Malta

Malta

Overview
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

an country consisting of an archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 situated in the centre of the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, 80 km (49.7 mi) south of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, 284 km (176.5 mi) east of Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and 333 km (206.9 mi) north of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, with Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 1755 km (1,090.5 mi) to the west and Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 1508 km (937 mi) to the east.

Malta covers just over 316 km² (122 sq mi) in land area, making it one of the world's smallest microstates
Microstate
A microstate or ministate is a sovereign state having a very small population or very small land area, but usually both. Some examples include Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Nauru, Singapore, and Vatican City....

.
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Timeline

1522   Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually settle on Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta.

1693   Mt. Etna erupts in Sicily, Italy. A powerful earthquake destroys parts of Sicily and Malta.

1799   Maltese patriot Dun Mikiel Xerri, along with a number of other patriots, is executed.

1800   Napoleon surrenders Malta to Great Britain.

1840   The Maronite leader Bashir II surrenders to the British Army and then is sent into exile on the islands of Malta.

1919   Sette giugno: Riot in Malta; four are killed.

1943   World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio sign an armistice aboard the Royal Navy battleship {{HMS|Nelson|28|6}} off Malta.

1964   Malta becomes independent from the United Kingdom.

1964   Malawi, Malta and Zambia join the United Nations.

1974   Malta becomes a republic.

 
Encyclopedia
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

an country consisting of an archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 situated in the centre of the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, 80 km (49.7 mi) south of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, 284 km (176.5 mi) east of Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and 333 km (206.9 mi) north of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, with Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 1755 km (1,090.5 mi) to the west and Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 1508 km (937 mi) to the east.

Malta covers just over 316 km² (122 sq mi) in land area, making it one of the world's smallest microstates
Microstate
A microstate or ministate is a sovereign state having a very small population or very small land area, but usually both. Some examples include Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Nauru, Singapore, and Vatican City....

. It is also one of the most densely populated
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 countries worldwide. Its de facto capital is Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

 and the largest town is Birkirkara
Birkirkara
Birkirkara or B'Kara is a city of 25,858 inhabitants in central Malta. It is the most populated town on the island and consists of four autonomous parishes: St Helen, St Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Mary. It also houses one of the most famous colleges in Malta, St Aloysius' College...

. The main island
Malta Island
Malta Island is the largest of the three major islands that constitute the Maltese archipelago and Republic of Malta. Malta is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea directly south of Italy and north of Libya. The area is 246 km² . The capital is Valletta, largest city is Qormi and the largest...

 is made up of many towns, which together form one Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) with a population of 368,250 according to Eurostat
Eurostat
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

. The country has two official languages – Maltese
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 – with Maltese being considered the national language.

Throughout history, Malta's location has given it great strategic importance, and a sequence of powers including the Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns, Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Arabs
Emirate of Sicily
The Emirate of Sicily was an Islamic state on the island of Sicily , which existed from 965 to 1072.-First Arab invasions of Sicily:...

, Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, Aragonese
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

, Knights of St John
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

, French
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 and the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 ruled the islands. Malta gained independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974, whilst retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. Since 1964 it has been a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and in 2004 it joined as member
Member State of the European Union
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union and has thereby undertaken the privileges and obligations that EU membership entails. Unlike membership of an international organisation, being an EU member state places a country under binding laws in...

 of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. Malta is also party to the Schengen Agreement
Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed on 14 June 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement 5 years later...

 and in 2008 it became part of the eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

.

Malta has a long Christian legacy and is an Apostolic See
Apostolic See
In Christianity, an apostolic see is any episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus.Out of the many such sees, five acquired special importance in Chalcedonian Christianity and became classified as the Pentarchy in Eastern Orthodox Christianity...

. According to the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 in the Bible, St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 was shipwrecked on "Melite", as the Greeks called the island, and ministered there. Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 is the official
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 religion in Malta
Religion in Malta
The predominant religion in Malta is Christianity, with Roman Catholicism being the predominant denomination. Most Maltese claim to be Catholic and participate in Catholic religious services and the Constitution of Malta establishes Catholicism as the state religion...

 as declared by the Maltese constitution
Constitution of Malta
The current Constitution of Malta was adopted as a legal order on September 21, 1964, and is the self-declared supreme law of the land. Therefore, any law or action in violation of the Constitution is null and void...

.

Malta is internationally renowned as a tourist resort
Resort
A resort is a place used for relaxation or recreation, attracting visitors for holidays or vacations. Resorts are places, towns or sometimes commercial establishment operated by a single company....

, with numerous recreational areas and historical monuments, including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

, most prominently the Megalithic Temples
Megalithic Temples of Malta
The Megalithic Temples of Malta are a series of prehistoric monuments in Malta of which seven are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Archaeologists believe that these megalithic complexes are the result of local innovations in a process of cultural evolution...

 which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.

Etymology


The origin of the term Malta is uncertain, and the modern-day variation derives from the Maltese language
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

. The most common etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 is that the word Malta derives from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word μέλι (meli), "honey". The Greeks called the island Μελίτη (Melitē) meaning "honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

-sweet" (which was also the name of a Nereid), possibly due to Malta's unique production of honey; an endemic species of bee
Maltese honey bee
The Maltese honey bee, Apis mellifera ruttneri, is a sub-species of the Western honey bee. It originates from Malta where it is native.- Origin :...

 lives on the island, giving it the popular nickname the "land of honey". The Romans went on to call the island Melita, which is the latinisation
Latinisation (literature)
Latinisation is the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style. It is commonly met with for historical personal names, with toponyms, or for the standard binomial nomenclature of the life sciences. It goes further than Romanisation, which is the writing of a word in the Latin alphabet...

 of the Greek Μελίτη. Another theory suggests that the word Malta comes from the Phoenician word Maleth meaning "a haven" in reference to Malta's many bays and cove
Cove
A cove is a small type of bay or coastal inlet. They usually have narrow, restricted entrances, are often circular or oval, and are often inside a larger bay. Small, narrow, sheltered bays, inlets, creeks, or recesses in a coast are often considered coves...

s.

Prehistory


Pottery found by archeologists at Skorba resembles that found in Italy, and suggests that the Maltese islands were first settled in 5200 BC mainly by stone age hunters or farmers who had arrived from the larger island of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, possibly the Sicani
Sicani
The Sicani or Sicanians were one of three ancient peoples of Sicily present at the time of Phoenician and Greek colonization.-History:The Sicani are thought to be the oldest inhabitants of Sicily with a recorded name...

. The extinction of the dwarf hippos
Maltese Hippopotamus
Hippopotamus melitensis is an extinct hippopotamus. It arrived after the Messinian salinity crisis and lived during the Pleistocene on Malta. The absence of predators led to the dwarfing of the hippos...

 and dwarf elephants
Elephas falconeri
Elephas falconeri is an extinct Siculo-Maltese species of elephant closely related to the modern Asian elephant...

 has been linked to the earliest arrival of humans on Malta. Prehistoric farming settlements dating to Early Neolithic period were discovered in open areas and also in caves, such as Għar Dalam.

The Sicani
Sicani
The Sicani or Sicanians were one of three ancient peoples of Sicily present at the time of Phoenician and Greek colonization.-History:The Sicani are thought to be the oldest inhabitants of Sicily with a recorded name...

 were the only tribe known to have inhabited the island at this time and are generally regarded as related to the Iberians
Iberians
The Iberians were a set of peoples that Greek and Roman sources identified with that name in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula at least from the 6th century BC...

. The population on Malta grew cereals, raised domestic livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 and, in common with other ancient Mediterranean cultures, worshiped a fertility figure
Mother goddess
Mother goddess is a term used to refer to a goddess who represents motherhood, fertility, creation or embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.Many different goddesses have...

 represented in Maltese prehistoric artifacts as exhibiting the large proportions seen in similar statuettes, including the Venus of Willendorf
Venus of Willendorf
The Venus of Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is an high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. It was discovered in 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the...

