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Malta

MALTA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS MALTESE
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Republic of Malta

Repubblika Ta' Malta

CAPITAL: Valletta

FLAG: The national flag consists of two equal vertical stripes, white at the hoist and red at the fly, with a representation of the Maltese Cross, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe.

ANTHEM: L'Innu Malti (The Maltese Hymn).

MONETARY UNIT: The Maltese lira (lm) consists of 100 cents, with each cent divided into 10 mils. There are coins of 2, 3, and 5 mils and of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and notes of 2, 5, 10, and 20 lira. Gold and silver coins of 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, and 100 lira also are in circulation. ml1 = $2.70270 (or $1 = ml0.37) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some local measures are still in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; National Day, 31 March; May Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; Republic Day, 13 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday.

TIME: 1pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Malta lies in the central Mediterranean Sea, 93 km (58 mi) south of Sicily and 290 km (180 mi) from the nearest point of the North African mainland. There are three main islandsMalta, Gozo to the nw, and Comino between themas well as two small uninhabited islands, Cominotto and Filfla. Extending for 45 km (28 mi) senw and 13 km (8 mi) nesw, Malta's total area is 316 sq km (122 sq mi)Malta, 245.7 sq km (94.9 sq mi); Gozo, 67.1 sq km (25.9 sq mi); Comino, 2.8 sq km (1.1 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Malta is slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC. The total coastline is 252.81 km (157 mi).

Malta's capital city, Valletta, is located on the east coast of the island of Malta.

TOPOGRAPHY

The islands of Malta are a rocky formation (chiefly limestone) running from east to northeast, with clefts that form deep harbors, bays, creeks, and rocky coves. The highest point of the nation is Ta'Dmejrek (253 m/803 ft), located on the southwest shore of Malta. Beaches range from rocky to sandy terrain. The northern beach of Ramla Bay is known for its red sands.

CLIMATE

The climate is typically Mediterranean, with fairly hot, dry summers and rainy, mild winters. The average winter temperature is 9°c (48°f); the average summer temperature, 31°c (88°f). Rainfall occurs mostly between November and January and averages about 56 cm (22 in) per year.

FLORA AND FAUNA

The islands are almost treeless. Vegetation is sparse and stunted. Carob and fig are endemic and the grape, bay, and olive have been cultivated for centuries. There are some rock plants.

The weasel, hedgehog, and bat are native to Malta. White rabbits and mice have been introduced. Many types of turtles, tortoises, and butterflies and several varieties of lizard also are found. Common varieties of Mediterranean fish, as well as the seal and porpoise, inhabit the surrounding waters.

ENVIRONMENT

Malta's most significant environmental problems include inadequate water supply, deforestation, and the preservation of its wildlife. The country's extremely limited fresh water resources have led to increasing dependence on desalination. The nation's agriculture suffers from lack of adequate water for crops due to limited rainfall.

Malta was one of the first countries to ratify the 1976 Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean from pollution. Malta's government has made recent efforts to control environmental damage including passage of the Environmental Protection Act of 1991 and the creation of a Ministry for the Environment. The Ministry of Health and Environment belongs to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. In cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund, the Ghadira wetland area was made a permanent nature reserve in 1980.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 1 type of mammal, 10 species of birds, 11 species of fish, and 3 types of mollusks. Endangered species include the slender-billed curlew, Mediterranean monk seal, hawksbill turtle, and Atlantic ridley.

POPULATION

The population of Malta in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 405,000, which placed it at number 165 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 13% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 18% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.2%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 396,000. The population density was 1,266 per sq km (3,278 per sq mi), which makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

The UN estimated that 91% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.56%. The capital city, Valletta, had a population of 83,000 in that year. Other major cities (and their estimated populations) include Birkirkara (25,000), Qormi (19,900), and Sliema (14,000).

MIGRATION

High population density and unemployment have led to emigration. Most foreigners living in Malta are British nationals and their dependents. Malta has no national refugee law, and all recognized refugees in Malta are resettled in third countries. Since 1983, Malta has received some 2,400 asylum applications. Of these, 1,860 have been resettled. The total number of migrants in 2000 was 9,000. In 2004 refugees in Malta numbered 1,558. There were 141 asylum seekers in that same year. Migration News reported that Malta had allowed asylum seekers to stay up to three years, but recent influxes of boatloads of migrants from Africa resulted in migrants held in detention centers, and Malta's threat in August 2005 to suspend its obligations under the 1951 Geneva refugee convention. In 2005 the net migration rate was 2.06 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory. In 2003 remittances to Malta were $633,760.

ETHNIC GROUPS

Most Maltese are believed to be descended from the ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians, but there are strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock. A few thousand people are of Arab, African, or Eastern European origin.

LANGUAGES

Maltese, a Semitic language with Romance-language assimilations, is the national language and the language of the courts. Maltese and English are both official languages.

RELIGIONS

Roman Catholicism is the official state religion, but there is freedom of worship for all faiths. An estimated 95% of the population is Roman Catholic, with about 63% actively practicing. Most of the Protestants in the country are not Maltese; British retirees and vacationers from other countries tend to form the Protestant population. Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, and the Bible Baptist Church have active groups on the island. There is one Muslim mosque and one Jewish congregation. Zen Buddhism and the Baha'i Faith are also represented.

TRANSPORTATION

Malta has no railways. In 2003, there were 2,254 km (1,402 mi) of roadways, of which 1,973 km (1,227 mi) were paved. Passenger cars in 2003 totaled 200,509, while there were 44,586 commercial vehicles in use that same year. Ferry and hydrofoil services connect Malta and Gozo.

The harbors of Valletta, among the finest in the Mediterranean, are a port of call for many lines connecting northwestern Europe and the Middle and Far East. Roughly 3,000 ships dock at Valletta each year. As of 2005, a total of 1,140 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more totaling 27,208,819 GRT were registered in Malta (a flag of convenience registry with ships from 49 countries). There was one airport in 2004, the principal airport at Luqa. A new terminal is designed to handle 2.2 million passengers per year (or 2,000 at any given moment). The national air carrier is Malta Airlines. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), 1,405,200 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

The strategic importance of the island of Malta was recognized in the time of the Phoenicians, whose occupation of Malta was followed by that of the Greeks, the Carthaginians, and the Romans. The apostle Paul was shipwrecked at Malta in ad 58, and the islanders were converted to Christianity within two years. With the official split of the Roman Empire in 395, Malta was assigned to Byzantium, and in 870 it fell under the domination of the Saracens. In 1090, it was taken by Count Roger of Normandy, and thereafter it was controlled by the rulers of SicilyNorman and, later, Aragonese. The Emperor Charles V granted it in 1530 to the Knights of St. John, who had been driven from Rhodes by the Turks. The Knights surrendered Malta to Napoleon in 1798. Two years later, the British ousted the French garrison, with the aid of a revolt by the Maltese people. British possession of Malta was confirmed in 1814 by the Treaty of Paris.

During almost the entire 19th century, a British military governor ruled the colony. After World War I, during which the Maltese remained loyal to Britain, discontent and difficulties increased. The 1921 constitution granted a considerable measure of self-government, but political tensions reemerged, and the constitution, after having twice been suspended, was revoked in 1936. A new constitution in 1939 reinstated Malta as a British crown colony. In World War II the Maltese again remained loyal to the United Kingdom, and for gallantry under heavy fire during the German-Italian siege (194043), the entire population was awarded the George Cross.

Substantial self-government was restored in 1947. The Maltese, however, carried on negotiations with the United Kingdom for complete self-government, except in matters of defense and foreign affairs. In August 1962, Prime Minister Borg Olivier requested the United Kingdom to grant Malta independence, and Malta became a sovereign and independent nation within the Commonwealth of Nations on 21 September 1964. At the same time, mutual defense and financial agreements were signed with the United Kingdom. Under subsequent accords negotiated between 1970 and 1979, British troops withdrew from Malta, and the NATO naval base on the main island was closed.

On 13 December 1974, Malta formally adopted a republican form of government, and the former governor-general, Sir Anthony Mamo, became the first president. Dom Mintoff, leader of the Malta Labor Party and prime minister from 1971 through 1984, instituted socialist measures and initiated a nonaligned policy in foreign affairs. Although the Labor Party narrowly lost the popular vote in the 1981 elections, it retained its parliamentary majority; to protest the gerrymandering that allegedly made this possible, the opposition Nationalist Party boycotted parliament, and strikes and civil violence ensued. In January 1987, a new law guaranteed that, following future elections, the new government would be formed by the party that won a majority of the popular vote.

On 23 November 1985 Malta became the scene of one of the deadliest hijackings in history, when an Egypt Air flight commandeered by three Palestinian terrorists was forced to land there. In a gun battle, an Egyptian sky marshal on the plane shot and killed the hijackers' leader, and the pilot landed the plane in Malta. After an Israeli and an American passenger were executed, Egyptian commandos set off an explosive charge and rushed the plane, but 57 passengers and another hijacker died in the raid from smoke inhalation, explosive wounds, or gunshots. The surviving hijacker, Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq, was released from prison by Maltese authorities in 1993 under a general amnesty program. He was later apprehended in Nigeria and extradited to the United States for air piracy, and convicted and sentenced in 1996.

In May 1987, the Nationalist Party won a popular majority but only 31 of 65 seats in parliament. In accordance with the new law, the Nationalists were given four additional seats, for a total of 35 in an expanded 69-seat parliament, and the Nationalist Eddie Fenech Adami became prime minister, replacing the Laborite Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici. The Nationalists were returned to power in February 1992 with a slightly higher majority. Eddie Fenech Adami remained prime minister. Vincent Tabone, president, had been elected in 1989.

Maltese politics have revolved around foreign policy issues, in particular, Malta's relationship with Europe. The Nationalist Party government has been a strong proponent of EU membership. In July 1990, Malta applied for full membership in the European Union. However, after the Labor Party won the 1996 elections, the government's stance shifted towards maintaining neutrality. The Labor government also adopted economic policies, such as raising utility rates, that alienated both the electorate and elements within its own party, which withdrew their support for Prime Minister Alfred Sant. He called new elections three years ahead of schedule, in September 1998, and the Nationalist Party won a majority in a vote seen at least partly as a referendum on the European Union membership question. In March 1999, Guido de Marco of the Nationalist Party was elected president by the House of Representatives. Having regained the post of prime minister, NP leader Fenech Adami moved to reactivate Malta's EU membership application and adopted policiessuch as the reimposition of a controversial value-added taxintended to pave the way for membership approval. Malta was one of 10 new candidate countries formally invited to join the European Union in December 2002. Malta held its referendum on EU membership on 8 March 2003, with 53.6% voting in favor of joining the body versus 46.4% against. Malta became an official member on 1 May 2004.

Elections were held on 12 April 2003, resulting in a win for the Nationalist Party (35 seats); the Labor Party received 30 seats. The next scheduled elections for the legislature were to take place in April 2008. On 29 March 2004, the House of Representatives elected a new president, Eddie Fenech Adami; Lawrence Gonzi, former deputy prime minister, took over the post of prime minister. The next presidential elections were scheduled to take place in 2009.

GOVERNMENT

The Malta independence constitution came to force on 21 September 1964. Ten years later, Malta became a republic, while remaining within the Commonwealth of Nations. The unicameral parliament, the House of Representatives, consists of 65 members elected for a five-year term by universal adult suffrage (18 years of age and over), under a system of proportional representation. Additional seats may be allocated until a majority of one seat is obtained.

The House elects the head of state, the president of the republic, who holds office for five years. The president appoints the prime minister and, on the latter's advice, the other members of the cabinet. The prime minister, who is the leader of the majority party, is responsible for general direction and control of the government.

POLITICAL PARTIES

There are two major political parties, the Nationalist Party (NP) and the Malta Labor Party (MLP), which have alternated in political power. The Nationalist Party was returned to government in 1987 after 16 years of Labor Party rule, and won reelection in February 1992 with a three-seat majority (34 to 31) in parliament. The MLP regained control in October 1996 but lost it again following early elections held in September 1998, which the NP won by a five-seat margin. Elections held in April 2003 returned the NP to power; it took 35 seats in the House of Representatives to the MLP's 30. The next elections were scheduled for 2008.

Parties not represented in parliament include Democratic Alternative (AD), Malta Democratic Party (PDM), and the Malta Communist Party (PKM).

After the elections of 1996, MLP leader Alfred Sant became prime minister after a narrow upset victory (official results gave the MLP 50.72% of the vote). The MLP campaigned for Maltese neutrality by pledging to stop efforts to join the European Union, to end Malta's associate membership with NATO, and to seek closer ties with Libya. Following the NP victory in the 1998 election, party leader Eddie Fenech Adami was returned to the post of prime minister and took steps to reactivate Malta's application for EU membership. When voters approved EU membership in a March 2003 referendum, Fenech Adami looked upon the NP win in the April 2003 elections as a confirmation of Malta's desire to join the European Union.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local government was established in 1993 with the approval of the Local Councils Act, setting up 68 local councils in Malta; there are 54 on the main island of Malta, and 14 in Gozo.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The superior courts consist of a Constitutional Court (with the power to review laws and executive acts), two courts of appeal, the civil court, court of magistrates, criminal court, and special tribunals. The president, on the advice of the prime minister, appoints the chief justice and 16 judges. Retirement is at age 65 for judges and age 60 for magistrates. The judiciary operates in an independent manner. Defendants in criminal cases have the right to counsel of choice. Indigent defendants are afforded court-appointed counsel at public expense.

The constitution guarantees the right to free speech, assembly and association. Trade unions are legal and limits on the right to strike were eased in 2002. However, the law permits compulsory arbitration to be held even if it is requested by only one of the parties involved, this is against the International Labor Organization's principles.

Divorce is illegal on the island and violence against women continues to be a problem. Malta is a member of most international organizations including the UN and the WTO.

ARMED FORCES

The armed forces of Malta numbered 2,237 in 2005 and were divided into three regiments. Malta's defense budget in 2005 totaled $48.5 million. Equipment included eight patrol/coastal vessels, two transport aircraft, and seven utility helicopters. Italy has 49 military personnel stationed in Malta.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Malta joined the United Nations on 1 December 1964 and participates in ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, World Bank, ILO, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Malta is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and the OSCE. Malta joined the European Union in 2004. The country is an observer affiliate in the Western European Union. Malta is a part of the Nonaligned Movement. The nation also participates in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In environmental cooperation, Malta is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Malta has few natural resources besides limestone. Agriculture is limited by the rocky nature of the islands, and most food must be imported. Industrial raw materials are lacking and also must be imported. Until 1964, the dominant factor in the economy was the presence of British military forces; with the withdrawal of UK military personnel by 1979, the dockyards were converted to commercial use. Malta's economy now relies on light industry, tourism, and other service industries, in addition to shipbuilding, maintenance, and repairs. The government holds shares in a variety of enterprises, including joint ventures. A stock exchange opened in 1992.

In 2001 GNP per capita (purchasing power parity) was $15,000. That same year, GDP real growth was estimated at 4%. Agriculture contributed 3% to GDP, industry amounted to 23%, while services were 74%. Malta became a full member of the European Union in May 2004.

The country's economic performance in recent years has been anything but spectacular. While in 2002, the GDP registered a modest growth rate of 2.2%, in 2003 it fell to -1.8%, and recuperated to 1.4% in 2004; in 2005, the economy was expected to grow by 1.5%. Inflation has been kept stable at around 2.5%. The unemployment rate was on the rise, growing from 4.7% in 2002, to 5.7% in 2003, and 7.2% in 2004.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Malta's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $7.5 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $18,800. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 3% of GDP, industry 23%, and services 74%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1 million or about $3 per capita.

LABOR

Malta's workforce in 2005 was estimated at 160,000. In 2005 it was estimated that services accounted for 75% of employment, while 22% were engaged in industry and the remaining 3% in agriculture. The unemployment rate in 2005 was estimated at 7.8%.

Labor is highly organized in Malta, and about 63% of Malta's workers were unionized in 2002. As of that year there were 38 registered trade unions. The largest union, the General Worker's Union, although independent, is informally associated with the Labor Party. The General Workers' Union was integrated with the Socialist Labor Party until 1992, when this affiliation was formally ended. Although certain compulsory arbitration and mediation provisions limit the right to strike, workers still enjoy a broad right to strike including antidiscrimination provisions to protect striking workers' employment. Comprehensive collective bargaining is practiced.

The legal minimum working age is 16, and this is effectively enforced by the government. The standard workweek is 40 hours but workers in some trades can work up to 45 hours per week. Occupational safety and health standards are set by law but enforcement is uneven and accidents remain frequent. In 2002, the weekly minimum wage was $112 for adults.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture is carried out in small fields, consisting usually of strips of soil between rocks, and is characterized to a large extent by terracing. The total area under cultivation was about 11,000 hectares (27,200 acres) in 2003. Most farms are small. Wheat, barley, and grapes are the principal crops for domestic consumption, while potatoes, onions, wine, cut flowers, seeds, and fruit are the chief export crops. The total value of agricultural crops exported in 2004 was estimated at $76 million, while agricultural imports amounted to nearly $400.3 million that year.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Malta's livestock population in 2005 included 17,900 head of cattle, 73,000 pigs, 14,900 sheep, 5,400 goats, and 1,000,000 poultry. Total meat production in 2005 was 18,838 tons, half of it pork.

FISHING

Fishing is primarily for local consumption. In 2003, the total catch was 2,019 tons. Principal species included gilthead seabream, European sea bass, dolphinfish, and bluefin tuna. Exports of fish products were valued at $18.8 million in 2003.

FORESTRY

There are no forests on the islands. In 2004, $85 million in forest products were imported.

MINING

In 2004, Malta produced 6,000 cu m of salt, obtained in the desalination of sea water; 20 hard limestone quarries yielded 1.2 million cu m of limestone. The country also produced small amounts of cement, fertilizer, lime and plaster. The mining sector accounted for less than 0.5% of GDP, and the broader mineral industry economy depended mainly on trade and the storage of crude oil, refinery products, and other nonfuel mineral commodities for transshipment.

ENERGY AND POWER

Malta, with no proven reserves of oil, natural gas, nor any refining capacity, is totally dependent on imported fuel for its energy requirements.

In 2002, imports of petroleum products averaged 17,980 barrels per day, while demand came to 18,050 barrels per day. There were no imports of natural gas or coal in 2002.

Electricity is the main source of power. In 2002, thermal power stations on the main island made up Malta's total installed capacity of 0.570 million kW. Production of electrical energy that year was 1.929 billion kWh, of which 100% was generated from fossil fuels. Consumption of electricity was 1.794 billion kWh. Since 1995, the Maltese government has been exploring offshore areas for crude oil with the help of foreign companies such as Amoco, Royal Dutch Shell, and Nimir of Saudi Arabia.

INDUSTRY

Malta's principal industries are shipbuilding, maintenance and repairs, food processing, electronics, footwear, and textiles and clothing. Other products include beverages, tobacco products, lace, metals, rubber products, and plastic goods. Total industrial production amounted to 26% of GDP in 1999, the most recent year for which figures are available. The manufacturing sector grew by 17% from 199599. As of 2002, Malta's manufacturing sector was seen to be benefiting from the global economic downturn. Some foreign-owned companies closed operations elsewhere in the world and concentrated a degree of production in Malta, which was considered a competitive location for manufacturing activity. Manufacturing output rose 3% in 2001.

In 2003, industry made up 23% of the overall GDP, and was estimated to employ about the same percentage of the labor force; agriculture represented 3% of the GDP, while services came in first with 74%.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Malta's technological development has been confined largely to the shipbuilding and repair industry and the manufacture of electronic computer parts. The University of Malta has faculties of dental surgery, mechanical and electrical engineering, medicine and surgery, and science. In 1988, research and development expenditures amounted to 10,000 lira; 5 technicians and 34 scientists and engineers were engaged in research and development. The Agrarian Society founded in 1844 is headquartered in Valletta. The Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers is headquartered in St. Andrews. In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), Malta spent $5.382 million on research and development.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Valletta is the commercial center of Malta. Most large importers prefer to distribute goods through their own shops. Small retail establishments predominate with a few larger supermarkets and outlet stores springing up in the past few years. Billboards, newspapers, radio, and television are the main advertising media.

Shopping hours are from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 to 7 pm. Banks are open from 8:30 am to 2 pm, Monday through Thursday, and from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm on Friday. Some bank branches are open on Saturdays from 8:30 am to 12 noon. Businesses and industries are open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm. Most establishments are closed on Sundays and many places have shorter hours during the summer months.

FOREIGN TRADE

Because it depends on external sources for much of its food, fuel, raw materials, and manufactured articles, Malta imports considerably more than it exports.

Most of Malta's commodity exports are electronic microcircuits (62%). Other export commodities include clothes (5.9%), refined petroleum products (4.4%), and toys (4.3%).

In 2004, Malta's exports totaled $2.6 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $3.4 billion (FOB). Its main export partners were the United States (which received 15.7% of total exports), France (15.5%), Singapore (14.5%), United Kingdom (11.2%), and Germany (10.8%). Imports included machinery and transport equipment, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods, food, drink, and tobacco, and they mainly came from Italy (25.4%), France (13.1%), United Kingdom (12%), Germany (8.9%), the United States (5.2%), and Singapore (4.1%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Traditionally, Malta has had a large trade deficit because it must import most of its food and raw materials. The expansion of industry and the improvement of living standards in recent years have further increased the deficit, which is made up by other foreign receipts in the form of tourist revenues, transfers, and financial assistance, formerly from the United Kingdom and more recently from Italy and Libya. Malta's outstanding debt stood at close to $2 billion by the end of 1999.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Malta's exports was $2 billion while imports totaled $2.8 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $800 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Malta had exports of goods totaling $2 billion and imports totaling $2.5 billion. The services credit totaled $1.11 billion and debit $791 million.

Exports of goods and services continued to grow in the following years, reaching $2.5 billion in 2003, and $2.7 billion in 2004. Imports followed a similar path, totaling $3.2 billion in 2003, and $3.6 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative in both years, at around -$700 million in 2003 and -$900 million in 2004. The current account balance was on a downward path, dropping to -$274 million in 2003, and -$543 million in 2004. Reserves of foreign exchange and gold reached $2.9 billion in 2004, covering more than nine months of imports.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

In June 1968, activities of the Currency Board were transferred to the new Central Bank of Malta. The Central Bank is responsible for the regulation of the banking system, the money supply, the issue of currency, and the administration of exchange control. The Central Bank manages the official external reserves and advises the Minister of Finance regarding the exchange rate of the Maltese lira. The Maltese lira is calculated on the basis of a currency basket, which currently consists of the ECU, pound sterling, and

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 1,958.8 2,726.8 -768.0
United States 388.0 315.3 72.7
Germany 255.8 238.9 16.9
Singapore 230.9 182.3 48.6
France-Monaco 182.8 409.3 -226.5
United Kingdom 169.5 273.5 -104.0
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 132.4 37.0 95.4
Bunkers, ship stores 127.5 127.5
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 67.4 543.8 -476.4
Belgium 60.9 34.0 26.9
Japan 58.5 58.3 0.2
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -270.7
    Balance on goods -689.2
      Imports -3,194.1
      Exports 2,504.9
    Balance on services 435.6
    Balance on income 37.3
    Current transfers -54.3
Capital Account 6.3
Financial Account 166.4
    Direct investment abroad -23.7
    Direct investment in Malta 309.5
    Portfolio investment assets -1,545.7
    Portfolio investment liabilities -10.5
    Financial derivatives 25.1
    Other investment assets -38.9
    Other investment liabilities 1,450.6
Net Errors and Omissions 241.8
Reserves and Related Items -144.0
() data not available or not significant.
Revenue and Grants 532.77 100.0%
    Tax revenue 371.85 69.8%
    Social contributions 94.97 17.8%
    Grants 9.55 1.8%
    Other revenue 56.4 10.6%
Expenditures 623.77 100.0%
    General public services 112.28 18.0%
    Defense 10.23 1.6%
    Public order and safety 24.15 3.9%
    Economic affairs 86.8 13.9%
    Environmental protection 1.78 0.3%
    Housing and community amenities 15.77 2.5%
    Health 71.12 11.4%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 9.52 1.5%
    Education 72.3 11.6%
    Social protection 219.82 35.2%
() data not available or not significant.

US dollar. Foreign reserves, excluding gold, totaled $1,605 million at the end of 1995. There are four commercial banksthe Bank of Valletta, HSBC Bank Malta, Lombard Bank Malta, and APS Bankas well as the National Savings Bank.

In November 1995, Midland Bank (United Kingdom) became the first foreign bank to be granted a license to operate in the domestic market. In 1999, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) acquired 67.1% of the shares of Mid-Med. The bank was subsequently renamed HSBC Bank Malta and became the largest bank operating on the island. Six international banking institutions are established in Malta: Turkiye Garanti Bankas, First Austrian Bank Malta, First International Merchant Bank, Izola Bank, Bank of Valletta International, and HSBC Bank Malta. Total assets/liabilities of the deposit-money banks stood at lm1.88 billion in 1995, while the assets/liabilities of domestic and international banking institutions amounted to lm155 million and lm407.7 million, respectively.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $1.4 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $6.1 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 4.25%.

Turnover at the Malta Stock Exchange dropped sharply to lm75.8 million ($70 million) in 2002, a fall of lm93.7 million compared with levels in 2001. Total market capitalization in 2002 was lm1.6 billion. In 1994 the Malta International Business Authority became the Malta Financial Services Center (MFSC), responsible for the regulation and registration of financial services provided in and from Malta.

INSURANCE

All customary types of insurance are available. Many foreign insurance companies have representatives in Malta. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $235 million, of which life insurance premiums accounted for $118 million. For that same year, Middlesea Valletta was Malta's top life insurer, with gross written life insurance premiums of $58.4 million.

PUBLIC FINANCE

The principal sources of recurrent revenues are income taxes, and customs and excise taxes. Tourism is steadily increasing as an important segment of the economy, although the 11 September terrorist attacks put a damper on it. Malta has developed a fairly high budget deficit in recent years, and fiscal policy has been dedicated to reversing the situation. Public debt grew from 24% of GDP in 1990 to 56% in 1999, but by 2000 it had been brought down to just 6.6% of GDP.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Malta's central government took in revenues of approximately $2.5 billion and had expenditures of $2.7 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$200 million. Total external debt was $130 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2000, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were lm532.77 million and expenditures were lm623.77 million. The value of revenues was us$2,331 million and expenditures us$2,722 million, based on an exchange rate for 2000 of us$1 = lm0.22851 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 18.0%; defense, 1.6%; public order and safety, 3.9%; economic affairs, 13.9%; environmental protection, 0.3%; housing and community amenities, 2.5%; health, 11.4%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.5%; education, 11.6%; and social protection, 35.2%.

TAXATION

In 1999, the ruling Nationalist government announced that it would raise taxes in an effort to bring the budget in line. An integral part of the new package would be measures to combat tax evasion, a phenomena that Finance Minister John Dalli characterized as a "national sport." In 1998, one of the Nationalist's first steps was the reintroduction of the value-added tax (VAT) that the previous Labor government dismantled. As of 2005, the corporate tax rate was a flat 35% and was the only tax imposed on company profits. Generally, capital gains are taxed as income for both companies and individuals. However gains received from securities listed on the Malta Stock Exchange are exempt. Dividends paid out of resident company profits that have already been taxed at the 35% rate are not taxed further at the individual level. However, dividends paid out of untaxed income to a resident are subject to a 15% withholding tax. Dividends paid out of company income that was taxed below the 35% rate are subject to a withholding tax that is the difference between the current and lower rates.

Individual incomes were taxed according to a progressive schedule with 35% as the top rate. Social security taxes totaled 19%, 10% paid by the employer and 9% by the employee. Reduced rates were available under certain circumstances on both corporate and individual income taxes. The main indirect tax was the VAT, set at a standard rate of 18%. There were also stamp taxes.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Although traditionally a protectionist state, Malta's nationalist government is moving to dismantle its trade barriers in an effort to prepare for EU accession. Customs are collected mainly in the form of ad valorem duties; there are specific duties on petroleum, spirits, and tobacco. Preferential treatment is accorded to imports from the European Union. There is also a value-added tax (VAT) of 18% on all imports.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Malta encourages foreign investment through tax holidays, export incentives, investment and accelerated depreciation allowances, reduced taxes on reinvested profits, grants to cover training costs and management services, a generous attitude toward repatriation of profits and capital, and few restrictions on foreign ownership of Maltese firms. No data for the total value of foreign direct investment in Malta is available; the only investment figures that are kept are those collected by the government at the time of the original application for assistance by the companies. SGS Thomson Ltd. (Italy and France), first established in Malta in 1981, had an investment of $266 million in machinery as of 1995.

In 1998, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows were $267 million, up from $80.8 million in 1997, and then soared to $822 million in 1999. FDI inflows fell to $652 million in 2000 and then to $314 million in 2001. For the period 1998 to 2000, Malta was fifth in the world in terms of success in attracting foreign investment. Malta's share of world FDI flows was 4.6 times its share of world GDP during this period.

Capital inflows totaled $555 million in 2002, and an estimated $333 million in 2003. Most investments came from Germany, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Austria. Foreign companies employ a significant part of the Maltese population.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Nationalist government's primary aim was to radically transform Malta's economy in an effort to meet EU standards in time for the next round of enlargement. The elimination of trade barriers, deficit reduction, and more efficient tax collection comprise the most significant elements of the government's EU-harmonization plan. Malta was formally invited to join the European Union in December 2002, and was finally accepted as a full member in May 2004.

Malta's economic growth has fluctuated over the past years, going into the negative in 2001 and 2003. Nonetheless, the economy is projected to grow stronger in the future as a result of higher investments in construction, and due to government efforts to meet fiscal criteria for euro qualification. Also, a slight increase in exports and private consumption are expected to help this trend.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The National Insurance Act of 1956, as amended in 1987, provides benefits for sickness, unemployment, old age, widowhood, disability, and industrial injuries. Coverage includes all residents aged 16 and over, and excludes full time students and unemployed married women. Pensions are funded by contributions from employers, employees, and the government. These benefits are supplemented by social assistance under the National Assistance Act of 1956. Legislation establishing family allowances was enacted in 1974, and maternity benefits were mandated in 1981. As of 2004, employers were required to provide 14 weeks of maternity leave with pay set at a flat weekly rate. Work injury laws have been on the books since 1929.

Women make up a growing portion of the labor force due to changing social patterns and economic necessity. However, they are often channeled into traditionally female occupations or work in family-owned businesses, and remain underrepresented at the management level. Working women generally earn less than men. Domestic violence against women remains a problem but is addressed by the government through specialized police units, legal assistance, shelters, and legislation. These efforts paid off with a decrease in domestic violence in 2004. Women have equality in matters of family law, although divorce is not legal.

The law mandates protection of all groups against economic, social, and political discrimination. The government is committed to protecting human rights, and human rights organizations are free to operate in Malta.

HEALTH

Free health services are administered by the government run polyclinics. British, Belgian, and other foreign medical personnel work in Malta's hospitals. Infant mortality decreased from 23.3 per 1,000 live births in 1973 to an estimated 3.89 in 2005. Average life expectancy at birth was 78.86 years. As of 2004, there was an estimated 293 physicians, 377 nurses, 40 dentists, and 192 pharmacists per 100,000 people. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.20 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 500 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

Malta has the somewhat unusual situation of having a large surplus of housing stock. In 1995, about 23% of the housing stock was vacant, translating into about 35,723 dwellings. About 36% of vacant homes are considered to be second homes in private ownership. In 2003, an estimated 52,000 homes were vacant. Despite the surplus, the government continues to issue an overabundance of housing construction permits. For the period of 19942001, the Planning Authority issued about 3,000 permissions for housing development per year. The average increase in households was only about 1,700 per year for the same period.

Many new homes are being built in rural or suburb areas, a move which has been somewhat detrimental to urban areas since residents leaving the cities are often simply abandoning their urban properties. Some of these properties have fallen into disrepair, but many are still considered to be in adequate and good condition. Residential property is seen as a good investment for those who can afford to own their own homes and about 70% of all homes are owner occupied. Unfortunately, those who own a second home are often not willing to offer the property for affordable rental. Which also means that those who cannot afford to own their own home often find it difficult to find an affordable place to rent. The government provides some rental properties for low-income families and have made plans to encourage property owners to open their properties for rental.

EDUCATION

Maltese law requires that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church be included in the public school curriculum, and legislation passed in 1983 requires all schools to provide free education. Education is compulsory for 11 years for children between the ages of 5 and 16 and is free in public schools. Primary school covers six years of study, followed by five years of junior lyceum (lower secondary). Students then have an option of attending a two-year high school or a four-year vocational school. Private independent and church secondary schools may have more specialized curriculums. The academic year runs from October to June.

Most children between the ages of three and four are enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 96% of eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 87% of eligible students. It is estimated that nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 19:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 10:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 36.5% of primary school enrollment and 27.3% of secondary enrollment.

Institutes of higher education include the University of Malta, the International Maritime Law Institute, and the School of Art. In 2003, about 30% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 87.9%, with 86.4% for men and 89.2% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.6% of GDP.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The National Library of Malta (founded in 1555) is located in Valetta and held 380,000 volumes in 2002. The National Archives is housed in Rabat. The University of Malta Library (1769) is in Msida and contains over 700,000 volumes. The Malta Public Libraries consist of the main Central Public Library at Floriana, 7 regional libraries and 38 branch libraries. There is also a Gozo Public Library. There are over 50 school libraries throughout Malta.

