Malta Malta Flag

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004.



Great dive locations in Malta :

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Understand


History

Although small, Malta has a long and rich history, with evidence for habitation going back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium B.C.). The country boasts some of the world's most ancient standing buildings (the Neolithic temples), and its strategic location and good harbors in the middle of the Mediterannean have attracted Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders, the French and finally the British, with the colonial period lasting until 1964.

The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitallers, took over sovereign control of Malta in 1530, and by 1533 the Order had built a hospital at Birgu (one of the three cities) to care for the sick. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, mounted a great siege of Malta with a fleet of 180 ships and a landing force of 30,000 men. In response the Order, with only 8,000 defenders, drove the Ottoman Turks away after a hard siege of several months. After this siege, the Order founded the city of Valletta on a peninsula, and fortified it with a massive stone wall, which even withstood heavy bombing during the Second World War. By 1575 the Order had built a large hospital known as the Grand Hospital or Sacred Infirmary in order to continue with its primary mission of caring for the sick.

In 1798, the French under Napoleon took the island on 12 June, without resistance, when the Grand Master of the Order capitulated after deciding that the island could not be defended against the opposing French naval force. French rule lasted a little over 2 years, until they surrendered to the British Royal Navy, under Admiral Nelson's command, in September 1800.

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars.

The island was awarded the George Cross for its heroic resistance during the Second World War. An image of the cross is displayed on the flag. The colors on the flag are red and white, colors related to the Order of St. John.

; Independence : 21 September 1964 (from UK)
; National holidays : Freedom Day, 31 March (1979); Sette Giugno, 7 June (1919); Feast of Our Lady of Victories, 8 September (1565); Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974).

Malta remained in the Commonwealth of Nations when it became independent from Great Britain in 1964.

A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has become a freight trans-shipment point, financial center and tourist destination.

Malta gained European Union membership in May 2004.

Climate

Mediterranean with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
few rain

Terrain

Mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains, with a coastline that has many coastal cliffs and numerous bays that provide good harbors.
; Highest point : Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)

Eat

Good, distinctly Maltese cuisine is hard to find but does exist. The food eaten draws its influences from Italy, northern Africa and Britain. Most restaurants in resort areas like Sliema cater...



Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea that lies south of the island of Sicily, Italy. The country is an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Għawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited.

Regions


By inhabited island:
  • Malta (This page)
  • Gozo (Għawdex)
  • Comino (Kemmuna)


  • Cities
  • Valletta — the capital, named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, a French nobleman who was Grand Master of the Order of St. John and leader of the defenders during the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565.

  • Buġibba
  • Cottonera (Three Cities) — The name used when referring to Birgu (aka Vittoriosa), Senglea and Bormla (aka Cospicua), three towns conglomerated by 17th century fortifications called the Cottonera lines.
  • Marsaxlokk
  • Mdina — Malta's well-preserved quiet old capital
  • Rabat
  • San Gwann
  • Sliema — beach package tourist central just north of Valletta


  • Other destinations
  • Hagar Qim and Mnajdra - Two very beautiful stone age temples set on the cliffside of south Malta.
  • Mellieħa — Malta's biggest beach
  • Xghara
  • Blue Grotto - A series of seven caves and inlets on the southern side of Malta famous for deep blue waters and spectacular natural rock formations. The Blue Grotto may be accessed by small traditional boats, skippered by cheerful Maltese guides, which leave from a well-signposted pier just off the main road along the south coast.
  • Clapham Junction - An area of southern central Malta where deep ruts in the bedrock appear to have been formed in the remote past by wagons or carts.
  • Golden Bay - One of Malta's most beautiful sandy beaches, on the northwest coast of the island.


  • Understand


    History

    Although small, Malta has a long and rich history, with evidence for habitation going back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium B.C.). The country boasts some of the world's most ancient standing buildings (the Neolithic temples), and its strategic location and good harbors in the middle of the Mediterannean have attracted Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders, the French and finally the British, with the colonial period lasting until 1964.

    The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitallers, took over sovereign control of Malta in 1530, and by 1533 the Order had built a hospital at Birgu (one of the three cities) to care for the sick. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, mounted a great siege of Malta with a fleet of 180 ships and a landing force of 30,000 men. In response the Order, with only 8,000 defenders, drove the Ottoman Turks away after a hard siege of several months. After this siege, the Order founded the city of Valletta on a peninsula, and fortified it with a massive stone wall, which even withstood heavy bombing during the Second World War. By 1575 the Order had built a large hospital known as the Grand Hospital or Sacred Infirmary in order to continue with its primary mission of caring for the sick.

    In 1798, the French under Napoleon took the island on 12 June, without resistance, when the Grand Master of the Order capitulated after deciding that the island could not be defended against the opposing French naval force. French rule lasted a little over 2 years, until they surrendered to the British Royal Navy, under Admiral Nelson's command, in September 1800.

    Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars.