.



Pottery from the Għar Dalam phase is similar to pottery found in Agrigento
Agrigento
Agrigento , is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas , one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden...

, Sicily. A culture of megalithic temple builders then either supplanted or arose from this early period. During 3500 BC, these people built some of the oldest existing, free-standing structures in the world in the form of the megalithic Ġgantija
Ggantija
Ġgantija is a Neolithic, megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of a series of megalithic temples in Malta. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic Age , which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and...

 temples on Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

; other early temples include those at Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra
Mnajdra
Mnajdra is a megalithic temple complex found on the southern coast of the Mediterranean island of Malta. Mnajdra is approximately 500 metres from the Ħaġar Qim megalithic complex...

.

The temples have a distinctive architecture, typically a complex trefoil design, and were used from 4000–2500 BC. Animal bones and a knife found behind a removable altar stone suggest that temple rituals included animal sacrifice
Animal sacrifice
Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing of an animal as part of a religion. It is practised by many religions as a means of appeasing a god or gods or changing the course of nature...

. Tentative information suggests that the sacrifices were made to the goddess of fertility, whose statue is now in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. The culture apparently disappeared from the Maltese Islands around 2500 BC. Archeologists speculate that the temple builders fell victim to famine or disease. Others have speculated on the links between this event and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's account of the disappearance of Atlantis.

Another interesting archeological feature of the Maltese islands often attributed to these ancient builders, are equidistant uniform grooves dubbed "cart tracks" or "cart ruts" which can be found in several locations throughout the islands with the most prominent being those found in an area of Malta named "Clapham Junction". These may have been caused by wooden-wheeled carts eroding soft limestone.

After 2500 BC, the Maltese Islands were depopulated for several decades until the arrival of a new influx of Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 immigrants, a culture that cremated
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 its dead and introduced smaller megalithic structures called dolmens to Malta.

Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans


Around 700 BC, the Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 settled on Malta, especially around the area where Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

 now stands. A century later, Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n traders, who used the islands as a stop on their trade routes from the eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 to Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, joined the natives on the island. The Phoenicians inhabited the area now known as Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

, and its surrounding town of Rabat
Rabat, Malta
Rabat is a village just outside Mdina, Malta. The name of the village is derived from the Arabic word for 'suburb': الرباط, as it was the suburb of the old capital Mdina. Half of the present-day village core also formed part of the Roman city of Melita, before the latter was resized during the...

, which they called Maleth. The Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, who also lived in Mdina, referred to it (and the island) as Melita.


After the fall of Phoenicia
Siege of Tyre
The Siege of Tyre was a siege of the city of Tyre, a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean Sea, orchestrated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC during his campaigns against the Persians. The Macedonian army was unable to capture the city through conventional means because it was on an island...

, in 400 BC the area came under the control of Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, a former Phoenician colony. During this time the people on Malta mainly cultivated olives and carobs, and produced textiles.

During the First Punic War
First Punic War
The First Punic War was the first of three wars fought between Ancient Carthage and the Roman Republic. For 23 years, the two powers struggled for supremacy in the western Mediterranean Sea, primarily on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and its surrounding waters but also to a lesser extent in...

 of 264 BC, tensions led the Maltese people to rebel against Carthage and turn control of their garrison over to the Roman consul Sempronius
Tiberius Sempronius Longus (consul 218 BC)
Tiberius Sempronius Longus was a Roman consul during the Second Punic War and a contemporary of Publius Cornelius Scipio. In 218 BC, Sempronius was sent to Africa with 160 quinqueremes to gather forces and supplies, while Scipio was sent to Iberia to intercept Hannibal...

. Malta remained loyal to Rome during the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

 and the Romans rewarded it with the title Foederata Civitas
Civitas
In the history of Rome, the Latin term civitas , according to Cicero in the time of the late Roman Republic, was the social body of the cives, or citizens, united by law . It is the law that binds them together, giving them responsibilities on the one hand and rights of citizenship on the other...

, a designation that meant it was exempt from paying tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

 or the rule of Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

, although at this time it fell within the jurisdiction of the province of Sicily
Sicilia (Roman province)
Sicilia was the first province acquired by the Roman Republic, organized in 241 BC as a proconsular governed territory, in the aftermath of the First Punic War with Carthage. It included Sicily and Malta...

.

By 117 AD, the Maltese Islands were a thriving part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, being promoted to the status of Municipium
Municipium
Municipium , the prototype of English municipality, was the Latin term for a town or city. Etymologically the municipium was a social contract between municipes, the "duty holders," or citizens of the town. The duties, or munera, were a communal obligation assumed by the municipes in exchange for...

under Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

. Catacombs
Catacombs
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire...

 in Rabat testify to an early Christian community on the islands, and the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 recount the shipwreck of St Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 and his ministry on the island.

When the Roman Empire split into Eastern and Western divisions in the 4th century, Malta fell under the control of the Greek speaking Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 from 395 to 870, which ruled from Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Although Malta was under Byzantine rule for four centuries, not much is known from this period. There is evidence that Germanic tribes, including the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 and Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, briefly took control of the islands before the Byzantines launched a counter attack and retook Malta.

Middle Ages



Malta was involved in the Byzantine-Arab Wars
Byzantine-Arab Wars (780–1180)
Between 780–1180, the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid & Fatimid caliphates in the regions of Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Anatolia and Southern Italy fought a series of wars for supremacy in the Eastern Mediterranean...

, and the conquest of Malta is closely linked with that of Sicily due to admiral Euphemius' betrayal of his fellow Byzantines, requesting that the Aghlabid
Aghlabid
The Aghlabids were a dynasty of emirs, members of the Arab tribe of Bani Tamim, who ruled Ifriqiya, nominally on behalf of the Abbasid Caliph, for about a century, until overthrown by the new power of the Fatimid.-History:...

 dynasty invade the area. As part of the Emirate of Sicily
Emirate of Sicily
The Emirate of Sicily was an Islamic state on the island of Sicily , which existed from 965 to 1072.-First Arab invasions of Sicily:...

, rule switched to the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

s in 909. The Arabs introduced new irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

, some fruits and cotton and the Siculo-Arabic
Siculo-Arabic
Siculo-Arabic was a variety of Arabic spoken in Sicily and Malta between the ninth and the fourteenth centuries. It is extinct in Sicily, but it has developed into what is now the Maltese language on the islands of Malta....

 language was adopted on the island from Sicily: it would eventually evolve into the Maltese language
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

.

The native Christians were allowed freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 but had to pay jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

, a tax for following their religion. The Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, as part of their conquest of Sicily, took Malta in 1091. The local Christians warmly welcomed the arrival of Roger I
Roger I of Sicily
Roger I , called Bosso and the Great Count, was the Norman Count of Sicily from 1071 to 1101. He was the last great leader of the Norman conquest of southern Italy.-Conquest of Calabria and Sicily:...

 and offered to fight for him; in response to this, Roger reportedly tore off a portion of his checkered red-and-white banner and presented it to the Maltese
Maltese people
The Maltese are an ethnic group indigenous to the Southern European nation of Malta, and identified with the Maltese language. Malta is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea...

, forming the basis of the present-day Maltese flag
Flag of Malta
The Flag of Malta is a basic bi-colour, with white in the hoist and red in the fly: colours from the blazon of the arms of Malta. Tradition states that the colours of the flag were given to Malta by Count Roger of Sicily, in 1091...

.


The Norman period was productive; Malta became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

 which also covered the island of Sicily and the southern half of the Italian Peninsula
Italian Peninsula
The Italian Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula is one of the three large peninsulas of Southern Europe , spanning from the Po Valley in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. The peninsula's shape gives it the nickname Lo Stivale...