Valletta is the site of the National Museum of Archaeology, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Palace Armory, the National War Museum, and the St. John's Museum. The Folk Museum and the Museum of Political History are at Vittoriosa, where the Malta Maritime Museum also opened in 1992. There is an archeological museum located in a Copper Age temple in Mgarr and a museum of Zomon antiquities in Rabat.

MEDIA

In 2003, there were 208,300 mainline phones and 290,000 mobile phone in use nationwide.

Malta's government radio service transmits on two channels (one Maltese, one English). The Labor Party and the Nationalist Party both own one radio and one television station. The Catholic Church also sponsors a radio station. There are other private stations as well. Television programs are received primarily from a local service and from Italy. As of 2001 there were 1 AM and 18 FM radio stations and 6 television stations, plus 1 commercial cable network. In 1997, there were 255,000 radios and 280,000 television sets throughout the country. In 2002, there were 120,000 Internet users.

The press includes daily and Sunday newspapers, published in both Maltese and English. Leading papers (with estimated 2002 circulations) are It-Torca (Maltese, 30,000 daily), L'Orizzont (Maltese, 25,000 weekly), the Times (English, 23,000 daily), Il-Mument (Maltese, 25,000 weekly), and In-Nazzion Taghna (Maltese, 20,000 daily).

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government is said to respect these rights in practice.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Chamber of Commerce is located in Valletta. There are several professional and trade organizations representing a variety of occupations. The largest independent private business organization is the General Retailers and Traders' UnionMalta. The Malta Federation of Industry also has some influence. The Medical Association of Malta represents the interests of doctors and patients. Other professional unions and associations are active on a national level.

The Malta Cultural Institute promotes primarily the arts of music and dance. Sports associations include organizations for such sports as cricket, football (soccer), weightlifting, and badminton. National youth organizations include the Malta Youth Labor Brigade, Nationalist Party Youth Movement, Scout Association of Malta, Student Democrats of Malta, University Student Council of Malta, University Students' Catholic Movement, and the Young Christians. The National Council of Woman of Malta encourages equal opportunity for women in business and education.

Multinational organizations based in Malta include the International Ocean Institute and Greenpeace Mediterranean. There is a national chapter of the Red Cross Society.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Tourism, a major industry, has played a large role in developing the Maltese economy since the 1990s. Malta has many scenic and historical attractions, especially in Valletta, plus excellent beaches. Football (soccer) is the national sport; hockey, badminton, darts and rugby are also popular as well as billiards and snooker.

US citizens and most Western Europeans do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. In 2003, about 1,127,000 visitors arrived in Malta, of whom 40% came from the United Kingdom. That year there were 41,365 beds available in hotels and other accommodations with a 53% occupancy rate.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Malta at $209.

FAMOUS MALTESE

The city of Valletta derives its nomenclature from Jehan Parisot de la Vallette (14941568), Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, who successfully withstood a great Turkish siege in 1565. Dominic (Dom) Mintoff (b.1916), a founder of Malta's Labour Party, was prime minister during 195558 and 197184. Agatha Barbara (19232002), a former cabinet minister, was elected the first woman president of Malta on 16 February 1982. Edward Fenech-Adami (b.1934), who served as prime minister from 198796 and from 19982004, became president in 2004.

DEPENDENCIES

Malta has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Balbi, Francesco. Trans. by Ernle Bradford. The Siege of Malta, 1565. Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell Press, 2005.

Berg, Warren G. Historical Dictionary of Malta. Lanham, Jd.: Scarecrow, 1995.

Five Small Open Economics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Gregory, Desmond. Malta, Britain, and the European Powers. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996.

Holland, James. Fortress Malta: An Island under Siege, 19401943. New York: Miramax Books/Hyperion, 2003.

Spooner, Tony. Supreme Gallantry: Malta's Role in the Allied Victory, 19391945. London: J. Murray, 1996.

Terterov, Marat (ed.). Doing Business with Malta. Sterling, Va.: Kogan Page, 2003.

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Malta

MALTA

Republic of Malta

Major City:
Valletta

Other Cities:
Birkirkara, Floriana, Mdina, Sliema, Victoria

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated November 1994. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

MALTA , whose first known inhabitants were the Phoenicians, is the product of a long and fascinating past. Its story spans thousands of years, and is told in its archaeological and historical sites which range from Copper-and Bronze-Age temples, through Roman and early Christian settlements, to the 16th-and 17th-century architecture of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. This small nation is made up of islands and islets positioned in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a true collage of cultures, existing in a setting where folk patterns of the past blend freely with modern life-styles.

Malta was ruled by foreigners for all of its history until it became an independent republic within the British Commonwealth in 1964.

MAJOR CITY

Valletta

The capital city of Valletta, a powerful naval base for the British Mediterranean fleet in the 19th century, is located on a peninsula with deep-water harbors on two sides and the open sea on the third. It is a major port of call and important center for ship repairs because of its position midway between Gibraltar and Port Said.

The city is one mile long and several hundred yards wide. Its narrow streets are lined with buildings dating from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Pedestrians throng the streets during the day, and parking space inside the city is extremely limited. Modern office buildings are few, since new construction is restricted by the many national monuments that cannot be razed or radically altered. Valletta had an estimated population of 195,000 in 2002.

More than half of the 395,000 residents of the major island of Malta live in the central urban Valletta-Floriana-Sliema area, where nearly all major commercial firms and government offices are located. A number of British have retired here or have come to Malta to reside and invest in the island's development. Thus, urban Malta has a British flavor and is strongly British-oriented. Shops carry English and European goods of all types. Most tourists are British, but European and American visitors are increasing in number. The government has recently expanded its tourist programs, emphasizing the summer season.

This capital city was named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, grand master of the Knights of St. John, who successfully withstood the infamous Turkish siege of 1565. Valletta (also correctly spelled Valetta) and its environs were so besieged in World War II that the area was given the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed spot in Europe. Twelve hundred separate raids by German and Italian aircraft damaged or destroyed the garrisons and as many as 3,500 surrounding private homes. The attacks began in June 1940 and lasted throughout the war.

Schools for Foreigners

Verdala International School, at Fort Pembroke, was set in 1976 by an international oil-exploration firm, but is now financially supported by another sponsor. This coeducational institution has an American and British curriculum and takes pupils from kindergarten to grade 12. French, Spanish, and Italian are offered; special programs include English as a Second Language, advanced placement and remedial aid. The school has an American headmaster and American teachers.

Because the quality of high school education available on Malta does not reach American standards, many American parents prefer to have their high school aged children attend boarding schools, the nearest of which are in Rome.

American history, government, and spelling are not taught in any Maltese schools, so this instruction must be given at home by American parents. Science programs in schools are adequate, but not advanced. Some states in the U.S. may not accept the British system of grade classification, which could create difficulties for students returning home.

Recreation

Hiking in the rural areas of Malta, particularly the thinly populated north and northwest, can be pleasant and interesting. A number of picnic spots, many accessible only by foot, provide lovely sea vistas. Walking clubs tour the island on weekends. Malta has a mediumsized botanical garden.

The waters around Malta are beautiful, with deep shades of turquoise and green. Swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and skin diving can be enjoyed six months of the year. Sailing activities are available through the Valletta Yacht Club. The one golf course is used throughout the winter. Tennis is played year round at the Union Club, Holiday Inn, and Marsa Sports Club, which also have squash courts. Limited facilities exist for horseback riding.

Water polo is a popular sport in summer. Soccer, the favorite Maltese spectator sport, is played year round, except during the hottest summer months. A surprising number of fine trotting horses are on the island. Trotting races start when the weather begins to cool in the fall, and continue until spring. Races are held on Sundays and holidays, and betting for small stakes is permitted.

Fishing from small boats or from the shore may be readily undertaken. No facilities exist, however, for deep-sea fishing from chartered boats equipped with heavy gear. In winter, hunting (small birds) is popular with Maltese men, who use both net and gun.

There are many sights to see. Perhaps most interesting are buildings from the period of the Knights, and prehistoric sites, several of which are still being excavated. Nonetheless, a week of concentrated sight-seeing would exhaust the principal attractions, including the most important architectural monuments and museums.

Despite Malta's relative proximity to a number of other Mediterranean ports (e.g., Greece), neither direct ship nor air service exists to points other than a few of the major cities of Europe and to Catania, Tunis, and Cairo. Therefore, travel to other areas in the Mediterranean basin must be via Italy.

Entertainment

During winter, Malta offers many concerts, theater, and opera presentations. While such performances are not first class, some fine talent can be found among composers and performers alike.

Most major American and foreign films eventually arrive in Malta, usually one to two years after their premieres. All are censored by a government-appointed board, which includes a church representative. English-language films are shown in the original version; most other foreign films have English subtitles. Movie prices are low, but many cinemas are Spartan and ill-kept. The majority of movie theaters are neither air-conditioned nor heated.

A government-licensed casino operates year round, offering roulette, blackjack, and chemin de fer (a variation of baccarat).

In terms of local folklore, the village festa, held mostly between May and October, retains interest. Festas combine religious processions and ceremonies with elaborate street lighting, band parades, and fireworks displays. Similar celebrations take place during Mardi Gras season.

The resident American community is comprised of a handful of diplomatic and business representatives and their families, perhaps 50 spouses and children of oil and aviation company employees working in North African and Middle Eastern countries, and about 500 Americans (almost all of Maltese origin) who have retired in the area.

Because of the small size of the American community in Valletta, the American Women's Club is the only U.S.-related social organization. It sponsors limited cultural and charitable activities.

Many international and British charitable and philanthropic organizations have branches and/or active chapters on Malta. These include Rotary International, Lions, Round Table, St. John's Ambulance Brigade, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and the Playing Fields Association. Several Boy Scout troops are on the islands, but they are not fully accredited. Merit badges earned here are not entirely recognized in the U.S. Girl Guides are also present in Malta.

Three local clubs with some available memberships provide useful facilities and social contacts. The Union Club in Sliema has a bar and a restaurant open for lunch and dinner. This club holds weekly dances and a biweekly tombola, (similar to bingo), and has an active bridge group, four tennis courts, and two squash courts. The Marsa Sports Club, in the center of the island, has several athletic fields, 18 tennis courts, three squash courts, a swimming pool, and Malta's only golf course. Marsa is surrounded by the island's race (trotting) track. Membership fees at local clubs are low by U.S. standards.

The Marsa Sports Club and Union Club jointly operate a May-to-October beach facility in Sliema (open only to members). The Valletta Yacht Club on Manoel Island operates an informal bar and restaurant, mainly in the summertime.

The National Tourist Organization is located on Harper Lane in Floriana.

OTHER CITIES

BIRKIRKARA and QORMI are small towns within three miles of the capital. Their respective populations are approximately 22,000 and 18,000.

FLORIANA is a suburb of Valletta, and the site of the Argotti Botanic Gardens. The U.S. Embassy also is located here.

MDINA , one of the oldest towns in Europe, lies just inland from Valletta. Walled on all sides, it is the Città Vecchia (Old City) which was the capital of Malta until 1570. It is also known as Notabile. Pre-Christian catacombs are found here, as are a 17th-century cathedral and the old palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights of Malta, or Knights Hospitalers. It was at this spot that the Knights, the celebrated military religious order of the Middle Ages, defended Malta against the Turks in 1565.

SLIEMA , northwest across the bay from Valletta, is part of the capital city complex, although it stands as a town in its own right. The population is 12,000.

VICTORIA is the capital and main community of Gozo Island (ancient Gaulus). Its population is about 7,000.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Maltese Islands are a small archipelago of six islands and islets in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta (95 square miles) is the largest island of the group, followed by Gozo (26 square miles) and Comino (one square mile). Cominotto, Filfla, and St. Paul's are small uninhabited islets. The total area of Malta is approximately one-tenth the size of Rhode Island.

The longest distance on Malta is about 17 miles, from southeast to northwest; the widest part is nine miles in an east-west direction. The length and width of Gozo are nine miles and four-and-a-half miles, respectively. Gozo lies northwest of Malta across a narrow channel; Comino is in this channel. Malta's shoreline is 85 miles; Gozo's is 27 miles.

Some of Malta's and most of Gozo's villages are situated on hilltops overlooking the terraced fields that characterize the islands. Northern Malta is a series of ridges, valleys, bays, and promontories. The western side is dominated by 800-foot-high cliffs. Shorelines are quite rocky, and few sandy beaches can be found.

The islands are bare and rocky, with scattered fertile patches. Gozo has less high ground and more arable land than Malta, while Comino is almost completely barren. In summer, the landscape is brown and arid but, soon after the onset of the fall rains, the countryside becomes green.

Malta lies 58 miles south of Sicily, near the center of the Mediterranean Sea, with Gibraltar 1,141 miles to the west and Alexandria (Egypt) 944 miles to the east.

Annual rainfall averages 19 to 22 inches, but may vary from 40 to less than 10 inches. Temperatures range from 35°F in winter to 95°F in summer. The climate is temperate. First rains come in September, are heaviest from November to January, and ease off slightly in February and March. Beginning in March, rainfall diminishes until it stops in May which, next to July, is the driest month.

Summer is hot and dry with almost cloudless skies. The scirocco, a warm, humid, southeast wind, occurs in spring and from mid-September to mid-October. The gregale, a cold Greek wind, blows from the east and northeast in winter, sometimes reaching gale force. Winter is chilly to cold with occasional heavy downpours, but also has many fine days.

Population

Malta is one of the world's most densely inhabited countries. The total population of the Maltese Islands is approximately 395,000. Density is greater than 3,000 persons per square mile, compared to 55 per square mile in the U.S. A high percentage of Maltese live around Valletta and the harbor area.

Neolithic settlements date to at least 5,000 B.C. The first known inhabitants to settle in Malta and Gozo were the Phoenicians, followed by the Carthaginians. Later came the Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards, Italians, French and, the British. The present population derives from this amalgam.

The Maltese remained a distinct ethnic group through the centuries, despite considerable intermarriage with the people who controlled the islands. Today's Maltese language incorporates Italian and English words, but is more like Arabic than any other language; speakers of the latter tongue can understand and be understood by the Maltese. Arabic influence is also somewhat apparent in the island's architecture, folklore, and proverbs.

Knowledge of English is widespread among urban dwellers, and many young educated adults, students, and the upper-class older generations also know Italian and French. However, Maltese is the lingua franca. Since the early 1930s, both Maltese and English have been taught in the schools.

Maltese did not develop as a written language until the 20th century. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Italian was the language of the schools, law courts, and Maltese society. Despite the country's small size, several variations of Maltese are spoken. Villagers at distant points on the islands use distinct idioms and pronunciation, and none speak the "pure" Maltese taught in the schools.

The 1964 constitution established Roman Catholicism as the religion of the country, but also guaranteed freedom of worship. Religion is a required subject in all government schools. Traditionally, Malta is 98 percent Roman Catholic. Over 360 Roman Catholic churches are on the islands, more than one for every 1,000 Maltese. No other religion has gained ground among the people, but a significant decrease has occurred in the strict observance of religious duties by urban dwellers. However, in the villages and, to a slightly lesser extent in towns, the parish church remains the focal point of community life. The annual festa of each town or village parish, in honor of the patron saint on his or her name day, is still the most important day of the year for the inhabitants. The people contribute substantially for church and street decorations, lights, floats, and fireworks, all essential to local observance of this ostensibly religious event.

In the absence of local or regional government authority, the village church was, and still is, the people's spokesman to secular authorities. The parish priest reads government notices from his pulpit, serves as legal adviser, banker, and letter writer for his parishioners, and retains his traditional role as the people's "patron" or spokesman to the government. This role, however, is rapidly diminishing.

More than 25 percent of Malta's population lives in essentially rural areas. The urban Maltese resembles, in outlook and sophistication, other Europeans of the same educational background and employment level. However, the typical rural Maltese is a provincial person whose life centers around the village. Many older villagers have not visited Valletta for years. In fact, thousands of Maltese have never left the main island, even to visit Gozo.

Italian, English, and American films and TV programs have had a great impact in broadening the Maltese viewpoint, but all cultural imports (films, TV programs, books, etc.) are subject to evaluation and control by a censorship board.

Italian TV broadcasts, not subject to this censorship, have a large audience.

Government

Malta's location has for centuries given it political and military importance out of proportion to its size and natural resources. The islands have been occupied and ruled by alien peoples from ancient times until independence from the United Kingdom was granted in 1964.

In recent history, the two longest and most significant periods of occupation were by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem from 1530 (after their ejection from Rhodes by the Turks) to 1798, and by the British from 1814 to 1964.

The high point of the Knights' rule was their victory in 1565 when they withstood a four-month siege by 30,000 Turkish troops. Aided by their strong fortifications, the divided command of the Turks, and their own determination, the Knights and their Maltese allies resisted so stoutly that the Turkish army left in humiliation.

Almost equally famous was the prolonged and intense air bombing during World War II when Malta was the Mediterranean headquarters of the Royal Navy. The islands' population and defenders were close to starvation when a relief convoy of four surviving ships reached them on August 15, 1942. The danger of starvation did not abate until the spring of 1943, when control of the Mediterranean passed to Allied hands. In April 1942, Malta was awarded the George Cross for "a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history." President Roosevelt also saluted Maltese heroism when he visited the islands on December 8, 1943.

Malta, a self-governing republic, gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. Malta's parliamentary system is led by a prime minister. Parliament consists of a unicameral House of Representatives with 65 members, representing two partiesthe Malta Labor Party and the Nationalist Party. The country has no local governments. The current president is Guido de Marco and Eddie Fenech Adami is the prime minister.

The judiciary consists of nine judges who sit in the superior courts, and nine magistrates who sit in the inferior courts. The legislative and judicial systems closely follow British practices, but the judiciary also owes much to Roman law, French law and the Napoleonic Code, as well as to the Italian judicial system.

Italian was, by default, the written language of government (including the law courts) and the spoken language of society throughout the 19th century to the early 1930s. Precedent law of this period is all in Italian. Italian was commonly used by the elite of Maltese society until the 1940s, when Axis bombing raids rendered it politically unpopular. Since 1934, Maltese and English have been the official languages of government, including the legislature and courts. Government officials at all levels must have a minimum-tested level of competence in both languages.

Malta is a member of the United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the Non-Aligned Movement, among other organizations.

The flag of Malta consists of two equal vertical bands, white at the staff and red at the fly. A design of the George Cross, edged in red, is carried at the upper left corner of the white stripe.

Arts, Science, Education

Malta's opera house in Valletta, destroyed in World War II bombings, has not been rebuilt. The Manoel Theater, a charming 18th-century structure, is used for local and visiting cultural attractions. During the winter season, a number of orchestral, choral, and chamber music concerts are presented by visiting groups. The Malta Amateur Dramatic Club, Atturi Theater Group, and other drama companies present plays and musicals in English at the Manoel, the Deporres Arts Center, San Anton Gardens, and other locales in winter and spring.

Malta has a number of architecturally interesting churches, mostly of the baroque or rococo periods. Other architectural classics are the fortifications of the "Three Cities," built during the 16th century by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem; several 17th-century forts; and some secular architecture (principally the Auberges) of Valletta, also built by the Knights of St. John. The old walled town of Mdina is lovely.

Principal Maltese art collections are at St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Mdina, and the National Museum of Fine Arts and Grand Master's Palace in Valletta. All four contain works of interest.

Local branches of the Alliance-Française, Dante Alighieri Society, and German Maltese Circle (each affiliated with the embassy of its respective country) operate in Malta, and frequently sponsor concerts and other cultural events.

Education in Malta has a long tradition of excellence, dating from the 16th century, when Jesuits founded an institution which developed into the University of Malta. During the British colonial period, English became the primary language of instruction, and the British educational system took root. The British system remains essentially intact, and English is still the major classroom language, but the system has been altered and the use of English has declined, especially in government schools.

University intake has been increased by around 200 percent, and the work/study concept has been made optional. The work phase has been reduced from five-and-one-half to two months during summer. The previous university entry requirements of sponsorship by an employer and Arabic language ability have been abolished. The points system which gave a 10 percent advantage to students coming from state schools over those applying from private schools has also been abolished. The study of liberal arts, basic sciences, and research has been reintroduced along with a traditional grading system. Some of the university professors who went overseas to work between 1977 and 1987 have returned and resumed their faculty positions.

English is the basic language of instruction in most private primary and secondary schools, and Maltese is the language of instruction in government schools at least up to the higher secondary level.

Finding places for children in one of the private primary schools, virtually all of which are Catholic, is difficult. Demand far exceeds the number of places available, and entrance is determined principally by competitive examination. Placing foreign students in secondary private schools is somewhat less difficult.

The literacy rate in Malta is approximately 89 percent.

Commerce and Industry

For many centuries, Malta had a "fortress" economy dependent on various occupying powers for most of its national income. The country's excellent harbors and strategic location made it an important naval base and bunkering station. Even after independence in 1964, Malta remained heavily dependent on employment with, and expenditures by, British forces on the islands. Loans and grants from the U.K. were also important.

Since the mid-1960s, however, Malta has enjoyed impressive, broadly based, economic growth. Heavy foreign and domestic investment created a large number of new tourist facilities and export-oriented or import-substitution industries. The Maltese Government greatly expanded social services and certain basic infrastructures, and converted many ex-British service facilities to other uses. The former Royal Navy Dockyard became the Malta Dry-docks and, with over 4,000 workers, remains the country's largest industrial employer. By the time the U.K./ NATO Bases Agreement expired and the last British forces left the islands (March 31, 1979), Malta's economy had made a largely successful transition to civilian production and services.

Malta lacks natural sources for energy, although there are possibilities for offshore oil and natural gas. The only natural resource is limestone. Agricultural and fisheries account for a little over four percent of Malta's gross domestic product. The country's requirements for foodstuffs, consumer goods, raw materials, and semi-manufactured goods for the export industries out-paced export growth.

In recent years, The European Union and the U.S. have been Malta's most important export markets. Manufactures comprise much of Malta's export; the most significant these have been transistors, valves and clothing. Other significant exports include electrical machinery and equipment, printed matter, yarns and textiles, rubber products, beverages, tobacco, and food.

Tourism has increased and is now a major source of income, accounting for approximately 40% of the GDP. About two-thirds of the tourists are from the U.K.

Since independence, Malta's income from tourism, investment income from abroad, substantial foreign aid, other transfers, and capital inflows have enabled the country to maintain, despite a widening trade deficit, an unbroken string of balance-of-payments surpluses. Foreign reserves have continued to grow, and Malta has one of the world's highest non-OPEC reserve/import ratios. Large aid donors include Italy, the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the European Community (EC) and, through concessional oil sales which ended in mid-1980, Libya.

The United States and Malta formed the Maltese-American Business Council in 1983 to promote commercial cooperation. The largest U.S. manufacturing firm in Malta is V.F. (Malta) Ltd., formerly Bluebell (Wrangler jeans).

Malta's economic progress and continued growth is highly dependent on external factors. Privatization and economic restructuring are high priorities for the Labor administration. The Labor administration is also seeking to reduce public expenditures.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce is located in Valletta at the Exchange Building on Republic Street, Kingsway.

Transportation

Malta is 58 miles from the nearest point in Sicily and 180 miles from the closest point on the North African mainland. Regularly scheduled direct flights go to most destinations in Europe and North Africadaily to Rome and London, and twice weekly to Paris, Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Lyon, Zurich, Catania, Tunis, Tripoli, and Cairo.

Scheduled airlines operating from Malta include Air Malta (the national carrier), British Airways, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Tunisavia (Tunisian), Air Algerie, Libyan Arab Airlines, Swissair, Aeroflot, and Balkan Air.

Throughout the year, the Tirrenia Line sails round-trip from Malta to the Sicilian cities of Syracuse (Siracusa) and Catania, as well as to Reggio Calabria and Naples on the Italian mainland. The ship serving this route carries passenger cars. Ships on this line are far from luxurious, but are the only satisfactory way of traveling with private cars from Italy to Malta.

In Malta, transportation is by private or rented car, taxi, or public bus. Paved roads, even to remote villages, are common, but their condition is less than satisfactory. Few roads have shoulders. Children, unlit horse-drawn carts or antique motor-driven vehicles, and animals abound, both in villages and on the highways. In summer, tourist-driven cars add to the confusion, and minor accidents often occur.

Traffic moves on the left. However, left-hand-drive cars are permitted, and an "LHD" emblem on the rear is not mandatory. Road signs along highways are frequently defaced or missing, and rarely indicate the right-of-way at intersections. Fortunately, driving speeds are relatively low because of the poor condition of most roads.

Persons planning to arrive in Malta with a private car must have valid auto tags of some foreign country, proof of ownership, and auto insurance valid for driving in Malta. There is no vehicle inspection or published traffic code. Automobile repair is only fair, but usually costs far less than in the U.S. Parts are difficult to obtain.

With an international insurance "green card," valid for Malta, a car can be driven on a 90-day tourist certificate. During these 90 days, locally issued third-party insurance and Maltese license tags must be obtained.

Public buses go to all parts of the main island, with one or more transfers needed to reach remote areas. Fares are low, but buses are crowded during morning and evening rush hours. Service on most lines stops early in the evening, or runs only infrequently after the evening rush. Use of public buses is not practical for evening social engagements.

Some garages operate taxi services. Cabs must be called for, since they do not cruise looking for fares. Also, the fare should be negotiated in advance. Car rentals vary according to season, model, type of insurance, and individual garages.

Communications

International phone service is available to Europe, parts of North Africa, and the U.S. Collect calls to the U.S. can be processed. International calls should be placed as early as possible. A direct-dialing service links Malta to the U.K., Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Libya, at varying rates per second. Commercial cable service is available worldwide. International postal service is adequate for letters, but inconvenient for outgoing packages because of customs formalities.

Malta television uses the European PAL system, and unmodified sets cannot receive programs from TV Malta (TVM). Color transmission began in July 1981. About half of TVM programming is local and broadcast in Maltese. The rest, imported mainly from the U.S. and the U.K., is broadcast in English. Several Italian stations also can be received, and the previous evening's American network news in English can be received via Italian TV stations each morning.

A variety of periodicals are published both in Maltese and in English. Many are affiliated with churches or political parties and have small circulations, parochial themes, and uneven journalism.

International editions of Time and Newsweek are sold on newsstands the day after publication. British daily newspapers and weekly periodicals are usually available on newsstands the same afternoon as publication. The International Herald Tribune is available via airmail subscription.

Health

Malta's health-care system has a long history of high standards, but it has recently undergone drastic changes caused by the government's efforts to establish a national health service.

Some Maltese physicians resisted the government's plan. All of those who contested the reforms were barred from hospital facilities and, as a result, have been limited to private practice without access to hospitals, or have left Malta for positions in other countries. The government has obtained replacement doctors from India, Pakistan, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia but, despite their presence, uncertainty about health care remains.

Fortunately, a number of good general practitioners and specialists are available to the American community and can deal with most routine health problems. These physicians will make house calls.

Foreign and Maltese doctors staff the government's large, well-equipped, public facility, St. Luke's Hospital, in Valletta, which is adequate for routine cases and emergencies. Currently, no private hospitals are in operation. For other than routine ailments, it is advisable to seek hospital care elsewhere.

Dental care is generally good, and several dentists here have British and American experience.

Common medicines, particularly of British origin, are usually available from local pharmacies. Those on long-term assignment who need special medications should have a six-month supply on hand.

No unusual health hazards exist in Malta, but incoming visitors or personnel should be aware of some conditions. Tap water is chlorinated, but has a high saline content and, for cooking or ice cubes, must be filtered and boiled. Americans drink bottled water and other bottled beverages, which are readily available at moderate cost. Various filters can be bought locally, but they will neither remove biological contaminants from the water nor eliminate the high salt content.

During summer, unrefrigerated foods are a source of bacterial contamination leading to food poisoning. Special care must be taken in the treatment of fruits and vegetables which are to be eaten raw.

Swimming and other water sports are major forms of recreation in Malta, and safety consciousness is essential, especially since there are no lifeguards at the beaches. Malta's strong summer sun and occasional violent offshore currents must be respected.

Mosquitoes and sand fleas are common during the summer months and, although they are not dangerous except to those with particular allergies, their stings are bothersome. Repellents and ointments are desirable, but common American products are not sold locally. Black-light insect lamps, which attract and kill flying insects, can be bought. There is no government spraying or insect-control program.

Winters are damp and windy, but Maltese homes do not have central heating. Precaution must be taken in the use of electric, bottled gas, or kerosene (called paraffin locally) space heaters.

Regular TB screenings and routine immunizations for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and measles are necessary. Illnesses contracted in Malta are those familiar in the U.S. (i.e., virus infections or the common cold). Prudent care and attention to good health practices are urged.

Sanitation is good. Waste water is usually treated before being pumped into the sea. Sea water is clean and safe for swimming in most areas, except when stinging jellyfish are nearby. Due to the absence of heavy industry, air and water pollution, except for automotive exhaust and open burning of refuse, are not major problems.

Trash collection is daily, except Sunday, in urban areas.

Clothing and Services

Clothing available in Malta is mostly of English, Italian, or Maltese manufacture. Quality is mixed, and prices are high. Women's styles usually follow the latest fads. The grade of children's and men's clothing is uneven. Good-quality English and European woolen material is sold at high prices, and many men's tailors do good work.

Some ready-made clothing is available, ranging from formal dinner attire to sportswear. Selection is both limited and expensive, making it wise to depend on local supply for emergencies only. Clothing for women in size 18 or larger is almost impossible to find.

Some women either make their own clothes or have them made by the good local dressmakers. Others arrive in Malta with an adequate wardrobe, which they can later supplement on trips to the continent, or by the occasional use of a dressmaker.

Hats and gloves are rarely seen, and women do not wear hosiery during the hot summer months. However, a certain decorum should be observed by both men and women for street wear. Shorts are worn for sports only.

School children wear uniforms, but since children's clothing is so expensive in Malta, many parents buy certain items at home rather than wait until arrival. For example, black leather slip-on or laced shoes, white athletic shoes, and long or short-sleeved white shirts/blouses are standard items in most school uniforms. Blazers, ties, and dresses or skirts must be bought locally.

Evening clothes for men and women are essential on some occasions. Men's formal wear may be rented if necessary. Long dinner dresses are worn for the most formal occasions, but short dresses also are appropriate. Hostesses are accustomed to guests who wear fur jackets, stoles, or other covering throughout the evening.

Since houses and buildings are heated below U.S. minimum standards in the winter season (home temperatures below 60°F are not unusual), sweaters, heavy slacks, and other warm items are essential. Some Americans living and working in Malta find thermal underwear useful.

Summer clothes should be of lightweight cotton or cotton/synthetic fabrics for women, and of the lightest available suit materials for men. Children also need suitable cool fabrics during the hot Maltese summer.

Toiletries, common medicines, and cosmetics sold locally are mainly English brands or English-manufactured American products. Imports of certain items, such as toothpaste and shampoo, are restricted. Variety is adequate for normal needs.

Supplies commonly used for housekeeping, home repairs, etc., are sold but, without American-style supermarkets and department stores, it is often difficult to find exact needs. Quality and variety of some items (toilet tissue, paper towels, paper plates, and detergents) range from good to poor.

Shoe repair is good and inexpensive. Dry cleaning facilities are uneven, and both laundries and cleaners are hard on clothes and do not iron or press well. Barbers and hairdressers do adequate work.

Radio and TV repair services are fair, but parts for some makes, particularly American, are unavailable. Other types of electrical repairs range from fair to good.

Generally speaking, community services in Malta are less adequate than those in the major cities of Western Europe.

Domestic Help

Finding Maltese women for employment as domestics, whether full or part time, is difficult, and requires patience to acquire. Domestic jobs tend to be specialized, so a housekeeper may not be willing or competent to cook, and a cook may not be willing to clean. Employers are generally required to pay social security insurance for full-time help. It is difficult to find live-in help or people willing to work on Sundays.

Malta has several catering firms that will provide the necessary number of workers needed for the type of entertaining that has been contracted for.

Malta does not have American-style day care centers. There are part-time nursery schools for preschoolers, but a nanny would have to be employed for full-time day care.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1New Year's Day

Feb. 10St. Paul's Shipwreck

Mar. 19St. Joseph' Day

Mar. 31Freedom Day

Mar/Apr.Good Friday*

Mar/Apr.Easter*

May 1Malta Labor Day

June 7 Sette Giugno (Anniversary of 1919 Riot)

June 29 Sts. Peter and St. Paul Day

Aug. 15Feast of the Assumption

Sept. 8 Our Lady of Victories

Sept. 21 Malta Independence Day

Dec. 8Immaculate Conception

Dec. 13Republic Day

Dec. 25Christmas

*Variable

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Daily flights to Malta arrive from London and Rome, and most travelers from the U.S. use one of these routes.

A passport is required, but no visa is necessary for a stay up to three months. Maltese visas are not required for official personnel and their dependents, regardless of the time period involved.

No health papers are necessary. However, when a contagious disease reaches epidemic proportions in any part of the world, persons arriving from infected areas are subject to isolation and surveillance.

The Maltese government permits cats or dogs to be imported into the islands under strict conditions.

Local law requires that all firearms taken into Malta be licensed with the police department.

Malta has over 360 Roman Catholic churches. Masses are usually held in Maltese, but some churches in Valletta offer masses in English. Several Anglican churches are found here, as are a Greek Orthodox and a Greek Catholic church. Services at Anglican churches are held in English.

The time in Malta is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus one.

Malta has its own currency. It adopted the decimal system in 1972. The Maltese lira (LUM) is the main unit; it is divided into 100 cents (c), and each cent into 10 mils (m). The American Express office in Valletta does not provide a full range of services.

