
Ash Wednesday, and typically includes masked balls, fancy dress and
grotesque mask competitions, lavish late-night parties, a colourful,
ticker-tape parade of allegorical floats presided over by King
Carnival (Maltese: ir-Re tal-Karnival), marching bands and costumed
Holy Week (Maltese: il-Ġimgħa Mqaddsa) starts on
Palm Sunday (Ħadd
il-Palm) and ends on
Easter Sunday (Ħadd il-Għid). Numerous
religious traditions, most of them inherited from one generation to
the next, are part of the paschal celebrations in the Maltese Islands,
honouring the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Mnarja, or l-Imnarja (pronounced lim-nar-ya) is one of the most
important dates on the Maltese cultural calendar. Officially, it is a
national festival dedicated to the feast of
Saints Peter and St. Paul.
Its roots can be traced back to the pagan Roman feast of Luminaria
(literally, "the illumination"), when torches and bonfires lit up the
early summer night of 29 June.
A national feast since the rule of the Knights, Mnarja is a
traditional Maltese festival of food, religion and music. The
festivities still commence today with the reading of the "bandu", an
official governmental announcement, which has been read on this day in
Malta since the 16th century. Originally, Mnarja was celebrated
outside St. Paul's Grotto, in the north of Malta. However, by 1613 the
focus of the festivities had shifted to the Cathedral of St. Paul, in
Mdina, and featured torchlight processions, the firing of 100 petards,
horseraces, and races for men, boys and slaves. Modern Mnarja
festivals take place in and around the woodlands of Buskett, just
outside the town of Rabat.
It is said that under the Knights, this was the one day in the year
when the Maltese were allowed to hunt and eat wild rabbit, which was
otherwise reserved for the hunting pleasures of the Knights. The close
connection between Mnarja and rabbit stew (Maltese: "fenkata") remains
strong today.
In 1854 British governor William Reid launched an agricultural show at
Buskett which is still being held today. The farmers' exhibition is
still a seminal part of the Mnarja festivities today.
Mnarja today is one of the few occasions when participants may hear
traditional Maltese "għana". Traditionally, grooms would promise to
take their brides to Mnarja during the first year of marriage. For
luck, many of the brides would attend in their wedding gown and veil,
although this custom has long since disappeared from the
Isle of MTV is a one-day music festival produced and broadcast on an
annual basis by MTV. The festival has been arranged annually in Malta
since 2007, with major pop artists performing each year. 2012 saw the
performances of worldwide acclaimed artists Flo Rida, Nelly Furtado
and Will.I.Am at Fosos Square in Floriana. Over 50,000 people
attended, which marked the biggest attendance so far.
In 2009 the first New Year's Eve street party was organised in Malta,
parallel to what major countries in the world organise. Although the
event was not highly advertised, and was controversial due to the
closing of an arterial street on the day, it is deemed to have been
successful and will most likely be organised every year.
Fireworks Festival is an annual festival that
has been arranged in the
Grand Harbour of
Valletta since 2003. The
festival offers fireworks displays of a number of Maltese as well as
foreign fireworks factories. The festival is usually held in the last
week of April every year. 
Further information: List of newspapers in Malta, List of radio
stations in Malta, and Television in Malta
The most widely read and financially the strongest newspapers are
published by Allied Newspapers Ltd., mainly
The Times of Malta
The Times of Malta (27 per
cent) and its Sunday edition The Sunday Times of
Malta (51.6 per
cent). Due to bilingualism half of the newspapers are
published in English and the other half in Maltese. The Sunday
newspaper It-Torċa ("The Torch") published by the Union Press, a
subsidiary of the General Workers' Union, is the widest Maltese
language paper. Its sister paper,
L-Orizzont ("The Horizon"), is the
Maltese daily with biggest circulation. There is a high number of
daily or weekly newspapers; there is one paper for every
28,000 people. Advertising, sales and subsidies are the three
main methods of financing newspapers and magazines. However, most of
the papers and magazines tied to institutions are subsidised by the
same institutions, they depend on advertising or subsidies from their
There are eight terrestrial television channels in Malta: TVM, TVM2,
Parliament TV, One, NET Television, Smash Television, F Living and
Xejk. These channels are transmitted by digital terrestrial,
free-to-air signals on UHF channel 66. The state and political
parties subsidise most of the funding of these television stations.
TVM2 and Parliament TV are operated by Public Broadcasting
Services, the national broadcaster and member of the EBU. Media.link
Communications Ltd., the owner of NET Television, and One Productions
Ltd., the owner of One, are affiliated with the Nationalist and Labour
parties, respectively. The rest are privately owned. The Malta
Broadcasting Authority supervises all local broadcasting stations and
ensures their compliance with legal and licence obligations as well as
the preservation of due impartiality; in respect of matters of
political or industrial controversy or relating to current public
policy; while fairly apportioning broadcasting facilities and time
between persons belong to different political parties. The
Broadcasting Authority ensures that local broadcasting services
consist of public, private and community broadcasts that offer varied
and comprehensive programming to cater for all interests and
Malta Communications Authority reported that there were 147,896
pay TV subscriptions active at the end of 2012, which includes
analogue and digital cable, pay digital terrestrial TV and IPTV.