. The Catholic Church was re-instated as the state religion with Malta under the See of Palermo
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo
The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese of Palermo was founded as the Diocese of Palermo in the 1st Century but was raised to the level of an archdiocese in the 11th century...

 and much Norman architecture
Norman architecture
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...

 sprung up around Malta especially in its ancient capital Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

. Tancred of Sicily
Tancred of Sicily
Tancred was King of Sicily from 1189 to 1194. He was an illegitimate son of Roger III, Duke of Apulia, the eldest son of King Roger II, and of Emma, daughter of Achard II, Count of Lecce...

, the last Norman monarch, made Malta a feudal lordship
Feudal Lordship
A feudal lordship is a Scottish feudal title that is held in baroneum, which Latin term means that its holder, who is called a feudal lord, is also always a feudal baron. A feudal lordship is an ancient title of nobility in Scotland...

 or fief within the kingdom and a Count of Malta
Count of Malta
The County of Malta was a Feudal Lordship of the Kingdom of Sicily, relating to the islands of Malta and Gozo. Malta was essentially a fief within the kingdom, with the title given by Tancred of Sicily the last Norman king of Sicily to Margaritus of Brindisi in 1190 who earned acclaim as the Grand...

 instated. As the islands were much desired due to their strategic importance, it was during this time the men of Malta were militarised
Militarization
Militarization, or militarisation, is the process by which a society organizes itself for military conflict and violence. It is related to militarism, which is an ideology that reflects the level of militarization of a state...

 to fend off capture attempts; the early counts were skilled Genoese
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

 corsair
Corsair
Corsairs were privateers, authorized to conduct raids on shipping of a nation at war with France, on behalf of the French Crown. Seized vessels and cargo were sold at auction, with the corsair captain entitled to a portion of the proceeds...

s.

The kingdom passed on to the House of Hohenstaufen from 1194 until 1266. Malta was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 for 72 years. Malta was declared a county and a marquisate, but its trade was totally ruined. For a long time it remained solely a fortified garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

. It was in 1224 under Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

 that all remaining Muslims were expelled from Malta or impelled to convert and the entire Christian male population of Celano
Celano
Celano is a town and comune in the Province of L'Aquila, central Italy, east of Rome by rail.-Geography:Celano rises on the top of a hill in the territory of Marsica, below the mountain range of Sirente. It faces the valley of Fucino, once filled by the large Fucine Lake, which was drained during...

 in Abruzzo was deported to Malta.


For a brief period the kingdom passed to the Capetian House of Anjou
Capetian House of Anjou
The Capetian House of Anjou, also known as the House of Anjou-Sicily and House of Anjou-Naples, was a royal house and cadet branch of the direct House of Capet. Founded by Charles I of Sicily, a son of Louis VIII of France, the Capetian king first ruled the Kingdom of Sicily during the 13th century...

, however high taxes made the dynasty unpopular in Malta, due in part to Charles of Anjou's war against the Republic of Genoa
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

 and the island of Gozo was sacked in 1275. A large revolt on Sicily known as the Sicilian Vespers
Sicilian Vespers
The Sicilian Vespers is the name given to the successful rebellion on the island of Sicily that broke out on the Easter of 1282 against the rule of the French/Angevin king Charles I, who had ruled the Kingdom of Sicily since 1266. Within six weeks three thousand French men and women were slain by...

 followed these attacks, that saw the Peninsula separating into the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

. Malta fell under the rule of the Aragonese
House of Barcelona
The House of Barcelona was a medieval dynasty that ruled the County of Barcelona continuously from 878 and the Crown of Aragon from 1137 . From the male part they descend from the Bellonids, the descendants of Wifred the Hairy...

 in 1282.

Relatives of the kings of Aragon ruled the island until 1409, when it passed to the Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

. Early on in the Aragonese reign the sons of the monarchy received the title, "Count of Malta". It was also during this time that much of the local nobility was created. However by 1397 the bearing of the title "Count of Malta" reverted to a feudal basis with two families fighting over the distinction, which caused much distress. This led the king
Martin I of Sicily
Martin I of Sicily , called "The Younger", was King of Sicily from 1390 to 1409.Martin's father was the future King Martin I of Aragon, and his grandparents were King Peter IV of Aragon and Eleanor of Sicily. In 1389/1390/February, 1392 he married Maria of Sicily, born in 1362/1363...

 to abolish the title. Dispute over the title returned when the title was reinstated a few years later and the Maltese, led by the local nobility, rose up against Count Gonsalvo Monroy. Although they opposed the Count, the Maltese voiced their loyalty to the Sicilian Crown, which so impressed Alfonso IV
Alfonso V of Aragon
Alfonso the Magnanimous KG was the King of Aragon , Valencia , Majorca, Sardinia and Corsica , and Sicily and Count of Barcelona from 1416 and King of Naples from 1442 until his death...

 that he did not punish the people for their rebellion but promised never to grant the title to a third party, instead incorporating it back into the crown
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

. The city of Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

 was given the title of Città Notabile as a result of this sequence of events.

Knights of Malta and Napoleon



In 1530 Emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 gave the islands to the Knights Hospitaller
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 under the leadership of Frenchman Philippe de Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Grand Master of the Order
Grand Master (order)
Grand Master is the typical title of the supreme head of various orders of knighthood, including various military orders, religious orders and civil orders such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order...

, in perpetual lease. These knights, a military religious order now known as the Knights of Malta
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

, had been driven out of Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

 by the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1522.

In 1551, Barbary corsairs
Barbary corsairs
The Barbary Corsairs, sometimes called Ottoman Corsairs or Barbary Pirates, were pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast, a term derived from the name of its Berber...

 enslaved the entire population of the Maltese island Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

, about 5,000, deporting them to the Barbary coast
Barbary Coast
The Barbary Coast, or Barbary, was the term used by Europeans from the 16th until the 19th century to refer to much of the collective land of the Berber people. Today, the terms Maghreb and "Tamazgha" correspond roughly to "Barbary"...

.

The knights, led by Frenchman Jean Parisot de la Valette
Jean Parisot de la Valette
Fra' Jean Parisot de Valette was a French nobleman and 49th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, from 1557 to 1568. He succeeded La Vallette as grandmaster and continued the construction of Valletta...

, Grand Master of the Order, withstood a siege by the Ottomans
Siege of Malta (1565)
The Siege of Malta took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island, then held by the Knights Hospitaller .The Knights, together with between 4-5,000 Maltese men,...

 in 1565. The knights, with the help of the Maltese, were victorious, and speaking of the battle Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 said, "Nothing is more well known than the siege of Malta." After the siege they decided to increase Malta's fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new city of Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

, named in honour of Valette, was built. They also established watchtower
Watchtower
A watchtower is a type of fortification used in many parts of the world. It differs from a regular tower in that its primary use is military, and from a turret in that it is usually a freestanding structure. Its main purpose is to provide a high, safe place from which a sentinel or guard may...

s along the coasts – the Wignacourt
Wignacourt towers
The Wignacourt towers are a series of fortifications on the island of Malta built by the Knights of Malta.The initial towers of this type were built under the auspices of Grand Master Fra Aloph de Wignacourt...

, Lascaris
Lascaris towers
Grand Master Juan de Lascaris-Castellar of the Knights of Malta commissioned five towers during the period 1637 - 1640. The locals refer to both the five Lascaris towers and the thirteen later de Redin towers as "de Redin towers"...

 and de Redin towers
De Redin towers
The De Redin Towers are a series of thirteen small fortified watch towers that Grand Master Martin de Redin of the Knights of Malta built on the island of Malta between the year 1658 and 1659...