The metric system is used. Gasoline is sold by the liter, and weights and measures are in grams and centimeters.

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Eadie, Peter M. Malta and Gozo. New York: Norton, 1990.

Kanzler, Peter. Practical Travel A to Z: Malta. Chatham, NY: Hayit Publishing USA, 1992.

Malta. New York: Prentice-Hall General Reference and Travel, 1991.

Malta Travel Guide. New York: Berlitz, latest editions.

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Malta

MALTA

The Republic of Malta

Repubblika Ta' Malta

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Malta consists of a series of small islands in the Mediterranean Sea, 97 kilometers (60 miles) south of the Italian territory of Sicily and 288 kilometers (179 miles) north of Africa. It is at the crossroads of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. While Malta is an archipelago (a group of islands), only the 3 largest islandsMalta, Gozo, and Cominoare inhabited. Malta's land area is just 316 square kilometers (122 square miles), and the coastline of the Maltese islands is 140 kilometers (87 miles). Malta is about twice the size of Washington, D.C. The largest city is Valletta, which is also the nation's capital, and the second largest is Sliema.

POPULATION.

The population of Malta was estimated to be 391,670 in July of 2000. The Maltese people are mainly descendants of ancient Phoenicians and Carthaginians who originally settled the islands. There are also descendants of Italians and other Mediterranean people in Malta, in addition to British influences from the colonial period. Nonetheless, the population is mainly homogeneous and overwhelmingly Roman Catholic (91 percent).

Malta's population growth rate is low (0.74 percent) and the population is aging. In 2000, 13 percent were over the age of 65, while only 20 percent were under the age of 15. The birth rate is 12.75 births per 1,000 people or 1.92 children born per woman. In 2000 the death rate was 7.7 deaths per 1,000, but the infant mortality rate was low at 5.94 deaths per 1,000 births. Life expectancy is 75.49 years for males and 80.62 for females. The Maltese emigration rate is low. Each year there are 2.39 migrants per 1,000 inhabitants.

The country is one of the most urban and densely populated nations in the world. The United States has 21 people per square kilometer (55 per square mile) compared to Malta's population density of 1,160 people per square kilometer (3,000 per square mile).

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Malta has few natural resources. Most of its foodstuffs (almost 80 percent) must be imported, as must its energy needs. Its economy is based on the export of manufactured products and tourism. The majority of Malta's trade is with the European Union (EU). Malta has applied for membership in the EU and can expect to be among the next nations to join the trade organization in 2003-05. The government has based most of its future economic policies on EU membership. Trade between Malta and the United States rose substantially during the 1990s. For some time, Malta has had a trade deficit , which has increased steadily over the past decade.

Maltese wages are low when compared to other European nations. In 1998 the average annual wage was equal to US$18,620, but inflation has traditionally been low (1.9 percent in 1999), allowing workers to enjoy a fair to high standard of living. Unemployment has stood at about 5 percent for the past 5 years, while gross domestic product (GDP) rose steadily through the 1990s, increasing by 4 percent in 1999.

However, the nation's debt increased dramatically in the 1990s as the government began a series of large infrastructure programs. In 1999 debt was 56.1 percent of GDP, or US$765 million. This was an increase from 33 percent of GDP in 1994. Because of the government programs, the construction industry has become a major economic sector in Malta. Partly in an attempt to lessen the debt and partly to improve the country's competitiveness, the government has begun a large-scale program to privatize state-owned businesses. Now the government is responsible for about half of Malta's GDP and actively pursues outside investment, offering foreign firms full ownership of commercial enterprises. Because wages are substantially lower than those of most EU countries, foreign firms have begun relocating to the islands. This is especially true of companies that produce footwear and clothing. Foreign investment now accounts for 50 percent of all new investment in Malta.

Tourism is the mainstay of the Maltese economy, but manufacturing and financial services are the fastest growing economic segments. Ship repair and support is the country's main industrial sector, but there is also a growing electronics sector. Agriculture remains only a small fraction of the economy.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Malta was a British colony from 1814 until independence in 1964. After independence, the country became a member of the British Commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. In 1974 Malta became a fully independent republic and replaced the queen with an elected president.

Malta is now a constitutional democracy, governed by the unicameral (one chamber) House of Representatives, whose 65 members are popularly elected to 5-year terms of office. The chief of state is the president, who also serves a 5-year term but is elected by the House of Representatives. The leader of the majority party in the legislature is appointed prime minister by the president. Because of the small size of the islands, there are no local or regional government bodies, and all police, education, and postal services are administered from the capital city of Valleta. The exception to this is the Isle of Gozo, which has a separate ministry.

Malta has 2 main political parties: the Nationalist Party and the Labor Party. The nation's political loyalty is evenly divided between the two. The Maltese people are passionate about politics and voter turnout for elections often exceeds 96 percent.

The Maltese government is deeply involved in the nation's economy. It accounts for almost half of the nation's GDP and employs 10 percent of the workforce . Because of several major infrastructure projects, the government has been forced to borrow to finance the resulting deficit. In 1999 Malta borrowed US$275 million. Major programs include a fiber optic telecommunications system, a new international airport, and improvements to port facilities. Loans are also used to support unprofitable government-owned businesses such as the Malta Dry-docks, which cost the government US$15 million in 1999 to cover shortfalls.

The government wants to privatize several state-owned enterprises. In 1997 partial privatization of the national telecommunications company, Maltacom, began, and in 1999 the government sold 70 percent of its ownership of the Mid-Med Bank (now known as HSBC Ltd.) to a Hong Kong company for US$200 million. Plans are in place to privatize the international airport, the Public Lotto (Lottery), the Bank of Valletta, and the Malta Freeport Terminal. There are also negotiations with Tunisia over oil exploitation in the Mediterranean Sea between the 2 countries.

The armed forces are small, composed of land troops, an air squadron, and a naval squadron. In 1999 the government spent US$201 million, or 5.5. percent of the nation's GDP, on defense.

Even though Malta is on the path to membership in the EU, there is long debate over the benefits of such a move. The Labor Party froze Malta's membership efforts after taking control of the government in the 1996 elections, but the Nationalist Party restarted the application process after its return to power in 1998.

The government of Malta offers several incentives to stimulate foreign investment. Most attractive among these is a 10-year tax holiday to industries that export over 95 percent of their goods. Income tax cutbacks, duty -free imports of machinery and equipment, plus deduction on training, research, and development entice foreign companies. The government earns its revenue through a variety of taxes. Approximately 23 percent of revenues came from income tax, 25 percent from social security tax , 17 percent from consumption taxes, and the remainder from licenses, taxes, and fines; customs and excise duties; and other forms of revenue collection.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

During the 1990s, the government started several programs designed to make the infrastructure of Malta comparable to other EU nations. The centerpiece of these efforts is the new telecommunications system, and a new international airport that can handle increased passenger and cargo traffic. There are 4 Internet service providers in Malta and the islands are serviced by 1 satellite earth station and 2 undersea communication cables from Europe. There were 187,000 main phone lines in use in 1997. Significant road construction has been completed, but plans call for US$200 million in new highway improvements. The government also spent US$200 million to improve the Freeport cargo terminals, which now handle an average of 1.2 million containers per year. Much of this freight is trans-shipped from Europe to other markets globally.

Malta's energy needs are met through imported fossil fuels, mainly oil. In 1998 the nation produced 1.62 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and consumed 1.507 billion kWh. The country has 1,742 kilometers (1,082 miles) of roadways, of which 1,677 kilometers (1,042 miles) are paved. There are 2 major ports, in Valletta and Marsaxlokk, and a major airport. In 1999 the Maltese merchant marine included 1,484 ships. Many ships were actually owned by foreign firms from 49 different countries, notably Greece with 445 ships.

Maltacom, the nation's telecommunications company, has established GoMobile to provide cellular phone service. In 1999 there were about 15,600 mobile phones in use in Malta. Several international companies have established Internet and e-commerce businesses in Malta.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Malta has few natural resources and its small population makes for a limited domestic market. Consequently, Malta is dependent on foreign trade, and the government has supported export-based companies through tax breaks and other incentives. It has also looked for foreign investment by offering similar incentives. A prolonged period of economic growth through the 1990s and continued government spending on infrastructure programs has kept unemployment low.

Malta's economy is diverse. There is a small agricultural sector, which contributed 2.8 percent of GDP in 1999, but the poor soil of the islands prevents wide-scale crop cultivation. The industrial sector experienced some growth in the 1990s, as the low cost of labor attracted light industries such as electronics, textiles, and

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Malta 187,000 17,691 AM 1; FM 18; shortwave 6 (1999) 255,000 6 (2000) 280,000 2 40,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Italy 25 M (1999) 20.5 M (1999) AM 100; FM 4,600, shortwave 9 50.5 M 358 (1995) 30.3 M 93 11.6 M
Cyprus 488,162 (1998) 138,000 (1999) AM 10; FM 71; shortwave 2 366,450 8 (1995) 300,300 6 80,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

footwear. The government-owned drydocks provide the main heavy industry in the islands, and industry made up 25.5 percent of Malta's GDP in 1999. The service sector dominates the Maltese economy, accounting for 71.7 percent of the nation's GDP and providing 71 percent of employment. Tourism is one of the mainstays of the service sector.

AGRICULTURE

Malta's agricultural sector is small and only accounts for about 2.8 percent of GDP, but it is diverse. In 1999 only 5 percent of workers were employed in agriculture and there were only about 10 square kilometers (3.9 square miles) of land under irrigation. In 1998 agricultural exports totaled US$42.1 million, but imports totaled US$304 million. Since 1995 agriculture has declined annually. In 1997 the decline was 10.3 percent, and in 1998 the decline was 11.6 percent.

Most farms are small and privately owned. Most of the crops and foodstuffs produced are consumed domestically. The main crops are potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, and green peppers. Potatoes are by far the main crop and accounted for 32,000 metric tons of the total agricultural output of 38,000 metric tons. Medigrain, a Maltese company, annually imports about 50,000 tons of wheat, which is then sold to local bakeries and restaurants. It has silo capacity to hold 86,000 metric tons of grain. The company also acts as a trans-shipment agent for the distribution of imported grain to other countries. Livestock production includes beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, and turkey. The main livestock exports are prepared meat products and fish.

INDUSTRY

Several industries have experienced growth in Malta since the early 1990s. The principal growth industries include shipbuilding and repair, construction, electronics, and textiles. Industry provides 24 percent of employment and manufactured products account for 90 percent of Malta's exports. The Malta Development Corporation (MDC) is a government venture that works to attract foreign industry to the island. The MDC also oversees the management of Malta's 12 industrial parks and provides low-interest loans for foreign companies moving to the islands. There are now about 200 foreign manufacturing firms in Malta of which the largest is SGS Thomson, a French company that employs 1,800 people in Malta and has annual sales of US$1 billion.

Malta's location along major commercial sea lanes in the Mediterranean has made it a major port area and gateway for products being shipped to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. The government has developed extensive storage facilities for goods, including grain silos and an oil terminal. Goods are shipped to Malta and then transported throughout the Mediterranean region. All aspects of marine services, including shipbuilding, repair, loading, and unloading of goods, have experienced growth in the past decade. The government has promoted the island as a major port by eliminating all taxes and tariffs on goods that are imported by companies licensed to trade in the Malta Freeport terminals.

New construction of homes and businesses is a steady benefit of economic growth. The construction industry has been bolstered by heavy government spending on massive road-building projects. The electronics industry has experienced dramatic growth since several computer manufacturing companies have opened plants in Malta. There are several manufacturing companies in Malta, producing everything from footwear to machine products, and automobile parts to cigarettes.

SERVICES

Services represent the fastest growing sector of the Maltese economy, employing 71 percent of Maltese workers and producing 71.7 percent of GDP in 1999. Wholesale and retail services account for about 11 percent of the nation's GDP, against financial services at 8 percent.

Tourism is a major component of the services sector. Each year Malta receives about 1.2 million tourists, and the tourist industry is the country's main source of foreign currency. In 1998, to attract new visitors, the government began a US$40 million project to improve the waterfront of Malta, the largest island, with new hotels and improvements to existing buildings. There is also a US$25 million project to construct a new cruise line terminal. The country's mild climate and relatively low prices are the main attractions for tourists, who also enjoy the historical sites where many castles of the Knights of Malta remain intact.

Maltacom, the nation's telecommunications company, has established GoMobile to provide cellular phone service. In 1999 there were about 15,600 mobile phones in use in Malta. Several international companies have established Internet and e-commerce businesses in Malta.

Many international firms have established franchises in Malta. North American fast-food chains such as Mc-Donald's, Burger King, T.G.I. Fridays, and Pizza Hut have done well. In 2000 work began on a Hard Rock Café, which will be part of a local hotel. The government also chose a company from the United States to provide cable services for the nation.

The retail sector operates under some important restrictions. Shops are only open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and there is a 3-4 hour break or "siesta" in the afternoon, as is customary in many Southern European countries. In addition, almost all shops are closed on Sunday.

Financial services are a big growth area in the Maltese economy. Since 1995, financial services have grown by 40 percent. Malta's banking system has assets of US$6.2 billion, and the nation has a small stock market, which lists mainly local companies. In 1999 total trades equaled 107.3 million Maltese liri.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Malta's economy is dependent on foreign trade and generally runs a trade deficit. In 1998 the export value of Maltese goods was US$1.8 billion, compared with imports of US$2.7 billion. Around 65 percent of the country's imports come from the EU, while 50 percent of its exports go to the EU. However, trade with the United States has increased over the past 8 years. In 1999 Maltese exports to the United States were worth US$422 million and imports from the United States totaled US$240 million.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Malta
exports Imports
1975 .164 .375
1980 .483 .938
1985 .400 .759
1990 1.133 1.964
1995 1.861 2.890
1998 1.820 2.686
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Malta's main export markets are France, which in 2000 received 20.7 percent of Malta's goods, the United States (18.1 percent), Germany (12.6 percent), the United Kingdom (7.7 percent), and Italy (4.8 percent). In 2000 the nation's main import partners are Italy (19.3 percent), France (17.8 percent), the United Kingdom (12.4 percent), Germany (10.5 percent), and the United States (8.9 percent).

MONEY

Over the last several years the value of the Maltese lira has fallen in relation to the U.S. dollar. In 1995 1 U.S. dollar equaled 0.3529 Maltese liri, but by 2000 1 dollar equaled 0.4086 Maltese liri. Malta's entry into the EU may ultimately mean that the nation will replace the lira with the euro, the common currency of the EU.

The Maltese Central Bank issues currency and sets interest rates. It also regulates monetary policy and controls the nation's financial reserves. There are 2 main commercial banks in Malta: HSBC Ltd. and the Bank of Valletta, each with 40 branches in Malta. Together, the 2 banks control 80 percent of the consumer banking market. There are also 2 smaller banks: Lombard Bank and APS Bank. Local merchant banks have a difficult time competing against foreign competition despite liberalized lending policies in recent years.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

While wages are low in Malta, the nation's low cost of living allows workers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. In addition, the government provides housing subsidies for low-income families. Education and health care are free and available for most Maltese, though medical services are limited. With unemployment low (4.5 percent in 2000) and the standard of living relatively high, Malta is ranked 27th in the world in the United Nations Human Development Report 2000. The standard of living doubles every 13 years.

Exchange rates: Malta
Maltese liri (LM) per US$1
Jan 2001 0.4370
2000 0.4376
1999 0.3994
1998 0.3885
1997 0.3857
1996 0.3604
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Malta 2,996 4,659 5,362 7,019 18,620
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Italy 11,969 14,621 15,707 18,141 19,574
Cyprus 3,619 6,334 7,818 10,405 12,857
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Maltese wages are low by comparison with other European nations. The nation's minimum wage is US$2.96 per hour, or US$118.50 per week. The average wage for skilled workers is US$175 per week. There are legally enforced annual bonuses and generous vacation periods. Bonuses average US$10.58 per week and vacations average 4 weeks per year. Employers underwrite the cost of workers' health care. The standard working week is 40 hours, but some industries are allowed to operate 43 to 45 hours per week. The Maltese labor force numbers 145,590 people.

The Maltese workforce is well-educated and productive. Foreign firms are attracted to Malta because of the low labor costs and the educated workforce. Most Maltese speak English, and worker productivity compares favorably to that of most European nations. The result is that even foreign-owned businesses are usually staffed and managed by Maltese employees. Workers have the right to unionize and to strike, but the islands have one of the lowest strike rates in Europe. There are 35 registered unions in Malta, and about half of the work-force belongs to a union. National laws require unions and companies to meet each year with government officials to draft annual agreements on wages and working conditions.

Employment of children under the age of 16 is prohibited, although many children work part-time in the tourist trade during the summer. Children under the age of 17 may be paid US$108 per week, while 17-year-olds can make US$111 per week. Women are under-represented in the workforce, especially in management positions. In addition, women are often paid less than men in similar occupations. Furthermore, the traditional nature of Maltese society leads many women to stop working after marriage.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

4000s B.C. A religious culture develops in Malta even before that of Egypt.

218 B.C. Malta becomes part of the Roman Empire during the Second Punic War.

60 A.D. Saint Paul brings Christianity to Malta after he is shipwrecked on the island.

433. The Byzantine Empire acquires Malta.

870. Malta is conquered by the Arabs.

1090. The Arabs are driven out by Normans under Count Roger of Normandy, who had established a kingdom in Sicily. Malta remains under Sicilian control for 440 years.

1523. Malta is ceded to the Knights of St. John, a religious order of fighting monks that had participated in the Crusades, but were based in Italy after being driven out of the Middle East by the Arabs. The Knights become known as the Knights of Malta and build towns and settlements throughout the islands.

1798. Malta is conquered by France under Napoleon Bonaparte.

1800. With British support, the Maltese overthrow the French.

1814. Malta voluntarily becomes a British colony. Under the British, the islands become an important naval and trade center in the Mediterranean.

1939-45. Malta suffers an intensive air and sea assault by German and Italian forces during World War II.

1964. Malta is granted independence by Great Britain. The island joins the British Commonwealth of Nations.

1974. Malta becomes a republic and adopts a new constitution.

1979. The last British military forces depart from Malta.

1987. Tourism in Malta reaches its height, with 60 percent growth over the previous year.

1996. The Labor government halts Malta's application process for EU membership.

1998. After winning early elections, the Nationalist Party restarts the process for EU entry.

FUTURE TRENDS

Malta is well positioned to continue its economic growth over the next decade. The favorable labor situation should continue to attract foreign companies and investment, while low prices for goods and accommodations will continue to draw tourists to the islands. Because the nation is dependent on tourism and foreign trade, it is vulnerable to slowdowns in the economies of its major trading partners.

Entry into the EU will expand Malta's economic opportunities since it will cut tariffs and taxes on Maltese goods imported by EU member states. It will also make it easier for EU companies to relocate to Malta. The most important issue for Malta is the need to lessen the role of the government in the economy. Therefore, the continuing privatization efforts are crucial for long-term growth.

DEPENDENCIES

Malta has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Boulton, Susie. Malta and Gozo. New York: NTC, 2000.

Department of Information Malta. <http://www.doi.gov.mt>. Accessed September 2001.

MERHBA: Welcome to the Official Website of the Maltese Government. <http://www.magnet.mt>. Accessed September 2001.

Spiteri, Edward J. An Island in Transition: The Economic Transformation of Malta From a British Crown Colony to an Independent Democratic Republic. Valletta, Malta: Progress Press, 1997.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Malta. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/europe/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

Xuereb, Peter G., editor. Malta, the European Union and the Mediterranean: Closer Relations in the Wider Context. Valletta, Malta: University of Malta, 1998.

Tom Lansford

CAPITAL:

Valletta.

MONETARY UNIT:

Maltese lira (LM). One Maltese lira equals 100 cents. Each cent is subdivided into 10 mils. There are coins of 2, 3, and 5 mils and of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents. There are notes of 2, 5, 10, and 20 lira.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Machinery and transport equipment, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods, food, drink, tobacco.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$5.6 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$2 billion (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$2.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000).

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Malta

Malta

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Malta
Region: Europe
Population: 391,670
Language(s): Maltese, English
Literacy Rate: 88%
Academic Year: September-July
Compulsory Schooling: 11 years
Foreign Students in National Universities: 62
Libraries: 3
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 35,273
  Secondary: 34,128
  Higher: 8,260
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 107%
  Secondary: 84%
  Higher: 29%
Teachers: Primary: 1,824
  Secondary: 3,180
  Higher: 709
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 19:1
  Secondary: 11:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 107%
  Secondary: 82%
  Higher: 32%



History & Background

The Republic of Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 97 kilometers (60 miles) south of Sicily. It consists of the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino and two small uninhabited islands, Cominotto and Filfla. Malta occupies 316 square kilometers (122 square miles). The main island of Malta is 246 square kilometers (95 square miles). In 2000 the population was estimated at 391,670, making the country one of the most densely populated nations in the world. The inhabitants speak Maltese and English, both of which are official languages. The population is 98 percent Roman Catholic. The literacy rate is approximately 88 percent. Principal industries include shipping, construction, and tourism.

Malta's strategic location and natural harbors have made it an important military objective for nations seeking to control the Mediterranean. In 1814 Malta became a British crown colony. During WWII the British used Malta as a base of operations to attack convoys carrying supplies to Axis forces in North Africa. The Germans and Italians subjected the island to relentless bombing. In recognition, King George VI awarded the George Cross "to the island fortress of Maltaits people and defenders."

After the war, Malta was granted increasing degrees of independence on local matters but remained a British colony and became a NATO base. In 1964 Malta obtained its independence, becoming a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth as the head of state, represented by a governor general. In 1974, it became a republic, severing allegiance to Britain. Traditionally allied with Western Europe, Malta proclaimed itself nonaligned after the socialist Labor Party won elections in 1971. The Labor prime minister, Dom Mintoff, distanced Malta from Britain and the West, refusing to allow NATO to renew base leases and actively courting the Soviet Union. Malta broke defense ties with Britain and granted Soviet ships use of refueling facilities built by NATO. Mintoff opposed the Roman Catholic Church, a traditionally powerful institution on the islands. His policies to restrict its role, especially in education, were highly controversial.

In 1987 the Nationalist Party assumed power and reversed many of Mintoff's socialist policies, resuming ties with Britain and other NATO countries. With the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, Malta has sought to integrate itself into the European Union.

The educational system in Malta was founded on British models and greatly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Since independence the educational system has undergone substantial and often contradictory changes. The philosophy guiding education has reflected the conflicting views of the rival Nationalist and Labor parties.

In the 1970s the Labor Party imposed a socialist vision of education. The British system of testing and tracking students was denounced as hierarchical and discriminatory. Public schools were reorganized and competency testing largely abandoned to promote equality. Desiring to rid Malta of what he called "elitism," Mintoff sought to eliminate private and church education. In 1984 the government closed eight leading Catholic academies, replacing them with four state-operated institutions. Later that year, Mintoff announced that private schools would no longer be allowed to charge tuition and banned the archbishop from visiting public schools. Graduates of state schools were given preference in admission to higher education, and government grants to church schools were eliminated. Mintoff's attack on Catholic schools, which enrolled 25 percent of high school students, angered parents, church officials, and political opponents.

Labor policies reorganized higher education, stressing vocational rather than academic courses. Departments in liberal arts and sciences were disbanded. The polytechnic was merged into the prestigious University of Malta. Seeking to link higher education with employment, a compulsory student-worker program was introduced in 1978. College students were required to work six months a year and study six months a year. Admissions to higher education were determined by the availability of employment rather than academic achievement. These policies and the government's increasing press censorship led to an exodus of educators and intellectuals.

In 1987 the Nationalist Party was elected to power and reversed many educational policies, reintroducing the British use of competency testing and tracking. Private schools were allowed greater freedom, though the government monitored standards, course content, and credentials. The work study programs were dismantled, so that entrance to higher education was based solely on academic achievement. Subsequent Labor governments have modified but not reversed these reforms, having renounced Mintoff's highly ideological approach to education.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Nationalist reforms were formalized in the Education Act of 1988, which provided free compulsory education, expanded scholarships, and called for the development of technological research and training. The Education Act recognized the role of church and private schools in education, eliminated compulsory work-study programs for university students, and reestablished competency testing. The 1988 Act expanded compulsory education by one year and obligated the state to provide free university education to all qualified students.

In November 1991 the Republic of Malta and the Holy See signed an agreement on Roman Catholic schools. The state recognized the church's right to establish and direct its own schools, and Catholic schools agreed to observe the National Minimum Curriculum and National Minimum Conditions regulations developed for state schools. Church schools agreed not to charge tuition in return for state financial assistance. Spiritual guidance and noneducational activities are supported by fundraising campaigns, free donations from parents, and other collections. The state guaranteed that teachers in Roman Catholic schools have equal access to scholarships, in-service training, and grants designed for state school faculty.

Educational SystemOverview

In Malta education is compulsory from ages 5 to 16. Instruction is given in both Maltese and English. Approximately 30 percent of students attend church and private schools, which are regulated by the Ministry of Education. All special education programs are provided in state schools. Special needs children are mainstreamed as much as possible. The National Minimum Curriculum has made environmental education compulsory in primary and secondary schools. The curriculum is varied, but language studies are given great importance. By law the teachings of the Catholic Church that are taught in Catholic schools must be included in the state school curriculum.

Education in Malta is highly centralized, with national standards and examinations, though schools are encouraged to develop individual identities. Students in state schools complete six years of primary education and then take noncompetitive qualifying examinations for admission into junior lyceums. The first three years of secondary education are followed in either a junior lyceum or secondary school. Students may also enroll in a trade school for vocational training. At the end of secondary education, students take either the University of Malta's Secondary Education Certificate or General Certificate of Education examinations to qualify for university admission.

Approximately 60 percent of Maltese students continue education after completing compulsory studies. In addition to traditional university studies, Malta offers a range of vocational training opportunities. The Extended Skills Training Scheme and Technician Apprenticeship Scheme are provided by the state. Students enrolling in these vocational programs receive allowances.

In 1998 the Ministry of Education announced the need to reform the tertiary education system to produce "a well educated and trainable work force" in order to help Malta compete in a global economy. Government officials, industrial leaders, and educational consultants argued that for too long vocational programs had been largely dismissed as schools for the less able. Recognizing the need for highly trained technicians, greater emphasis was given to reforming vocational education and educating the public about its role and purpose. In the late 1990s Malta devoted a higher percentage of its GDP on education than any other country applying for admission to the European Union, but had the lowest spending of any applicant country on vocational education and training. Experts called for reform to unite the efforts of training programs operated by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor. These programs had long operated independently and failed to coordinate activities. Efforts were made to include female students in engineering and other vocational training programs.


Preprimary & Primary Education

The majority of children attend a state or private kindergarten before beginning primary school. In 1988 the National Minimum Curriculum for kindergartens and primary schools was established. The new curriculum was transformed into specific objectives, and newly designed courses were introduced in 1990. About eleven examinations are given at the end of primary education.


Secondary Education

Secondary education in Malta follows the British model. At the conclusion of their primary studies, students take a comprehensive examination. High achievers are admitted into lyceums designed to prepare them for university admission. Low achievers are sent to general secondary schools to prepare them for employment or vocational training. After completing three years of secondary education, students may enroll in trade schools.

In the 1990s the curriculum in all three levels of secondary education was improved. Great effort was placed on introducing computers and information technology into the lyceums and secondary schools. Trade schools were reformed to offer a more rigorous academic background and a wider range of technology studies to maximize flexibility in the future workforce.


Higher Education

The largest and oldest institution of higher education on the islands is the University of Malta, founded by Jesuits in 1592. It became a state institution in 1769 and was reestablished in 1988. Though financed by the state, the university receives funds from banks and other private enterprises. The university is the highest degree granting institution in Malta and is open to all qualified students. Students receive a monthly stipend. In 1997 there were 7,000 students, including 400 foreign students, enrolled in full or part-time programs. The courses are designed to supply Malta with highly trained professionals in business, civil administration, science, and industry.

The university houses the International Maritime Law Institute and the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies. The university is also linked to the Foundation for International Studies and its associated organizations, the International Environmental Institute, the Mediterranean Institute, and the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Marine Contamination Hazards.

Recently, the University of Malta has placed emphasis on strengthening its engineering departments and improving its use of information technology. The university has also sought to improve primary and secondary education in Malta and expand links to overseas universities.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research


The head of the state Education Division is the Director General of Education, appointed from within the teaching profession, who supervises the Directors of Planning and Development, Operations, Further Studies and Adult Education, Student Services and International Relations, Curriculum Management, and Finance and Administration.

The educational administration is highly centralized, though recent efforts have been made to give schools greater freedom of action. The Head Office manages recruitment, deployment, discipline, and staff promotion. Students are assigned to schools according to geographical areas. Textbooks are produced centrally, though individual schools are given funds to purchase ancillary materials. Annual examinations are administered nationally. Half-yearly examinations are school-based.

The total funds allocated for education by the state in 1996 was US$171.9 million (11 percent of the national budget).

A process of decentralization is taking place at all levels of education, encouraging decision-making at the school level. The curriculum is being reviewed in all grades to assure compliance with modern teaching practices. Great emphasis is placed on introducing information technology.

Nonformal Education

In the 1990s adult and evening classes were expanded to meet the needs of students and working professionals. The Further Studies and Adult Education Department began publishing an official catalog of evening courses in 1996. A cable television channel broadcast its first live transmission during an education fair in 1996, initiating a new avenue for distance learning.


Teaching Profession

Teachers are unionized and negotiate with the government on policy, wages, and benefits. The largest teachers' union, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT), was founded in 1919 and now represents teachers at all levels, including university faculty. The Government-Malta Union of Teachers agreement raised teachers' pay grades to those corresponding to Civil Service professionals. The 1998 Education Act recognized teaching as a profession. The state provides scholarships for in-service and professional training for teachers. In the 1990s the Malta Union of Teachers worked to increase the professional status of preschool teachers.


Summary

The Maltese educational system, once highly politicized, now serves to provide students with the academic and technical skills needed to help the country participate in the European economy. Malta's ties to the European Union, expanding tourist industry, and greater dependence on international relations indicates that the government will continue to devote resources to provide students with a quality education.


Bibliography

Altavista. Malta. Available from http://countrywatch.altavista.com.

Education in MaltaRecent Developments. Government of Malta, September 1997. Available from http://www.magnet.mt/home/education/educ5.htm.

Malta. CIA World Factbook 2000. Available from http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/mt.html.

The Ministry of Education and National Culture. White Paper for Vocational Education and Training After the Age of 16 Years. 1998. Available from http://www.magnet.mt/home/education/whitepap/.

Monaghan, Peter. "The Return of a Socialist Government Makes Many Academics in Malta Nervous; the Party's Policies in the Past led to an Exodus of Intellectuals." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 43 (18) (10 January 1997): 58.

"School's Out: Mintoff Takes on an Old Enemy." Time 124 (24 September 1984): 43.

University of Malta. University of MaltaHistory. Available from http://www.um.edu.mt/history.html.


Mark Connelly

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Malta

Malta (môl´tə), officially Republic of Malta, republic (2005 est. pop. 399,000), 122 sq mi (316 sq km), in the Mediterranean Sea S of Sicily. It comprises the islands of Malta (95 sq mi/246 sq km), Gozo (Ghawdex, 26 sq mi/67 sq km), and Comino (Kemmuna, 1 sq mi/2.6 sq km), as well as four uninhabited islets. The group is sometimes called the Maltese Islands. Valletta is the capital.

People, Economy, and Government

Malta has a very high population density. The population is ethnically diverse, a mixture of Arab, Sicilian, Norman, Spanish, Italian, and British strains. English and Maltese, a Semitic dialect, are the official languages, although Italian is also widely spoken. Roman Catholicism is the religion of nearly all the people.

Malta has no rivers or lakes, no natural resources, and very few trees. It is, however, of great strategic value and was an important British military base until 1979. Following the withdrawal of British forces, the country faced severe unemployment; it has since made progress in diversifying its economic base. Manufacturing and tourism are now the main industries. There is food, beverage, and tobacco processing and the manufacture of electronics, pharmaceuticals, footwear, and clothing. Shipbulding and ship repair, performed in state-owned dry docks, and freight transshipment are also important. Although the soil is poor, there is some agriculture, producing potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, and cut flowers. Hogs and chickens are raised. International banking and financial services are growing, and the island is developing as an offshore tax haven. Shortage of water has stimulated the building of desalination plants, which now provide more than half the country's freshwater needs. The main imports are machinery, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and petroleum; exports include machinery, transportation equipment, and manufactured goods. Most trade is with Italy, France, Great Britain, the United States, and Germany.

Malta is governed under the constitution of 1964 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by the legislature for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister is the head of government. Members of the unicameral legislature, the 65-seat House of Representatives, are popularly elected to five-year terms. Malta is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

History

Malta was settled in Neolithic times; the Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum is the site of what is believed to be the largest group of prehistoric European rock-cut chamber tombs. The island, anciently called Melita, later belonged successively to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans. St. Paul was shipwrecked there (AD 60). Arab rule began in AD 870; the Normans of Sicily occupied it c.1090. In 1530 the Hapsburg Charles V granted Malta to the Knights Hospitalers. Notwithstanding a determined siege by the Turks in 1565, the knights held it until 1798, when it was surrendered to Napoleon.