    The island was awarded the George Cross for its heroic resistance during the Second World War. An image of the cross is displayed on the flag. The colors on the flag are red and white, colors related to the Order of St. John.

    ; Independence : 21 September 1964 (from UK)
    ; National holidays : Freedom Day, 31 March (1979); Sette Giugno, 7 June (1919); Feast of Our Lady of Victories, 8 September (1565); Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974).

    Malta remained in the Commonwealth of Nations when it became independent from Great Britain in 1964.

    A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has become a freight trans-shipment point, financial center and tourist destination.

    Malta gained European Union membership in May 2004.

    Climate

    Mediterranean with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
    few rain

    Terrain

    Mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains, with a coastline that has many coastal cliffs and numerous bays that provide good harbors.
    ; Highest point : Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)

    Get in


    No visa is required for entry by EU and American citizens. Visitors from outside the EU, including Americans, must fill out a landing card, available on board some arriving flights (sometimes) or in the entrance hall of the airport from the small box between the customs' agents.

    By plane

    Malta possesses its own national carrier, Air Malta, with regular connections to many European, North African and Middle Eastern centres. There is also connection to London Luton and Dublin via Ryanair.

    The islands possess one international airport, Malta International, located at Luqa.

    By boat
    There are frequent fast ferries to the Sicilian port of Catania, Italy. The trip takes around 4 hours, can get bumpy (or cancelled) if it's windy, and is often more expensive than flying.

    There is also a highspeed catamaran between Pozzallo and Valetta that takes approximatly 90 min.

    Get around

    By bus
    One of Malta's joys (at least in small doses) is the wonderfully antiquated public bus system, consisting of 1950s-era exports from England usually kitted up with more chintz than a Christmas tree plus icons of every saint in the Bible and then some. Fares are very cheap and even the longest ride across the island costs less than a pound; the only catch is that almost all buses radiate out from Valletta, so you may have to detour back to the capital to reach your next destination. Be sure to have change to avoid irritation or even being denied the ride (a ticket typically costs 20ct-25ct and people trying to pay with the equivalent of 100 USD will elicit an unpleasant response), and be sure not to get short-changed as this seems to be a habit of the drivers.

    By taxi
    Malta's taxis are a ravenous lot and fares are quite expensive. There are black taxis, which have to be called in advance, and white taxis, which can pick you up off the street. Both have meters that are uniformly ignored, figure on LM5 for short hops and not much more than LM10 for a trip across the island. Also note that plenty of black taxis break the rule when nobody's looking, and this is the cheapest way to hitch a cab ride. All taxis must have the third letter of their licence plate with letter Y otherwise these aren't authorised taxis and might not be very safe.

    By car
    You can rent a car on the island. However, unless you are used to driving on the left side of the road and can handle unpredictable driving, you would be better off with a taxi or bus. A good map is a must. Petrol, as almost everywhere, will seem expensive by US standards.
    It is always best to pre book your car rental online as this works out a lot cheaper than booking when you arrive. You can compare prices of local car rental companies for malta from companies such as www.carrentalbookers.com/country/malta. According to the mediterranean markets, malta has very low rates for car rental.
    Any driver and additional drivers must take with them there driving licenses in order to be covered for by the insurances provided by the local car rental supplier.

    By ferry
    There is the regular ferry service between Ċirkewwa on Malta and Mġarr on Gozo, it goes every 45 minutes in the summer and almost as often in the winter, The trip there is free, but to go back to Malta costs 2 Lira. There are also irregular services to Comino.

    By helicopter
    Scheduled helicopter service between Malta and Gozo has been terminated.

    Talk

    [[Image:Malta_Sliema_Sign.JPG|thumb|250px|Traffic safety billboard

    The official languages are Maltese and English. Italian is widely understood and spoken, especially by the younger generation. You can get around just fine with English alone, but even a few words of Maltese will be much appreciated.

    The basis of Maltese is Semitic, while the superstructure is Romance (mostly Italian). It also has Anglo-Saxon (English) elements in it. Knowing a few phrases in Maltese may be useful. See the Maltese phrasebook for details.

    Buy

    The Maltese currency is the Maltese lira (LM, MTL), also referred to as the pound, which is divided into 100 cents. One of the strongest currencies in the world – as of January 2005, a single Maltese pound is over €2.3 – it takes a while to get used what seem like deceptively low prices.

    Costs
    Goods in Malta are of average value by north European standards but quite pricy compared to South Africa. Touristy restaurants and shops can be very expensive, and imported good and produce is also pricy. You can survive on a budget of less than €30 a day by staying in youth hostels and self-catering, but one should double this amount for comfort.

    Eat

    Good, distinctly Maltese cuisine is hard to find but does exist. The food eaten draws its influences from Italy, northern Africa and Britain. Most restaurants in resort areas like Sliema cater largely to English tourists, offering pub grub like meat and three veg or bangers and mash, and you have to go a little out of the way to find 'real' Maltese food. One of the island's specialities is rabbit (fenek), and small savoury pastries known as pastizzi are also ubiquitous.