 – named after the Grand Masters who ordered the work. The Knights' presence on the island saw the completion of many architectural and cultural projects, including the embellishment of Città Vittoriosa
Birgu
Birgu is an ancient city in Malta. It played a vital role in the Siege of Malta in 1565. Its population stood at 2,633 in December 2008.-History:...

, the construction of new cities including Città Rohan
Zebbug, Malta
Ħaż-Żebbuġ or Città Rohan is one of the oldest towns in Malta. Its population is 12,892 as of 2010 making it the 12th largest town in Malta.-History and origins:...

 and Città Hompesch
Zabbar
Ħaż-Żabbar is the fourth largest town in Malta, with a population of 17,030 . Originally a part of Żejtun, Ħaż-Żabbar was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grandmasters of the Knights of St...

 and the introduction of new academic and social resources.

Approximately 11,000 people out of a population of 60,000 died of plague in 1675.


The Knights' reign ended when Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 captured Malta on his way to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 during the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars: Campaigns of 1798
1798 was a relatively quiet period in the French Revolutionary Wars. The major continental powers in the First coalition had made peace with France, leaving France dominant in Europe with only a slow naval war with Great Britain to worry about...

 in 1798. Over the years, the power of the Knights declined and the Order became unpopular. This was around the time when the universal values of freedom and liberty were incarnated by the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. People from both inside the Order and outside appealed to Napoleon Bonaparte to oust the Knights. The Little Corporal did not hesitate. His fleet arrived in 1798, en route to his expedition of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. As a ruse towards the Knights, Napoleon asked for safe harbour to resupply his ships, and then turned his guns against his hosts once safely inside Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

. Grand Master Hompesch
Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim
Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim was the 71st Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, the first German to be elected to the office....

 capitulated, and Napoleon entered Malta.

During his very short stay (six days), he accomplished quite a few reforms, notably the creation of a new administration with a Government Commission, the creation of twelve municipalities, the setting up of a public finance administration, the abolition of all feudal rights and privileges, the abolition of slavery and the granting of freedom to all Turkish slaves. On the judicial level, a family code was framed and twelve judges were nominated. Public education was organised along principles laid down by Bonaparte himself, providing for primary and secondary education. Fifteen primary schools were founded and the university was replaced by an ’Ecole centrale’ in which there were eight chairs, all very scientific in outlook: notably, arithmetic and stereometry, algebra and stereotomy, geometry and astronomy, mechanics and physics, navigation, chemistry, etc. He then sailed for Egypt leaving a substantial garrison in Malta.

The French forces left behind became unpopular with the Maltese, due particularly to the French forces' hostility towards Catholicism. The French financial and religious policies angered the Maltese who rebelled, forcing the French to retreat within the city fortifications. Great Britain, along with the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

 and the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

, sent ammunition and aid to the Maltese and Britain also sent her navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, which blockaded the islands.

General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois
Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois
Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. On 20 August 1808 he was created Comte de Belgrand de Vaubois...

 surrendered his French forces in 1800. Maltese leaders presented the island to Sir Alexander Ball
Alexander Ball
Sir Alexander John Ball, 1st Baronet was a British Admiral and the first British governor of Malta. He was born in Ebworth Park, Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire. He was the fourth son of Robert and Mary Ball....

, asking that the island become a British Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

. The Maltese people created a Declaration of Rights in which they agreed to come "under the protection and sovereignty of the King of the free people, His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". The Declaration also stated that "his Majesty has no right to cede these Islands to any power...if he chooses to withdraw his protection, and abandon his sovereignty, the right of electing another sovereign, or of the governing of these Islands, belongs to us, the inhabitants and aborigines alone, and without control."

British Empire and World War II




In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1814)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on 30 May 1814, ended the war between France and the Sixth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars, following an armistice signed on 23 May between Charles, Count of Artois, and the allies...

, Malta officially became a part of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and was used as a shipping way-station and fleet headquarters. Malta's position half-way between the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 and the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 proved to be its main asset during these years and it was considered an important stop on the way to India. This was an important trade route for the British and thus, the Maltese people took great advantage of this alliance as several culinary and botanical products were introduced in Malta; some examples (derived from the National Book of Trade Customs found in the National Library) include the entry of wheat (for bread making) and bacon. In 1919 British troops fired on a rally protesting against new taxes, killing four Maltese men. The event, known as Sette Giugno
Sette Giugno
Sette Giugno is a Maltese national holiday celebrated annually on 7 June. It commemorates events which occurred on that day in 1919 when, following a series of riots by the Maltese population, British troops fired into the crowd, killing four.-Historical setting:In the aftermath of World War I,...

 (Italian for 7 June), is commemorated every year and is one of five National Days.

In the early 1930s the British Mediterranean Fleet
Mediterranean Fleet (Royal Navy)
The British Mediterranean Fleet was part of the Royal Navy. The Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere...

, which was at that time the main contributor to commerce on the island, moved to Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 as an economic measure and to be out of range of Italian bombers.

During World War II, Malta played an important role owing to its proximity to Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 shipping lanes. The bravery of the Maltese people during the second Siege of Malta moved King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 to award the George Cross to Malta on a collective basis on 15 April 1942 "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". Some historians argue that the award caused Britain to incur disproportionate losses in defending Malta, as British credibility would have suffered if Malta surrendered, as Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 had. A replica of the George Cross now appears in the upper hoist corner of the Flag of Malta
Flag of Malta
The Flag of Malta is a basic bi-colour, with white in the hoist and red in the fly: colours from the blazon of the arms of Malta. Tradition states that the colours of the flag were given to Malta by Count Roger of Sicily, in 1091...

. The collective award remained unique until April 1999, when the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

 became the second and, to date, the only other recipient of a collective George Cross.

Independence and Republic



Malta achieved its independence on 21 September 1964 (Independence Day) after intense negotiations with the United Kingdom, led by Maltese Prime Minister George Borg Olivier. Under its 1964 constitution, Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 as Queen of Malta
Queen of Malta
This title of Queen of Malta was held by Elizabeth II between September 21, 1964 and December 13, 1974, following Malta's independence from the United Kingdom....

 and thus Head of State
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, with a Governor-General
Governor-General
A Governor-General, is a vice-regal person of a monarch in an independent realm or a major colonial circonscription. Depending on the political arrangement of the territory, a Governor General can be a governor of high rank, or a principal governor ranking above "ordinary" governors.- Current uses...

 exercising executive authority on her behalf. In 1971, the Malta Labour Party
Malta Labour Party
The Labour Party is, along with the Nationalist Party, one of two major contemporary political parties in Malta. It is the party of opposition in the Maltese House of Representatives where it has thirty-four of the sixty-nine seats.- Party Structure :...

 led by Dom Mintoff
Dom Mintoff
Dom Mintoff is a Maltese politician, journalist and architect, who served as leader of the Labour Party from 1949 to 1984, Prime Minister of Malta from 1955 to 1958 and again, post-Independence, from 1971 to...

 won the General Elections, resulting in Malta declaring itself a republic on 13 December 1974 (Republic Day) within the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, with the President
President of Malta
The President of Malta is the constitutional head of state of Malta.The President is appointed by a resolution of the House of Representatives of Malta for a five year term, taking an oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution....

 as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. A defence agreement signed soon after independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on 31 March 1979.

Malta adopted a policy of neutrality
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 in 1980. In 1989, Malta was the venue of a summit
Malta Summit
The Malta Summit consisted of a meeting between U.S. President George H. W. Bush and U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev, taking place between December 2-3 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was their second meeting following a meeting that included then President Ronald...

 between US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

, their first face-to-face encounter, which signalled the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

On 16 July 1990, Malta, through its foreign minister, Guido de Marco
Guido de Marco
Guido de Marco was a Maltese politician, who served as the sixth President of Malta from 1999 to 2004. A noted statesman and lawmaker, de Marco also served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Justice, and Minister for Foreign Affairs.He is widely regarded as one of the great...