The British ousted the French in 1800 and made it a crown colony in 1814. For most of the 19th cent., Malta was ruled by a military governor. The opening of the Suez Canal (1869) increased its strategic value, Malta becoming one of the principal coaling stations for steamers bound for India and East Asia. During World War II, Malta was subjected to extremely heavy bombing by Italian and German planes, and in 1942 King George VI awarded its citizens the George Cross for bravery.

Almost from the start of the period of British rule the Maltese agitated for increased political freedom. Considerable self-government was granted in 1921, but this was revoked in 1936. A constitution granted in 1947 was revoked after civil disturbances in 1959. Malta achieved full independence in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. The Labor party, led by Dom Mintoff, was in power from 1971 to 1987. The government of the Nationalist prime minister Edward Fenech Adami was elected in 1987 and was returned to office in 1992 and 1998. Alfred Sant of the Labor party was prime minister from 1996 to 1998. In the 1990s, Malta tried to balance its foreign policy between neighboring Libya and the economically more important Western nations. It applied for full membership in the European Union (EU) in 1990 and embarked on an extensive economic and restructuring program, and Malta joined the EU in 2004.

Fenech Adami and the Nationalist party, strong supporters of EU membership, were returned to power in the Apr., 2003, parliamentary elections. Fenech Adami stepped down in Mar., 2003, and Lawrence Gonzi succeeded him as prime minister. Malta adopted the euro in Jan., 2008. The Nationalist party won a narrow victory in the 2008 parliamentary elections; Gonzi's government fell in Dec., 2012, after it lost its majority. Labor won a majority in the Mar., 2013, elections, and Joseph Muscat became prime minister. In recent years the country has received increasing numbers of Europe-bound illegal African immigrants, most of them rescued at sea by Malta's navy.

Bibliography

See B. Blouet, The Story of Malta (rev. ed. 1972); D. H. Trump, Malta, an Archaeological Guide (1972); R. Seth, Malta (1988).

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Malta

Malta

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Malta
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 391,670
Language(s): Maltese, English
Literacy rate: 88%

The Republic of Malta is an independent island state in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, with a generally literate population. A member of the Commonwealth since 1814, Malta received independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. Since then, the island has become a center for finances and freight shipment. Major resources include its large supply of limestone, its location in the sea, and its productive labor force. However, Malta imports 80 percent of its food stores, has limited water resources, and has no domestic island energy sources. The country's economy depends on foreign trade, tourism, and manufacturing (electronics and textiles, particularly). Tourism is growing; one element that encourages the growth is a population that speaks Maltese, English, and Italian. As of 2002, Malta is a candidate for membership in the European Union; in preparation many of its industries were being privatized.

The Maltese constitution and the general culture provide for freedom of the press; since 1992 the government has actively encouraged programs leading to diversification in the media.

Independent press organizations include The Press Club and Institute of Broadcasters, whose Code of Ethics requires "balance, accuracy and fairness," confidentiality of sources, fact verification, respect for individuals, and human rights shielding.

International agencies and organizations regard Malta as having a free press. For example, Press Freedom Survey 2000 by Freedom House designated Maltese press as free. The International Press Institute (IPI), based in Vienna, stated in 2000 that no violence against journalists had occurred in Malta. In 2002 World Audit awarded Malta 14/100 points. (Lower numbers are preferred: for example, the US is 11/100 and UK is 16/100.)

Media, in English, Italian, and Maltese, include newspapers, radio, and television. The two main political parties own newspapers and television and radio stations that disseminate their opposing views. Independent media are also available to the public.

The broadcast media is supervised by the governmental body, the Broadcasting Authority. Various numbers of radio stations (13-19) are reported. Approximately 255,000 households have radios. In 2002, Malta had six broadcast television stations: three government stations, one station belonging to the governing party, one station belonging to the opposition party, and one commercial station. In addition, one commercial cable network was in operation. The approximately 280,000 households with television sets receive approximately 20 stations, including not only do Maltese stations but also many stations from Italy.

In 2001, various newspapers were available: four daily newspapers, according to the Europa Yearbook (approximate combined circulation 54,000 copies per issue), six weekly newspapers, and five Sunday editions. Total newspaper circulation is approximately 145/1,000 persons.

Newspapers include The Malta Independent (English); In-Nazzjon (Maltese), reported circulation 20,000; L'Orizzont (Maltese), reported circulation 23,000; The People (English); The Times (English), reported circulation 23,000. Weekly newspapers and Sunday editions include Business Times ; Il-Gens (Maltese), reported circulation 13,000; Il-Gwida (Maltese and English), reported circulation 12,000; Kulhadd (Maltese); Lehen Is-Sewwa (Roman Catholic press), reported circulation 10,000; The Maltese Business Weekly (English); The Malta Independent on Sunday (English); Il-Mument (Maltese), reported circulation 25,000; The People on Sunday (English); The Sunday Times (English), reported a circulation of 35,000; and It-Tórca (Maltese), reported a circulation of 30,000.

Bibliography

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2001, 2002. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Freedom House. Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 2001. Available from http://www.freedomhouse.org/.

. Press Freedom Survey 2000, 2000. Available from http://freedomhouse.org/.

IPI: Violations of Press Freedom Commonplace in Europe. In Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe. Vienna: Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2000.

Malta Press Club and Institute of Broadcasters International Journalists' Network. Code of Ethics, 2002. Available from http://www.ijnet.org/.

U.S. Department of State. Human Rights Reports: Malta, 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices , 25February 2000. Available from http://www.state.gov/.

World Audit. Democratic Profile, 2002. Available from http://www.worldaudit.org/.

World Almanac and Book of Facts. Republic of Malta, 2002.

Emily Dial-Driver

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Malta

Malta

Official name: The Republic of Malta

Area: 316 square kilometers (122 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Ta'Dmejrek (253 meters/830 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 45 kilometers (28 miles) from southeast to northwest; 13 kilometers (8 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 253 kilometers (157 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Malta is an island nation in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. The total land area of its five islands is 316 square kilometers (122 square miles), or nearly twice the size of Washington, D.C.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Malta has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The average winter temperature is 9°C (48°F), with January being the coldest month. The average summer temperature is 31°C (88°F), with temperatures peaking at midsummer (July to August). Most rainfall occurs between November and January, and average rainfall is approximately 56 centimeters (22 inches) per year.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Malta consists of five islands. Three of the islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) are inhabited, and two (Cominotto and Filfla) are uninhabited. The island of Malta is the largest in the country, accounting for 246 square kilometers (95 square miles) of the total area. Gozo (67 square kilometers/26 square miles) and Comino (about 3 square kilometers/1 square mile) are much smaller.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Malta is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.

Coastal Features

The rocky terrain of the islands has openings that form deep harbors, coves, and bays. There are about twenty beaches on the island of Malta, ranging from rocky to sandy. Gozo also has some popular beaches, including one at Ramla Bay on the northern shore, which is known for its reddish sand. Santa Maria Bay, on Comino Island, is famous for its clear waters and coastal lagoon, known as the Blue Lagoon.

6 INLAND LAKES

Malta has no sizable inland lakes.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Malta has no rivers. The country's reserves of fresh water are extremely limited, and it relies heavily on desalination for its water supply.

8 DESERTS

There are no deserts on Malta.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

The terrain of Malta's islands consists of low hills (mostly limestone formations) running from east to northwest at heights of up to 239 meters (786 feet). There is little vegetation and no forests. The island of Gozo is greener and hillier than the main island Malta, and its coast has high, uneven cliffs.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Malta has no mountains or volcanoes.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are caves on the islands of Gozo and Malta. Alabaster stalagmites and stalactites are found in a grotto in the town of Xaghra on Gozo. The Ghar Dalan Cave on Malta contains fossilized remains of extinct species that are 250,000 years old.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Malta is the site of the world's most ancient temple complexes, built about six thousand years ago. The islands' limestone megaliths are many centuries older than both Britain's Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The historic fortress city of Valletta, the capital, was constructed in the sixteenth century on the rocky Sceberras Peninsula on Malta's east coast. Many of Malta's buildings date back centuries.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Berg, Warren G. Historical Dictionary of Malta. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Ellis, William S. "Malta: The Passion of Freedom." National Geographic, June 1989, 700-717.

Web Sites

LonelyPlanet: Destination Malta. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/europe/malta/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

"MaltaWelcome to the Heart of the Mediterranean." VisitMalta.com. http://www.visitmalta.com/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

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Malta

Malta

area:

316sq km (122sq mi)

population:

382,400

capital (population):

Valletta (195,500)

government:

Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Maltese 96%, British 2%

languages:

Maltese and English (both official)

religions:

Christianity (Roman Catholicism 99%)

currency:

Maltese lira = 100 cents

Archipelago republic in the Mediterranean Sea, c.100km (60mi) s of Sicily; the capital is Valletta (on Malta). Malta consists of: two main islands, Malta (area: 246sq km/95sq mi) and Gozo (67sq km/26sq mi); the small island of Comino, located between the two large islands; and two tiny islets. The islands are low-lying. Malta island is composed mostly of limestone. Gozo is largely covered by clay, and as a result its landscapes are less arid. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. In spring, the sirocco may raise temperatures and damage crops. Malta has no forests, and 38% of the land is arable.

History and Politics

Malta has evidence of Stone Age settlement dating back c.4000 years. In c.850 bc, the Phoenicians colonized Malta. The Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans followed. In ad 395, Malta became part of the e Roman (Byzantine) Empire. In 870, the Arab invasion brought Islam, but Roger I, Norman King of Sicily, restored Christian rule in 1091. A succession of feudal lords ruled Malta until the early 16th century. In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor gave Malta to the Knights Hospitallers. In 1565, the Knights, who had fought in the Crusades, held Malta against a Turkish siege. In 1798, the French captured Malta but, with help from Britain, they were driven out in 1800. In 1814, Malta became a British colony and a strategic military base. In World War II, Italian and German aircraft bombed the islands. In 1942, in recognition of the bravery of the Maltese resistance, King George VI of Britain awarded the George Cross to Malta. In 1953, Malta became a NATO base. In 1964, Malta gained independence, and in 1974 it became a republic. Britain's military agreement with Malta expired in 1979, and all British forces withdrew. In 1990, Malta applied to join the European Community, but the newly-elected Malta Labour Party halted the application in 1997. The Nationalist Party, led by the pro-European Edward Adami, regained power in 1998.

Economy

Malta is an upper-middle-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$14,300), although it lacks natural resources. Machinery and transport equipment account for more than 50% of exports. Manufactures include chemicals, electronic equipment and textiles. The largest sector is services, especially tourism. The rocky soil makes farming difficult, and Malta produces only 20% of its food. Malta has a small fishing industry.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.gov.mt; http://www.discover-malta.com

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MALTA

MALTA. A Mediterranean island nation and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: Maltese/Malti, English (both official, English the medium of education), and Italian. Maltese, a variety of ARABIC with elements of several other Mediterranean languages, is the only Semitic language written in the Roman alphabet and used for official purposes in Europe. Malta was a Sicilian dependency from the late 11c and was controlled by the Knights of St John from 1530. It was a French colony from 1798 and a British colony from 1802, becoming self-governing in 1921, then an independent monarchy (with the Queen as head of state) in 1964, and a republic in 1974, the last British troops being withdrawn in 1979. Malta became a member of the EUROPEAN UNION in 2004. The use of English is widespread, especially in the cities.

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Malta

Malta

Culture Name

Maltese

Orientation

Identification. The Maltese archipelago consists of Malta, Gozo, Comino, Cominotto, and Fifla, plus a few minute limestone outcroppings. Over 92 percent of the inhabitants live on Malta, by far the largest island, and the rest live on Gozo except for a few farmers on Comino. Although all residents call themselves Maltese, people on Gozo also are called Gozitans. The earliest written reference to Malta is in the biblical account of Saint Paul's shipwreck.

Location and Geography. Malta is located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Sicily is 58 miles (93.3 kilometers) to the north, and Tunisia is 194 miles (312.5 kilometers) to the west. The territory of the three inhabited islands is 94.9 square miles (320 square kilometers).

Gozo has more greenery, and farming there is done on a larger scale. The environment has thin soil and scarce groundwater. Terracing is used to contain erosion in agricultural areas, and herding is confined mostly to Gozo. There is little wildlife besides insects and migratory birds.

Public buses reach large towns on Malta and Gozo, and regular ferry service connects the islands. Beaches, coves, grottoes, and fishing villages lie close to roadways, but in some places, the islands fall abruptly into the sea over rocks and cliffs or look out to it across elaborate medieval fortifications. A rainy season occurs in October through February, but the climate is mild year-round.

The Grand Harbor of Malta is dominated by Valletta, the national capital, whose construction was begun by the Knights of Saint John in 1566, a year after the defeat of the Great Siege by Ottoman Turkey. The capital of Gozo is Victoria.

Demography. The population as of July 1999 was 369,451, of whom 341,906 lived on Malta and 27,545 lived on Gozo except for a handful on Comino. Live births in that year were 4,826 for a birth rate of 13.1 per thousand. The fact that the estimated national population as of July 1999 was 381,603 indicates that it is continuing to grow. In part, this is because the emigration rate has been declining. Singapore is the only country more densely populated than Malta.

Linguistic Affiliation. Maltese is the only European language in the Afro-Asiatic family, which includes Arabic, Hebrew, Berber, and Hausa. Although its closest relationships are with the forms of Arabic spoken in Libya and Tunisia, its vocabulary has been strongly influenced by Sicilian. Written with a twenty-nine-letter alphabet, Maltese is universally understood by citizens and has only minimal dialectical variations. Educated Maltese often speak English, and many understand Italian.

Symbolism. Saint Paul is a powerful national symbol, as he is credited with converting the Maltese to Christianity. It is symbolic that the Maltese, under theocratic governance, fought in Crusades long after most other Europeans had abandoned them. Other symbols are Roman Catholicism, the Maltese cross, a strong European identity, and a siege mentality. Not only did Malta persevere during the Crusades, it was victorious against the Turks in 1565 and survived intense bombardment during World War II. Dolphins are also a national symbol.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Megalithic temples that predate the Egyptian pyramids, Bronze Age archaeological sites, Phoenician inscriptions, and Roman catacombs all contribute to a sense of nationhood. Maltese place particular emphasis on the nation that emerged after Christian conversion. The long-ruling Knights of Malta recruited their members from noble families throughout Europe while denying the Maltese entry into their ranks. As this order was able to maintain itself in Malta largely by keeping the nation on a continuous war footing, it was anachronistic at a time when Europeans in countries such as England and France were being introduced to the Industrial Revolution. Still, two centuries after Napoleon forced the Knights to leave Malta, chivalry, as well as pride in European and Catholic identity associated with a knightly and crusading heritage, impacts Maltese nationalism in fundamental ways.

National Identity. Maltese people celebrate the contributions to their culture of Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Normans, Sicilians, Swabians, Arogonese, Castilian, the Knights, and the British. Maltese claim little knowledge of or are ambivalent about the northern Africans who contributed the foundation of their language, however. The nation became independent in 1964, and became a republic in the British Commonwealth in 1974. Although identification with Europe remains strong, it has been tempered by a strong emphasis on nationalism and neutrality coupled with the idea of forming a cultural bridge between Europe and northern Africa.

Ethnic Relations. Malta is relatively homogeneous by modern standards. A Jewish community numbers about one hundred twenty, and settlers from India number about sixty. Perhaps six hundred Maltese are married to Arabs, mostly Libyans and Palestinians. There are a few Chinese as well as illegal immigrants from Bulgaria, Albania, and Russia.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Most buildings are constructed of limestone from domestic quarries, and many houses are identified by names rather than street addresses. Water is scarce, and residences have flat roofs to capture rainwater. Most houses lack lawns and are attached to each other in rows that nestle close to sidewalks or streets, which are often narrow. Some bedrooms may be entered only by passing through other bedrooms; their doors often are left open, with curtains providing some privacy. In both urban and rural areas, people tend to live in nucleated settlements surrounding a parish church.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. A heavy meal includes pasta, meat and vegetables, and dessert or fruit. Occasionally, a small bowl of soup called minestra begins the meal. Lampuki pie is a seasonal pastry-covered fish casserole containing spinach, cauliflower, chestnuts, and sultanas. Stuffed octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are served with a tomato sauce, while a roulade of beef known as bragoli is served with gravy. Stuffed poultry and baked pasta dishes are common. Among favorite finger foods are hot pastizzi, in which ricotta cheese, peas, meat, and anchovies are encased in a crust. The cuisine is seasonal.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Rabbit stewed in wine is a specialty, often with some of its sauce served over pasta as a first course. Tender lamb is eaten at Easter.

Basic Economy. The central Mediterranean location, moderate climate, beaches, and ports generate income and employment. Malta's decimal currency has the lira (LM) as its basic unit and one lira is equivalent to 100 cents. Over two-thirds of the population is employed in services, slightly less than one-third in industry, and about 3 percent in agriculture. Parts assembly is also important, and a single electronics firm produces two-fifths of industrial exports.

Tourism accounts for one-fourth to one-third of the gross national products (GDP) but employs a larger proportion of the population. Such employment peaks in the summer. The country annually attracts tourists equal to almost three times its population and television sets receive programming from abroad, making foreign cultural influences constant.

In the centralized capitalist economy, the state is the largest employer, with monopolistic control of utilities, fuel, the airline, the shipping line, shipyards and many factories and hotels. Agriculture accounts for about 3 percent of employment but about 4 percent of GDP. Despite a perennial trade deficit, the estimated 1998 GDP per capita of $13,000 was higher than that of Turkey, Portugal, and Greece.

Land Tenure and Property. As most houses are adjoined to others, many laws on land tenure and property relate to the competing rights of neighbors. A homeowner may legally compel a neighbor to maintain at joint expense a common wall between two courtyards or gardens, and neighbors are restricted from placing a stove or manure against common walls.

Trade. Important imports are machinery, fuel, and other products vital to the tourist industry, such as transportation equipment, live animals, food, tobacco, and chemicals. Exports also include chemicals and food. The European Community accounts for slightly more than three-quarters of foreign trade and most foreign investment.

Social Stratification

Nothing suggesting caste distinctions has existed in Maltese society since the expulsion of the ruling aristocratic knights and the freeing from enslavement of a small non-Maltese segment within the population. Despite traces of marginal variation based on heritage, Maltese society recognizes no entrenched ethnic divisions. Relative stratification is evident along the lines of higher education, economic status, comportment, and styles of dress, especially as found in rural areas.

Political Life

Government. The democratic government is highly centralized. The two major parties are the Nationalist Party, which stresses free enterprise and Christian democratic values, and the Malta Labour Party, which stresses income leveling, a mixed economy, and nonalignment. Until the Local Councils' Act in 1993 provided for limited local government, local authority was largely religious and centered in the parishes. There are sixty-seven local councils, which share power with the national government in social welfare, housing, town planning, sanitation, leisure, and traffic planning.

Social Problems and Control. The crime rate in Malta is low. Typical offenses are growing cannabis, circulating counterfeit money, theft, homicide, and entering the country illegally. The National Prison in Paola has seventy to eighty prisoners. The Juvenile Court is in the Centre for Social Welfare, which also houses the Commission against Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the Action Team on Violence against Women.

Military Activity. The tiny Armed Forces of Malta has land, sea, and air responsibilities for national security, surveillance, and assistance to civil authorities in emergencies. It is organized in a headquarters and three regiments. An amendment to the constitution in 1987 made Malta a "neutral State," and foreign forces may not serve on its territory.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

A social security system is supported by employee contributions, and benefits are available for injury or disability, surviving spouses, the support of dependent children, and pensions. The system also provides means-tested support for people in financial difficulty through the Social and Family Affairs Department, which also offers crisis intervention and counseling services in areas ranging from probation and rehabilitation to adoption and fostering. It also offers support to citizens who are physically and mentally challenged or abused and to the elderly.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Clubs exist for bands, plant lovers, and religious confraternities. There are also health- and disability-related organizations, single-parents groups, and professional, international, folklore, historical, social, and athletic organizations and teams.

Gender Roles and Statuses

That the literacy rate is equal for males and females in Maltese society (88 percent) suggests that both genders use education in carrying out their assigned roles in society. In the public domain of gainful employment, however, there exists less equivalence between the roles of married women and men than between those of single women and men. The public sector is where most Maltese are employed and, according to a long-standing tradition, women with government jobs were expected to resign upon getting married. That men as husbands and fathers should be the principal providers of material support for families has long been consistent with traditional Catholic values and has tended to be a status symbol among the middle and upper classes. However, the Constitution gives both genders equal rights in employment and, as there now exists within the Ministry of Social Development an Equal Status for Women department, more married women are employed than previously. The Soroptimist International of Malta has been making these and other changes for women.

The professions have long been open to both men and women in Malta although higher ecclesiastical positions are reserved for men. Women work as professors, physicians, nurses, reporters, editors, and legislators. In fact, approximately 15 percent of all persons elected to local councils nationwide are female.

Males and females are free to circulate in public without sanction. While it is still a common sight to see men gathered in piazzas or public squares near local churches socializing with each other on Sundays, until recently domestic chores restricted the time available to married women for leisure away from home. There continues to be considerable division of labor based on gender in households. For example, while some men may help to dry dishes and some boys take out rugs for spring cleaning, cooking as well as many other domestic chores generally is expected to be performed by females. Fathers are much less involved in the rearing of infants, especially female infants, than mothers, although the former may sometimes now be seen pushing a pram or carrying a child onto a bus.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Family connections are reckoned through both parents, but Maltese have closer emotional ties and more frequent contact through the maternal side. Matrilocal residence is considerably more common than patrilocal residence, although neolocal residence is preferred. A wife is legally obliged to obey her husband, reside where he wishes, and accept his surname. Children inherit the father's surname and often nickname. It is uncommon for single people to quit the parental residence at any age.

Marriage. Marriage is viewed as an opportunity for two groups of people to establish ties, and many status considerations come into play, with each side interested in obtaining prestige. The fact that women traditionally have been married with a dowry means that a family's status can rise and fall with the amount of the dowry. Cousin marriages are not socially preferred. Divorce is still not legal in Malta.

Domestic Unit. There is no tribal or lineage organization in families, although the offspring of the same maternal grandmother are typically friendly while she is still living. However, people often recognize that they are related to other people going back at least five generations when marriage decisions are made. Singlehood is not uncommon, and there are large communities of priests and nuns.

Inheritance. Only a husband and wife can make a joint will. Although spouses, children, and parents have certain rights to inherit, there are extreme cases in which they are deemed unworthy or may be disinherited. Members of religious orders may inherit only small life pensions and cannot dispose of property through wills.

Kin Groups. In ordinary conversation, Maltese do not often refer to family units larger than those descended from a particular grandparent or grandmother unless they are tracing their genealogy. After a mother dies, relations between her children are often not close. It is not uncommon for elderly parents or grandparents with living children to reside in homes for the elderly or infirm.

Socialization

Child Rearing and Education. Children sometimes are called by diminutives of their names. Christening takes place in church, usually about a week or two after birth. The parents select as godparents a married couple who are often relatives. A firstborn child may share the parents' bed for two or three years, but if there is an older sister, that child may sleep with her after a year or so. Child rearing is considered more a matter for women than for men. Parents generally prefer that their children attend single-gender schools.

After first communion at about age 6 or 7, a child is taken to church regularly. Confirmation takes place at about age 10, and at that time a child gets a third godparent, always of the same gender as the child. If a child is admitted to a good secondary school, it is considered a tribute to the family. Sex is a taboo subject, and puberty is not discussed in detail. Open courtship is not encouraged before age 18.

Higher Education. The University of Malta goes back to the 1592 founding of the Collegium Melitense, a college founded by the Jesuits mainly to educate students not intending to enter the Jesuit order. It has seven thousand students, including four hundred foreigners. Its ten faculties range from architecture and civil engineering to arts and theology. Associated with the university are fourteen institutes. Higher education is also available through the Archbishop's Seminary and the Foundation for Theological Studies.

Etiquette

Maltese culture defines correct behavior and comportment in a variety of ways depending on status, familiarity, age, and social connections. They range from reserved and courtly to warm and expressive. Whereas introductions and recommendations can open doors, presumptions of instant familiarity invite rebuff. Even business relationships are sometimes resented as manipulative if they do not unfold in a context of social intercourse. Invitations into homes for tea or dinner are considered special and non-routine occasions.

The wearing of scanty dress away from the beaches is not welcomed, nor is immodest dress inside of churches. Face-saving behavior is important in Maltese society, not only because of decorum and for the sake of maintaining the respect of individuals, but also to protect the honor of families. In contrast to nearby northern Africa, public hand holding among men and the veiling of women do not occur.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Over 98 percent of the population are Roman Catholics, who tend to be highly observant. The year is filled with important religious events, and all localities are identified with patron saints who are celebrated, somewhat competitively, with fireworks and festa pageantry, including processions. Numerous pilgrimages take place, including the annual Franciscan pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mellieha in May. In Valletta, there are a Greek Catholic church, a Greek Orthodox church, an Anglican cathedral, and a Jewish synagogue.

Death and the Afterlife. It is common to pray for the souls of the departed to assist those in Purgatory, and family members openly discuss the kinds of graves they are considering buying. A sharp distinction is made between a common grave and a family grave, which is considered more honorable. The average family grave has compartments for four or five coffins as well as a space below for bones when it is periodically "cleaned" by cemetery workers. It is considered improper to open a grave in less than a year even if another death occurs in the family.

Medicine and Health Care

The largest hospital is Saint Luke's Hospital with 900 beds; the Gozo General Hospital has 159 beds. There are also midwifery services and government dispensaries.

Secular Celebrations

Most celebrations have at least an indirect relationship to religion. Among those that may be considered secular are the pre-lenten Carnival, Independence Day (21 September), Republic Day (13 December), and the Spring Show of Flowers, Vegetables, and Fruits at San Anton Gardens that were established in the 17th century. Additionally, there are circuses, sports events, and activities associated with the theater as well as orchestral, rock, folkloric, and choral concerts.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. A long artistic tradition includes the making of furniture, jewelry in gold and silver, glass, sculpture, lace, tableware, dolls, ceramics, brassware, copperware, and miniature cribs and figurines as well as painting. Government involvement with the Valletta Crafts Centre and the Ta Ciali Crafts Village on Malta and the Ta Dbiegi Crafts Village in Gozo as well as its maintenance of the gilded and brocaded Manoel Theatre is important.

Literature. Oral literature exists in the form of proverbs, folktales, and folk songs. The earliest known written literary work in Maltese is a poem entitled Cantilena , which was composed in the fifteenth century; a tradition of written literature emerged in the seventeenth century.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

At the University of Malta, areas of scientific research are numerous and include concentrations as varied as dental surgery, microelectronics, gender relations, religious movements, and linguistics.

Bibliography

Abela, Anthony M. Women and Men in the Maltese Islands: Statistics from the Census of Population and Housing, 1998.

Aquilina, Joseph. A Comparative Dictionary of Maltese Proverbs, 1972.

. Papers in Maltese Linguistics, 1970.

Black, Annabel, "Negotiating the Tourist Gaze." In Jeremy Boissevain, ed., Coping with Tourists: European Reactions to Mass Tourism, 1996.

Blouet, Brian. The Story of Malta, 1972.

Boissevain, Jeremy F. Hal-Farrug: A Village in Malta, 1969.

. Saints and Fireworks: Religion and Politics in Rural Malta, 1965.

Callus, Angela, ed. Il-Mara Maltija wara s-Sena 2000 [The Maltese Woman after 2000], 1998.

Caruana, Carmen M. Education's Role in the Socioeconomic Development of Malta, 1992.

Council of Europe Publishing. Structure and Operation of Local and Regional Democracy: Malta Situation in 1997, 1997.

Earle, Peter. Corsairs of Malta and Barbary, 1970.

Evans, J. D. The Prehistoric Antiquities of the Maltese Islands: A Survey, 1971.

Findlay, Ronald, and Stanislaw Wellisz. "Malta." In Ronald Findlay and Stanislaw Wellisz, eds., Five Small Open Economies, 1993.

Galley, Micheline, ed. Maria Calleja's Gozo, 1994.

Goodwin, Stefan C. "Dimensions of Social Stratification in the Maltese Islands." In Proceedings of the Alpha Kappa Delta Sociological Research Symposium, 1977.

Koster, Adrianus. "Clericals versus Socialists: Toward the 1984 Malta School War." In Eric R. Wolf, ed., Religious Regimes and State-Formation: Perspectives from European Ethnology, 1991.

Mahoney, Leonard. 5000 Years of Architecture in Malta, 1996.

Pons, Connie Attard. Manjieri Tajba Fis-Socjeta' [Good Manners in Society], 1961.

Price, Charles A. Malta and the Maltese: Study in Nineteenth Century Migration, 1954.

Sire, H. J. A. The Knights of Malta, 1994.

Trump, D. H. Malta: An Archaeological Guide, 1972.

Stefan Cornelius Goodwin

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Malta

Malta. The island of Malta, of great strategic significance, lies 60 miles south of Sicily: it is 17 miles in length and 9 across. Malta was acquired by Britain at the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1814, having belonged to the Knights of St John from 1530. From 1940, when Italy entered the Second World War, it was subjected to constant bombing until 1943 and received the George Cross as a tribute. It became independent in 1964 and was declared a republic in 1974. The grand harbour in Valletta is capacious but the main resource today is tourism. Malta became a member of the European Union in 2004.

J. A. Cannon

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Malta

Maltaaorta, daughter, exhorter, exporter, extorter, Horta, importer, mortar, porter, quarter, slaughter, snorter, sorter, sporter, supporter, three-quarter, torte, transporter, underwater, water •altar, alter, assaulter, defaulter, falter, Gibraltar, halter, Malta, palter, psalter, salter, vaulter, Walter •flaunter, haunter, saunter, taunter, vaunter •exhauster, Forster •fraudster • granddaughter •stepdaughter • manslaughter •ripsnorter • pole-vaulter • backwater •headquarter • freshwater •breakwater • rainwater • seawater •dishwater • tidewater • Whitewater •saltwater • rosewater • shearwater •firewater •doubter, grouter, outer, pouter, scouter, shouter, spouter, touter •counter, encounter, mounter •jouster, ouster •revcounter •bloater, boater, Botha, Dakota, doter, emoter, floater, gloater, iota, Kota, Minnesota, motor, promoter, quota, rota, rotor, scoter, voter •bolter, coulter (US colter), Volta •boaster, coaster, poster, roaster, toaster •roadster • oldster •bolster, holster, pollster, soulster, upholster •billposter

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Malta

MALTA

MALTA , Mediterranean island. That Jews were present there in Roman times is attested by the discovery of a catacomb with the symbol of the *menorah. There must have been a community under Arab rule (870–1090) and in 1240 there were 25 Jewish families there and eight in the neighboring island of Gozo. During the Middle Ages the two islands were part of the Kingdom of Sicily, and a great deal is known of their history from materials preserved in the Sicilian archives. The communities came to an end with the expulsion of the Jews from Sicily in 1492. From 1530 to 1798 the islands were ruled by the Knights of St. John, who in the course of their forays against the Muslims captured and brought back to Malta large numbers of Jewish prisoners. The Societies for Redeeming the *Captives (Ḥevrot Pidyon Shevuyim) in Venice and elsewhere were mainly engaged in raising funds for ransoming the Jewish prisoners in Malta, where the Venetian society kept a permanent Christian agent. Under the latter's auspices, the Jewish slaves were able to maintain a synagogue for worship, and there was also a cemetery. A regular community, mainly deriving from North Africa, began to develop during the last days of the rule of the Knights and under British rule (from 1800). In 1804 the *blood libel raised against the handful of Jews was firmly suppressed by the English poet S.T. Coleridge, then colonial secretary on the island. The community remained small, numbering 16 families in 1968 and 60 Jews in the mid-1990s. A synagogue was opened in Valetta in 1984.

[Cecil Roth]

Relations with Israel

Israel established friendly relations and cooperation with Malta even before the latter achieved independence in 1964. In the late 1950s the leader of the Maltese Labor Party, Dom Mintoff, tried to mediate between Israel and Egypt, albeit unsuccessfully. In 1966 an Israel embassy was established with a resident chargé d'affaires, while Israel's ambassador in Rome also serves as nonresident ambassador to Malta. Israel experts assisted in the development of dairy, poultry, and afforestation projects. Trade with Malta has been modest.

bibliography:

C. Roth, The Jews of Malta (1931; = offprint from jhset, 12 (1928–31), 187–251); S. Assaf, Be-Oholei Ya'akov (1943), 107–15; Roth, Mag Bibl, 113; idem, Personalities and Events (1961), 112–35.

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Malta

Malta

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the November 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Malta

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 316 sq. km. (122 sq. mi.); about twice the size of the District of Columbia.

Cities: Valletta (capital), Sliema, Birkirkara.

Terrain: Low hills.

Climate: Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Maltese.

Population: (2007) 401,880.

Ethnic groups: Caucasian Maltese.

Religions: (2003) Roman Catholic,98%.

Languages: Maltese, English.

Education: (2003) Years compulsory—until age 16. Attendance—96%. Literacy—93%.

Health: (2007) Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)—3.82. Life expectancy at birth—males 76.95, females 81.47 (2007 est.)

Work force: (2007 est.) 145,768; public sector 29%, services 43%, manufacturing 17.6%, construction and quarrying 8.0%, agriculture and fisheries 2.4%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1964. Constitution: 1964; revised 1974; revised 1987.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Representatives. Judicial—Constitutional Court.

Political subdivisions: 13 electoral districts

Political parties: Nationalist Party, Malta Labor Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party), Azzjoni Nazzjonali (National Action).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $6.39 billion.

Annual growth rate: 5.5% (at 2006 market prices), 2.9% (2006 real terms).