    The Maltese celebratory meal is fenkata, a feast of rabbit, marinated overnight in wine and bayleaf. The first course is usually noodles in rabbit sauce, followed by the rabbit meat stewed or fried (with or without gravy). Lookout for specialist fenkata restaurants. One of the best is Ta L-Ingliz in Mgarr. It's small, packed with Maltese, and you need to book. The standard is truely excellent, and a visit will give the chance to try other real maltese treats such as snails in gravy, horsemeat or quail.


    True Maltese food is quite humble in nature, and rather fish and vegetable based -- the kind of food that would have been available to a poor farmer, fisherman or mason. Thus one would find staples like soppa ta' l-armla (widow's soup) which is basically a coarse mash of whatever vegetables are in season, cooked in a thick tomato stock. Then there's arjoli which is a julienne of vegetables, spiced up and oiled, and to which are added butter beans, a puree made from broadbeans and herbs called bigilla, and whatever other delicacies are available, like Maltese sausage (a confection of spicy minced meat wrapped in stomach lining) or ġbejniet (simple cheeselets made from goats' milk and rennet, served either fresh, dried or peppered). Maltese sausage is incredibly versatile and delicious. It can be eaten raw (the pork is salted despite appearances), dried or roasted. A good plan is to try it as part of a maltese platter, increasingly available in tourist restaurants. Sun dried tomatoes and bigilla with water biscuits are also excellent. Towards the end of summer one can have her or his fill of fried lampuki (dolphin fish) in tomato and caper sauce (see here for the peculiar method of catching this fish: http://www.june29th.com/lampuki.htm). One must also try to have a bite of ħobż biż-żejt, which is leavened Maltese bread, cut into thick chunks, or else baked unleavened (ftira, from the Arabic root for flat), and served drenched in oil. The bread is then spread with a thick layer of strong tomato paste, and topped (or filled) with olives tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and the optional arjoli (which in its simpler form is called ġardiniera).

    Drink

    The national drink is Kinnie, a fizzy drink made from bitter oranges and slightly reminiscent of Martini.

    The local beer is called Cisk (pronounced "Chisk") and, for a premium lager (5% by volume), it is very reasonably priced by UK standards. It has a uniquely sweeter taste than most European lagers and is well worth trying. Other local beers, produced by the same company which brews Cisk, are Blue Label Ale, Hopleaf, 1565, Lacto ("milk stout") and Shandy (a light soft-drink type beer). Since late 2006 a new beer produced by a different company was released onto the markey with the name "Caqnu". A lot of beers are also imported from other countires or brewed under license in Malta, such as Carlsberg, SKOL, Bavaria, Guinness, Murphy's stout and ale, Kilkenny, John Smith's, Budweiser, Becks, Heineken, Lowenbrau, Efes, and many more.

    Malta has two indigenous grape varieties, Girgentina and Gellewza, although most Maltese wine is made from various imported vines. Maltese wines are generally of a good quality, Marsovin and Delicata being prominent examples, and inexpensive, as little as 60-95ct per bottle. There are also many amateurs who make wine in their free time and sometimes this can be found in local shops and restaurants, especially in the Mgarr and Siggiewi area.

    The main Maltese night life district is Paceville (pronounced "patch-a-vil"), just west of St. Julian's. Young Maltese come from all over the island to let there hair down, hence it gets very busy here, especially on weekends (also somewhat on wednesdays, for midweek drinking sessions). Almost all the bars and clubs have free entry so you can wander from venue to venue until you find something that suits you. The bustling atmosphere, cheap drinks and lack of cover charges makes Paceville well worth a visit.

    Interestingly it does not rain much on Malta and almost all of the drinking water is obtained from the sea via large desalination plants on the west of the island or from the underground aquifer. Since water is scarce you will find that swimming pools are usually filled with salt water.

    Learn

    Malta has promoted itself succesfully as an entirely bi-lingual nation for Maltese and English. It counts for many educational institutes in the rest of the world as a country where English is the first language and they therefore will often even subsidise students to go there to learn it. Admittedly their command of the language is on average better than in other south European countries, but if one wants to learn English with the advantage of being in a truly English speaking society then Malta is not an ideal choice. The Maltese may often posture with speaking some English in a way which other Mediterraneans would find hard to understand, but that is not the same as being in e.g. Britain or Australia would be for immersing yourself in the language. For more information on Malta's English language schools check the official website of the Malta Tourism Authority.

    Work

    For foreigners work is unfortunately often very hard to find, the Maltese are rather insular (no pun intended) and figures show that even in the tourist sector they are very reluctant to hire people not from the island. There is a sense that since joining the EU there is more willingness to hire professionals from abroad as the business sector diversifies.

    Stay safe

    Malta is, generally, quite a safe country with little in the way of violent crime or political disturbances. Petty theft does occur, so keep an eye on your belongings, especially at the beach.

    Stay healthy


    The main health risk in Malta is the fierce sun in the summer, which can scorch unsuspecting tourists. Apply sunblock liberally.