, applied to join the European Union. After tough negotiations, a referendum was held on 8 March 2003, which resulted in a favourable vote. General Elections held on 12 April 2003, gave a clear mandate to the Prime Minister, Eddie Fenech Adami
Eddie Fenech Adami
Edward “Eddie” Fenech Adami is a Maltese politician who was Prime Minister of Malta from 1987 until 1996 and again from 1998 until 2004...

, to sign the Treaty of accession to the European Union on 16 April 2003 in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Greece.
Malta joined the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 on 1 May 2004. Following the European Council of 21–22 June 2007, Malta joined the Eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

 on 1 January 2008.

Politics




Malta is a republic, whose parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 and public administration
Public administration
Public Administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal.....

 is closely modeled on the Westminster system
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

. Malta had the second highest voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 in the world (and the highest for nations without mandatory voting), based on election turnout in national lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

 elections from 1960 to 1995. The unicameral House of Representatives
House of Representatives of Malta
The House of Representatives is the unicameral legislature of Malta and a component of the Parliament of Malta.The House is composed of an odd number of members elected for a five year term...

, (Maltese: Kamra tad-Deputati), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote
Single transferable vote
The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or...

 every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President
President of Malta
The President of Malta is the constitutional head of state of Malta.The President is appointed by a resolution of the House of Representatives of Malta for a five year term, taking an oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution....

 on advice of the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Malta
The Prime Minister of Malta is the Head of Government of Malta.-Establishment of the office and developments:The office of "Head of Ministry" was created as soon as Malta was granted autonomous government in 1921. The 1921 constitution was suspended twice before being revoked...

.

The House of Representatives is made up of sixty-nine 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
Constitution of Malta
The current Constitution of Malta was adopted as a legal order on September 21, 1964, and is the self-declared supreme law of the land. Therefore, any law or action in violation of the Constitution is null and void...

 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 Malta
President of Malta
The President of Malta is the constitutional head of state of Malta.The President is appointed by a resolution of the House of Representatives of Malta for a five year term, taking an oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution....

 is appointed for a five-year term by a resolution of the House of Representatives carried by a simple majority. The role of the President as head of state is largely ceremonial. The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic
Christian Democracy
Christian democracy is a political ideology that seeks to apply Christian principles to public policy. It emerged in nineteenth-century Europe under the influence of conservatism and Catholic social teaching...

 party, and the Labour Party, which is a social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 party. The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Lawrence Gonzi
Lawrence Gonzi
Lawrence Gonzi is a Maltese politician who has been Prime Minister of Malta since 2004. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta from 1988 to 1996, Minister of Social Policy from 1998 to 1999, and Deputy Prime Minister from 1999 to 2004...

. The Labour Party, with Joseph Muscat
Joseph Muscat
Joseph Muscat is a Maltese politician who has been leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives of Malta since 2008.- Education :...

 as its leader, is in opposition. There are a number of smaller political parties in Malta that presently have no parliamentary representation.

Until World War II Maltese politics was dominated by the language question
Languages of Malta
The current national language of Malta is Maltese, which along with English, is one of the official languages.Having been governed by many different countries in the past, the Maltese population carry linguistic imprints from many places...

 fought out by Italophile and Anglophile parties. Post-War politics dealt with constitutional questions on the relations with Britain (first with integration then independence) and, eventually, relations with the European Union.

Administrative divisions


Malta has had a system of local government since 1993, based on the European Charter of Local Self-Government
European Charter of Local Self-Government
The European Charter of Local Self-Government was adopted under the auspices of the Congress of the Council of Europe and was opened for signature by the Council of Europe's member states on 15 October 1985...

. There are at present 68 local council
Local councils of Malta
Since 1993, Malta has been subdivided into 68 local councils or localities . These form the most basic form of local government and there are no intermediate levels between it and the national level...

s (54 in Malta and 14 in Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

). Sixteen "hamlets", which form part of larger councils, have their own Administrative Committee. There are no intermediate levels between local government and national government and the levels of the six districts (five on the main island) and of the three regions (two on the main island) serve primarily statistical purposes.

Each council is made up of a number of councillors (from five to eleven, depending and relative to the population they represent). A Mayor and a Deputy Mayor
Deputy Mayor
Deputy mayor is an elective or appointive office of the second-ranking official in many local governments. Many elected deputy mayors are members of the city council who are given the title and serve as acting mayor in the mayor's absence...

 are elected by and from the Councillors. The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the council, is the executive, administrative and financial head of the council. Councillors are elected every four years through the single transferable vote
Single transferable vote
The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or...

. People who are eligible to vote in the election of the Maltese House of Representatives
House of Representatives of Malta
The House of Representatives is the unicameral legislature of Malta and a component of the Parliament of Malta.The House is composed of an odd number of members elected for a five year term...

 as well as resident citizens of the EU
Citizenship of the European Union
Citizenship of the European Union was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty . European citizenship is supplementary to national citizenship and affords rights such as the right to vote in European elections, the right to free movement and the right to consular protection from other EU states'...

 are eligible to vote. Due to the recent reform of the system, no elections will be held before 2012 from when elections will be held every two years for an alternating half of the councils.

Local councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality (including repairs to non-arterial roads), allocation of local wardens and refuse collection; they also carry out general administrative duties for the central government such as collection of government rents and funds and answer government-related public inquiries.

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 the government in an efficient and cost effective manner. This is achieved by emphasising the maintenance of Malta's territorial waters and airspace integrity.

The AFM also engages in combating terrorism, fighting against illicit drug trafficking, conducting anti-illegal immigrant and anti-illegal fishing operations, operating Search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 (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.

As a military organisation, the AFM provides backup support to the Malta Police Force (MPF) and other government departments/agencies in situations as required in an organised, disciplined manner in the event of national emergencies (such as natural disasters) or internal security and bomb disposal.

On another level, the AFM establishes and/or consolidates bilateral co-operation
Bilateralism
Bilateralism consists of the political, economic, or cultural relations between two sovereign states. For example, free trade agreements signed by two states are examples of bilateral treaties. It is in contrast to unilateralism or multilateralism, which refers to the conduct of diplomacy by a...

 with other countries to reach higher operational effectiveness related to AFM roles.

Geography



Malta is an archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 in the central Mediterranean (in its eastern basin), some 80 km (49.71 mi) south of the Italian island of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 across the Malta Channel
Malta Channel
Malta Channel separates the European island of Malta from the southern tip of Sicily. The channel serves as a sea route link to Europe for the Maltese....

. Only the three largest islands – Malta
Malta Island
Malta Island is the largest of the three major islands that constitute the Maltese archipelago and Republic of Malta. Malta is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea directly south of Italy and north of Libya. The area is 246 km² . The capital is Valletta, largest city is Qormi and the largest...

 (Malta), Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

 (Għawdex), and Comino
Comino
Comino is an island of the Maltese archipelago between the islands of Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea, measuring in area. Named after the cumin seed that once flourished in the Maltese islands, Comino is noted for its tranquility and isolation. It has a permanent population of only four...

 (Kemmuna) – are inhabited. The smaller islands (see below) are uninhabited. The islands of the archipelago were formed from the high points of a land bridge
Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands...

 between Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and North Africa that became isolated as sea levels rose after the last Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

. The archipelago lies on the edge of the African tectonic plate where it meets the Eurasian plate.