Per capita income: $15,165.

National resources: Limestone, salt.

Services: (75% of GDP).

Industry: (22.5% of GDP) Types—, semiconductors, electronics, information and communications technology, shipbuilding and repair, rubber and plastic products, toys, jewelry, food, beverages.

Agriculture: (2.5% GDP) Products—fodder crops, potatoes, onions, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables.

Trade: (2006) Exports—$2.79 billion: Types—machinery and transport equipment, miscellaneous manufactured articles, chemicals, semi-manufactured goods, food, mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials, beverages and tobacco, crude materials. Major markets—Eurozone area, U.S., Singapore. Imports—$4.24 billion: Types—Machinery and transport equipment, miscellaneous manufactured articles, semi-manufactured goods, food, mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, chemicals, beverages and tobacco, crude materials, miscellaneous transactions and commodities. Major suppliers—Euro-zone area, U.K., Singapore, U.S.

Trade balance (2006) $1.48 billion.

Budget: (2007 revised estimates) Revenues $2.86 billion; expenditures $3 billion; capital expenditures of $383 million.

Exchange rate: (2006) LM1=$2.930 (rate fluctuates)

PEOPLE

Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 3,000 inhabitants per square mile (1,160 per square kilometer). This compares with about 55 per square mile (21 per square kilometer) for the United States. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Malta was first col-

onized by the Phoenicians. Subsequently, Romans, Arabs, Normans, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, and the British have influenced Maltese life and culture to varying degrees. Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or retired British nationals and their dependents, centers around Sliema and surrounding suburbs. There is also a growing North African community of about 4,000 (2007). The Constitution establishes Roman Catholicism as the religion of Malta; however, it also guarantees full liberty of conscience and freedom of worship and a number of faiths have places of worship on the island. Malta has two official languages—Maltese (a Semitic language with much vocabulary borrowed from Sicilian Italian) and English. The literacy rate has reached 93%, compared to 63% in 1946. Schooling is compulsory until age 16.

HISTORY

Malta was an important cultic center for earth-mother worship in the 4th millennium B.C. Archeological work shows a developed religious center there, including the world's oldest free-standing architecture, predating that of Sumer and Egypt. Malta's written history began well before the Christian era. The Phoenicians, and later the Carthaginians, established ports and trading settlements on the island. During the second Punic War (218 B.C.), Malta became part of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule, in A.D. 60, Saint Paul was shipwrecked on Malta.

In 533 A.D. Malta became part of the Byzantine Empire and in 870 came under Arab control. Arab occupation and rule left a strong imprint on Maltese life, customs, and language. The Arabs were driven out in 1090 by a band of Norman adventurers under Count Roger of Normandy, who had established a kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily. Malta thus became an appendage of Sicily for 440 years. During this period, Malta was sold and resold to various feudal lords and barons and was dominated successively by the rulers of Swabia (now part of Germany), Aquitaine (now part of France), Aragon (now part of Spain), Castile (now part of Spain), and Spain.

In 1522, Suleiman II drove the Knights of St. John out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe and after repeated requests for territory to Charles V, in 1530 the Knights were given sovereignty of Malta under the suzerainty of the Kings of Sicily. In 1523, a key date in Maltese history, the islands were ceded by Charles V of Spain to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. For the next 275 years, these famous “Knights of Malta” made the island their domain. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. After several months the Knights and the Maltese population prevailed and the Turks withdrew. Over the years, the power of the Knights declined, however, and their rule of Malta ended with their peaceful surrender to Napoleon in 1798.

The people of Malta rose against French rule, which lasted two years, and with the help of the British evicted them in 1800. In 1814, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the United Kingdom, the island became a military and naval fortress, the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet. During World War II, Malta survived relentless raids from German and Italian military forces (1940-43). A crucial moment in Maltese history was August 15, 1942, when five out of 14 vessels that formed part of “Operation Pedestal”, and that included the American tanker SS Ohio, broke through the Nazi blockade of Malta to deliver fuel and food to the starving population. The arrival of the vessels was the turning point in the Maltese islands’ fate and became known as the Santa Marija Convoy, for the August 15 Feast of the Assumption locally known as Santa Marija. In recognition, King George VI in 1942 awarded the George Cross “to the island fortress of Malta—its people and defenders.” President Franklin Roosevelt, describing the wartime period, called Malta “one tiny bright flame in the darkness—a beacon of hope for the clearer days which have come.” In September 1943, the Italian fleet's surrender in Malta was signed by U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio. Victory Day, celebrated on September 8, commemorates victory in the 1565 Great Siege, and the end of the WWII attacks in Malta. Malta obtained independence on September 21, 1964, became a Republic on December 13, 1974, and a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. The last British forces left in March 1979.

GOVERNMENT

Under its 1964 constitution, Malta became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II was Malta's sovereign, and a governor general exercised executive authority on her behalf, while the actual direction and control of the government and the nation's affairs were in the hands of the cabinet under the leadership of a Maltese prime minister.

On December 13, 1974, the constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in a Maltese president. The president is appointed by parliament. In turn, he appoints as prime minister the leader of the party that wins a majority of seats in a general election for the unicameral House of Representatives.

The president also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the prime minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government departments. The cabinet is selected from among the members of the House of Representatives, the number of which may vary between 65 and 69 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. The Constitution provides for general elections to be held at least every five years. Candidates are elected by the Single Transferable Vote system, where the surplus votes of an elected candidate are transferred to the candidate receiving the second preference votes. The process of vote transfers continues until all five candidates for a district are elected.

Malta's judiciary is independent. The chief justice and 18 judges, one of whom is currently serving in an international court, are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There is a civil court, a family court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of various boards and tribunals, including the Industrial, Small Claims, and Consumers’ Tribunal. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. There are also inferior courts presided over by a magistrate. The Local Councils Act, 1993 divided Malta into 68 localities, 14 of them in the smaller island of Gozo. Councilors are elected every three years by inhabitants who are registered as voters in the Electoral Register.

Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The Mayor is the head of the Local Council and the representative of the Council for all effects under the Act. The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the Council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the Council. Local Councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, local wardens, and refuse collection; they carry out general administrative duties for the Central Government, such as collection of Government rents and funds and answering Government-related public inquiries. The Act also provides for Councils to make, amend and revoke by-laws as necessary for the better execution of the Councils’ functions and to improve the localities’ environment.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Edward FENECH ADAMI

Prime Min.: Lawrence GONZI

Dep. Prime Min.: Tonio BORG

Min. for Competitiveness & Communications: Censu GALEA

Min. of Education, Youth, & Employment: Louis GALEA

Min. for the Family & Social Solidarity: Dolores CRISTINA

Min. of Finance: Lawrence GONZI

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Michael FRENDO

Min. for Gozo: Giovanna DEBONO

Min. of Health, the Elderly, & Community Care: Louis DEGUARA

Min. for Justice & Home Affairs: Tonio BORG

Min. for Investment, Industry, & Information Technology: Austin GATT

Min. for Resources & Infrastructure: Ninu ZAMMIT

Min. for Rural Affairs & the Environment: George PULLICINO

Min. for Tourism & Culture: Francis ZAMMIT DIMECH

Min. for Urban Development & Roads: Jesmond MUGLIETT

Governor, Central Bank: Michael BONELLO

Ambassador to the US:

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York:

Malta maintains an embassy in the United States at 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-462-3611).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Two parties dominate Malta's polarized and evenly divided politics—the Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, and the Malta Labor Party, led by Alfred Sant. Elections invariably generate a widespread voter turnout exceeding 96%. The margin between the two parties is so narrow that a 52% share of the votes is considered a “landslide” for the winning party. Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party) is the smallest political party. It has not managed to secure a parliamentary seat since its inception in 1989. A new independent political party, Azzjoni Nazzjonali (National Action), is expected to make its debut in the upcoming elections that must take place by August 2008.

A 2003 referendum resulted in a 54% majority popular vote in favor of membership in the European Union. The Prime Minister called an early election in April 2003 for a definite mandate from the electorate. The Nationalists returned to power with 51.8% and 35 seats for a second term, and EU membership was confirmed. The Labor party earned 47.5% and 30 seats, Alternattiva Demokratika had 0.7%, and independent candidates were negligible. Voter turnout was 96%. In 2004, the prime minister and long-time leader of the Nationalist Party, Eddie Fenech Adami, resigned. Following his election as Nationalist Party leader, Lawrence Gonzi officially became the Prime Minister of Malta on March 22, 2004.

Eddie Fenech Adami assumed the Presidency of Malta on April 4, 2004..The first elections of European Parliament MPs were held on June 12, 2004 and resulted in the election of two candidates from the governing Nationalist Party and three from the Opposition Malta Labor Party. In 1987, the Maltese constitution was amended to ensure that the party that obtained more than 50% of the popular vote would have a majority of seats in parliament and would thereby form the government. Other amendments made at that time stipulate Malta's neutrality status and policy of nonalignment and prohibit foreign interference in Malta's elections.

ECONOMY

During the first eight months of 2007, economic growth increased by 3.6%. Possessing few indigenous raw materials and a very small domestic market, Malta has based its economic development on the promotion of tourism, accounting for roughly 30% of GDP, and exports of manufactured goods, mainly semi-conductors, which account for some 75% of total Maltese exports. Since the beginning of the 1990s, expansion in these activities has been the principal engine for strong growth in the Maltese economy.

Tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings derived from tourism have steadily increased since the late 1970s. The introduction of low-cost flights in 2007 was the main contributor to the 7.6% increase in tourist arrivals since January 2007. Many cruise lines have also added Malta as a destination in 2007, and the sector has seen a 26.6% increase since January 2007. The relatively flexible labor markets kept unemployment fairly steady at 3.9% between January-June 2007. With its highly educated, English-speaking population, Malta has seen growth in high value-added manufacturing and in the services sector, away from the traditional low-cost manufacturing in textiles. The banking system remains highly concentrated with two of the four local commercial banks accounting for about 90% of total loans and deposits.

The Maltese Government has pursued a policy of gradual economic liberalization, taking some steps to shift the emphasis in trade and financial policies from reliance on direct government intervention and control to policy regimes that allow a greater role for market mechanisms. Malta's accession into the EU marked the total dismantling of protective import levies on industrial products, increasing the outward orientation of the economy. Malta joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERM-II) in 2005 to put itself on the path to enter the Eurozone in January 2008; under the ERM-II, the Maltese Lira has maintained a hard peg to the Euro. In July 2007, the European Economic and Financial Council voted to approve Malta's entry to the Eurozone for January 1, 2008.

The fiscal situation in consolidating public finances has improved over recent years. The budget deficit was brought down from 10.7% of GDP in 1998 to 2.5% of GDP in 2006, a figure that was below the 3% required by the Maastricht criteria. For this reason the European Commission abrogated the excessive deficit procedure for Malta earlier in 2007. The budget deficit for 2007 is estimated to be 1.6% of GDP.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Malta's diplomatic and consular representation includes accreditation to 152 foreign countries and international organizations. Malta is host to 20 resident diplomatic missions, and 112 countries have non-resident diplomatic representation.

With its central location in the Mediterranean, Malta has long portrayed itself as a bridge between Europe and North Africa, particularly Libya, with whom it has enjoyed positive diplomatic and commercial ties. Malta is one of the southernmost points of the European Union. Malta continues to be an active participant in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, OSCE, and various other international organizations.

In these fora, Malta has frequently expressed its concern for the peace and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The Nationalist Party government is continuing a policy of neutrality and nonalignment but in a Western context. The government desires close relations with the United States, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. U.S. Navy ships resumed liberty calls in 1992 and currently visit on a regular basis.

U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS

Malta and the United States established full diplomatic relations upon Malta's independence in 1964; overall relations are currently active and cordial. The United States has been sympathetic to Malta's campaign to attract private investment, and some firms operating in Malta have U.S. ownership or investment. These include major hotels, manufacturing and repair facilities, and some offices servicing local and regional operations.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

VALLETTA (E) 3 St. Anne's Street, Floriana, [356] 2561-4000, Fax [356] 2124-3229, Workweek: 8:00-4:30, Website: http://malta.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Renee Macewen
AMB OMS:Jo Jurkiewicz
COM/CON:Matthew Scott
CON/POL ECO:Monica Cummings
ECO:Noah Hardie
HRO:Marietta Bartoletti
MGT:Marietta Bartoletti
POL ECO:Monica Cummings
AMB:Molly Bordonaro
CON:Eric Catalfamo
DCM:Jason Davis
PAO:Cynthia Ehrlich
GSO:Joseph Runyon
RSO:Jonathan Kazmar
CLO:Lisa Hamlin
DAO:CDR Philip Munaco
FMO:Marietta Bartoletti
ICASS:Chair Gerald McKinnon
IMO:Bruce Macewen
IRS:Kathy J. Beck
ISO:Terry Poczak
ISSO:Bruce Macewen

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

July 6, 2007

Country Description: Malta is a small, developed, democratic Mediterranean island nation, positioned as a cultural stepping-stone between Europe and North Africa. Malta became a member of the European Union, with nine other new member states, on May 1, 2004. Tourist facilities of all categories are widely available.

Entry Requirements: A valid passport is required. American citizens do not need a visa to travel to Malta for business or pleasure for up to 90 days. That 90-day period begins with entry to any of the “Schengen group” countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. Multiple visits to Schengen countries may not exceed 90 days in any 6 month period.

For the most current information concerning entry requirements for Malta, travelers should contact the Embassy of Malta at 2017 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008, tel: (202) 462-3611 or the Maltese Consulate in New York City, tel: (212) 725-2345.

Note: Although European Union regulations require that non-EU visitors obtain a stamp in their passport upon initial entry to a Schengen country, many borders are not staffed with officers carrying out this function. If an American citizen wishes to ensure that his or her entry is properly documented, it may be necessary to request a stamp at an official point of entry. Under local law, travelers without a stamp in their passport may be questioned and asked to document the length of their stay in Schengen countries at the time of departure or at any other point during their visit, and could face possible fines or other repercussions if unable to do so.

Safety and Security: No indigenous terrorist or extremist groups are known to be active in Malta, and no foreign terrorist organization has carried out an attack against U.S. interests in Malta in recent years.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Malta has a low rate of violent crime. Property crime is also relatively low but on the rise in recent years. Theft of unattended personal property and car stereos from vehicles is a common problem. Visitors are strongly encouraged to secure their valuables and be aware of pickpockets and purse snatchers. Such criminals focus on areas and establishments frequented by tourists. Caution is particularly urged in the Paceville nightclub area, where excessive drinking and poor crowd control have led to instances of violent behavior. Poverty, homelessness and panhandling are almost non-existent in Malta. All visitors to Malta should practice the same good, common sense personal security practices that are part of everyday life in urban areas within the U.S., particularly when spending time in areas frequented by tourists.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. The crime victim's assistance agency is APPOGG’-Support Line, tel: 179; web site: www.appogg.gov.mt. Police Emergency Number: tel: 191; Ambulance: tel: 196; Fire Brigade: tel 199.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is available through public and private hospitals. The quality of medical care in Malta is excellent. Private hospitals generally offer a higher standard of service than the public hospitals, and the majority of the best doctors practice in private medical facilities.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malta is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Traffic in Malta flows on the left, requiring attentiveness and caution from visitors from right-hand drive countries such as the United States. In addition, drivers may be erratic or undisciplined. Roads flood easily, and are often narrow, winding, and congested, with poor visibility around curves. Traffic arteries are prone to bottlenecks and accidents.

Buses are the primary means of public transportation. Though the bus fleet is being modernized, most buses are old, cramped, and not air-conditioned. Taxis are safe but expensive and are not metered; it is a good practice to agree with the driver in advance on the charge.

There is a Malta Tourist Information Office located at Freedom Square Valletta, Tel. No. 21-237-747, web site: www.mta.co.mt. Road safety information can be obtain through the Ministry for Urban Development & Roads web site at www.mudr.gov.mt.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malta's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Malta's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Malta customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning currency restrictions and temporary importation into or export from Malta of items such as firearms, antiquities, and any item that might be deemed to have resalable value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Malta in Washington or the Consulate of Malta in New York City for specific information regarding customs requirements. Malta's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/ or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters located at U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send e-mail to atacarnet @uscib.org or visit htpp://uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Malta's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malta are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Malta are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Malta. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is on the third floor of the Development House, St. Anne Street, Floriana, Valletta, telephone (356) 2561-4000. The Consular Section's telephone number is (356) 2156-4115, fax: (356) 2124-3229, web site: http://malta.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

August 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Adoption Authority: The adoption authority in Malta is:

Department for Social Welfare Standard
Adoption Unit, Ministry for Families
and Social Solidarity,
469, St. Joseph High Road
Santa Venera, Malta
Contact Person: Ms. Laura Aguis,
email: [email protected],
Telephone:
(356) 21441311; 21470877
Fax: (356) 21-447611

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptions in Malta are regulated by the Civil Code dating from 1962. The laws take into account developments in child welfare and suitability of pre-placement and placement. The following persons are eligible to apply to adopt a child:

  • Single persons who have reached the age of thirty and have not attained the age of sixty.
  • A couple who has been married and living together for at least five years. One of the spouses attained the age of thirty but has not reached the age of sixty.
  • Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must be residents of Malta.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Those interested in adoption in Malta should refer directly to the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity. For attorneys with relevant experience and expertise please consult the attorneys list on the American Embassy Website: http://valletta.usembassy.gov.

Adoption Fees: No processing fees are incurred in making use of the service of the Department of Family Welfare, Adoption Unit.

Adoption Procedures: Persons interested in adopting a child should seek the advice of the Department for Social Welfare on the proper procedures to be adopted. All prospective adoptive parents will be required to attend preparation group sessions and a subsequent assessment. The preparatory group sessions and assessment normally takes seven to ten weeks to complete.

A declaration of eligibility and suitability is issued in favor of applicants who are deemed eligible as stipulated by the Civil Code and by a social worker following submission of the home study report.

Required Documents:

  • Government issued certified copy of birth certificate/s from the Government of Malta Public Registry;
  • Government issued certified copy of marriage certificate from the Government of Malta Public Registry;
  • Certificate/s of conduct from the police;
  • Blood test for HIV and hepatitis;
  • Medical report/s by a family doctor on a form obtainable from the Adoption Unit;
  • Photos of the applicants: sized 40mm x 30mm, colored with a white background;
  • Statement of family income from the Government of Malta Inland Revenue Service for the previous tax year.

Embassy of Malta
2017 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 387-5470
E-mail:
[email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Embassy of the United States

Development House, 3rd Floor
St. Anne Street, Floriana,
Malta VLT 01
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 535, Valletta,
Malta, CMR 01
Telephone Numbers: (356) 2561 4000
Fax: (356) 21 243229
E-mail: [email protected]

Consulate General of the United States
Piazza della Repubblica
80122 Napoli, Italy
Tel. (+39) 081.5838.111
Fax (+39) 081.7611.869

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Malta may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Malta. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Malta

MALTA

Compiled from the September 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Malta


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

316 sq. km. (122 sq. mi.); about one-tenth the size of Rhode Island.

Cities:

Valletta (capital), Sliema.

Terrain:

Low hills.

Climate:

Subtropical summer; other seasons temperate. Mediterranean: hot dry summers, cool wet winters.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Maltese.

Population (2003):

399,867.

Annual growth rate (2003 est.):

0.65%.

Ethnic divisions:

Mixture of Arab, Sicilian, Norman, Spanish, Italian, English.

Religion (2003):

Roman Catholic, 98%.

Language:

Maltese, English.

Education (2003):

Years compulsory—until age 16. Attendance—96%. Literacy—93%.

Health (2003):

Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)—5.9. Life expectancy at birth—Males 76.4, Females 80.4.

Labor force (1st quarter 2004):

160,183; Public sector 27.1%; Services 43.3%; Manufacturing 19.4%; Construction & Quarrying 7.5%; Agriculture and fisheries 2.7%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Independence:

September 1964.

Constitution:

1964; revised 1974; revised 1987.

Branches:

Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Representatives. Judicial—Constitutional Court.

Administrative subdivisions:

13 electoral districts.

Political parties:

Nationalist Party, Malta Labor Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party).

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP (2003):

$4.85 billion.

Annual growth rate (2003):

1.6%.

Per capita income:

$12,173.

National resources:

Limestone, salt.

GDP composition by sector, 2002:

Services (74.6% of GDP). Industry (22.9% of GDP); Types—clothing, semiconductors, shipbuilding and repair, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, spectacle frames, toys, jewelry, food, beverages, tobacco products. Agriculture (2.5% GDP); Products—fodder crops, potatoes, onions, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables.

Trade (2003):

Exports—$2.63 billion. Types—Machinery and transport equipment, semi-conductors, clothing, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, bunker fuel. Major markets—U.S., Germany, France, U.K., Italy. Imports—$3.62 billion: finished and semi-finished goods, food and beverages, industrial supplies, petroleum and related products. Major suppliers—Italy, France, U.S., U.K., Germany.

Trade balance (2003):

$990 million.

Budget (2003):

revenues $2.47 billion; expenditures $2.42 billion, including capital expenditures of $224.3 million.

Average exchange rate (2003):

$1 = Lm 0.434 (rate fluctuates)


PEOPLE

Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 1,160 inhabitants per square kilometer (3,000 per sq. mi.). This compares with about 21 per square kilometer (55 per sq. mi.) for the United States. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Malta was first colonized by the Phoenicians. Subsequently, Romans, Arabs, Normans, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, and the British have influenced Maltese life and culture to varying degrees. Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or retired British nationals and their dependents, centers around Sliema and surrounding modern suburbs. There is also a growing North African Muslim community of about 3,000 (2003), many of whom are married to Maltese nationals. There have also been a number of Maltese nationals converting to Islam. Roman Catholicism is established by law as the religion of Malta; however, full liberty of conscience and freedom of worship is guaranteed, and a number of faiths have places of worship on the island. Malta has two official languages—Maltese (a Semitic-based language) and English. The literacy rate has reached 93%, compared to 63% in 1946. Schooling is compulsory until age 16.


HISTORY

Malta was an important cultic center for earth-mother worship in the 4th millennium B.C. Recent archeological work shows a developed religious center there long before those of Sumer and Egypt. Malta's written history began well before the Christian era. Originally the Phoenicians, and later the Carthaginians, established ports and trading settlements on the island. During the second Punic War (218 B.C.), Malta became part of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule, in A.D. 60, Saint Paul was shipwrecked on Malta at a place now called St. Paul's Bay.

In 533 A.D. Malta became part of the Byzantine Empire and in 870 came under Arab control. Arab occupation and rule left a strong imprint on Maltese life, customs, and language. The Arabs were driven out in 1090 by a band of Norman adventurers under Count Roger of Normandy, who had established a kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily. Malta thus became an appendage of Sicily for 440 years. During this period, Malta was sold and resold to various feudal lords and barons and was dominated successively by the rulers of Swabia, Aquitaine, Aragon, Castile, and Spain.

In 1522 Suleiman II drove the Knights of St. John out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe and after repeated requests for territory to Charles V, in 1530 the Knights were given sovereignty of Malta under the suzerainty of the Kings of Sicily. In 1523, a key date in Maltese history, the islands were ceded by Charles V of Spain to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. For the next 275 years, these famous "Knights of Malta" made the island their domain. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage. In 1565 Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. After several months the strength of the Knights and the Maltese population prevailed and the Turks were defeated. Over the years, the power of the Knights declined, however, and their rule of Malta ended with their peaceful surrender to Napoleon in 1798.

The people of Malta rose against French rule, which lasted two years, and with the help of the British evicted them in 1800. In 1814, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the United Kingdom, the island became a military and naval fortress, the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet. During World War II, Malta survived relentless raids from German and Italian military forces (1940-43). In recognition, King George VI in 1942 awarded the George Cross "to the island fortress of Malta—its people and defenders." President Franklin Roosevelt, describing the wartime period, called Malta "one tiny bright flame in the darkness." Malta obtained independence on September 21, 1964, became a Republic on December 13, 1974, and a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. The last British forces left in March 1979.


GOVERNMENT

Under its 1964 constitution, Malta became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II was sovereign of Malta, and a governor general exercised executive authority on her behalf, while the actual direction and control of the government and the nation's affairs were in the hands of the cabinet under the leadership of a Maltese prime minister.

On December 13, 1974, the constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in a Maltese president. The president is appointed by parliament. In turn, he appoints as prime minister the leader of the party with a majority of seats in the unicameral House of Representatives.

The president also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the prime minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government departments. The cabinet is selected from among the members of the House of Representatives, which consists of between 65 and 69 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. Elections must be held at least every five years. Candidates for any vacancies are determined by the majority of votes obtained by a candidate during the previous elections.

Malta's judiciary is independent. The chief justice and sixteen judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. There is a civil court, a commercial court, a family court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of the commercial court. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There also are inferior courts presided over by a magistrate.

The Local Councils Act, 1993 (Act XV of 1993) was published on 30 June

1993 subdividing Malta into 54 local councils and 14 in the small island of Gozo. Councils are elected every three years by inhabitants who are registered as voters in the Electoral Register. Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The Mayor is the head of the Local Council and the representative of the Council for all effects under the Act. The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the Council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the Council. Local Councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, local wardens, and refuse collection; they carry out general administrative duties for the Central Government, such as collection of Government rents and funds and answering Government-related public inquiries.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/11/2005

President: Edward FENECH ADAMI
Prime Minister: Lawrence GONZI
Dep. Prime Min.: Tonio BORG
Min. for Competitiveness & Communications: Censu GALEA
Min. of Education, Youth, & Employment: Louis GALEA
Min. for the Family & Social Solidarity: Dolores CRISTINA
Min. of Finance: Lawrence GONZI
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Michael FRENDO
Min. for Gozo: Giovanna DEBONO
Min. of Health, the Elderly, & Community Care: Louis DEGUARA
Min. for Justice & Home Affairs: Tonio BORG
Min. for Investment, Industry, & Information Technology: Austin GATT
Min. for Resources & Infrastructure: Ninu ZAMMIT
Min. for Rural Affairs & the Environment: George PULLICINO
Min. for Tourism & Culture: Francis ZAMMIT DIMECH
Min. for Urban Development & Roads: Jesmond MUGLIETT
Governor, Central Bank: Michael BONELLO
Ambassador to the US: John LOWELL
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Victor CAMILLERI

Malta maintains an embassy in the United States at 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-462-3611).


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Two parties dominate Malta's polarized and evenly divided politics—the Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, and the Malta Labor Party, led by Alfred Sant. Elections invariably generate a widespread voter turnout exceeding 96%. The margin between the two parties is so narrow that a 52% share of the votes can still be considered a "land-slide" for the winning party. Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party) is the smallest political party. It has not managed to secure a parliamentary seat since its inception in 1989.

A 2003 referendum resulted in a 54% majority popular vote in favor of membership in the European Union. The Prime Minister called an early election in April 2003 for a definite mandate from the electorate. The Nationalists returned to power with 51.8% and 35 seats for a second term, and EU membership was confirmed. The Labor party earned 47.5% and 30 seats, Alternattiva Demokratika had 0.7%, and independent candidates were negligible. Voter turnout was 97%.

On February 10, 2004, the prime minister and long-time leader of the Nationalist Party, Eddie Fenech Adami, resigned. Following his election as Nationalist Party leader, Lawrence Gonzi officially became the Prime Minister of Malta on March 22, 2004. Eddie Fenech Adami assumed the Presidency of Malta on April 4, 2004. The next general elections must take place before October 2008 at the latest. The first elections of European Parliament MPs were held on June 12, 2004 and resulted in the election of two candidates from the governing Nationalist Party and three from the Opposition Malta Labor Party. In 1987, the Maltese constitution was amended to ensure that the party that obtained more than 50% of the popular vote would have a majority of seats in parliament and would thereby form the government. Other amendments made at that time stipulate Malta's neutrality status and policy of nonalignment and prohibit foreign interference in Malta's elections.


ECONOMY

Possessing few indigenous raw materials and a very small domestic market, Malta has based its economic development on the promotion of tourism, accounting for roughly 30% of GDP, and exports of manufactured goods, mainly semi-conductors, which account for some 75% of total Maltese exports. Since the beginning of the 1990s, expansion in these activities has been the principal engine for strong growth in the Maltese economy.

Tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings derived from tourism have steadily increased since the late 1970s. Following the September 11 attacks, the tourist industry has suffered some setbacks worldwide. Maltese tourist arrivals fell by a cumulative 7% during 2001 and 2002.

At the same time, the bursting of the high tech bubble dampened exports and private investments.

Despite these adverse developments, the relatively flexible labor markets kept unemployment fairly steady at 7.2% (Labor Force Survey Jan - March 2004). Following a decline in GDP in 2001, a modest recovery began in 2002, with some improvements in the tourist sector in the second half of the year. Employment growth, however, remained weak.

The recent low economic growth coupled with corporate bond preference by the private sector has contributed to a weak demand for bank loans. Combined with the strong growth in deposits in the past couple of years, this has led to a rapid buildup of liquidity in the banking system and pressures to reduce interest rates that are fully liberalized. The banking system remains highly concentrated with two of the four local banks accounting for about 90% of total loans and deposits.

The Maltese Government has pursued a policy of gradual economic liberalization, taking some steps to shift the emphasis in trade and financial policies from reliance on direct government intervention and control to policy regimes that allow a greater role for market mechanisms. Malta's accession into the EU will mark the total dismantling of protective import levies on industrial products, increasing the outward orientation of the economy. Malta maintains a longstanding exchange rate peg to a basket of currencies—currently composed of the euro, pound sterling and dollar. The peg has delivered low inflation and served Malta well, especially during the period of liberalization.

The fiscal situation remains difficult despite some progress in consolidating public finances. The budget deficit was brought down from 10.7% of GDP in 1998 to 9.7% of GDP in 2003 (still high by EU standards), mainly through increases in tax rates and improved collection of taxes due. Current expenditures were reduced in the late 1990s but have crawled back up. The public sector wage bill and subsidies to public enterprises were mainly responsible for this increase. Substantial privatization proceeds have limited the increase in public debt, which grew from 24% of GDP in 1990 to almost 72.01% in 2003.

The Maltese Government is expected to shortly announce reforms to the pension and welfare system and reduce the public sector involvement in the economy as part of the medium-term fiscal consolidation plan. According to the Maltese government plans, the fiscal deficit is expected to go down to 3.5% of GDP by the end of 2005. Economic growth was 1.6% in 2003.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Malta's diplomatic and consular representation includes accreditation to 88 foreign countries and international organizations. Malta is host to 18 resident diplomatic missions, and 89 countries have non-resident diplomatic representation.

With its central location in the Mediterranean, Malta has long portrayed itself as a bridge between Europe and North Africa, particularly Libya, with whom it has enjoyed positive diplomatic and commercial ties. Malta now constitutes the southernmost flank of the European Union. Malta continues to be an active participant in the United Nations, the Commonwealth (in 2005 Malta will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), the Council of Europe, OSCE, the Non-Aligned Movement, and various other international organizations. In these fora, Malta has frequently expressed its concern for the peace and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The Nationalist Party government is continuing a policy of neutrality and nonalignment but in a Western context. The government desires close relations with the United States, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. U.S. Navy ships resumed liberty calls in 1992 and currently visit on a regular basis.


U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS

Malta and the United States established full diplomatic relations upon Malta's independence in 1964; overall relations are currently active and cordial. The United States has been sympathetic to Malta's campaign to attract private investment, and some firms operating in Malta have U.S. ownership or investment. These include major hotels, manufacturing and repair facilities, and some offices servicing local and regional operations.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

VALLETTA (E) Address: 3F St. Anne's Street, Floriana; Phone: [356] 2561-4000; Fax: [356] 2124-3229; Workweek: 8:00-4:30.

AMB:Molly Bordonaro
CM OMS:Jo Jurkiewicz
DCM:Bill Grant
DCM OMS:Deborah Klopp
POL:John Breen
CON:Michael Troje
MGT:Jonathan Schools
CLO:Vacant
DAO:Philip Munaco
ECO:Timothy Brisco
GSO:Isobel Miller
ICASS Chair:Vacant
IMO:Kelley Razer
ISSO:Kelley Razer
PAO:Jeffrey Anderson
RSO:Jonathan Kazmar
Last Updated: 8/17/2005/

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

June 29, 2005

Country Description:

Malta is a small, developed, democratic Mediterranean island, positioned as a cultural stepping-stone between Europe and North Africa. Malta became a member of the European Union with nine other member states on May 1, 2004. Tourist facilities of all categories are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for up to 90 days. Visit the Embassy of Malta web site at http://usembassy.state.gov/malta/for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

No indigenous terrorist or extremist groups are known to be active in Malta, and no foreign terrorist organizations have carried out an attack against U.S. interests in Malta in recent years.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Malta has a low rate of violent crime. Property crime is also relatively low but on the rise in recent years. Theft of unattended personal property and car stereos from vehicles is a common problem. Visitors are strongly encouraged to secure their valuables, and be aware of pick-pockets and purse snatches. Such criminals focus on areas and establishments frequented by tourist. Caution is particularly urged in the Paceville nightclub area, where excessive drinking and poor crowd control have led to instances of violent behavior. Poverty, homelessness and panhandling are almost non-existent in Malta. All visitors to Malta should practice the same good, common sense personal security practices that are part of everyday life in urban areas within the U.S., particularly when spending time in areas frequented by tourists.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care is available through public and private hospitals. The quality of medical care in Malta is excellent. Private hospitals generally offer a higher standard of service that the public hospitals, and most of the doctors practice in private medical facilities.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malta is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic in Malta flows on the left, requiring attentiveness and caution from visitors from right-hand drive countries such as the United States. In addition, drivers may be erratic or undisciplined. Roads flood easily, and are often narrow, winding, and congested, with poor visibility around curves. Traffic arteries are prone to bottlenecks and accidents. Buses are the primary means of public transportation. Though the bus fleet is being modernized, most busses are old, cramped, and not air-conditioned. Taxis are safe but expensive and are not metered; it is a good practice to agree with the driver in advance on the charge.

Visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.visitmalta.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malta as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Malta's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances:

Malta's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning currency restrictions and temporary importation into or export from Malta of items such as firearms, antiquities, and any item that might be deemed to have resalable value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Malta in Washington or the Consulate of Malta in New York City for specific information regarding customs requirements. Malta's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters located at U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected] or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Malta's, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malta are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Malta are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Malta. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the third floor of the Development House, St. Anne Street, Floriana, Valletta, telephone (356) 2561-4000. The Consular Section's telephone number is (356) 2156-4115, fax: (356) 2124-3229, website: http://usembassy.state.gov/malta/wwwhcons.html. The Consular Section is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

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Malta

Malta

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Maltese

35 Bibliography

The Republic of Malta

Repubblika Ta’ Malta

CAPITAL: Valletta

FLAG: The national flag consists of two equal vertical stripes, white at the hoist and red at the fly, with a representation of the Maltese Cross, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe.

ANTHEM: L’Innu Malti (The Maltese Hymn).

MONETARY UNIT: The Maltese lira (LM) consists of 100 cents, with each cent divided into 10 mils. There are coins of 2, 3, and 5 mils and of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and notes of 2, 5, 10, and 20 lira. Gold and silver coins of 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, and 100 lira also are in circulation. ml1 = $2.70270 (or $1 = ml0.37) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some local measures are still in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; National Day, 31 March; May Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; Republic Day, 13 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday.

TIME: 1pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Malta is a European island nation that lies in the central Mediterranean Sea. There are three main islands—Malta, Gozo, and Comino—as well as two small uninhabited islands, Cominotto and Filfla. Malta’s total area is 316 square kilometers (122 square miles), slightly less than twice the size of Washington, D.C. The total coastline is 252.81 kilometers (157 miles).

Malta’s capital city, Valletta, is located on the east coast of the island of Malta.

2 Topography

The islands of Malta are a rocky formation (chiefly limestone) rising from east to northeast, with clefts that form deep harbors, bays, creeks, and rocky coves. The highest point, Ta’Dmejrek (one of the Dingli Cliffs), rises to an elevation of 253 meters (830 feet). The lowest point is at sea level (Mediterranean Sea).

3 Climate

The climate is typically Mediterranean. The average low winter temperature is 10°c (50°f); the average high summer temperature is 29°c (84°f). Rainfall averages about 64 centimeters (25.2 inches) per year.

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi)

Size ranking: 186 of 194

Highest elevation: 253 meters (830 feet) at Ta’Dmejrek

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Mediterranean Sea

Land Use*

Arable land: 31%

Permanent crops: 3%

Other: 66%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 64 centimeters (25.2 inches)

Average temperature in January: (Valletta): 10–14°c (50–57°f)

Average temperature in July: (Valletta): 22–29°c (72–84°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

4 Plants and Animals

The islands are almost treeless. Vegetation is sparse and stunted. Carob and fig are endemic, while grapes, bay leaf, and olives have been cultivated for centuries. There are some rock plants.

The weasel, hedgehog, and bat are native to Malta. White rabbits and mice have been introduced. Many types of turtles, tortoises, and butterflies and several varieties of lizard also are found. Common varieties of Mediterranean fish, as well as the seal and porpoise, inhabit the surrounding waters.

5 Environment

Malta’s most significant environmental problems include inadequate water supply, deforestation, and danger to its wildlife. The nation’s agriculture suffers from lack of adequate water for crops due to limited rainfall. Currently, 31% of Malta’s land area is arable land and 3% is planted with permanent crops. In cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund, the Ghadira wetland area was made a permanent nature reserve in 1980. According to a 2006 report, threatened species included one type of mammal, ten species of birds, and eleven species of fish. Endangered species included the slender-billed curlew, Mediterranean monk seal, and the hawksbill and Atlantic ridley turtles.

6 Population

The population was estimated in 2005 at 405,000, and was projected to reach 396,000 in 2025. Malta is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with 1,254 people per square kilometer (3,247 per square mile). Valletta, the capital and chief port, had a population of 83,000 people in 2005.

7 Migration

High population and unemployment have led to emigration. Most foreigners living in Malta are British nationals and their dependents. Malta has no national refugee law. Thus, all recognized refugees are resettled in third countries. In 2004, there were 1,558 refugees in Malta, with 141 asylum seekers in that year. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was 2.06 migrants per 1,000 population. In 2000, the total number of migrants was 9,000.

8 Ethnic Groups

Most Maltese are believed to be descended from the ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians, but there are strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock.

9 Languages

Maltese, a Semitic language with Romance-language elements, is the national language and the language of the courts. Maltese and English are both official languages.

10 Religions

Roman Catholicism is the official state religion, but there is freedom of worship for all faiths. An estimated 95% of the population was Roman Catholic, with about 63% actively practicing. Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Bible Baptist Church also have active groups on the island. There is one Muslim mosque and one Jewish congregation. Zen Buddhism and the Baha’i faith are also represented.

11 Transportation

Malta has no railways. In 2003, there were 2,254 kilometers (1,402 miles) of roadways, of which 1,973 kilometers (1,227 miles) were paved. Passenger cars in 2003 totaled 200,509, while there were 44,586 commercial vehicles.

The harbors of Valletta, among the finest in the Mediterranean, are a port of call for many lines connecting northwestern Europe and the Middle and Far East. Roughly 3,000 ships dock at Valletta each year. The principal airport is at Luqa. The national air carrier is Malta Airlines. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), a total of 1,405,200 passengers were carried

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Lawrence Gonzi

Position: Prime minister of a parliamentary democracy

Took Office: 23 March 2004

Birthplace: Valletta, Malta

Birthdate: 1 July 1953

Education: Doctor of Laws, the University of Malta

Spouse: Catherine Callus

Children: Three children—David, Mikela and Paul

on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

12 History

The strategic importance of the island of Malta was recognized in ancient times, when it was occupied by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans. The apostle Paul was shipwrecked at Malta in ad 58, and the islanders were converted to Christianity within two years. With the official split of the Roman Empire in ad 395, Malta was assigned to Byzantium, and in ad 870 it fell under the domination of the Saracens.

Over the following centuries, Malta had several more occupiers, including the French and, finally, the British, who ousted Napoleon’s forces in 1800. British possession of Malta was confirmed in 1814 by the Treaty of Paris.

During almost the entire 19th century, a British military governor ruled the colony. The Maltese remained loyal to Britain in World War I (1914–18) and World War II (1939–45). For gallantry under heavy fire during the German-Italian siege (1940–43), the entire population was awarded the George Cross.

Although the Maltese enjoyed a great degree of self-government, they wanted complete independence, except in matters of defense and foreign affairs. Malta became a sovereign and independent nation within the British Commonwealth of Nations on 21 September 1964. At the same time, mutual defense and financial agreements were signed with the United Kingdom.

On 13 December 1974, Malta formally adopted a republican form of government, and the former governor-general, Sir Anthony Mamo, became the first president. Dom Mintoff, leader of the Malta Labor Party and prime minister from 1971 through 1984, adopted socialist measures domestically and initiated a non-aligned policy in foreign affairs. The Nationalists have been in power since 1987.

Maltese politics has revolved around foreign policy issues, in particular, Malta’s relationship with Europe. The Nationalist Party (NP) government was a strong advocate of European Union (EU) membership. In March 1999, Guido de Marco of the Nationalist Party was elected president by the House of Representatives. Having regained the post of prime minister, NP leader Fenech Adami moved to reactivate Malta’s EU membership application. Malta was one of ten new candidate countries formally invited to join the EU in December 2002. Malta held its referendum on EU membership on 8 March 2003, with 53.6% voting in favor of joining the body. On 1 May 2004, Malta officially became a member of the EU.

On 12 April 2003, elections were held that gave the NP 35 seats in the House of Representatives, with 30 seats going to the Labor Party. The House then elected Eddie Fenech Adami president on 29 March 2004, with former deputy prime minister Lawrence Gonzi taking over the position of prime minister. The next legislative elections were scheduled for April 2008, followed by presidential elections in 2009.

13 Government

The single-chamber parliament, the House of Representatives, consists of 65 members elected for a 5-year term by universal adult suffrage (vote). The House elects the head of state, called the President of the Republic, who in turn appoints the prime minister, who is the leader of the majority party, and is responsible for the general direction and control of the government.

Local government was established in 1993 with the approval of the Local Councils Act, setting up 68 local councils in Malta. There are 54 local councils on the main island of Malta, and 14 in Gozo.

14 Political Parties

There are two major political parties, the Nationalist Party (NP) and the Malta Labor Party (MLP), which have alternated in political power. The MLP regained a majority in 1996 after nine years of NP control, only to lose it again in the elections of 1998. The MLP desires closer ties with Libya, whereas the NP wants to strengthen its ties to Europe. In April 2004, legislative elections gave the NP control of the House of Representatives, which won 35 seats, while the MLP held 30 seats. Parties not represented in the legislature were the Malta Communist Party (PKM), the Democratic Alternative (AD), and the Malta Democratic Party (PDM).

15 Judicial System

The superior courts consist of the Constitutional Court, two courts of appeal, the civil court, court of magistrates, criminal court, and special courts.

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

16 Armed Forces

The armed forces of Malta numbered 2,237 active personnel in 2005. The defense budget for that same year totaled $48.5 million.

17 Economy

Until 1964, the dominant factor in the economy was the presence of British military forces. Malta’s economy now relies on light industry, tourism, and other service industries. In 2005, it was estimated that agriculture contributed 3% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), with industry accounting for 23%, and services 74%. In recent years, the Maltese economy’s performance has been lackluster. GDP was estimated to have grown only 1% in 2005, with unemployment estimated at 7.8%.

18 Income

In 2005, Malta’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $7.5 billion, or about $18,800 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP that same year was estimated at 1%. The average inflation rate was estimated at 3% in 2005.

19 Industry

Malta’s principal industries are shipbuilding (including maintenance and repairs), food processing, electronics, footwear, and textiles and clothing. Other products include beverages, tobacco products, lace, metals, rubber products, and plastic goods. Industry (including ship building and repair) accounted for 23% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005.

20 Labor

The workforce in 2005 was estimated at 160,000. In that same year, services accounted for 75% of employment, while 22% were engaged in industry and the remaining 3% in agriculture. The unemployment rate in 2005 was estimated at 7.8%. About 63% of Malta’s workers were unionized in 2002.

The legal minimum working age is 16, and this is effectively enforced by the government. In 2002, the weekly minimum wage was $112 for adults.

21 Agriculture

Agriculture is carried out in small fields, consisting usually of strips of soil between rocks. In 2003, the total area under cultivation was about 11,000 hectares (27,200 acres). Most farms are

small. Wheat, barley, and grapes are the principal crops for domestic consumption. Potatoes, onions, wine, cut flowers, seeds, and fruit are the chief export crops. The total value of agricultural crops exported in 2004 was estimated at $76 million, while agricultural imports amounted to nearly $400.3 million that year.

22 Domesticated Animals

Malta’s livestock population in 2005 included 17,900 head of cattle, 73,000 pigs, 14,900 sheep, 5,400 goats, and 1 million poultry. Total meat production in 2005 was 18,838 tons, half of it pork.

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

23 Fishing

Fishing is for local consumption. In 2003, the total catch was 2,019 tons. Principal species included gilthead seabream, European seabass, dolphinfish, and bluefin tuna.

24 Forestry

There are no forests on the islands. In 2004, a total of $85 million in forest products were imported.

25 Mining

In 2004, Malta produced 6,000 cubic meters of salt (obtained by the desalination of sea water), and 1.2 million cubic meters of limestone. Small amounts of cement, fertilizer, lime, and plaster were also produced.

26 Foreign Trade

Since it relies on external sources for much of its food, fuel, raw materials, and manufactured items, Malta imports more than it exports. Most of Malta’s commodity exports are electronic

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

microcircuits (62%). Other export commodities include clothes (5.9%), refined petroleum products (4.4%), and toys (4.3%). Principal trade partners were the United States, Singapore, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

In 2004, Malta’s exports were valued at $2.6 billion, while imports were valued at $3.4 billion that same year.

27 Energy and Power

Malta has no proven reserves of crude oil, natural gas, nor any refining capacity. As a result, the country is entirely dependent upon imported fuel to meet its energy needs. Production of electrical energy in 2002 was 1.929 billion kilowatt hours, all of it generated through the burning of fossil fuels.

28 Social Development

The National Insurance Act of 1956 provides benefits for sickness, unemployment, old age, widows, orphaned children, disability, and industrial injuries.

Women make up a growing portion of the labor force. However, they are often channeled into traditionally female occupations, or work in family-owned businesses, and remain under-represented at the management level. Working women generally earn less than men. Women have equality in matters of family law, although divorce is not legal.

The law requires government protection of all groups against economic, social, and political discrimination.

29 Health

Free health services are administered by the government-run polyclinics. British, Belgian, and other foreign nationals work in Malta’s hospitals. Average life expectancy at birth is 78.86 years. As of 2004, there were an estimated 320 physicians, 377 nurses, 40 dentists, and 192 pharmacists per 100,000 people.

Malta’s housing stock is marked by over abundance. In 2003, an estimated 52,000 homes were listed as vacant. Despite this, the government continues to issue more housing construction permits than is necessary. In addition, many homes are second homes, whose owners are not willing to offer affordable rents. About 94% of homes on Malta have cooking facilities, 98% have a refrigerator, 80% have a washing machine,

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorMalta Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$18,590 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate0.4% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land1,254 803032
Life expectancy in years: male77 587675
female81 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people3.2 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)n.a. 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)97.9% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people556 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people752 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)1,888 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)6.39 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

and 65% have a telephone. About 70% of all homes are owner-occupied.

31 Education

Primary education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16, and is free in the public schools. Maltese law requires that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church be included in the public school curriculum. In 2003, about 96% of all age-eligible students were enrolled in primary school, with 87% of all age-eligible students enrolled in secondary school. The pupil-teacher ratio for secondary school was about 10 to 1.

Institutes of higher education include the University of Malta, the International Maritime Law Institute, and the School of Art. As of 2003, about 30% of all age-eligible students were enrolled in some form of higher education. The adult literacy rate in 2004 was estimated at about 97.9%.

32 Media

In 2003, there were 208,300 mainline phones in use throughout the country, along with 290,000 mobile phones. As of 2001 there were 1 AM and 18 FM radio stations, and 6 television stations, plus 1 commercial cable television network. In 1997 (the latest year for which data was available), there were 255,000 radios and 280,000 televisions throughout the country. In 2002, there were 120,000 Internet users. In 2004, approximately 752 people per 1,000 population had access to the Internet.

Leading newspapers (with estimated 2002 circulations) are It-Torca (Maltese, 30,000 daily), L’Orizzont (Maltese, 25,000 weekly), the Times (English, 23,000 daily), and Il-Mument (Maltese, 25,000 weekly).

33 Tourism and Recreation

Tourism is a major industry, with 1,127,000 visitors in 2003, of whom 405 came from the United Kingdom. That same year, there were 41,365 beds available in hotels and other accommodations, with a 53% occupancy rate. There are many scenic and historic sites, especially in Valletta, plus excellent beaches. Soccer is the national sport, and billiards and snooker are popular pastimes.

34 Famous Maltese

The city of Valletta derives its nomenclature from Jehan Parisot de la Vallette (1494–1568), Grand Master of the Knights of Saint John, who successfully withstood a great Turkish siege in 1565. Dominic (Dom) Mintoff (1916–), a founder of Malta’s Labor Party, was prime minister during 1955–58 and 1971–84. Agatha Barbara (1923– 2002), a former cabinet minister, was elected the first woman president of Malta on 16 February 1982. Philip Attard (1962–) is a popular pianist and composer.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Berg, Warren G. Historical Dictionary of Malta. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Johnston, Shirley. Splendor of Malta. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001.

Sheehan, Sean. Malta. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2000.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/malta/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Commonwealth Country Profiles. www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=140157. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/eur/ci/mt/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.gov.mt. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/mt. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Malta

Malta

Compiled from the September 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Malta

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 316 sq. km. (122 sq. mi.); about twice the size of the District of Columbia. Cities: Valletta (capital), Sliema.

Terrain: Low hills.

Climate: Subtropical summer; other seasons temperate. Mediterranean: hot dry summers, cool wet winters.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Maltese.

Population: (2003) 399,867.

Annual growth rate: (2004 est.) 0.2% (real) 2.00% (current market price)

Ethnic groups: Caucasian Maltese.

Religion: (2003) Roman Catholic, 98%.

Languages: Maltese, English.

Education: (2003) Years compulsory—until age 16. Attendance—96%. Literacy—93%.

Health: (2003) Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)—29.0, Life expectancy at birth—Males 76.4, Females 80.4 (2004 est.

Labor force: (2004 est.) 145,220; Public sector 29%; Services 43%; Manufacturing 17.6%; Construction & Quarrying 8.0%; Agriculture and fisheries 2.4%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1964.

Constitution: 1964; revised 1974; revised 1987.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Representatives. Judicial—Constitutional Court.

Political subdivisions: 13 electoral districts

Political parties: Nationalist Party, Malta Labor Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2004) $5.32 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2004) 2.0%.

Per capita income: $13,600

National resources: Limestone, salt.

GDP composition by sector, 2002: Services: (75% of GDP). Industry: (22.5% of GDP); Types—clothing, semiconductors, shipbuilding and repair, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, spectacle frames, toys, jewelry, food, beverages, tobacco products. Agriculture: (2.5% GDP); Products—fodder crops, potatoes, onions, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables.

Trade: (2004) Exports—$2.64 billion. Types—Machinery and transport equipment, semi-conductors, clothing, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, bunker fuel. Major markets—France, U.S., Germany, U.K., Italy. Imports—$3.81 billion: finished and semi-finished goods, food and beverages, industrial supplies, petroleum and related products. Major suppliers—Italy, U.K., Germany, France, USA. Trade balance: (2003) $1.17 billion.

Budget: (2004) revenues $2.65 billion; expenditures $2.87 billion, including capital expenditures of $420.5 million.

Exchange rate: (2005) $1 = Lm 0.345 (rate fluctuates)

PEOPLE

Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 1,160 inhabitants per square kilometer (3,000 per sq. mi.). This compares with about 21 per square kilometer (55 per sq. mi.) for the United States. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Malta was first colonized by the Phoenicians. Subsequently, Romans, Arabs, Normans, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, and the British have influenced Maltese life and culture to varying degrees. Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or retired British nationals and their dependents, centers around Sliema and surrounding modern suburbs. There is also a growing North African Muslim community of about 4,000 (2003), many of whom are married to Maltese nationals. The Constitution establishes Roman Catholicism as the religion of Malta; however, it also guarantees full liberty of conscience and freedom of worship and a number of faiths have places of worship on the island. Malta has two official languages—Maltese (a Semitic-based language) and English. The literacy rate has reached 93%, compared to 63% in 1946. Schooling is compulsory until age 16.

HISTORY

Malta was an important cultic center for earth-mother worship in the 4th millennium B.C. Archeological work shows a developed religious center there long before those of Sumer and Egypt. Malta’s written history began well before the Christian era. Originally the Phoenicians, and later the Carthaginians, established ports and trading settlements on the island. During the second Punic War (218 B.C.), Malta became part of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule, in A.D. 60, Saint Paul was shipwrecked on Malta at a place now called St. Paul’s Bay.

In 533 A.D. Malta became part of the Byzantine Empire and in 870 came under Arab control. Arab occupation and rule left a strong imprint on Maltese life, customs, and language. The Arabs were driven out in 1090 by a band of Norman adventurers under Count Roger of Normandy, who had established a

kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily. Malta thus became an appendage of Sicily for 440 years. During this period, Malta was sold and resold to various feudal lords and barons and was dominated successively by the rulers of Swabia, Aquitaine, Aragon, Castile, and Spain.

In 1522 Suleiman II drove the Knights of St. John out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe and after repeated requests for territory to Charles V, in 1530 the Knights were given sovereignty of Malta under the suzerainty of the Kings of Sicily. In 1523, a key date in Maltese history, the islands were ceded by Charles V of Spain to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. For the next 275 years, these famous “Knights of Malta” made the island their domain. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage. In 1565 Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. After several months the strength of the Knights and the Maltese population prevailed and the Turks were defeated. Over the years, the power of the Knights declined, however, and their rule of Malta ended with their peaceful surrender to Napoleon in 1798.

The people of Malta rose against French rule, which lasted two years, and with the help of the British evicted them in 1800. In 1814, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the United Kingdom, the island became a military and naval fortress, the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet. During World War II, Malta survived relentless raids from German and Italian military forces (1940-43). In recognition, King George VI in 1942 awarded the George Cross “to the island fortress of Malta—its people and defenders.” President Franklin Roosevelt, describing the wartime period, called Malta “one tiny bright flame in the darkness.” In September 1943, the Italian fleet’s surrender in Malta was signed by U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio. Victory Day, celebrated on September 8, commemorates victory in the 1565 Great Siege, and the end of the WWII attacks in Malta. Malta obtained independence on September 21, 1964, became a Republic on December 13, 1974, and a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. The last British forces left in March 1979.

GOVERNMENT

Under its 1964 constitution, Malta became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II was sovereign of Malta, and a governor general exercised executive authority on her behalf, while the actual direction and control of the government and the nation’s affairs were in the hands of the cabinet under the leadership of a Maltese prime minister.

On December 13, 1974, the constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in a Maltese president. The president is appointed by parliament. In turn, he appoints as prime minister the leader of the party that wins the a majority of seats in a general election for the unicameral House of Representatives.

The president also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the prime minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government departments. The cabinet is selected from among the members of the House of Representatives, the number of which may vary between 65 and 69 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. The Constitution provides for general elections to be held at least every five years. Candidates are elected by the Single Transferable Vote system, where the surplus votes of a elected candidate are transferred to the candidate receiving the second preference votes. The process of vote transfers continues until all five candidates for a district are elected.

Malta’s judiciary is independent. The chief justice and seventeen judges, two of whom are currently serving in international courts, are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There is a civil court, a family court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of various boards and tribunals, including the Industrial, Small Claims, and Consumers’ Tribunal. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. There are also inferior courts presided over by a magistrate.

The Local Councils Act, 1993 divided Malta into 54 localities and 14 in the small island of Gozo. Councilors are elected every three years by inhabitants who are registered as voters in the Electoral Register. Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The Mayor is the head of the Local Council and the representative of the Council for all effects under the Act. The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the Council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the Council. Local Councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, local wardens, and refuse collection; they carry out general administrative duties for the Central Government, such as collection of Government rents and funds and answering Government-related public inquiries. The Act also provides for Councils to make, amend and revoke bye-laws as necessary for the better execution of the Councils’ functions and to improve the localities’ environment.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/11/2005

President: Edward FENECH ADAMI

Prime Minister: Lawrence GONZI

Dep. Prime Min.: Tonio BORG

Min. for Competitiveness & Communications: Censu GALEA

Min. of Education, Youth, & Employment: Louis GALEA

Min. for the Family & Social Solidarity: Dolores CRISTINA

Min. of Finance: Lawrence GONZI

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Michael FRENDO

Min. for Gozo: Giovanna DEBONO

Min. of Health, the Elderly, & Community Care: Louis DEGUARA

Min. for Justice & Home Affairs: Tonio BORG

Min. for Investment, Industry, & Information Technology: Austin GATT

Min. for Resources & Infrastructure: Ninu ZAMMIT

Min. for Rural Affairs & the Environment: George PULLICINO

Min. for Tourism & Culture: Francis ZAMMIT DIMECH

Min. for Urban Development & Roads: Jesmond MUGLIETT

Governor, Central Bank: Michael BONELLO

Ambassador to the US: John LOWELL

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Victor CAMILLERI

Malta maintains an embassy in the United States at 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-462-3611).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Two parties dominate Malta’s polarized and evenly divided politics—the Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, and the Malta Labor Party, led by Alfred Sant. Elections invariably generate a widespread voter turnout exceeding 96%. The margin between the two parties is so narrow that a 52% share of the votes can still be considered a “landslide” for the winning party. Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party) is the smallest political party. It has not managed to secure a parliamentary seat since its inception in 1989.

A 2003 referendum resulted in a 54% majority popular vote in favor of membership in the European Union. The Prime Minister called an early election in April 2003 for a definite mandate from the electorate. The Nationalists returned to power with 51.8% and 35 seats for a second term, and EU membership was confirmed. The Labor party earned 47.5% and 30 seats, Alternattiva Demokratika had 0.7%, and independent candidates were negligible. Voter turnout was 96%.

In 2004, the prime minister and longtime leader of the Nationalist Party, Eddie Fenech Adami, resigned. Following his election as Nationalist Party leader, Lawrence Gonzi officially became the Prime Minister of Malta on March 22, 2004. Eddie Fenech Adami assumed the Presidency of Malta on April 4, 2004. The next general elections must take place before August 2008 at the latest. The first elections of European Parliament MPs were held on June 12, 2004 and resulted in the election of two candidates from the governing Nationalist Party and three from the Opposition Malta Labor Party. In 1987, the Maltese constitution was amended to ensure that the party that obtained more than 50% of the popular vote would have a majority of seats in parliament and would thereby form the government. Other amendments made at that time stipulate Malta’s neutrality status and policy of nonalignment and prohibit foreign interference in Malta’s elections.

ECONOMY

Possessing few indigenous raw materials and a very small domestic market, Malta has based its economic development on the promotion of tourism, accounting for roughly 30% of GDP, and exports of manufactured goods, mainly semi-conductors, which account for some 75% of total Maltese exports. Since the beginning of the 1990s, expansion in these activities has been the principal engine for strong growth in the Maltese economy.

Tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings derived from tourism have steadily increased since the late 1970s. Following the September 11 attacks, the tourist industry has suffered some setbacks worldwide. Maltese tourist arrivals fell by 8% since 2000. At the same time, the bursting of the high tech bubble dampened exports and private investments.

Despite these adverse developments, the relatively flexible labor markets kept unemployment fairly steady at 7.2% (Labor Force Survey Jan–Dec 2005). The economy improved by a modest 0.2% in 2004. The recent low economic growth coupled with corporate bond preference by the private sector has contributed to a weak demand for bank loans. Combined with the strong growth in deposits in the past couple of years, this has led to a rapid buildup of liquidity in the banking system and pressures to reduce interest rates that are fully liberalized. The banking system remains highly concentrated with two of the four local banks accounting for about 90% of total loans and deposits.

The Maltese Government has pursued a policy of gradual economic liberalization, taking some steps to shift the emphasis in trade and financial policies from reliance on direct government intervention and control to policy regimes that allow a greater role for market mechanisms. Malta’s accession into the EU marked the total dismantling of protective import levies on industrial products, increasing the outward orientation of the economy. The Maltese Lira is pegged to the euro. Malta hopes to join the Euro zone in 2008.

The fiscal situation remains difficult despite some progress in consolidating public finances. The budget deficit was brought down from 10.7% of GDP in 1998 to 9.7% of GDP in 2003 (still high by EU standards), mainly through increases in tax rates and improved collection of taxes due. Current expenditures were reduced in the late 1990s but have crawled back up. The public sector wage bill and subsidies to public enterprises were mainly responsible for this increase. Substantial privatization proceeds have limited the increase in public debt, which grew from 24% of GDP in 1990 to almost 72.01% in 2003.

The Maltese Government is expected to shortly announce reforms to the pension and welfare system and reduce the public sector involvement in the economy as part of the medium- term fiscal consolidation plan. According to the Maltese government plans, the fiscal deficit is expected to go down to 3.5% of GDP by the end of 2005. Economic growth was 1.6% in 2003.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Malta’s diplomatic and consular representation includes accreditation to 143 foreign countries and international organizations. Malta is host to 20 resident diplomatic missions, and 118 countries have non-resident diplomatic representation. With its central location in the Mediterranean, Malta has long portrayed itself as a bridge between Europe and North Africa, particularly Libya, with whom it has enjoyed positive diplomatic and commercial ties. Malta is one of the southernmost points of the European Union. Malta continues to be an active participant in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, OSCE, and various other international organizations. In these fora, Malta has frequently expressed its concern for the peace and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The Nationalist Party government is continuing a policy of neutrality and nonalignment but in a Western context. The government desires close relations with the United States, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. U.S. Navy ships resumed liberty calls in 1992 and currently visit on a regular basis.

U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS

Malta and the United States established full diplomatic relations upon Malta’s independence in 1964; overall relations are currently active and cordial. The United States has been sympathetic to Malta’s campaign to attract private investment, and some firms operating in Malta have U.S. ownership or investment. These include major hotels, manufacturing and repair facilities, and some offices servicing local and regional operations.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

VALLETTA (E) Address: 3 St. Anne’s Street, Floriana; Phone: [356] 2561-4000; Fax: [356] 2124-3229; Workweek: 8:00-4:30.

AMB:Molly Bordonaro
AMB OMS:Jo Jurkiewicz
DCM:Bill Grant
DCM OMS:Renee MacEwen
POL:John Breen
POL/ECO:Monica Cummings
CON:Michael Troje
MGT:Jonathan Schools
CLO:Lisa Hamlin
DAO:Philip Munaco
ECO:Noah Hardie
GSO:Joseph Runyon
ICASS Chair:Jeffrey Anderson
IMO:Bruce MacEwen
IRS:Kathy J. Beck
ISSO:Bruce MacEwen
PAO:Jeffrey Anderson
RSO:Jonathan Kazmar
State ICASS:Jeffrey Anderson

Last Updated: 1/23/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 4, 2006

Country Description: Malta is a small, developed, democratic Mediterranean island nation, positioned as a cultural stepping-stone between Europe and North Africa. Malta became a member of the European Union with nine other new member states on May 1, 2004. Tourist facilities of all categories are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for stays up to 90 days. For the most current information concerning entry requirements for Malta, travelers should contact the Embassy of Malta at 2017 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, tel: (202) 462-3611, website: http://foreign.gov.mt.ORG/ministry/missions/washington2.htm, or the Maltese Consulate in New York City, tel: (212) 725-2345.

Safety and Security: No indigenous terrorist or extremist groups are known to be active in Malta, and no foreign terrorist organization has carried out an attack against U.S. interests in Malta in recent years.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Malta has a low rate of violent crime. Property crime is also relatively low but on the rise in recent years. Theft of unattended personal property and car stereos from vehicles is a common problem. Visitors are strongly encouraged to secure their valuables, and be aware of pick-pockets and purse-snatchers. Such criminals focus on areas and establishments frequented by tourist. Caution is particularly urged in the Paceville nightclub area, where excessive drinking and poor crowd control have led to instances of violent behavior. Poverty, homelessness and panhandling are almost nonexistent in Malta. All visitors to Malta should practice the same good, common sense personal security practices that are part of everyday life in urban areas within the U.S., particularly when spending time in areas frequented by tourists.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. The crime victim’s assistance agency is “APPOGG”’- Support Line, tel: 179; Website: www.appogg.gov.mt. Police Emergency Number: tel: 191; Ambulance: tel: 196; Fire Brigade: tel 199.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is available through public and private hospitals. The quality of medical care in Malta is excellent. Private hospitals generally offer a higher standard of service than the public hospitals, and the majority of the best doctors practice in private medical facilities.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malta is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic in Malta flows on the left, requiring attentiveness and caution from visitors from right-hand drive countries such as the United States. In addition, drivers may be erratic or undisciplined. Roads flood easily, and are often narrow, winding, and congested, with poor visibility around curves. Traffic arteries are prone to bottlenecks and accidents. Buses are the primary means of public transportation. Though the bus fleet is being modernized, most buses are old, cramped, and not air-conditioned. Taxis are safe but expensive and are not metered; it is a good practice to agree with the driver in advance on the charge.

There is a Malta Tourist Information Office located at Freedom Square Valletta, Tel. No. 21-237-747, website: www.mta.co.mt. Road safety information can be obtain through the Ministry for Urban Development & Roads website at www.mudr.gov.mt.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malta’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Malta’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Malta customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning currency restrictions and temporary importation into or export from Malta of items such as firearms, antiquities, and any item that might be deemed to have resalable value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Malta in Washington or the Consulate of Malta in New York City for specific information regarding customs requirements. Malta’s customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters located at U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an email to [email protected] or visit htpp://uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Malta’s, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malta are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Malta are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Malta. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is on the third floor of the Development House, St. Anne Street, Floriana, Valletta, telephone (356) 2561-4000. The Consular Section’s telephone number is (356) 2156-4115, fax: (356) 2124-3229, website: http://malta.usembassy.gov/index.html. The Consular Section is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

International Adoption : July 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Adoption Authority: The adoption authority in Malta is:

Department for Social Welfare Standard
Adoption Unit, Ministry for Families and Social Solidarity
469, St. Joseph High Road
Santa Venera, Malta
Contact Person: Ms. Laura Aguis,
email: [email protected]
Telephone: (356) 21441311; 21470877
Fax: (356) 21- 447611

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptions in Malta are regulated by the Civil Code dating from 1962. The laws take into account developments in child welfare and suitability of pre-placement and placement.