    The second main health risk is driving habits, which combine the worst of Italian driving with narrow, twisty roads and fairly poor road maintenance. However it is not as bad as Eastern European countries.

    For ambulance, fire or police dial 112. The main hospitals are St. Luke's Hospital in Malta, tel. 2124 1251 and Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, tel. 2156 1600. For a complete list of government hospital services visit http://www.health.gov.mt/health_services/hospitals/hosp.htm.

    Respect

  • Malta is a strictly Catholic country and carousing by tourists, while tolerated to some extent, is not looked on very favorably, especially outside of St. Julian's and Paceville.
  • Dress respectfully when visiting churches. As a guide, remove any hats and sunglasses and make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Some churches, especially those on popular package tours, provide shawls and/or skirts for any inappropriately-dressed visitors.
  • You may be refused entry to a church if there is a service going on that has already started, make sure you arrive promptly if you wish to see them.
  • A small donation of 50c - LM1 is recommended when visiting churches.
  • Keep your top on at the beach.


  • Contact


    The country has two mobile phone networks available, Vodafone and Go Mobile. Many of the payphones and mailboxes are still from the British colonial period and are thus instantly recogniseable by their clunky red appearance. Some are being replaced by internet phones, so even though you see a red British phone box, do look inside and check. Internet cafés and wi-fi zones are quite abundant, often hotels will also have them.



    Malta, officially the Republic of Malta, is a small and densely populated island nation comprising an archipelago of seven islands in the Mediterranean Sea. A country of Southern Europe, Malta lies south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya. The country's official languages are Maltese and English. Roman Catholicism is the most practised religion. The islands constituting the Maltese nation have been ruled by various powers and fought over for centuries. Malta has been a member state of the European Union (EU) since 2004 and it is currently the smallest EU country both in population and in area.

    History

    Early settlements

    Malta is home to what may be the oldest freestanding structure in the world: the oldest of all the megalithic temples on the islands is il-Ġgantija, in Għawdex dating back to before 3500 BC. One of the very earliest marks of civilization on the islands is the temple of Ħaġar Qim, which dates from between 3200 and 2500 BC, stands on a hilltop on the southern edge of the island of Malta. Adjacent to Ħaġar Qim, lies another remarkable temple site, l-Imnajdra. The society that built these structures eventually died out or at any rate disappeared. Phoenicians colonized the islands around 700 BC, using them as an outpost from which they expanded sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean.

    The islands later came under the control of Carthage (400 BC) and then of Rome (218 BC). The islands prospered under Roman rule, during which time they were considered a Municipium and a Foederata Civitas. Many Roman antiquities still exist, testifying to the close link between the Maltese inhabitants and the people of Rome. In AD 60, the islands were visited by Saint Paul, who is said to have been shipwrecked on the shores of the aptly-named "San Pawl il-Baħar". Studies of the currents and prevalent winds at the time however, render it more likely that the shipwreck occurred in or around Daħlet San Tumas in Wied il-Għajn.

    After a period of Byzantine rule (fourth to ninth century) and a probable sack by the Vandals, the islands were conquered by the Arabs in AD 870. The Arabs, who generally tolerated the population's Christianity, introduced the cultivation of citrus fruits and cotton, and irrigation systems. Arab influence can be seen most prominently in the modern Maltese language, which also contains significant Romance influences, and is written in a variation of the Latin alphabet.

    The period of Arab rule lasted until 1091, when the islands were taken by the Siculo-Normans. A century later the last Norman king, Tancredo di Lecce, appointed Margarito di Brindisi the first Count of Malta. Subsequent rulers included the Angevin, Hohenstaufen, and Aragonese, who reconstituted a County of Malta in 1283. The Maltese nobility was established during this period; some of it dating back to 1400. Around thirty-two noble titles remain in use today, of which the oldest is the Barony of Djar il-Bniet e Buqana.

    Knights of Malta and Napoleon

    In 1530, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain gave the islands to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in perpetual lease. (The Kingdom of Aragon had owned the islands as part of its Mediterranean empire for some time). These knights, a military religious order now known as the "Knights of Malta", had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. They withstood a full-blown siege by the Ottoman Turks in 1565, at the time the greatest sea power in the Mediterranean sea. After this they decided to increase the fortifications, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new city of Valletta, named after Grand Master Jean de la Valette, was built.

    Their reign ended when Malta was captured by Napoleon en route to his expedition of Egypt during the in 1798. As a ruse, Napoleon asked for safe harbour to resupply his ships, and then turned his guns against his hosts once safely inside Valletta. The Grandmaster, knew that he could only allow a few ships at a time to enter the harbour, due to the Treaty of Trent. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim capitulated, and Napoleon stayed in Malta for a few days, during which he systematically looted the movable assets of the Order, and established an administration controlled by his nominees. He then sailed for Egypt, leaving a substantial garrison in Malta.