For reference the latest census counts 139,583 households in
Malta. Satellite reception is available to receive other European
television networks such as the
BBC from Great Britain and
Mediaset from Italy.
Main article: Public holidays in Malta
Maltese public holidays
New Year's Day
St. Paul's Shipwreck
March/April (date changes)
St. Peter and St. Paul (L-Imnarja)
The Assumption (Santa Marija)
Our Lady of Victories
Ta' Qali National Stadium is the home ground of the
Association football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Malta. The
national stadium is called
Ta' Qali Stadium. The national football
team has won several matches over big opponents that reached the final
phases in World Cups, such as
Belgium and Hungary. Recently a large
number of football grounds have been built throughout the island. The
top football league in
Malta is called the Maltese Premier League, and
consists of 12 teams.
Futsal is also very popular.
Water polo is also very popular in Malta. The
Malta national water
polo team has achieved some great results against strong teams, and
has competed in the Olympics twice. Maltese clubs participate in the
European Club competitions organised by LEN, are seen as being in the
top 10 water polo leagues in Europe.
Rugby league is played in Malta. In September 2015 the national men's
team was ranked 23rd in the world. The national team are known as the
Malta Knights, and boast players currently playing in the European
Superleague such as Jarrod Sammut, Jake Mamo, the most famous player
to come from
Malta would be former South Sydney Rabbitohs, Mario
Rugby union is popular in Malta. In March 2014 the national men's team
was ranked 43rd in the world. They have recently been achieving great
success, defeating teams including Sweden,
Motorsport includes drag racing represented by the
Malta Drag Racing
Association, with recent high ranking Maltese dragsters in official
FIA European championships. There is also autocross (ASMK), hill climb
(Island Car Club), motocross, karting and banger racing
Malta also hosts a snooker round, the
Malta Cup, which as of
2008[update] became a non-ranking event. In 2008
Tony Drago was a member of a victorious European Mosconi Cup
team, which was played in Portomaso, Malta. Claudio
Cassar was World Blackball Champion in 2014.
Jeff Fenech is of Maltese descent. Recently contact sports
Kickboxing have become increasingly
Malta is a good place for surfing and offers a lot of different surf
spots. During winter time most of the beaches transform into
Along with other sports, tennis is a popular activity in
Gozo. The islands offer a wide range of options for both beginners and
elite players. Clubs are spread out across
Malta and games are being
played on a regular basis all year around.
There are over 1,200 rock climbing routes in Malta. The island offers
a mixture of both trad climbing and sport climbing and also offers a
good variety of bouldering and deep water soloing. The geography and
small size of the island makes the climbing easily accessible. The
sport is growing in popularity with local communities, as well as
tourists and visitors.
Boċċi is the Maltese version of the Italian game of bocce, French
pétanque and British bowls. Other than certain differences in rules
and the ground on which the game is played, one of the most obvious
differences between Maltese boċċi and foreign equivalents is the
shape of the bowls themselves which tend to be cylindrical rather than
spherical in shape. Many small clubs (usually called Klabbs
tal-Boċċi in Maltese) can be found in Maltese and Gozitan
localities, and are usually well-frequented and are quite active on a
local and European level.
Outline of Malta
Index of Malta-related articles
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
European Union portal
^ "Maltese sign language to be recognized as an official language of
^ a b c d Census 2011. National Statistics Office, Malta
^ a b Zammit, Andre (1986). "
Valletta and the system of human
settlements in the Maltese Islands". Ekistics.
Athens Center of
Ekistics. 53 (316/317): 89–95. JSTOR 43620704.
^ a b "Estimated Population by Locality 31st March, 2014". Government
of Malta. 16 May 2014. Archived from the original on 21 June
2015. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
^ a b c d "Malta". International Monetary Fund.
Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income (source: SILC)".
Eurostat Data Explorer. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
^ "2016 Human Development Report".
United Nations Development
Programme. 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
^ Lesley, Anne Rose (15 April 2009). Frommer's
Gozo Day by
Day. John Wiley & Sons. p. 139. ISBN 0470746106.
^ Chapman, David; Cassar, Godwin (October 2004). "Valletta". Cities.
21 (5): 451–463. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2004.07.001.
^ a b c Ashby, Thomas (1915). "Roman Malta". 5. Journal of Roman
Studies: 23–80. doi:10.2307/296290. JSTOR 296290. Archived from
the original on 5 November 2016.
^ Bonanno, Anthony (ed.).
Malta and Sicily: Miscellaneous research
projects (PDF). Palermo: Officina di Studi Medievali.
^ "European Microstates". Traveltips24.com. 22 December 2008. Archived
from the original on 14 May 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2009. CS1
maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^ Sultana, Ronald G. (1998). "Career guidance in Malta: A
Mediterranean microstate in transition" (PDF). International Journal
for the Advancement of Counselling. 20: 3.