The following persons are eligible to apply to adopt a child:

  • Single persons who have reached the age of thirty and have not attained the age of sixty.
  • A couple who has been married and living together for at least five years. One of the spouses attained the age of thirty but has not reached the age of sixty.

The Department for Family Welfare needs to be informed in writing of the prospective adoption and the prospective adoptive parents are required to submit a home study to the court upon notification.

Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must be residents of Malta.

Time Frame: Seven to ten weeks.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Those interested in adoption in Malta should refer directly to the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity. For further information please visit their website: http://www.msp.gov.mt/services/sif/service_info.asp?cluster=children&serviceid=52. For attorneys with relevant experience and expertise please consult the attorneys list on the American Embassy Website: http://valletta.usembassy.gov

Adoption Fees: No processing fees are incurred in making use of the service of the Department of Family Welfare, Adoption Unit.

Adoption Procedures: Persons interested in adopting a child should seek the advice of the Department for Social Welfare on the proper procedures to be adopted. All prospective adoptive parents must complete an application form requesting a declaration of eligibility and suitability and will be required to attend preparation group sessions and a subsequent assessment. The preparatory group sessions and assessment normally takes seven to ten weeks to complete. A declaration of eligibility and suitability is issued in favor of applicants who are deemed eligible as stipulated by the Civil Code and by a social worker following submission of the home study report.

Documentary Requirements:

  • Government issued certified copy of birth certificate/s from the Government of Malta Public Registry;
  • Government issued certified copy of marriage certificate from the Government of Malta Public Registry;
  • Certificate/s of conduct from the police;
  • Blood test for HIV and hepatitis;
  • Medical report/s by a family doctor on a form obtainable from the Adoption Unit;
  • Photos of the applicants: sized 40mm x 30mm, colored with a white background;
  • Statement of family income from the Government of Malta Inland Revenue Service for the previous tax year.

Embassy of Malta:
2017 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 387-5470
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of the United States in Malta:
Development House, 3rd Floor
St. Anne Street, Floriana, Malta VLT 01

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 535, Valletta, Malta, CMR 01
Telephone Numbers: (356) 2561 4000
Fax: (356) 21 243229
E-mail: [email protected]

Consulate General of the United States:
Piazza della Repubblica
80122 Napoli, Italy
Tel. (+39) 081.5838.111
Fax (+39) 081.7611.869

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Malta may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Malta. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Malta

Malta

Type of Government

Malta is an independent parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth. Its chief of state is a president elected for a five-year term by the House of Representatives. The government is headed by a prime minister, who is the leader of the ruling party in the House of Representatives, and a cabinet, chosen by the president and prime minister. The legislative branch is unicameral, and the sixty-five members of the House of Representatives are elected for five-year terms. The highest levels of the judicial branch include the Constitutional Court and Court of Appeal. Judges for both courts are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

Background

Located in the Mediterranean Sea about sixty miles south of Sicily, the nation of Malta is made up of the inhabited islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino, and the uninhabited islands of Comminotto, and Filfla. Its strategic location in the shipping lanes of southern Europe has long made it an attractive prize for various countries. Malta had a rich civilization more than six thousand years ago, evidenced by the number of prehistoric temples such as those at the World Heritage site of Mnajdra.

By 700 BC, the Phoenicians had colonized the islands, using the islands as a naval post in their explorations of Europe. The African kingdom of Carthage took control of the islands in about 400 BC, followed by the Romans in 218 BC. After the dissolution of the Roman Empire, Malta was under the control of the Byzantine Empire and then in the ninth century was conquered by Arab armies. During the period of Arab rule, the Maltese language, which borrows heavily from both Arabic and Italian, began to develop.

Sicilian Normans followed the Arabs in the eleventh century, and in 1523, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500–1558) ceded the islands to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. For the next three centuries these wealthy and powerful “Knights of Malta” administered Malta, building palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications. They fended off a Turkish siege shortly after taking control of the island and maintained control until they were unseated by the French in 1798. Napoleon (1769–1821) used the islands as a garrison for his expedition against Egypt.

The French, unpopular conquerors, were in turn dislodged by the British, who incorporated the islands into the British Empire in 1814. The British established Malta as fleet headquarters and a way station for India, via the Suez Canal. For the next 150 years, the islands remained part of the Empire, playing a vital role in disrupting Axis shipping during World War II, for which the Maltese people earned the George Cross from a grateful King George VI (1895–1952).

Following the war, Malta was granted self-rule, but the Malta Labour Party (MLP) favored integration with the United Kingdom, which would allow the Maltese Parliament to retain responsibility over all affairs except defense, foreign policy, and taxation, while the citizens of Malta would in effect become British citizens with their own representation in the British House of Commons. This proposal was passed by referendum in 1956, though the voting was boycotted by the other major Maltese political group, the Nationalist Party (PN), and by the Roman Catholic Church. Malta was granted independence on September 21, 1964, and a constitution was promulgated which initially kept Queen Elizabeth II (1926–) as chief of state, with an appointed governor general who took responsibility for executive decisions. The nation became a republic on December 13, 1974, with the establishment of a new constitution providing for a president as head of state.

Government Structure

By the terms of the 1974 constitution, a parliamentary system similar to the United Kingdom’s Westminster system was established. The Il-Kamra tad-Deputati (House of Representatives) consists of between 65 and 69 members elected by direct universal suffrage for terms of five years. These members are elected according to a proportional representation formula known as the “single transferable vote” system, which has been in place in Malta since 1947. Under this system, the voter ranks the candidates in order of preference. An individual’s vote is then given to his or her most preferred candidate, but if that candidate has already met a vote quota sufficient to be elected, or if the candidate is eliminated, then the vote transfers to the voter’s next preferred candidate. The House may be dissolved for elections before the end of the five-year period on the advice of the prime minister and may also express no-confidence votes against any government that does not enjoy majority support in the parliament, thereby removing that government. The House of Representatives is responsible for legislation; the president may not veto such legislation.

The president, who serves as head of state in a largely ceremonial position, is elected by the House of Representatives. The president in turn appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the House, and also a cabinet on the recommendation of the prime minister. In the case that a party wins the majority of the popular vote yet still fails to garner a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, that party is supplied with extra seats to give it a voting majority. Thus the number of representatives can fluctuate according to need. The prime minister is the head of government and appoints a cabinet from among the members of the House of Representatives to help him or her govern.

The judicial branch consists of a Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Civil Court, the Criminal Court, the Courts of Magistrates, the Gozo Courts, the Small Claims Tribunal, the Juvenile Court, and Commissioners of Justice. The Constitutional Court hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and validity of laws. It also deals with corrupt electoral practices. Its chief justice and all other judges are appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister.

The Local Councils Act of 1993 subdivided Malta into 54 local councils and 14 on the small island of Gozo. Councils are elected every three years.

Political Parties and Factions

The two major Maltese political parties are the Partit Nazzjonalista (Nationalist Party; PN), and the Partit Laburista (Malta Labour Party; MLP).

Founded in 1880 as the Anti-Reform Party by Fortunato Mizzi (1844–1905), the PN party’s platform was originally based on the independence movement and opposed British taxation and interference with the local economy and education system. By 1926 it had assumed the Nationalist Party name and was anti-colonial in outlook. Connections with Italy damaged the party during World War II, but following the war the PN regained its popularity with the electorate as it became the leading party to oppose merging with the United Kingdom. The PN has been the majority party for most of the time since independence and has produced three prime ministers during that same time: Giorgio Borg Olivier (1911–1980), from 1962 to 1971; Eddie Fenech Adami (1934–), from 1987 to 1996 and 1998 to 2004; and Lawrence Gonzi (1953–), who became prime minister in 2004.

The MLP, a social democratic party, was founded in 1949 by the prime minister at the time, Paul Boffa (1890–1962). Traditionally a workers’ party, it favored integration with Britain following World War II. It has been the main opposition party in Maltese politics since independence, and has supplied three prime ministers in that same time: Dominic Mintoff (1916–), from 1971 to 1984; Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici (1933–), from 1984 to 1987; and Alfred Sant (1948–), from 1996 to 1998.

Major Events

British military forces were finally withdrawn from Malta in 1979 after the expiration of a defense agreement between the two nations. Thereafter, despite its membership in the Commonwealth, Malta pursued a neutral course in international relations, joining for a time the Movement for Non-Aligned Countries.

In April 2003, in a referendum, Malta’s voters expressed their willingness to join the European Union (EU). Official membership came about on May 1, 2004. EU membership, however, proved a divisive issue in Maltese politics, with the MLP strongly opposing it as an endangerment to the country’s neutrality, and the PN supporting such membership. Malta sends five members to the European Parliament, three from the MLP and two from the NP.

Twenty-First Century

The strongest challenge to the government of Malta is continuing illegal immigration from North Africa, specifically Libya. In 2005, Malta took part in talks between European countries and African countries to resolve the immigration problem, but in 2006, the illegal immigrant situation reached critical levels, with conditions deteriorating in detention centers. EU border patrols, including troops from Malta, were in place by late 2006 throughout the southern Mediterranean.

Berg, Warren G. Historical Dictionary of Malta . Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1995.

Goodwin, Stefan. Malta: Mediterranean Bridge . Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 2002.

Government of Malta. “Government of Malta Information & Services Online,” (accessed April 4, 2007).

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Malta

Malta

  • Area: 122 sq mi (316 sq km) / World Rank: 193
  • Location: Part of a chain of five islands in the central Mediterranean Sea, 58 mi (93 km) south of Sicily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres
  • Coordinates: 35°50′N, 14°35′E
  • Borders: None
  • Coastline: 157 mi (252.81 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Ta'Dmejrek, 830 ft (253 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: 28 mi (45 km) SE-NW / 8 mi (13 km) NE-SW
  • Longest River: None of significant size
  • Natural Hazards: None
  • Population: 394,583 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 168
  • Capital City: Valletta, located on the east coast of Malta
  • Largest City: Valletta, 99,000 (2000 est.)

OVERVIEW

Malta is an archipelago of five islands in the central Mediterranean Sea in the African Plate. Three of the islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) are inhabited, and two (Cominotto and Filfla) are uninhabited. The islands are almost treeless, with rocky terrain that has openings that form deep harbors, bays, creeks, and rocky coves. Summers are fairly hot and dry, and winters are rainy and mild. There are at least six hours of daylight year-round, with almost 12 hours in summer.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

The islands' terrain consists of low hills (mostly limestone formations) running east to northwest to a height of 786 ft (239 m). There is little vegetation, and no forests. One of the islands, Gozo, is greener and hillier than Malta, and its coast has high uneven cliffs.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Due to their small size, the islands of Malta do not support any significant waterways.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Malta is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. The island of Malta is the largest in the country, accounting for 94.9 mi (245.8 km) of the total area. Gozo (25.9 mi / 67.1 km) and Comino (about 1 mi / 2.8 km) are much smaller.

There are about 20 beaches on Malta, ranging from rocky to sandy textures. Gozo also has some popular beaches, one of which is at Ramla Bay of the northern shore, where the beach features reddish sand. The main attraction on Comino is Santa Maria Bay, known for its clear waters and the coastal lagoon, Blue Lagoon.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

The average winter temperature is 48°F (9°C), with January being the coldest month. The average summer temperature is 88°F (31°C), the highest temperature which occurs during midsummer (July to August).

Rainfall

Most rainfall occurs between November and January, and average rainfall is approximately 22 in (56 cm) per year.

HUMAN POPULATION

It is estimated that 91 percent of the population lives in urban areas. The capital, Valletta, which is also the chief port, houses most of the population. Other larger cities include Birkirkara, Qormi, and Sliema. The countryside to the north is rugged and sparsely populated.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Limestone is one of Malta's few natural resources. Agriculture is limited because of the rocky land of the

Regions – Malta
Name Area (sq mi) Area (sq km)
Gozo and Comino 27 70
Inner Harbour 6 15
Northern 30 78
Outer Harbour 12 32
South Eastern 20 53
Western 27 69
SOURCE : Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989.

islands; most food has to be imported. Industrial raw materials need to be imported as well.

Wheat, barley, and grapes are grown and consumed, while fruit, seeds, potatoes, onions, wine, and cut flowers are major exports.

FURTHER READINGS

Berg, Warren G. Historical Dictionary of Malta. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Clews, Hilary A., ed. The Year Book, 1987. Sliema: De La Salle Brothers, 1987.

Ellis, William S. "Malta: The Passion of Freedom." National Geographic, June 1989, pp. 700-17.

LonelyPlanet.com. Malta—Lonely Plant World Guide.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/europe/malta/ (accessed March 1, 2002).

VisitMalta.com. Malta—Welcome to the Heart of the Mediterranean.http://www.visitmalta.com/ (accessed March 1, 2002).

GEO-FACT

Malta is the site of the world's most ancient temple complexes, about 6,000 years old. The islands' limestone megaliths are centuries older than Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids.

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Malta

Malta

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of Malta

Continent: Europe

Area: 124 square miles (320 sq km)

Population: 394,583

Capital City: Valletta

Largest City: Birkirkara (21,551)

Unit of Money: Maltese lira

Major Languages: Maltese, English (both official)

Literacy: 88%

Land Use: 38% arable land, 3% permanent crops, 59% other

Natural Resources: Limestone, salt

Government: Parliamentary democracy

Defense: 30 million

The Place

Malta is in the Mediterranean Sea, about 60 miles (97 km) south of Sicily. It is made up of the inhabited islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino, and the uninhabited islands of Cominotto and Filfla.

Malta island is 95 square miles (246 sq km). Its highest areas are coralline limestone uplands that form a triangular plateau, Ta'Zuta, which is 829 feet (253 m). Blue clay slopes separate the uplands from surrounding areas.

Gozo measures 26 square miles (67 sq km). It features a broken coralline plateau in the north and low-lying limestone plains in the south.

Malta has mild and rainy winters and hot and dry summers. The country averages about 21 inches (53 cm) of rainfall a year.

Malta's most abundant plants are potatoes, sulla, onions, tomatoes, and vines. Carob, fig, and chaste trees also grow on the island. Malta's location and natural harbors have given it strategic importance throughout history.

The People

Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It has a population density of 3,210 people per square mile (1,240 per sq km). Life expectancy is 74 years.

Malta island is more developed than Gozo and Comino. Comino is mostly rural with very few inhabitants and two hotels.

About 34% of the labor force works in public services, 32% in other services, 22% in manufacturing and construction, and 2% in agriculture. Tourism is Malta's largest industry. Almost 1 million people visit the island each year—more than twice its population.

Children ages 6 to 16 must go to school. Malta has both public and Roman Catholic schools. Students are taught in two languages: English and Maltese. More than 3,000 students attend the University of Malta in Valletta.

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Malta

MALTA

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
Malta


PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 316 sq. km. (122 sq. mi.); about one-tenth the size of Rhode Island.

Major cities: Valletta (capital), Sliema.

Terrain: Low hills.

Climate: Subtropical summer; other seasons temperate. Mediterranean: hot dry summers, cool wet winters


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Maltese.

Population: (2003 est) 400,420.

Annual growth rate: (2003 est.) 0.73%.

Ethnic divisions: Mixture of Arab, Sicilian, Norman, Spanish, Italian, English.

Religion: (2003) Roman Catholic, 98%.

Languages: Maltese, English.

Education: (2003) Years compulsory—until age 16. Attendance—96%. Literacy—93%.

Health: (2003) Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)—5.6. Life expectancy at birth—78 years.

Work force: (2003, 160,000) Public sector—25.5%; services—42.4%; manufacturing—23.1%; construction and quarrying—6.9%; agriculture and fisheries—2.1%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1964. Constitution: 1964; revised 1974; revised 1987.

Branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Representatives. Judicial—Constitutional Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 13 electoral districts.

Political parties: Nationalist Party, Malta Labor Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.


Economy

GDP: (2002 est.) $3.85 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2002) 2.2%.

Per capita income: $10,434.

National resources: Limestone, salt.

GDP composition by sector: (2001) Services (71.7% of GDP).

Agriculture: (2.8% GDP) Products—fodder crops, potatoes, onions, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables.

Industry: (25.5% of GDP) Types—clothing, semiconductors, shipbuilding and repair, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, spectacle frames, toys, jewelry, food, beverages, tobacco products.

Trade: (f.o.b. 2002) Exports—$2.1 billion: machinery and transport equipment, semiconductors, clothing, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, bunker fuel. Major markets—U.S., Germany, France, U.K., Italy. Imports—$2.7 billion: finished and semi-finished goods, food and beverages, industrial supplies, petroleum and related products. Major suppliers—Italy, France, U.S., U.K., Germany.

Trade balance: (2002) -$650 million.

Budget: (2002) Revenues—$1.18 billion; expenditures—$1.82 billion, including capital expenditures of $224.3 million.

Official exchange rate: (2002 avg.) One Maltese lira (LM)=U.S.$0.4336 (currency fluctuates).




PEOPLE

Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 1,160 inhabitants per square kilometer (3,000 per sq. mi.). This compares with about 21 per square kilometer (55 per sq. mi.) for the United States. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Malta was first colonized by the Phoenicians. Subsequently, Arabs, Italians, and the British have influenced Maltese life and culture to varying degrees. Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or retired British nationals and their dependents, centers around Sliema and surrounding modern suburbs. There also is a growing North African Muslim community of about 2,250 (2001) married to Maltese nationals. Roman Catholicism is established by law as the religion of Malta; however, full liberty of conscience and freedom of worship is guaranteed, and a number of faiths have places of worship on the island. Malta has two official languages—Maltese (a Semitic language) and English. The literacy rate has reached 93%, compared to 63% in 1946. Schooling is compulsory until age 16.




HISTORY

Malta was an important cultic center for earth-mother worship in the 4th millennium B.C. Recent archeological work shows a developed religious center there long before those of Sumer and Egypt. Malta's written history began well before the Christian era. Originally the Phoenicians, and later the Carthaginians, established ports and trading settlements on the island. During the second Punic War (218 B.C.), Malta became part of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule, in A.D. 60, Saint Paul was shipwrecked on Malta at a place now called St. Paul's Bay.


In 533 A.D. Malta became part of the Byzantine Empire and in 870 came under Arab control. Arab occupation and rule left a strong imprint on Maltese life, customs, and language. The Arabs were driven out in 1090 by a band of Norman adventurers under Count Roger of Normandy, who had established a kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily. Malta thus became an appendage of Sicily for 440 years. During this period, Malta was sold and resold to various feudal lords and barons and was dominated successively by the rulers of Swabia, Aquitaine, Aragon, Castile, and Spain.


In 1522 Suleiman II drove the Knights out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe and after repeated requests for territory to Charles V, in 1530 the Knights were given sovereignty of Malta under the suzerainty of the Kings of Sicily. In 1523, a key date in Maltese history, the islands were ceded by Charles V of Spain to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. For the next 275 years, these famous "Knights of Malta" made the island their domain. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage. In 1565 Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. After several months the strength of the Knights and the Maltese population prevailed and the Turks were defeated. Over the years, the power of the Knights declined, however, and their rule of Malta ended with their peaceful surrender to Napoleon in 1798.

The people of Malta rose against French rule, which lasted 2 years, and with the help of the British evicted them in 1800. In 1814, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the United Kingdom, the island became a military and naval fortress, the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet. During World War II, Malta survived relentless raids from German and Italian military forces (1940-43). In recognition, King George VI in 1942 awarded the George Cross "to the island fortress of Malta—its people and defenders." President Franklin Roosevelt, describing the wartime period, called Malta "one tiny bright flame in the darkness." Malta obtained independence on September 21, 1964.




GOVERNMENT

Under its 1964 Constitution, Malta became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II was sovereign of Malta, and a governor general exercised executive authority on her behalf, while the actual direction and control of the government and the nation's affairs were in the hands of the cabinet under the leadership of a Maltese prime minister.

On December 13, 1974, the Constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in a Maltese president. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the party with a majority of seats in the unicameral House of Representatives. The president also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the prime minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government departments. The cabinet is selected from among the members of the House of Representatives. This body consists of between 65 and 69 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. Elections must be held at least every five years. Candidates for any vacancies are determined by the majority of votes obtained by a candidate during the previous elections.


Malta's judiciary is independent. The chief justice and 16 judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. There is a civil court, a commercial court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of the commercial court. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There also are inferior courts presided over by a magistrate.


The Local Councils Act, 1993 (Act XV of 1993) was published on June 30, 1993 subdividing Malta into 54 local councils in Malta and 14 in Gozo. Councils are elected every 3 years by inhabitants who are registered as voters in the Electoral Register. Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The Mayor is the head of the Local Council and the representative of the
Council for all effects under the Act. the Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the Council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the Council. Local Councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, local wardens, refuse collection, and carry out general administrative duties for the central government such as collection of government rents and funds, and answering government-related public inquiries.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 7/2/03


President: De Marco, Guido

Prime Minister: Fenech Adami, Eddie

Dep. Prime Min.: Gonzi, Lawrence

Min. for Agriculture & Fisheries: Zammit, Ninu

Min. for Economic Services: Bonnici, Josef

Min. for Education: Galea, Louis

Min. for Environment: Zammit Dimech, Francis

Min. for Finance: Dalli, John

Min. for Foreign Affairs: Borg, Joseph

Min. for Gozo: Debono, Giovanna

Min. for Health: Deguara, Louis

Min. for Home Affairs: Borg, Tonio

Min. for Justice & Local Government: Gatt, Austin

Min. for Social Policy: Gonzi, Lawrence

Min. for Tourism: Refalo, Michael

Min. for Transport & Communications: Galea, Censu

Governor, Central Bank: Bonello, Michael

Ambassador to the US: Lowell, John

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Camilleri, Victor

Malta maintains an embassy in the United States at 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-462-3611).




POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Two parties dominate Malta's polarized and evenly divided politics—the Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami, and the Malta Labor Party, led by Alfred Sant. Elections invariably generate a widespread voter turnout exceeding 96%. The margin between the two parties is so narrow that a 52% share of the votes can still be considered a "landslide" for the winning party. Prior to the May 1987 election, the Maltese Constitution was amended to ensure that the party that obtained more than 50% of the popular vote would have a majority of seats in parliament and would thereby form the government. The then-Labor Party government proposed this constitutional amendment in exchange for Nationalist Party (in opposition at the time) agreement to two other amendments to the constitution: The first stipulates Malta's neutrality status and policy of nonalignment, and the second prohibits foreign interference in Malta's elections.


The 1996 elections resulted in the election of the Labor Party by 8,000 votes to replace the Nationalists who had won in 1987 and 1992. Voter turnout was characteristically high at 96% with the Labor Party receiving 50.72%, the Nationalist party 47.8%, the Alternativa Demokratika (associated with the Greens) 1.46%, and independent parties 0.02%. In 1998 the Labor Party lost a parliamentary vote, leading the Prime Minister to call early elections. The Nationalist Party was returned to office in September 1998 by a majority of 13,000 votes and holds a fiveseat majority in Parliament. Voter turnout was 95%. The Nationalist Party won 51.81%, the Labor Party won 46.97%, Alternativa Demokratika 1.21% and independent parties 0.01%.

A referendum held on March 8, 2003 resulted in a 54% majority vote in favor of membership in the European Union in May 2004, with 91% voter turnout. The opposition Labor Party, strongly opposed to membership and having conducted a very strong "No" campaign, refused to recognize the result of the referendum. The Prime Minister called an early election on April 12 for a definite mandate from the electorate. The Nationalists returned to power with 51.79% and 35 seats, and EU membership was confirmed. The Labor party earned 47.51% and 30 seats, Alternative Demokratika had 0.68%, and independent candidates were negligible. Voter turnout was 97%


The next elections must occur before April 2008.




ECONOMY

Possessing few indigenous raw materials and a very small domestic market, Malta has based its economic development on the promotion of tourism, accounting for roughly 30% of GDP, and exports of manufactured goods, mainly semi-conductors, which account for some 75% of total Maltese exports. Since the beginning of the 1990s, expansion in these activities has been the principal engine for strong growth in the Maltese economy.


Tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings derived from tourism have steadily increased since the late 1970s. Following the September 11 attacks, the tourist industry has suffered some setbacks worldwide. Maltese tourist arrivals fell by a cumulative 7% during 2001 and 2002. At the same time, the bursting of the high-tech bubble dampened exports and private investments.


Despite these adverse developments, the relatively flexible labor markets kept unemployment fairly steady at 5%-5.25%. Following a decline in GDP in 2001, a modest recovery began in 2002, with some improvements in the tourist sector in the second half of the year. Employment growth, however, remained weak.

The recent low economic growth coupled with corporate bond preference by the private sector has contributed to a weak demand for bank loans. Combined with the strong growth in deposits in the past couple of years, this has led to a rapid buildup of liquidity in the banking system and pressures to reduce interest rates that are now fully liberalized. The banking system remains highly concentrated with two of the four local banks accounting for about 90% of total loans and deposits.


The Maltese Government has pursued a policy of gradual economic liberalization, taking some steps to shift the emphasis in trade and financial policies from reliance on direct government intervention and control to policy regimes that allow a greater role for market mechanisms. Malta's accession into the EU will mark the total dismantling of protective import levies on industrial products, increasing the outward orientation of the economy. Malta maintains a longstanding exchange rate peg to a basket of currencies currently composed of the euro, pound sterling, and dollar. The peg has delivered low inflation and served Malta well, especially during the period of liberalization.


The fiscal situation remains difficult despite some progress in consolidating public finances. The budget deficit was brought down from 10.7% of GDP in 1998 to 6.5% of GDP in 2002 (still high by EU standards), mainly through increases in tax rates and improved collection of taxes due. Current expenditures were reduced in the late 1990s but have crawled back up. The public sector wage bill and subsidies to public enterprises were mainly responsible for this increase. Substantial privatization proceeds have limited the increase in public debt, which grew from 24% of GDP in 1990 to almost 64% in 2002.


The Maltese Government is expected to shortly announce reforms to the pension and welfare system and reduce the public sector involvement in the economy as part of the medium-term fiscal consolidation plan. According to the Maltese Government plans, the fiscal deficit is expected to go down to 3.5% of GDP by the end of 2005. Economic growth is expected to be around 3% during 2003. A slightly stronger recovery is expected for 2004.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

For the first several years of independence, Malta followed a policy of close cooperation with the United Kingdom and other NATO countries. This relationship changed with the election of the Mintoff Labor Party government in June 1971. The NATO subheadquarters in Malta was closed at the request of the Labor Party government, and the U.S. 6th Fleet discontinued recreational visits to the country. After substantially increased financial contributions from several NATO countries (including the United States), British forces remained in Malta until 1979. Following their departure, the Labor government charted a new course of neutrality and became an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement.


Malta is an active participant in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and the Council of Europe, OSCE, the Non-Aligned Movement, and various other international organizations. In these fora, Malta has frequently expressed its concern for the peace and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The Nationalist Party government is continuing a policy of neutrality and nonalignment, but in a Western context. The government desires close relations with the United States and western Europe, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. In 1992, U.S. Navy ships started paying liberty calls again, and currently do so a regular basis.


In May 2004, Malta will officially become a member of the European Union.


U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS

Malta and the United States established full diplomatic relations upon Malta's independence in 1964; overall relations are currently active and cordial. The United States has been sympathetic to Malta's campaign to attract private investment, and some firms operating in Malta have U.S. ownership or investment. These include major hotels and manufacturing and repair facilities and some offices servicing local and regional operations.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Valletta (E), 3rd Fl., Development House, St. Anne St., Floriana, Malta • P.O. Box 535, Valletta, Tel [356] 21-235-960, Fax 21-243-229, EXEC Fax 21-223-322; Public Diplomacy 21-241-240, Fax 21-246-917; E-mail: [email protected]

AMB: Anthony H. Gioia
AMB OMS: Carolyn Gough
DCM: Thomas Murphy
ECO/COM/CON:John Mariz
POL: Raymond White
MGT: James Gearhart
RSO: Richard Ober
PAO: Michael Macy
IRM: Gary Lutz
DAO: LTC John Halinski
CUS: Charles Fortenberry
AGR: Lisa Hardy-Bass (res. Rome)
FAA: Gregory Joyner (res. Rome)
IRS: Fredrick D. Pablo (res. Rome)
DEA: Richard A. Fiano (res. Rome)

Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
August 19, 2002


Country Description: Malta is a small, developed, democratic Mediterranean island nation, positioned as a cultural and political stepping-stone between Europe and North Africa. Tourist facilities of all categories are widely available.

Entry Requirements: A passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for stays of up to 90 days. For more information concerning entry requirements for Malta, travelers should contact the Embassy of Malta at 2017 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel: (202) 462-3611, or the Maltese Consulate in New York City, tel: (212) 725-2345.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Crime: Malta has a low rate of violent crime. Incidents of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching are relatively rare; however, break-ins and thefts from parked vehicles and thefts of cars are increasing. Caution is urged in the Paceville nightclubs area because excessive drinking and poor crowd control create conditions that may aggravate a minor incident to turn into a brawl.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care is available through public and private hospitals. The service at the public hospitals is not always up to the standards of private hospitals. In addition, most of the best doctors are found in the private medical facilities.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions, which differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malta is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good


Traffic flows on the left and this takes some adjustment for visitors from right-hand drive countries such as the United States. Additionally, visitors should exercise extreme caution, as drivers may be erratic. Roads flood easily, and they are often narrow, winding, and congested, with poor visibility around curves. Traffic arteries are prone to bottlenecks and serious accidents, often due to drivers' inexperience in merging or due to excessive speed. Buses are the primary means of public transportation, but they are rather old and uncomfortable and are not equipped for the heat of summer. Taxis are safe but expensive.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Malta driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance contact the Malta national tourist organization offices in New York via the Internet at http://www.visitmalta.com.


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malta's civil aviation authority as Category 1 — in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Malta's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Malta's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Malta's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malta are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone 1-888-407-4747.


Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living in or visiting Malta are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Malta and obtain updated information on travel and security with in Malta. The U.S. Embassy is located on the third floor of Development House, St. Anne Street, Floriana, Valletta. The Consular Section's telephone number is (356) 21-235-960, fax: (356) 21-243-229, and the Embassy website address is [email protected] The Consular Section is open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Fri day from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 am.

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Malta

Malta

POPULATION 397,499
ROMAN CATHOLIC: 97.7 percent
PROTESTANT: 1.0 percent
OTHER: 1.3 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Republic of Malta is an archipelago at the center of the Mediterranean, about 60 miles south of mainland Europe. It consists of three main islands that have a total area of 122 square miles. The islands have a series of low hills and terraced fields but no mountains or rivers. Malta's indented coastline provides numerous harbors, bays, and sandy and rocky beaches.

Archaeological remains indicate that in Malta there was a prehistoric temple civilization dating back to 5200 b.c.e. and then a Phoenician (c. 800 b.c.e.) and a Carthaginian presence (c. 480 b.c.e.). Later the islands were ruled by Roman, Arab, and Norman powers. The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights of Malta, left a rich cultural heritage (1530–1798). During successive foreign occupations that lasted until it achieved independence from British colonial rule in 1964, Malta developed a nationalism rooted in its language, cultural heritage, and religion. Malta was declared a republic in 1974. The vast majority of Maltese are Roman Catholic.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

The constitution of the Republic of Malta designates the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church as the official religion of the country. The constitution gives leaders of the Catholic Church the right to teach on morality, and religious education is provided in all schools. Members of minority religions also have freedom of worship. Compared to their European counterparts, however, most Maltese are less accepting of people belonging to different religions.

Major Religion

ROMAN CATHOLICISM

DATE OF ORIGIN 60 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 388,400

HISTORY

Although tradition traces the origin of Christianity in Malta to Saint Paul's shipwreck there in 60 c.e., there is no clear evidence of uninterrupted Christian practice on the islands. During the Muslim occupation (870–1048) in particular there seems to have been little Christian activity in Malta.

In the Great Siege of 1565 Malta was victorious over the Ottoman Empire. During World War II the islands survived severe bombardment and starvation. The Feast of Our Lady of Victories, celebrated every year on 8 September, marks both events. Since gaining independence Malta has been rapidly changing from a predominantly traditional fortress-island into an open, modern, service-oriented society. In 1990 Pope John Paul II was the first pope to visit the islands. In 2002 he beatified Gorg Preca (1880–1962), Sister M. Adeodata Pisani (1806–55), and Nazju Falzon (1813–65).

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

Until 1828 the church in Malta was under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Palermo. There followed a succession of local bishops. Joseph Mercieca was appointed archbishop in 1976, and Annetto Depasquale became auxiliary bishop in 1998. Nikol G. Cauchi became bishop of the diocese of Gozo in 1972. Eight other Maltese bishops are in the service of the Holy See.

In the past priests in Malta often acted as political leaders. Gejtanu Mannarino led an unsuccessful rebellion against the grand master of the Order of Saint John in 1775, and in 1799 Mikiel Xerri was executed for leading an uprising against the French.