    The occupying French forces were unpopular, however, due particularly to their negative attitude towards religion. The financial reforms and the religious reforms did not go down well with the citizens. The Maltese rebelled against them, and the French were forced behind the fortifications.
    Great Britain, along with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, sent munitions and aid to the rebels. Britain also sent her navy, which instigated a blockade of the islands. The isolated French forces, under General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois, surrendered in 1800, and the island became a British protectorate, being presented by several Maltese leaders to Sir Alexander Ball.

    British rule and World War II

    In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris, Malta officially became a part of the British Empire, and was used as a shipping way-station and fleet headquarters. Malta's position half-way between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal proved to be its main asset during these years, and it was considered to be a most important stop on the way to India.

    In the early 1930s, the British Mediterranean Fleet, which was at the time the main contributor for the commerce on the island, was moved to Alexandria as an economy measure. Malta played an important role during World War II, owing to its vicinity to Axis shipping lanes. The bravery of the Maltese people in their long struggle against enemy attack moved H.M. King George VI to award the George Cross to Malta on a collective basis, unique in the history of the award, on 15 April 1942, "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". Some historians argue that the award caused Britain to incur disproportionate losses in defending Malta, as British credibility would suffer if Malta was subsequently surrendered to the Axis, as Singapore had been. A replica of the George Cross now appears in the upper hoist corner of the Flag of Malta. The Maltese euro coins, however, feature the Maltese cross.

    Independence

    After the war, and after a short period of political instability due to the Malta Labour Party's unsuccessful attempt at "Integration with Britain", Malta was granted independence on September 21, 1964 (Independence Day). Under its 1964 constitution, Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta, with a Governor-General exercising executive authority on her behalf. On December 13, 1974 (Republic Day), however, it became a republic within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of state. A defence agreement signed soon after independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on March 31, 1979 (Freedom Day) when the British military forces were withdrawn. Malta adopted an official policy of neutrality in 1980 and, for a brief period was a member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. In 1989, Malta was the venue of an important summit between US President Bush and Soviet leader Gorbachev, their first face-to-face encounter, which signalled the end of the Cold War.

    Malta joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. It intends to join the Eurozone in 2008.

    Politics and government

    Malta is a republic, whose parliamentary system and public administration is closely modelled on the Westminster system. The unicameral House of Representatives, (Maltese: Il-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Representatives is made up of sixty-five Members of Parliament. However, where a party wins an absolute majority of votes, but does not have a majority of seats, that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority. The Constitution of Malta provides that the President appoint as Prime Minister the member of the House who is best able to command a (governing) majority in the House.

    The President of the Republic is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is largely ceremonial.

    The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Malta Labour Party, which is a social democratic party.

    The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Dr. Lawrence Gonzi. The Malta Labour Party, led by Dr. Alfred Sant, is in the opposition.

    There are four other parties that presently have no parliamentary representation:
  • Alternattiva Demokratika, a Green Party.
  • Imperium Europa, promoting White Nationalism and Libertarianism.
  • Alpha Liberal Democratic Party, a liberal reformist party.
  • Azzjoni Nazzjonali


  • Geography

    Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea (in its eastern basin), some 93 km south of the Italian island of Sicily across the Malta Channel; east of Tunisia and north of Libya in Africa. Only the three largest islands Malta Island (Malta), Gozo (Għawdex), and Comino (Kemmuna) are inhabited. The smaller islands, such as Filfla, Cominotto and the Islands of St. Paul are uninhabited. Numerous bays along the indented coastline of the islands provide good harbours. The landscape is characterised by low hills with terraced fields. The highest point is at Ta' Dmejrek on Malta Island at 253 metres (830 ft) near Dingli. Although there are some small rivers at times of high rainfall, there are no permanent rivers or lakes on Malta. However some watercourses are found randomly around the island that have fresh water running all year round. Such places are Baħrija, Imtaħleb and San Martin. Running water in Gozo is found at Lunzjata Valley.
    Contrary to popular belief, the south of Malta is not Europe's most southern point; that distinction belongs to the Greek island of Gavdos. It is even clear that the whole famous Greek island of Crete is more southern than any point of Malta.

    Climate
    The climate is Mediterranean (Köppen climate classification Csa), with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. There is no real thermal dormant season for plants, although plant growth can be checked briefly by abnormal cold in winter (patches of ground frost may occur in inland locales), and summer heat and aridity may cause vegetation to wilt. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands attractive for tourists especially during the drier months. However, strong winds can make Malta feel cold during the spring months.

    Water supply poses a problem on Malta, as the summer is both rainless and also the time of greatest water use, and the winter rainfall often falls as heavy showers and runs off to the sea rather than soaking into the ground. Malta depends on underground reserves of fresh water, drawn through a system of water tunnels called the Ta' Kandja galleries, which average about 97 m. below surface and extend like the spokes of a wheel. In the galleries in Malta's porous limestone, fresh water lies in a lens upon brine. More than half the potable water of Malta is produced by desalination, which creates further issues of fossil fuel use and pollution.