Numerous bays along the indented coastline of the islands provide good harbours. The landscape consists of low hills with terraced fields. The highest point in Malta is Ta' Dmejrek, at 253 m (830 ft), near Dingli
Dingli
Ħad-Dingli is a village on the west coast of Malta, with a population of 3,326 persons , 13 kilometers from the capital Valletta and two kilometers from the nearest town, Rabat. The village lies on a plateau some 250 metres above sea level, which is one of the highest points of Malta...

. Although there are some small rivers at times of high rainfall, there are no permanent rivers or lakes on Malta. However, some watercourses have fresh water running all year round at Baħrija, l-Imtaħleb and San Martin, and at Lunzjata Valley in Gozo.

Phytogeographically
Phytogeography
Phytogeography , also called geobotany, is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species...

, Malta belongs to the Liguro-Tyrrhenian province of the Mediterranean Region within the Boreal Kingdom
Boreal Kingdom
The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good , which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia...

. According to the WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, the territory of Malta belongs to the ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 of "Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands and Scrub".

The minor islands that form part of the archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 are uninhabited and include:
  • Barbaganni Rock (Gozo
    Gozo
    Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

    )
  • Cominotto
    Cominotto
    Cominotto , sometimes referred to as Cominetto, is an uninhabited Mediterranean island off the northern coast of Malta. Measuring only 0.25 km² in area, Cominotto lies 100 meters to the north west of Comino....

    , (Kemmunett)
  • Delimara Island (Marsaxlokk
    Marsaxlokk
    Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village located in the south-eastern part of Malta, with a population of 3,277 people . The village’s name comes from marsa, which means "port" and xlokk, which is the local name for south east...

    )
  • Filfla
    Filfla
    Filfla is a small, barren, uninhabited islet south of Malta, and is the most southerly point of the Maltese Archipelago. Filfoletta, a small rocky islet some 100 meters southwest of Filfla, has the southernmost point of Malta....

     (Żurrieq
    Zurrieq
    Żurrieq is one of the oldest towns in Malta, and has a population of 12,000 inhabitants . Żurrieq is situated in the South West of Malta. The first documentation about it being a parish dates back to 1436 dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. The island of Filfla is administratively a part of...

    )/(Siġġiewi
    Siggiewi
    Siġġiewi is a village and a local council in the southwestern part of Malta. It is situated on a plateau, a few kilometres away from Mdina, the ancient capital city of Malta, and 10 kilometres away from Valletta, the contemporary capital...

    )
  • Fessej Rock
  • Fungus Rock
    Fungus Rock
    Fungus Rock, which is colloquially known in Maltese as 'Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral' , is a small islet in the form of a 60 metres high massive lump of limestone at the entrance to an almost circular black lagoon in Dwejra, on the coast of Gozo, itself an island in the Maltese archipelago. Fungus Rock is...

    , (Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral) (Gozo
    Gozo
    Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

    )
  • Għallis Rock (Naxxar
    Naxxar
    Naxxar is a village in the central north of Malta, with a population of about 13,647 people . The Naxxar Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Victories. The feast is celebrated on September 8...

    )
  • Ħalfa Rock (Gozo
    Gozo
    Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

    )
  • Large Blue Lagoon Rocks (Comino
    Comino
    Comino is an island of the Maltese archipelago between the islands of Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea, measuring in area. Named after the cumin seed that once flourished in the Maltese islands, Comino is noted for its tranquility and isolation. It has a permanent population of only four...

    )

  • Islands of St. Paul/Selmunett Island (Mellieħa)
  • Manoel Island, which connects to the town of Gżira
    Gzira
    Gżira is a town in the north-eastern coast of Malta between Msida & Sliema, and bordering on Ta' Xbiex, with its famed yacht marina and Embassy Row. The population is approximately 7,100 . The word Gżira means "island" in Maltese, and the town is named after Manoel Island which lies just adjacent...

    , on the mainland, via a bridge
  • Mistra Rocks (San Pawl il-Baħar)
  • Taċ-Ċawl Rock (Gozo
    Gozo
    Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

    )
  • Qawra Point/Ta` Fraben Island (San Pawl il-Baħar)
  • Small Blue Lagoon Rocks (Comino
    Comino
    Comino is an island of the Maltese archipelago between the islands of Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea, measuring in area. Named after the cumin seed that once flourished in the Maltese islands, Comino is noted for its tranquility and isolation. It has a permanent population of only four...

    )
  • Sala Rock (Żabbar
    Zabbar
    Ħaż-Żabbar is the fourth largest town in Malta, with a population of 17,030 . Originally a part of Żejtun, Ħaż-Żabbar was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grandmasters of the Knights of St...

    )
  • Xrobb l-Għaġin Rock (Marsaxlokk
    Marsaxlokk
    Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village located in the south-eastern part of Malta, with a population of 3,277 people . The village’s name comes from marsa, which means "port" and xlokk, which is the local name for south east...

    )
  • Ta'that il-Mazz Rock


Climate




Malta has a Subtropical–Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 (Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Csa), with mild winters and warm to hot summers. Rain occurs mainly in winter, with summer being generally dry.

The average yearly temperature is 22–23 °C (71.6–73.4 F) during the day and 15 °C (59 °F) at night. In the coldest month – January – the temperature ranges from 12 to 20 °C (53.6 to 68 F) during the day and 7 to 12 °C (44.6 to 53.6 F) at night. In the warmest month – August – the temperature ranges from 28 to 34 °C (82.4 to 93.2 F) during the day and 19 to 24 °C (66.2 to 75.2 F) at night. Generally – summer's/holiday season lasts to 8 months, starting from around mid-April with temperatures 19–23 °C (66.2–73.4 F) during the day and 13–14 °C (55.4–57.2 F) at night, ending in November with temperatures 17–23 °C (62.6–73.4 F) during the day and 11–20 °C (51.8–68 F) at night, although also in the remaining 4 months temperatures sometimes reach 20 °C (68 °F). Amongst all capitals in the continent of Europe, Valletta – the capital of Malta has the warmest winters, with average temperatures of 15–16 °C (59–60.8 F) during the day and 9–10 °C (48.2–50 F) at night in the period January–February. In March and December average temperatures is around 17 °C (62.6 °F) during the day and 11 °C (51.8 °F) at night. Large fluctuations in temperature are rare. Also, Malta is one of the few places in Europe which are "green" all year round.

Average annual temperature of the sea is 20 °C (68 °F) (the highest in the continent of Europe), from 16 °C (61 °F) in January to 26 °C (79 °F) in August. In the entire 6 months – from June to November – the average sea temperature exceeds 21 °C (70 °F)

Sunshine hours total around 3,000 per year (one of the highest results in Europe), from an average above five hours of sunshine per day in December to an average above 12 hours in July. This is about double that of cities in the northern half of Europe, for comparison: London – 1,461; however in winter it has up to several times more sunshine, for comparison: London has 37 hours while Malta has 155 or 164 (depending on the sources) hours of sunshine in December.

Economy



Malta is classified as an advanced economy together with 32 other countries according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Until 1800 Malta depended on cotton, tobacco and its shipyards for exports. After the British arrived, they came to depend on the dockyard for support of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, especially during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 of 1854. The military base benefited craftsmen and all those who served the military.

In 1869, the opening of the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 gave Malta's economy a great boost, as there was a massive increase in the shipping which entered the port. Ships stopping at Malta's docks for refuelling helped the Entrepôt
Entrepôt
An entrepôt is a trading post where merchandise can be imported and exported without paying import duties, often at a profit. This profit is possible because of trade conditions, for example, the reluctance of ships to travel the entire length of a long trading route, and selling to the entrepôt...

 trade, which brought additional benefits to the island.