Microstate Environmental World Cup:
Malta vs. San Marino".
Environmentalgraffiti.com. 15 December 2007. Archived from the
original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2009. CS1 maint:
BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^ "Top 10 Things to See and Do in Malta". Mercury Direct. 12 June
2012. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. CS1 maint: BOT:
original-url status unknown (link)
^ Boissevain, Jeremy (1984). "Ritual Escalation in Malta". In Eric R.
Wolf. Religion, Power and Protest in Local Communities: The Northern
Shore of the Mediterranean. Walter de Gruyter. p. 165.
ISBN 9783110097771. ISSN 1437-5370.
^ Rudolf, Uwe Jens; Berg, Warren G. (2010). Historical Dictionary of
Malta. Scarecrow Press. pp. 1–11.
^ "GEORGE CROSS AWARD COMMEMORATION". VisitMalta.com. 14 April 2015.
Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 20 April
2015. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^ "Should the
George Cross still be on Malta's flag?". The Times. 29
April 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
^ "Christmas Broadcast 1967". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
^ Acts 27:39–28:11. Wikisource
^ a b c d e f "Constitution of Malta". Ministry for Justice, Culture
and Local Government. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
^ a b c
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "Malta". The World
^ "Hal Saflieni Hypogeum". UNESCO. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
^ "City of Valletta". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 25 March
2016. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
Megalithic Temples of Malta". UNESCO. Retrieved 18 January
Malta Temples and The OTS Foundation". Otsf.org. Retrieved 31 March
^ a b Daniel Cilia,
Malta Before History (2004: Miranda Publishers)
^ μέλι. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English
Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Castillo, Dennis Angelo (2006). The
Maltese Cross: A Strategic History of Malta. Greenwood Publishing
^ Melita. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short.
A Latin Dictionary on
^ Pickles, Tim (1998).
Malta 1565: Last Battle of the Crusades. Osprey
Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-603-3.
Malta the Republic of Phoenicia". The Times. Malta: Allied
^ Smith, William (1872). John Murray, ed. A Dictionary of Greek and
Roman Geography. II. p. 320.
^ a b "Gozo". IslandofGozo.org. 7 October 2007. Archived from the
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^ Bonanno 2005, p.22
^ Dennis Angelo Castillo (2006). The Maltese Cross A Strategic History
of Malta. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 25.
^ Victor Paul Borg (2001).
Malta and Gozo. Rough Guides. p. 331.
^ So who are the 'real' Maltese. There's a gap between 800 and 1200
where there is no record of civilisation. It doesn't mean the place
was completely uninhabited. There may have been a few people living
here and there, but not much……..The Arab influence on the Maltese
language is not a result of Arab rule in Malta, Prof. Felice said. The
influence is probably indirect, since the
Arabs raided the island and
left no-one behind, except for a few people. There are no records of
civilisation of any kind at the time. The kind of Arabic used in the
Maltese language is most likely derived from the language spoken by
those that repopulated the island from
Sicily in the early second
millennium; it is known as Siculo-Arab. The Maltese are mostly
descendants of these people.
^ The origin of the Maltese surnames. Ibn Khaldun puts the expulsion
Islam from the Maltese Islands to the year 1249. It is not clear
what actually happened then, except that the Maltese language, derived
from Arabic, certainly survived. Either the number of Christians was
far larger than Giliberto had indicated, and they themselves already
spoke Maltese, or a large proportion of the Muslims themselves
accepted baptism and stayed behind. Henri Bresc has written that there
are indications of further Muslim political activity on
the last Suabian years. Anyhow there is no doubt that by the beginning
of Angevin times no professed Muslim Maltese remained either as free
persons or even as serfs on the island.
^ Holland, James (2003). Fortress
Malta An Island Under Siege
1940–43. Miramax. ISBN 1-4013-5186-7.
^ Palaeolithic Man in the Maltese Islands, A. Mifsud, C.
Savona-Ventura, S. Mifsud
^ Skeates, Robin (2010). An
Archaeology of the Senses: Prehistoric
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^ "Brief History of Malta". LocalHistories.org. 7 October 2007.
^ Anthon, Charles (1848). A Classical Dictionary: Containing an
Account of the Principal Proper Names. New York Public Library.
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^ Daniel Cilia, "
Malta Before Common Era", in The
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^ Piccolo, Salvatore; Darvill, Timothy (2013). Ancient Stones, The
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^ "Notable dates in Malta's history". Department of
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^ Brown, Thomas S. (1991). "Malta". In Kazhdan, Alexander. Oxford
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account of the marriage between Constance, heiress of Sicily, and
Henry VI, son of the Emperor Friedrick Barbarossa.
Malta was elevated
to a county and a marquisate, but its trade was now totally ruined,
and for a considerable period of it remained solely a fortified
^ "Time-Line". AboutMalta.com. 7 October 2007.
^ Goodwin, Stefan (2002). Malta,
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