    In January 2007, International Living chose Malta as the country with the best climate in the world.
    Local councils


    Since 1994, Malta has been subdivided into sixty-eight local councils or districts. These form the most basic form of local government. There are no intermediate levels between local government and national government. A list of them is below:

    Economy

    Until 1800, Malta had very few industries except the cotton, tobacco, and shipyards industry. The dockyard was later used by the British for military purposes. At times of war, Malta's economy prospered due to its strategic location. This could be seen during the Crimean War of 1854. This did not only benefit those who had a military role, but also the craftsmen.

    In 1869, the opening of the Suez Canal benefited Malta's economy greatly as there was a massive increase in the shipping which entered in the port. Entrepot trade saw many ships stopping at Malta's docks for refuelling, this brought great benefits to the population.

    By the end of the 19th century, the economy began declining and by the 1940s, Malta's economy was in serious crisis. This was partially due to the longer range of newer merchant ships which required less frequent refuelling stops.

    Nowadays, Malta’s major resources are limestone, a favourable geographic location, and a productive labour force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies, and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade (serving as a freight trans-shipment point), manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles), and tourism. Tourism infrastructure has increased dramatically over the years and a number of good-quality hotels are present on the island. An increasing number of Maltese now travel abroad on holiday. Although they are still a net importer of tourism, the ratio of inbound tourists to outbound tourists is decreasing. Film production is a growing contributor to the Maltese economy, with several big-budget foreign films shooting in Malta each year. The country has increased the exports of many other types of services such as Banking and Finance.

    Another important resource for the Republic is Human Resources. The government is investing heavily in the country's provision of education. As all education is free, Malta is currently producing a pool of qualified persons which heavily contribute to the country's growing economy.

    Malta has recently privatised some state-controlled firms and liberalised markets in order to prepare for membership in the European Union, which it joined on May 1 2004. Malta and Tunisia are currently discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for petroleum exploration.

    The Maltese government entered ERM II on 4th May 2005, and is intending to adopt the euro as the country's currency on 1 January 2008.

    Recently in Malta, investments have been increasing and the strengh of the Maltese Economy is increasing. A fine example is Smart City which is estimated to employ well over 5000 new jobs.

    Although Malta is now a member of the European Union, it is not a member of the Schengen Treaty yet. It is currently adopting Schengen regulations with the goal of joining in March 2008.

    Military

    The objectives of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) are to maintain a military organisation with the primary aim of defending the Islands' integrity according to the defence roles as set by Government in an efficient and cost effective manner. This it does by emphasizing on the maintenance of Malta's territorial waters and airspace integrity.

    The AFM is also devoted to combating terrorism, fighting against illicit drug trafficking, conducting anti-illegal immigrant and anti-illegal fishing operations, operating Search and Rescue (SAR) services, and physical/electronic security/surveillance of sensitive locations. Malta's Search and Rescue area extends from east of Tunisia to west of Crete covering an area of around 250,000 km2.

    Demographics


    Population
    A census of population and housing is held every ten years. The last census was held over three weeks in November 2005 and managed to enumerate an estimated 95% of the population. A preliminary report was issued in April 2006, and results were weighted to an estimate for 100% of the population.

    The resident population of Malta, which includes foreigners residing in Malta for at least a year, as at 27 November 2005 was estimated at 404,039 of whom 200,715 (49.7%) were males and 203,324 (50.3%) were females. Of these, 17.1 per cent were aged 14 and under, 68.2 per cent were within the 15–64 age bracket whilst the remaining 13.7 per cent were 65 years and over. Malta's population density of 1,282 per square kilometre (3,322/sq mi) is by far the highest in the EU, and one of the highest in the world. The only census year showing a fall in population was that of 1967, with a 1.7% total decrease, attributable to a substantial number of Maltese residents who emigrated. The Maltese-resident population for 2004 was estimated to make up 97.0% of the total resident population.

    The population's age composition is similar to the age structure prevalent in the EU. Since 1967 there was observed a trend indicating an aging population, and is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio rose from 17.2% in 1995 to 19.8% in 2005, reasonably lower than the EU's 24.9% average. In fact, 31.5% of the Maltese population is aged under 25 (compared to the EU's 29.1%); but the 50-64 age group constitutes 20.3% of the population, significantly higher than the EU's 17.9%. In conclusion, Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio is expected to continue rising steadily in the coming years.

    Maltese legislation recognizes both civil and Canonic marriages. Annulments by the ecclesiastic and civil courts are unrelated and are not necessarily both granted. There is no divorce legislation and abortion within Maltese territory is illegal. A person has to be 16 to marry. The number of brides aged under 25 decreased from 1471 in 1997 to 766 in 2005; while the number of grooms under 25 decreased from 823 to 311. There is a constant trend that females are more likely than males to marry very young. In 2005, brides aged 16 to 19 were 51 while grooms were 8.