However, towards the end of the 19th century the economy began declining, and by the 1940s Malta's economy was in serious crisis. One factor was the longer range of newer merchant ships that required less frequent refuelling stops.
Currently, Malta's major resources are limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, 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. Malta is a popular tourist destination, with 1.2 million tourists every year. Three times more tourists visit than there are residents. Tourism infrastructure has increased dramatically over the years and a number of good-quality hotels are present on the island, although overdevelopment and the destruction of traditional housing is of growing concern. An increasing number of Maltese now travel abroad on 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.

The government is investing heavily in education, including college.

In preparation for Malta's membership in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, which it joined on 1 May 2004, it privatised
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 some state-controlled firms and liberalised markets. For example, the government announced on 8 January 2007 that it is selling its 40% stake in MaltaPost, in order to complete a privatisation process which has been ongoing for the past five years. In 2010, Malta has managed to privatize telecommunications, postal services, shipyards and shipbuilding.

Malta and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 are currently discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for petroleum exploration. These discussions are also undergoing between Malta and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 for similar arrangements.

Malta does not have a property tax.

According to Eurostat
Eurostat
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

 data, Maltese PPS GDP per capita stood at 76 per cent of the EU average in 2008.

Banking


The two largest commercial banks are Bank of Valletta
Bank of Valletta
Bank of Valletta is Malta's longest established financial services provider and one of its largest. Domestic operations include a national network of 45 branches, 6 regional business centres, corporate centre, and a wealth management arm...

 and HSBC Bank Malta
HSBC Bank Malta
HSBC Bank Malta plc is the largest bank in Malta and a subsidiary of HSBC. It is the former Mid-Med Bank and the second-oldest bank in Malta. HSBC's Malta headquarters are at 116 Archbishop Street, Valletta...

, both of which can trace their origins back to the 19th century. Malta is also home to an international financial centre with several foreign offshore bank
Offshore bank
An offshore bank is a bank located outside the country of residence of the depositor, typically in a low tax jurisdiction that provides financial and legal advantages. These advantages typically include:...

s.

The Central Bank of Malta
Central Bank of Malta
The Central Bank of Malta was established on 17 April 1968. In May 2004, when Malta joined the European Union, it became an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. It was responsible for, amongst other things, issuing Maltese lira banknotes and coins, before Malta adopted the euro...

 (Bank Ċentrali ta' Malta), has two key areas of responsibility: the formulation and implementation of monetary policy and the promotion of a sound and efficient financial system. It was established by the Central Bank of Malta Act on 17 April 1968. The Maltese government entered ERM II on 4 May 2005, and adopted the euro as the country's currency on 1 January 2008.

Transport



Traffic in Malta moves on the left
Driving on the left or right
The terms right-hand traffic and left-hand traffic refer to regulations requiring all bidirectional traffic to keep either to the right or the left side of the road, respectively. This is so fundamental to traffic flow that it is sometimes referred to as the rule of the road. This basic rule eases...

, as in the UK. Car ownership in Malta is exceedingly high, given the very small size of the islands; it is the fourth highest in the European Union. The number of registered cars in 1990 amounted to 182,254, giving an automobile density of 582 /km2 (1,510 /sq mi).

Malta has 2,254 kilometres (1,401 mi) of road, 1,972 km (1,225 mi) (87.5%) of which are paved and 282 km (175 mi) were unpaved (December 2003).
The main roads of Malta from the southest point to the northest point are these: Triq Birżebbuġa in Birżebbuġa
Birzebbuga
Birżebbuġa is a small but flourishing seaside resort not far from Marsaxlokk in south-east Malta. It is approximately 8 miles from the City of Valletta. Popular among Maltese holiday-makers for decades, this village is perhaps best known for its important archaeological sites, especially Għar...

, Għar Dalam Road and Tal-Barrani
Tal-Barrani
Tal-Barrani, is an area in Malta located between the towns of Żejtun and Tarxien. The name defines an estate in the outskirts of a town or city, but can also be a reference to a foreign person or someone who is not a resident of the area....

 Road in Żejtun
Zejtun
Żejtun is a medium sized town in the south of Malta. Żejtun holds the title of Città Beland, which was bestowed by Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, Grandmaster of Knights of Malta in 1797, Beland being his mother's surname....

, Santa Luċija Avenue in Raħal Ġdid (Paola), Malta, Aldo Moro Street (Trunk Road), 13 December Street and Ħamrun-Marsa Bypass in Marsa, Malta, Regional Road in Santa Venera
Santa Venera
Santa Venera is a town in Malta, with a population of around 6,800 . This settlement is found in the Outer Harbour Region of Malta. The oldest buildings in Santa Venera are Wignacourt Aqueduct and Casa Leoni, both of which were built by the Knights of St. John.A new church has been built recently...

/Msida
Msida
Msida or Imsida is a harbour town in Malta with a population of 7,623 . The town is located just west of Valletta on the northeast coast of Malta. The town enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry, sunny summers and short, cool winters.The neighbouring towns of Msida are Ta' Xbiex, Gzira, San...

/Gżira
Gzira
Gżira is a town in the north-eastern coast of Malta between Msida & Sliema, and bordering on Ta' Xbiex, with its famed yacht marina and Embassy Row. The population is approximately 7,100 . The word Gżira means "island" in Maltese, and the town is named after Manoel Island which lies just adjacent...

/San Ġwann
San Gwann
-History:The San Ġwann suburb is mostly made up of relatively modern buildings having been established as a parish only in 1965. However, the few scattered archeological remains found in the region suggest that San Ġwann has an ancient history which is woven into the national history of Malta.The...

, St Andrew's Road in Swieqi
Swieqi
Is-Swieqi is a municipality and town in northeastern Malta. It is a residential area just 15 minutes by bus from Tas-Sliema and within striking distance of Malta's nightlife and entertainment centres, Paceville and St. Julian's. As Is-Swieqi developed, its residential estates took over farmland...

/Pembroke, Malta
Pembroke, Malta
Pembroke, Malta's newest town, is on the northern coast of Malta. To the east is Paceville, the nightlife district of Malta. The coastal town and tourist hub of St. Julian's lies to the southeast, and the residential area of Swieqi lies to the south...

, Coast Road in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Salina Road, Kennedy Drive, St. Paul's Bypass and Xemxija
Xemxija
Xemxija is a resort area on the west side of St. Paul's Bay, Malta.Xemxija is the gateway to the sandy beaches of Golden Bay to the west, and to Mellieha Bay to the north. Xemxija is a quiet resort, surrounded by Maltese countryside and some of the most fertile valleys in Malta. There is also a...

 Hill in San Pawl il-Baħar, Mistra Hill, Wettinger Street (Mellieħa Bypass) and Marfa Road in Mellieħa.

Bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es (xarabank or karozza tal-linja) are the primary method of public transport. Established in 1905, the service underwent an extensive reform in July 2011. The management structure changed from having self-employed drivers driving their own vehicles to a service being offered by a single company through a public tender (in Gozo, being considered as a small network, the service was given through direct order). The public tender was won by Arriva Malta, a member of the Arriva
Arriva
Arriva plc is a multinational public transport company owned by Deutsche Bahn and headquartered in Sunderland, United Kingdom. It has bus, coach, train, tram and waterbus operations in 12 countries across Europe, employs more than 47,500 people and services over 1.5 billion passenger journeys each...

 group.

The new service includes a day and night services. The fast Crossline services operating at a frequency of 30 minutes. The Crossline service shall connect with Mainline services, which will operate at a frequency of between 10 and 30 minutes. At regional and local levels the feeder lines will serve villages and neighbouring areas at a frequency of 30 minutes. Interchanges are located in Valletta, Mater Dei Hospital
Mater Dei Hospital
Mater Dei Hospital is a state of the art public hospital in Msida, Malta. It opened its doors to the public for the first time on 29 June 2007. The 250,000 sqm complex includes 825 beds and 25 operating theaters. It was designed and built by the Swedish construction firm Skanska Malta JV...