Although priests in Malta no longer run for office, they have remained socially active. In 1907 Gorg Preca opened a house for the teaching of catechism to youngsters by laymen; this later developed into a society for Christian doctrine, Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus (MUSEUM; Master, Would That the Whole World Follow the Gospel). In 1954 Charles G. Vella set up the Cana Movement for family pastoral work, and in 1955 Fortunato P. Mizzi founded the Social Action Movement. Victor Grech founded the Caritas Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation Programme in 1984.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Pietru Pawl Saydon (1895–1971) stands out for translating the Bible from its original languages into Maltese. Maurice Eminyan is known for his articles in The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), and Edward G. Farrugia was the coauthor of A Concise Dictionary of Theology (1991). Benjamin Tonna has influenced local religious sociology, and Anthony M. Abela has contributed to comparative European Values Studies. George Grima was appointed dean of the Faculty of Theology in 1993.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

The Catholic Church in Malta has more than 360 churches. Major official services, including the inauguration of a new parliamentary legislature, are held at Saint John the Baptist Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Maltese Catholics give importance to the statues of patron saints and the shrines dedicated to the Madonna ta' Pinu (Our Lady of ta' Pinu) on the island of Gozo, the statue of the Redentur (Redeemer) in Senglea, the miraculous crucifix at Ta' Giesu Church in Valletta, and the crying effigy of the Madonna ta' l-Ghar (Our Lady of the Grotto) in Rabat. Priests in Malta bless homes, buildings, offices, machinery, animals, boats, cars, and other objects.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Christmas, Easter, the Assumption of Our Lady (15 August), and the Feast of the Shipwreck of Saint Paul (10 February) are major holy days. During Easter time most Catholics attend Lenten sermons, and a few parishes hold Good Friday processions with statues representing Christ's passion and death. Most parishes also conduct processions for Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Our Lady.

Every year parishioners have village feasts in honor of their town's patron saints. Priests and members of confraternities wear ornamental robes and walk in processions down decorated and illuminated streets. They bear a statue of their patron saint and are accompanied by band marches, tolling bells, and fireworks. To curb outbursts of rivalry between band clubs, church leaders regulate external festivities, emphasizing spirituality and solidarity.

MODE OF DRESS

Most priests and religious men in Malta dress in dark grey clericals or a white shirt, dark trousers, and a small distinctive cross. Nuns wear traditional religious habits.

DIETARY PRACTICES

There are no special dietary practices in Malta apart from those found in other Catholic countries.

RITUALS

The majority of Maltese attend Catholic services at least once a week. A smaller number attend once a month or on special occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Prior to marriage Catholic couples exchange rings that have been blessed by a priest. They are required to attend marriage preparatory courses.

Catholic burial in Malta includes a funeral mass. The coffin is carried in a funeral cortege, blessed by a priest, and then buried. Tombs are adorned with flowers, candles, marble slabs, and statues representing Christian beliefs. People offer masses and prayers for the repose of the dead, and they visit graves in November and on anniversaries. The custom that requires close relatives to mourn the dead by wearing dark clothes and abstaining from public functions has become less popular.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Almost all Maltese Catholics consider it important to hold religious services to commemorate births, marriages, and deaths. Families organize parties with gift giving to mark transitions in life; occasions include baptisms, first Communions, confirmations, engagements, and weddings. Church ministers anoint and give Communion to the sick in homes and hospitals.

MEMBERSHIP

The church in Malta has retained its social relevance through its teachings and voluntary activities. People trust the church for its adequate response to spiritual needs and for its stances on family life and morality, but they rely on it less for its approach to social issues.

In 2003 a local synod displaced the traditional model of the church as "Mater et Magistra" (Mother and Teacher) with a more popular image of a sister, servant, and disciple of Christ. The new evangelization gives greater importance to the laity and to solidarity with the socially excluded. Pastoral activities attempt to reach families, youths, workers, immigrants, and refugees. The church's radio station is the third most popular in Malta, and weekly religious programs are broadcast on all local television stations.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Catholic Church in Malta runs 55 charitable institutions, including homes for children, the elderly, battered women, persons in distress, the disabled, and refugees. In addition, more than 16,000 students (a third of the total student population) receive an education in one of the 82 church schools. Fund-raising activities have broken new records every year. Church leaders have promoted social justice, the protection of the environment, national unity, and international solidarity.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

The bishops of Malta defend the maintenance of traditional values. They resist consumerism and materialism, and they firmly oppose cohabitation, the legalization of divorce, same-sex marriages, and abortion. Church leaders constantly teach on the subject of family unity. Mothers of preschool children are encouraged to choose child rearing over a paid job.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Until the second half of the twentieth century the Catholic Church influenced politics in Malta. In the 1960s the archbishop of Malta issued an interdict against the leaders and supporters of the Labour Party. This was followed by a series of church-state conflicts. After Vatican II the church contracted peace with the Labour Party and apologized for its past mistakes. It has since reached an agreement to transfer its immovable property to the state. It has also achieved state recognition of canonical marriage and a European Union protocol guaranteeing noninterference on matters of abortion in Malta.

The Maltese favor a relationship between religion and politics, insofar as the governmental decisions of religiously inspired politicians are not influenced by church leaders.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

The bishops oppose the Maltese Green Party's proposals for state recognition of cohabitation, same-sex relationships, illegitimate births, and divorce.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Maltese baroque churches are adorned with paintings by renowned artists, including Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Mattia Preti, Giuseppe Calì, Emvin Cremona, and Willie Apap. Contemporary Maltese artists continue to draw their inspiration from Christian themes. Examples are the composer Charles Camilleri's Missa Mundi (1972; Mass on the World), Richard England's architecture, Antoine Camilleri's paintings and sculpture, Oliver Friggieri's literary works, David Azzopardi's folk guitar music, and popular dramas for radio and television.

Other Religions

Islam and Jehovah's Witnesses are the main minority religious movements represented in Malta. Greek Orthodox, Anglicans, and Church of Scotland members hold services in their churches in Valletta. The Muslim community worships in a newly constructed mosque in Paola. Baptists, Free Church members, and Bahai hold their services in their respective communities. Once a year representatives from all faiths participate in an ecumenical prayer service.

Anthony M. Abela

See Also Vol. 1: Roman Catholicism

Bibliography

Abela, Anthony M. Transmitting Values in European Malta: A Study in the Contemporary Values of Modern Society. Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1991.

Archdiocese of Malta. 22 Dec. 2003. http://www.maltachurch.org.mt.

Bonnici, M.A. History of the Church in Malta. 2 vols. Valletta: Empire Press-Catholic Institute, 1967, 1968. Vol. 3. Zabbar: Veritas Press, 1975.

Clews, Stanley J.A., ed. The Malta Year Book. Sliema, Malta: De La Salle Brothers Publications, 2002.

Halman, Loek, comp. The European Values Study: A Third Wave. Tilburg, Netherlands: European Values Study, Work and Organization Research Centre, 2001.

Schiavone, Michael J., and Louis J. Scerri, eds. Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century. Pietà, Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza, 1997.

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Malta

MALTA

Compiled from the December 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Malta


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 316 sq. km. (122 sq. mi.); about one-tenth the size of Rhode Island.

Cities: Valletta (capital), Sliema.

Terrain: Low hills.

Climate: Subtropical summer; other seasons temperate. Mediterranean: hot dry summers, cool wet winters.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Maltese.

Population: (2003) 399,867.

Annual growth rate: (2003 est.) 0.65%.

Ethnic groups: Mixture of Arab, Sicilian, Norman, Spanish, Italian, English.

Religions: (2003) Roman Catholic, 98%.

Languages: Maltese, English.

Education: (2003) Years compulsory—until age 16. Attendance—96%. Literacy—93%.

Health: (2003) Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)—5.9. Life expectancy at birth—Males 76.4, Females 80.4.

Work force: (1st quarter 2004) 160,183; Public sector 27.1%; Services 43.3%; Manufacturing 19.4%; Construction & Quarrying 7.5%; Agriculture and fisheries 2.7%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1964.

Constitution: 1964; revised 1974; revised 1987.

Branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Representatives. Judicial—Constitutional Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 13 electoral districts.

Political parties: Nationalist Party, Malta Labor Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $4.85 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2003) 1.6%.

Per capita income: $12,173.

National resources: Limestone, salt.

GDP composition by sector, 2002: Services (74.6% of GDP).

Industry: (22.9% of GDP); Types—clothing, semiconductors, shipbuilding and repair, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, spectacle frames, toys, jewelry, food, beverages, tobacco products.

Agriculture: (2.5% GDP); Products—fodder crops, potatoes, onions, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$2.63 billion. Types—Machinery and transport equipment, semi-conductors, clothing, furniture, leather, rubber and plastic products, footwear, bunker fuel. Major markets—U.S., Germany, France, U.K., Italy. Imports—$3.62 billion: finished and semi-finished goods, food and beverages, industrial supplies, petroleum and related products. Major suppliers—Italy, France, U.S., U.K., Germany.

Trade balance: (2003) $990 million.

Budget: (2003) revenues $2.47 billion; expenditures $2.42 billion, including capital expenditures of $224.3 million.

Average Exchange rate: (2003) $1 = Lm 0.434 (rate fluctuates)


PEOPLE

Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 1,160 inhabitants per square kilometer (3,000 per sq. mi.). This compares with about 21 per square kilometer (55 per sq. mi.) for the United States. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Malta was first colonized by the Phoenicians. Subsequently, Romans, Arabs, Normans, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, and the British have influenced Maltese life and culture to varying degrees. Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or retired British nationals and their dependents, centers around Sliema and surrounding modern suburbs. There is also a growing North African Muslim community of about 3000 (2003), many of whom are married to Maltese nationals. There have also been a number of Maltese nationals converting to Islam. Roman Catholicism is established by law as the religion of Malta; however, full liberty of conscience and freedom of worship is guaranteed, and a number of faiths have places of worship on the island. Malta has two official languages—Maltese (a Semitic-based language) and English. The literacy rate has reached 93%, compared to 63% in 1946. Schooling is compulsory until age 16.


HISTORY

Malta was an important cultic center for earth-mother worship in the 4th millennium B.C. Recent archeological work shows a developed religious center there long before those of Sumer and Egypt. Malta's written history began well before the Christian era. Originally the Phoenicians, and later the Carthaginians, established ports and trading settlements on the island. During the second Punic War (218 B.C.), Malta became part of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule, in A.D. 60, Saint Paul was shipwrecked on Malta at a place now called St. Paul's Bay.

In 533 A.D. Malta became part of the Byzantine Empire and in 870 came under Arab control. Arab occupation and rule left a strong imprint on Maltese life, customs, and language. The Arabs were driven out in 1090 by a band of Norman adventurers under Count Roger of Normandy, who had established a kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily. Malta thus became an appendage of Sicily for 440 years. During this period, Malta was sold and resold to various feudal lords and barons and was dominated successively by the rulers of Swabia, Aquitaine, Aragon, Castile, and Spain.

In 1522 Suleiman II drove the Knights of St. John out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe and after repeated requests for territory to Charles V, in 1530 the Knights were given sovereignty of Malta under the suzerainty of the Kings of Sicily. In 1523, a key date in Maltese history, the islands were ceded by Charles V of Spain to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. For the next 275 years, these famous "Knights of Malta" made the island their domain. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage. In 1565 Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. After several months the strength of the Knights and the Maltese population prevailed and the Turks were defeated. Over the years, the power of the Knights declined, however, and their rule of Malta ended with their peaceful surrender to Napoleon in 1798.

The people of Malta rose against French rule, which lasted two years, and with the help of the British evicted them in 1800. In 1814, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the United Kingdom, the island became a military and naval fortress, the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet. During World War II, Malta survived relentless raids from German and Italian military forces (1940-43). In recognition, King George VI in 1942 awarded the George Cross "to the island fortress of Malta—its people and defenders." President Franklin Roosevelt, describing the wartime period, called Malta "one tiny bright flame in the darkness." Malta obtained independence on September 21, 1964, became a Republic on December 13, 1974, and a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. The last British forces left in March 1979.


GOVERNMENT

Under its 1964 constitution, Malta became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II was sovereign of Malta, and a governor general exercised executive authority on her behalf, while the actual direction and control of the government and the nation's affairs were in the hands of the cabinet under the leadership of a Maltese prime minister.

On December 13, 1974, the constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in a Maltese president. The president is appointed by parliament. In turn, he appoints as prime minister the leader of the party with a majority of seats in the unicameral House of Representatives.

The president also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the prime minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government departments. The cabinet is selected from among the members of the House of Representatives, which consists of between 65 and 69 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. Elections must be held at least every five years. Candidates for any vacancies are determined by the majority of votes obtained by a candidate during the previous elections.

Malta's judiciary is independent. The chief justice and sixteen judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. There is a civil court, a commercial court, a family court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of the commercial court. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There also are inferior courts presided over by a magistrate.

The Local Councils Act, 1993 (Act XV of 1993) was published on 30 June 1993 subdividing Malta into 54 local councils and 14 in the small island of Gozo. Councils are elected every three years by inhabitants who are registered as voters in the Electoral Register. Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The Mayor is the head of the Local Council and the representative of the Council for all effects under the Act. The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the Council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the Council. Local Councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, local wardens, and refuse collection; they carry out general administrative duties for the Central Government, such as collection of Government rents and funds and answering Government-related public inquiries.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/11/05

President: Edward FENECH ADAMI
Prime Minister: Lawrence GONZI
Dep. Prime Min.: Tonio BORG
Min. for Competitiveness & Communications: Censu GALEA
Min. of Education, Youth, & Employment: Louis GALEA
Min. for the Family & Social Solidarity: Dolores CRISTINA
Min. of Finance: Lawrence GONZI
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Michael FRENDO
Min. for Gozo: Giovanna DEBONO
Min. of Health, the Elderly, & Community Care: Louis DEGUARA
Min. for Justice & Home Affairs: Tonio BORG
Min. for Investment, Industry, & Information Technology: Austin GATT
Min. for Resources & Infrastructure: Ninu ZAMMIT
Min. for Rural Affairs & the Environment: George PULLICINO
Min. for Tourism & Culture: Francis ZAMMIT DIMECH
Min. for Urban Development & Roads: Jesmond MUGLIETT

Governor, Central Bank: Michael BONELLO
Ambassador to the US: John LOWELL
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Victor CAMILLERI

Malta maintains an embassy in the United States at 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-462-3611).


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Two parties dominate Malta's polarized and evenly divided politics—the Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, and the Malta Labor Party, led by Alfred Sant. Elections invariably generate a widespread voter turnout exceeding 96%. The margin between the two parties is so narrow that a 52% share of the votes can still be considered a "landslide" for the winning party. Alternattiva Demokratika (Green Party) is the smallest political party. It has not managed to secure a parliamentary seat since its inception in 1989.

A 2003 referendum resulted in a 54% majority popular vote in favor of membership in the European Union. The Prime Minister called an early election in April 2003 for a definite mandate from the electorate. The Nationalists returned to power with 51.8% and 35 seats for a second term, and EU membership was confirmed. The Labor party earned 47.5% and 30 seats, Alternattiva Demokratika had 0.7%, and independent candidates were negligible. Voter turnout was 97%.

On February 10, 2004, the prime minister and long-time leader of the Nationalist Party, Eddie Fenech Adami, resigned. Following his election as Nationalist Party leader, Lawrence Gonzi officially became the Prime Minister of Malta on March 22, 2004. Eddie Fenech Adami assumed the Presidency of Malta on April 4, 2004. The next general elections must take place before October 2008 at the latest. The first elections of European Parliament MPs were held on June 12, 2004 and resulted in the election of two candidates from the governing Nationalist Party and three from the Opposition Malta Labor Party. In 1987, the Maltese constitution was amended to ensure that the party that obtained more than 50% of the popular vote would have a majority of seats in parliament and would thereby form the government. Other amendments made at that time stipulate Malta's neutrality status and policy of nonalignment and prohibit foreign interference in Malta's elections.


ECONOMY

Possessing few indigenous raw materials and a very small domestic market, Malta has based its economic development on the promotion of tourism, accounting for roughly 30% of GDP, and exports of manufactured goods, mainly semi-conductors, which account for some 75% of total Maltese exports. Since the beginning of the 1990s, expansion in these activities has been the principal engine for strong growth in the Maltese economy.

Tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings derived from tourism have steadily increased since the late 1970s. Following the September 11 attacks, the tourist industry has suffered some setbacks worldwide. Maltese tourist arrivals fell by a cumulative 7% during 2001 and 2002. At the same time, the bursting of the high tech bubble dampened exports and private investments.

Despite these adverse developments, the relatively flexible labor markets kept unemployment fairly steady at 7.2 (Labor Force Survey Jan – March 2004) Following a decline in GDP in 2001, a modest recovery began in 2002, with some improvements in the tourist sector in the second half of the year. Employment growth, however, remained weak.

The recent low economic growth coupled with corporate bond preference by the private sector has contributed to a weak demand for bank loans. Combined with the strong growth in deposits in the past couple of years, this has led to a rapid buildup of liquidity in the banking system and pressures to reduce interest rates that are fully liberalized. The banking system remains highly concentrated with two of the four local banks accounting for about 90% of total loans and deposits.

The Maltese Government has pursued a policy of gradual economic liberalization, taking some steps to shift the emphasis in trade and financial policies from reliance on direct government intervention and control to policy regimes that allow a greater role for market mechanisms. Malta's accession into the EU will mark the total dismantling of protective import levies on industrial products, increasing the outward orientation of the economy. Malta maintains a longstanding exchange rate peg to a basket of currencies – currently composed of the euro, pound sterling and dollar. The peg has delivered low inflation and served Malta well, especially during the period of liberalization.

The fiscal situation remains difficult despite some progress in consolidating public finances. The budget deficit was brought down from 10.7% of GDP in 1998 to 9.7% of GDP in 2003 (still high by EU standards), mainly through increases in tax rates and improved collection of taxes due. Current expenditures were reduced in the late 1990s but have crawled back up. The public sector wage bill and subsidies to public enterprises were mainly responsible for this increase. Substantial privatization proceeds have limited the increase in public debt, which grew from 24% of GDP in 1990 to almost 72.01% in 2003.

The Maltese Government is expected to shortly announce reforms to the pension and welfare system and reduce the public sector involvement in the economy as part of the mediumterm fiscal consolidation plan. According to the Maltese government plans, the fiscal deficit is expected to go down to 3.5% of GDP by the end of 2005. Economic growth was 1.6% in 2003.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Malta's diplomatic and consular representation includes accreditation to 88 foreign countries and international organizations. Malta is host to 18 resident diplomatic missions, and 89 countries have non-resident diplomatic representation.

With its central location in the Mediterranean, Malta has long portrayed itself as a bridge between Europe and North Africa, particularly Libya, with whom it has enjoyed positive diplomatic and commercial ties. Malta now constitutes the southernmost flank of the European Union. Malta continues to be an active participant in the United Nations, the Commonwealth (in 2005 Malta will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), the Council of Europe, OSCE, the Non-Aligned Movement, and various other international organizations. In these fora, Malta has frequently expressed its concern for the peace and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The Nationalist Party government is continuing a policy of neutrality and nonalignment but in a Western context. The government desires close relations with the United States, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. U.S. Navy ships resumed liberty calls in 1992 and currently visit on a regular basis.


U.S.-MALTESE RELATIONS

Malta and the United States established full diplomatic relations upon Malta's independence in 1964; overall relations are currently active and cordial. The United States has been sympathetic to Malta's campaign to attract private investment, and some firms operating in Malta have U.S. ownership or investment. These include major hotels, manufacturing and repair facilities, and some offices servicing local and regional operations.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

VALLETTA (E) Address: 3F St. Anne's Street, Floriana; Phone: [356] 2561-4000; Fax: [356] 2124-3229; Workweek: 8:00-4:30

AMB:Vacant
CM OMS:Vacant
DCM:Bill Grant
DCM OMS:Deborah Klopp
POL:Matthew Kurlinski
CON:Michael Troje
MGT:Jonathan Schools
CLO:Cyndi Belnomi
CUS:Leonard Freedman
DAO:Philip Munaco
ECO:Timothy Brisco
GSO:Isobel Miller
ICASS Chair:Donna Pelletier
IMO:Vacant
IPO:Kelley Razer
ISSO:Kelley Razer
PAO:Erik Holm-Olsen
RSO:Rich Ober
Last Updated: 1/14/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 23, 2004

Country Description: Malta is a small, developed, democratic Mediterranean island, positioned as a cultural and political stepping-stone between Europe and North Africa. Malta became a member of the European Union with nine other new member states on May 1, 2004. Tourist facilities of all categories are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for stays up to 90 days. For more information concerning entry requirements for Malta, travelers should contact the Embassy of Malta at 2017 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 462-3611, website: http://www.foreign.gov.mt/ORG/ministry/missions/washington2.htm, or the Maltese Consulate in New York City, telephone: (212) 725-2345. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Malta and other countries.

Safety and Security: No indigenous terrorist or extremist groups are known to be active in Malta, and no foreign terrorist organizations have carried out an attack against U.S. interests in Malta in recent years.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Malta has a low rate of violent crime. Property crime is also relatively low but on the rise in recent years. Theft of unattended personal property and car stereos from vehicles is a common problem. Visitors are strongly encouraged to secure their valuables, and be aware of pickpockets and purse snatches. Such criminals focus on areas and establishments frequented by tourists. Caution is particularly urged in the Paceville nightclub area, where excessive drinking and poor crowd control have led to instances of violent behavior. Poverty, homelessness and panhandling are almost nonexistent in Malta. All visitors to Malta should practice the same good, common sense personal security practices that are part of everyday life in urban areas within the U.S., particularly when spending time in areas frequented by tourists.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is available through public and private hospitals. The quality of medical care in Malta is excellent. Private hospitals generally offer a higher standard of service than the public hospitals, and most of the doctors practice in private medical facilities.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malta is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic in Malta flows on the left, requiring attentiveness and caution from visitors from right-hand drive countries such as the Unites States. In addition, drivers may be erratic or undisciplined. Roads flood easily, and are often narrow, winding, and congested, with poor visibility around curves. Traffic arteries are prone to bottlenecks and accidents. Buses are the primary means of public transportation. Though the bus fleet is being modernized, most buses are old, cramped, and nor air-conditioned. Taxis are safe but expensive and are not metered; it is good practice to agree with the driver in advance on the charge.

For specific information concerning Malta driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance contact the Malta national tourist organization offices in New York City via the Internet at http://www.visitmalta.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malta as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Malta's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Malta's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning currency restrictions and temporary importation into or export from Malta of items such as firearms, antiquities, and any item that might be deemed to have resalable value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Malta in Washington or the Consulate of Malta in New York City for specific information regarding customs requirements. Malta custom's authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit http://uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Malta's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malta are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Malta are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Malta. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the third floor of the Development House, St. Anne Street, Floriana, Valletta, telephone (356) 2561-4000. The Consular Section's telephone number is (356) 2156-4115, fax: (356) 2124-3229, website: http://usembassy.state.gov/malta/wwwhcons.html. The Consular Section is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

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Malta

MALTA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

At the start of World War I in 1914, Malta was a Crown colony and the base for the British Mediterranean fleet. The islands were not directly involved in hostilities, but they supported actions against the Ottomans in Salonika, the Dardanelles, and the Near East. Malta had prisoner-of-war camps for captured Bulgarians and Turks, and the military hospitals treated the wounded. Employment at the naval dockyard expanded from four thousand workers in 1914 to twelve thousand by 1918. Labor was scarce, demand for goods high, and inflation appeared. Then the war ended. Workers were laid off, and the revenue of the Malta treasury, dependent upon import dues, declined. Food prices remained high. On 7 June 1919 there were riots in Valletta. Troops shot four Maltese dead.

A new governor arrived in the midst of the strife. Food subsidies were introduced and the wages of government workers raised. Leopold Stennett Amery, undersecretary of state for the colonies, working with the Maltese National Assembly, developed a new constitution. Amery introduced the concept of diarchy, with the governor conducting external affairs and an elected legislature running internal affairs. The National Assembly drafted a constitution, establishing an elected legislative assembly and a senate of elected and nominated members. The archbishop of Malta nominated the church representative.

Maltese members of earlier Councils of Government had formed alliances, but formal political parties had to be organized for the 1921 election. The Labour Party, the Constitutional Party, the Democratic Nationalist Party (PDN), and the Maltese Political Union (UPM) contested the election. The UPM won and Joseph Howard became the first prime minister of Malta. In the 1927 election the Constitutional Party, led by Lord Gerald Strickland, won the most seats but no overall majority. Cambridge educated, Anglo-Maltese, and a former colonial governor of wide experience, Strickland became prime minister and, with Labour Party help, got legislation through the lower house, but the senate blocked his budget. Strickland then came into conflict with the church, and in the 1930 election the archbishop of Malta and the bishop of Gozo told the Catholic population "You may not, without committing a grave sin, vote for Lord Strickland and his candidates." The colonial authorities suspended the election and the constitution.

In 1931 a Royal Commission reported on constitutional matters and the language question. Maltese is basically Arabic, incorporating words from European languages and written in a modified Roman script. Educated islanders spoke Italian in addition to Maltese, and many people of all ranks spoke English when doing business with the British services. Country folk spoke only Maltese. The 1931 commission recommended that Maltese be the language of the courts because several Maltese tried in Italian had not understood the proceedings. The decision infuriated some, who thought it an attack on cultural ties with Italy. The situation was inflamed by Benito Mussolini, who promoted spying and insisted that Malta belonged to Fascist Italy. Today most Maltese speak Malti, are fluent in English and Italian, and watch TV channels in the three languages.

When Governor Charles Bonham-Carter arrived in 1936, the 1921 constitution was revoked, and he appointed an Executive Council consisting of senior Maltese civil servants and leading Maltese versed in public policy. Defense spending was expanding, and there was money to fund improved social services, public health, education, power generation, agriculture, and livestock production. In 1939, under a new constitution, ten members were elected to the council in addition to appointed members.

Then came World War II. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940. Malta was bombed the next day. By the end of June only Britain, Malta, and their Commonwealth allies were contesting fascist control of Europe. From Malta Axis supply routes to North Africa were attacked. Malta was bombed and under siege from mid-1940 to mid-1943, when the invasion of Sicily was partially launched from the islands. During the siege rations were fifteen hundred calories a day, part of which came from "victory kitchens" fired with wood from bombed buildings, serving goat stew and other survival food. The British Crown awarded Malta the George Cross, the highest honor for civilian bravery. No other community has won the award collectively. The Maltese earned the medal. Had the islands fallen, the North African campaign would have been prolonged by a year, D-Day would have been postponed, and the Red Army could have occupied Europe to the Rhine.

After the war Britain provided a war damage fund to rebuild property. In 1947 internal self-government returned under a constitution creating a unicameral legislature. The Labour Party had a majority until it was split into the Malta Labour Party and the Malta Workers Party by a young politician, Dom Mintoff, a former Rhodes scholar. The split allowed the Nationalist Party to gain the most seats in 1950 and, under Dr. Giorgio Borg Olivier, win elections in 1951 and 1953. The Labour Party won the 1955 election, and Prime Minister Mintoff proposed the integration of Malta with the United Kingdom. The leaders of political parties in Westminster viewed the proposal favorably, but the archbishop of Malta insisted that if Malta joined the United Kingdom, with its established Protestant churches, the status of the Catholic Church in Malta had to be safeguarded. British politicians accepted this. Prime Minister Mintoff called a referendum on integration before the church-state question was settled. He got a majority for integration, but turnout was low, with church leaders telling voters to avoid the referendum. Integration died. Relations between the Labour Party, the church, the governor, and Britain deteriorated. The constitution was suspended in 1959. Independence was the next step. In 1960 a new constitution provided for a fifty-seat legislature, elected by proportional representation.

In 1962 Dr. Borg Olivier led the Nationalist Party to victory. Malta became independent on 21 September 1964, signing a mutual defense and assistance agreement by which Britain continued to use its bases in return for economic aid. Mintoff and the Labour Party returned to power in 1971, and Malta became a republic in December 1974, with a president appointed by the House of Representatives for a five-year term. The bases closed in 1979.

The Nationalists won in 1987 and worked toward European Union (EU) membership, briefly losing office from 1996 to 1998, when a value-added tax was introduced. In 2003 a referendum was held in which 91 percent of the electorate voted, with 53 percent in favor of EU entry. In the April 2003 general election the Nationalists won thirty-five seats in the House of Representatives. Malta became an EU member in May 2004.

In 1960 nearly all jobs in Malta depended on British defense spending, but with independence funds were made available to open industrial parks and promote tourism. The naval dockyard converted to commercial work but is a drain on Malta's budget. Malta's prehistoric temples and the buildings of the Order of St. John attract visitors, with Britain being the major source. Financial services is a growing industry. The major problem for the islands since joining the EU is that of refugees and asylum seekers coming from Africa by boat to enter the European world.

See alsoBritish Empire; British Empire, End of .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Austin, Dennis. Malta and the End of Empire. London, 1971.

Austin, Douglas. Malta and British Strategic Policy, 1925–1943. London, 2004.

Blouet, Brian W. The Story of Malta. Rev. ed. Valletta, Malta, 2004.

Dobie, Edith. Malta's Road to Independence. Norman, Okla., 1967.

Frendo, Henry. Party Politics in a Fortress Colony: The Maltese Experience. 2nd ed. Valletta, Malta, 1991.

Brian W. Blouet

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Malta

Malta

Malta is a semiarid limestone archipelago of three inhabited islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) strategically located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Sicily and 140 kilometers (87 miles) east of Tunis. With a 2004 population of 400,000 on a land area of just 316 square kilo-meters (122 square miles), the islands are the second most densely populated state in the world, after Singapore. The Maltese are a mixed stock of Southern European, North African, and other Mediterranean ethnicities.

Given its location and excellent harbors, the Maltese Islands have been a tempting prize to all would-be Mediterranean empire builders. Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Angevins, Aragonese, and Castellans followed each other as rulers over Malta for sixteen centuries. In 1530, the islands were passed over by Charles V (1500–1558) of Spain to the Knights Hospitaller Order of Saint John. Malta was then run by a theocracy until 1798, when the islands were invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). The French ran Malta until 1800 at which time the British intervened. In 1814 the islands were formally ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Amiens.

The constitution is the highest law of the land. Malta was granted its first constitution in 1835 and a self-governing constitution in 1921; it became an independent sovereign state on September 21, 1964. The Independence Constitution, which recognized Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) of the United Kingdom as head of state, was amended effective December 13, 1974 with the enactment of a republican constitution, which made the president the formal head of state and gave executive power to the prime minister.

A division of powers is respected in principle. However, only two political parties have been represented in a unicameral legislature since the 1971 elections: the Malta Labour Party on the democratic socialist left and the Nationalist Party on the socialist democratic–Christian right. Because the opposition has been from just one to five seats shy of the government since the 1970s, strong internal party discipline has been crucial; thus the parliament almost always endorses government policy. The judiciary is independent but slow in its operations.

Public life is strongly dominated by the Roman Catholic Church: Malta is the only European country that has not legalized either divorce or abortion. Meanwhile, partisan politics pervades most social affairs: Municipal government is riddled with party-nominated candidates. A system of proportional representation elects five members of parliament from each of thirteen districts and certifies candidates and voters, which facilitates clientelism and patronage—and ensures the world's consistently highest voter turnout for national elections of around 96 percent.

Civil society is hardly present, except in a religious sense as the parish is the only active community. Many non-governmental organizations exist either to support religious activities or specifically to lobby government. The largest and best organized secular bodies are two trade unions: the General Workers' Union (with 47,000 members) and the Union of United Workers (with 26,000). No religious or ethnic persecution takes place, but the arrival of undocumented migrants is a sore sociopolitical issue.

The Maltese economy has been geared over millennia to provide military and defense capability to successive colonial powers. After 1957, the islands switched successfully to other economic mainstays, particularly export-driven manufacturing fueled by foreign investment and technology, as well as all-year tourism. Malta has been a neutral and nonaligned country since the closure of the British military facilities on March 31, 1979. Malta has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004.

See also: European Union.

bibliography

Aguis, Carmel, and Nancy Grosselfinger. "Malta." In The Global Expansion of Judicial Power, ed. C. Neal Tate and Torbjörn Vallinder. New York: New York University Press, 1995.

Bezzina, Joseph. Religion and Politics in a Crown Colony: The Gozo-Malta Story 1798–1864. Malta: Bugelli Publications, 1985.

Boissevain, Jeremy. Saints and Fireworks: Religion and Politics in Rural Malta, 3rd ed. Malta: Progress Press, 1993.

Camilleri, Frances. Women in the Labour Market: A Maltese Perspective. Malta: Mireva Publications, 1997.

Frendo, Henry. Party Politics in a Fortress Colony: The Maltese Experience. Malta: Midsea Books, 1979.

Frendo, Henry. Malta's Quest for Independence: Reflections on the Course of Maltese History. Malta: Valletta Publishing, 1989.

Hirczy, Wolfgang. "Explaining Near Universal Turnout: The Case of Malta." European Journal of Political Research 27 (1995):255–272.

Koster, Adrianus. Prelates and Politicians in Malta: Changing Power Balances Between Church and State in a Mediterranean Island Fortress: 1530–1976. Assen, The Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 1981.

Mallia Milanes, Victor, ed. The British Colonial Experience (1800–1964): Its Impact on Maltese Society. Malta: Mireva Publications, 1988.

Mitchell, Jon. Ambivalent Europeans: Ritual, Memory and the Public Sphere in Malta. London: Routledge, 2001.

Pirotta, Godfrey, A. The Malta Public Service 1800–1940: The Administrative Politics of a Micro-State. Malta: Mireva Publications, 1997.

Pirotta, Joseph M. Fortress Colony: The Final Act 1945–1964, 3 vols. Malta: Studia Editions, 1987.

Scicluna, Edward, J. The Restructuring of the Maltese Economy. Malta: Federation of Industry, 1993.

Spiteri, Edward, J. Malta: An Island in Transition. Malta: Progress Press, 1997.

Sultana, Ronald, G., and Godfrey Baldacchino, eds. Maltese Society: A Sociological Inquiry. Malta: Mireva Publications, 1994.

Godfrey Baldacchino

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