    The Maltese alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, but uses the diacritically altered letters ż, also found in Polish, as well as the letters ċ, ġ, , ħ and ie, which are unique to Maltese. The official languages are Maltese and English. Italian was an official language of Malta until the 1930s, and is widely spoken as a first, second or third language. French, German and Spanish, amongst other languages, are taught as foreign languages in secondary schools.

    Religion
    The Constitution of Malta provides for freedom of religion but establishes Roman Catholicism as the state religion. Freedom House and the World Factbook report that 98 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, making the nation one of the most Catholic countries in the world. However, the commissioned by the Church of Malta reports that only 52.6% of the population attends regular religious services. This is still the highest rate of attendance in Europe.

    Around 22% of the population is reported to be active in a Church Group, Movement or Community. Malta has the highest concentration of members per capita of the Neocatechumenal Way in the World, since it was introduced in the Islands in 1973 by three Italian cathecists, who started the first community in the Parish Church of Kuncizzjoni in Hamrun. On the 3 June 2007 Pope Benedict XVI canonized George Preca, known as Dun Ġorġ, as the first Maltese saint.

    Migration
    Maltese laws for immigration generally follow EU legislation. Therefore EU nationals require neither a visa nor a passport (an ID card or an expired passport are enough) to enter the country. Citizens of a number of other countries are also not required to apply for a visa and require only a valid passport when residing in Malta for up to three months. Visas for other nationalities are valid for one month. Immigrants are required to apply for a work permit. This exception to EU law was agreed upon before accession to safeguard the Maltese labour market, the growth of which is reaching saturation. In practice though, all work permits to EU nationals are granted, and currently this exercise is only used to monitor the labour market for any needed intervention.

    The estimated net inflow (using data for 2002 to 2004) was of 1,913 persons yearly. Over the last 10 years, Malta accepted back a yearly average of 425 returning emigrants.

    During 2005, a total of 1,800 immigrants reached Malta illegally. Given Malta's high population density, the impact of this figure on Malta is equivalent to that of an arrival of 369,000 illegal immigrants in Germany and other large EU member states. In the first half of 2006, 967 illegal immigrants arrived in Malta – almost double the 473 who arrived in the same period in 2005. The main factor contributing to the problem is Malta's approximately 250,000 square kilometres of open sea search and rescue region.

    Around 45% of illegal immigrants landed in Malta have been granted refugee (5%) or protected humanitarian status (40%), which is the highest rate of acceptance in the EU. A White Paper suggesting the grant of Maltese citizenship to refugees resident in Malta for over ten years was issued in 2005. Historically Malta gave refuge (and assisted in their resettlement) to eight hundred or so East African Asians who had been expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin and to just under a thousand Iraqis fleeing Saddam Hussein's regime.

    Presently the problem of illegal immigration has increased, causing real or perceived strains on Malta's health, employment and social services, its internal security and public order, its social fabric and labour market. Detention costs for the first half of 2006 alone cost Lm320,423 (€746,385).

    In 2005, Malta sought EU aid in relation to reception of illegal immigrants, repatriation of those denied refugee status, resettlement of refugees into EU countries, and maritime security. In December 2005, the European Council adopted The Global Approach to Migration: Priority Actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean; but the deployment of said actions has been limited to the western Mediterranean, thus putting further pressure on the central Mediterranean route for illegal immigration of which Malta forms a part. Political tension started developing as the EU persistently ignored Malta's precarious situation: member states party to the legally-binding Cotonou Agreement continued not to fulfill their obligations and East African countries, from which most central Mediterranean illegal immigration originates, were excluded from the Euro-African Conference on Migration and Development held 10-11 July 2006 in Tripoli).

    Education

    Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 years. While the state provides education free of charge, the Church and the private sector run a number of schools in Malta and Gozo. Most of the teachers' salary in Church schools is paid by the state.
    Education in Malta is based on the British Model.




    The first years of education in Malta are done in Reception. Attendance is up to 5 years and not compulsory. Compulsory education starts at the age of 6 with primary education. Primary education lasts for 6 years. Following public examinations, students enter secondary education. Following a five-year course preparing for the "Secondary Education Certificate" (SEC), equivalent to the British General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), students sit for final examinations (results are used in the school-leaving certificate), and in general also sit for the SEC examinations. SEC examinations require students to be aged 16 and over, or to have a school-leaving certificate. Students who have repeated years are therefore able to apportion their SEC examinations over the last two years at school.
    Once compulsory secondary education ends, students may enter either in a vocational college such as MCAST or a Sixth Form. Sixth forms provide a two-year course leading to the "Matriculation Certificate", which is the equivalent of the UK Advanced Level Examinations and Advanced Subsidiary Examinations. For students unsuccessful in their SEC examinations, there is the option of attending a Higher Secondary school, a sort of safety net to give students the possibility to catch up, where any core subjects (mathematics, English language, Maltese, and a natural science) previously failed are again taught at ordinary level in preparation for SEC examinations, while also teaching intermediate and advanced level subjects. Students may also choose to attend specialised private institutions preparing for diplomas, degrees and professional qualifications of foreign examination bodies in careers such as IT (London University), networking (CISCO), accountancy (ACCA) and banking.

    Tertiary education at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate level is mainly provided by the University of Malta (UoM). Qualifications from the UoM are fully recognised internationally after its conversion to using the European ECTS credits system. Admission requires a minimum overall C grade in the Matriculation Certificate and passes at ordinary level of the core subjects. Special course requirements are mostly based on single-subject results in the Matriculation Certificate. Some of the qualifications obtained from private institutions are also recognised. Full-time attendance by Maltese citizens is free-of-charge, while part-time (evening) attendance is not.

    The Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) satisfies one of its dual roles by offering training for adults of any age and experience. The University of Malta offers similar courses and also gives the option of entering normal full-/part-time courses as a mature student - persons aged 23 and over are exempted from satisfying the University entry requirements, though they still have to satisfy any special course requirements.

    The adult literacy rate is 92.8%.

    References


  • }}

  • Omertaa, Journal for Applied Anthropology – Volume 2007/1, Thematic Issue on Malta


  • External links


  • Gov.mt – Maltese Government official site.
  • Laws of Malta – A summary of principal laws and glossary of terms.
  • The Maltese Armed Forces official website
  • The Nobility of Malta and Maltagenealogy.com
  • Malta Map
  • Official Maltese Tourism website


















  • Introduction:
    Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004.

    Location: Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)

    Population: 400,214 (July 2006 est.)

    Languages: Maltese (official), English (official)

    Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Malta
    conventional short form: Malta
    local long form: Repubblika ta' Malta
    local short form: Malta

    Capital: name: Valletta
    geographic coordinates: 35 54 N, 14 31 E
    time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begin

    Economy - overview:
    Major resources are limestone, a favorable geographic location, and a productive labor force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles), and tourism. Continued sluggishness in the European economy is holding back exports, tourism, and overall growth.




    Links

    AquaVenture Limited  - PADI Gold Palm Resort offering scuba diver courses from beginner to experienced. Includes details of courses and sites, photos, FAQs and contact form.

    Aquaworld  - Providing a large section of dives for the experienced diver as well as Padi courses. Includes details of courses, accommodation rates, booking and contact information. [English and German]

    Blue Waters Dive Cove  - Offering PADI courses, accompanied dives, equipment rental, accommodations and car rental on the island of Gozo. Includes details and contact information. [English and German]

    Buddies Dive Cove  - PADI 5 star centre offering information on courses, local dive site descriptions, booking and contact details.

    Dive Deep Blue Malta  - Offering 5 Star PADI and BSAC. Includes staff profiles, photos, course details. Includes inquiry form. Located in Qawra. [English and Dutch]

    Dive Med Diving Centre  - PADI 5* Dive centre in the south of Malta offering PADI courses, equipment servicing, and accompanied diving.

    Dive Systems  - Offers information on diving courses, equipment rental and accompanied diving.

    DivingDutchman  - Information on PADI courses, along with prices, photos and guestbook are available.

    Federation of Underwater Activities Malta  - Malta federation affiliate to CMAS. Information on the federation activities and its affiliated diving clubs and schools.

    Fun Adventure  - Information on diving instruction, boat trips, target games, and go karting.

    GOZO Aquasports  - Information about local diving courses and holidays, PADI approved.

    Luna Diving Centre  - Lists information on PADI courses, local regulations, prices, accommodations, and a map and descriptions of dive sites.

    Moby Dives Gozo  - Details on local dive sites, instruction, photo gallery, rates and packages, contacts.

    Neptune Dive Center  - PADI courses, daily trips, gear hire, and dive shop. Based in Balluta Bay.

    Paradise Diving Malta  - PADI Gold Palm Resort based in the North of Malta Includes dive site information, facilities offered, client photo gallery and contact details.

    Professional Diving School Association Malta  - Site providing general information on diving in Malta, diving regulations and links to association members.

    Scuba Kings  - Dive center on the island of Gozo. Includes course descriptions, prices, gallery of photographs, and contact information.

    Sea Shell Dive Cove  - Offer DSAT technical and PADI dive training courses. Also offer recreational escorted dives and equipment hire. Includes pricing. Located in Mellieha.

    St. Andrew s Divers Cove  - Offers details of a full range of scuba diving opportunities and tourist services for holidays in Gozo.

    Subway Scuba Diving School  - Offers courses and accompanied dives. Includes information on local resources.

    Zero Gravity Dive Centre  - Gozo Dive Centre. Includes contact information, details of courses and packages. Provision for all divers, including those with a disablility.

    Corsair Diving Malta We teach courses from beginner to pro and lots of specialties. All equipment new for 2008. We offer guided dives around Malta, Gozo and Comino. Check out our website for great prices!

    Diving Holidays & Accommodation In Malta & Gozo Diving Holidays & Accommodation website for travellers to Malta & Gozo, Europe. All levels of divers catered for from beginner to advanced. Frequent special offers and deals for individual divers and club groups. You dive, we will do the rest. All locations in Malta & Gozo.


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