, Swieqi
Swieqi
Is-Swieqi is a municipality and town in northeastern Malta. It is a residential area just 15 minutes by bus from Tas-Sliema and within striking distance of Malta's nightlife and entertainment centres, Paceville and St. Julian's. As Is-Swieqi developed, its residential estates took over farmland...

, Paola
Paola, Malta
Paola, , is a town in the Grand Harbour area of Malta, with a population of 8,856 people . It is named after its founder, the Grandmaster Antoine de Paule, but is commonly known as Raħal Ġdid, which means new town in Maltese.Paola is renowned for its shopping centres, Good Friday procession, its...

, Marsa, Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport is the only airport in Malta and it serves the whole Maltese Archipelago. It is located between Luqa and Gudja. It occupies the location of the former RAF Luqa and was completely re-furbished, becoming fully operational on 25 March 1992...

 and Msida
Msida
Msida or Imsida is a harbour town in Malta with a population of 7,623 . The town is located just west of Valletta on the northeast coast of Malta. The town enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry, sunny summers and short, cool winters.The neighbouring towns of Msida are Ta' Xbiex, Gzira, San...

.

Between 1883 and 1931, Malta had a railway line that connected Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

 to the army barracks at Mtarfa
Mtarfa
Imtarfa, or Mtarfa is a small town close to Rabat and Mdina in the north of Malta, with a population of 2,430 people .-History:...

 via Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

 and a number of towns and villages. The railway fell into disuse and eventually closed altogether, following the introduction of electric trams and buses. At the height of the bombing of Malta during World War II, Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 announced that his forces had destroyed the railway system but by the time war broke out, the railway had been mothballed for more than nine years.


Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island, these include the Grand Harbour
Grand Harbour
Grand Harbour is a natural harbour on the island of Malta. It has been used as a harbour since at least Phoenician times...

 in Valletta and Marsamxett Harbour within close proximity
  • The Grand Harbour
    Grand Harbour
    Grand Harbour is a natural harbour on the island of Malta. It has been used as a harbour since at least Phoenician times...

     (or Port il-Kbir), located at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta
    Valletta
    Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

    , has been a harbour since Roman
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

     times. It has several extensive docks and wharves
    Wharf
    A wharf or quay is a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers.Such a structure includes one or more berths , and may also include piers, warehouses, or other facilities necessary for handling the ships.A wharf commonly comprises a fixed...

    , as well as a cruise liner terminal. A terminal at the Grand Harbour serves ferries that connect Malta to Pozzallo
    Pozzallo
    Pozzallo is a town and comune in the province of Ragusa, Sicily, Italy. The beaches of Pozzallo have received the Blu Flag by FEE award. A prestigious award given to beaches which meet strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management,...

     & Catania
    Catania
    Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

     in Sicily.
  • Marsamxett Harbour
    Marsamxett Harbour
    Marsamxett Harbour, also referred as Marsamuscetto in many ancient documents, is the northern of Valletta's two natural harbours on the island of Malta, separated from the southern one by the Valletta peninsula. To the north it is bounded by Gżira and Sliema as far as Dragut Point and extends...

    , located on the western side of Valletta, accommodates a number of yacht marinas.
  • Marsaxlokk Harbour (Malta Freeport), at Marsaxlokk
    Marsaxlokk
    Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village located in the south-eastern part of Malta, with a population of 3,277 people . The village’s name comes from marsa, which means "port" and xlokk, which is the local name for south east...

     on the south-eastern side of Malta, is the islands' main cargo terminal. Malta Freeport is the 11th busiest container ports in continent of Europe and 46th in the World with a trade volume of 2.3 million TEU's
    Twenty-foot equivalent unit
    The twenty-foot equivalent unit is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals...

     in 2008.


There are also two man-made harbours that serve a passenger and car ferry service that connects Ċirkewwa Harbour
Cirkewwa
Ċirkewwa is a harbour situated on a point at the northernmost part of Malta.It is the site of the Ċirkewwa Ferry Terminal, where regular car ferries operate to the port of Mġarr on Gozo. In the summer, boat trips to Comino also operate, as well as organised diving excursions...

 on Malta and Mġarr Harbour
Mgarr
Mġarr or Imġarr, formerly known as Mgiarro, is a small town in the northwest of the mainland of Malta. Mgarr is a typical rural village situated in an isolated region, west of Mosta. It is surrounded with rich farmland and vineyards...

 on Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

. The ferry makes numerous runs each day.

Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport is the only airport in Malta and it serves the whole Maltese Archipelago. It is located between Luqa and Gudja. It occupies the location of the former RAF Luqa and was completely re-furbished, becoming fully operational on 25 March 1992...

 (Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta) is the only airport serving the Maltese Islands. It is built on the land formerly occupied by the RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 Luqa
RAF Luqa
Royal Air Force Luqa was a flying station and location of RAF Mediterranean Command headquarters of the Royal Air Force on the island of Malta during World War II...

 air base. A heliport is also located there, but the scheduled service to Gozo ceased in 2006. The heliport in Gozo is at Xewkija
Xewkija
Xewkija is a village on Gozo Island, Malta. The population of Xewkija is 3,115 , that is the fourth largest in Gozo, after Victoria , Nadur and Xagħra .-History:...

. Since June 2007, Harbour Air Malta has operated a thrice-daily floatplane service between the sea terminal in Grand Harbour and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.

Two further airfields at Ta' Qali and Ħal Far airfields operated during World War II and into the 1960s but are now closed. Today, Ta' Qali houses a national park, stadium, the Crafts Village visitor attraction and the Malta Aviation Museum. This museum preserves several aircraft, including Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force...

 and Spitfire fighters that defended the island in World War II.
The national airline is Air Malta
Air Malta
Air Malta plc is the national airline of Malta, headquartered in Luqa. It operates services to 36 destinations in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. The airline's hub and base is at Malta International Airport.- History :...

, which is based at Malta International Airport, and which operates services to 36 destinations in Europe and North Africa. The owners of Air Malta are the Government of Malta
Government of Malta
The Government of Malta is the executive branch of Malta. It is made up of the Cabinet and the Parliamentary Secretaries. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of Malta, with the President making his or her decision based on the situation within the Maltese parliament. The Prime...

 (98%) and private investors (2%). Air Malta employs 1,547 staff. It has a 25% shareholding in Medavia
Medavia
Medavia is an airline based in Luqa, Malta. It operates ad hoc charters and long term leases mainly in North Africa supporting the oil industry and the provision of VIP charters. Its main bases are Malta International Airport and Tripoli International Airport, Libya...

.

Air Malta has concluded over 191 interline ticketing agreements with other IATA airlines. It also has a codeshare agreement with Qantas covering the following routes: Sydney–Singapore–Heathrow–Malta, Sydney–Bangkok–Heathrow–Malta and Melbourne–Singapore–Heathrow–Malta. In September 2007, Air Malta made two agreements with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways by which Air Malta wet-leased two Airbus aircraft to Etihad Airways for the winter period starting 1 September 2007, and provided operational support on another Airbus A320, aircraft which it leased to Etihad Airways.

Communications


The mobile penetration rate in Malta stood at 101.3% as at the end of 2009. Malta uses the GSM900 & UMTS(3G) mobile phone systems. This is compatible with the rest of the European countries, Australia and also New Zealand.

There are no area codes in Malta, subscribers' numbers having eight digits. Fixed line telephone numbers have the prefix 2, while mobile telephone numbers have the prefix 7 or 9. When calling Malta from abroad, one must first dial the international access code, then the country code +356 and the subscriber's number.

Currency


Maltese euro coins
Maltese euro coins
Maltese euro coins feature three separate designs for the three series of coins. Malta has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004, and is a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union. Malta adopted the euro as its official currency on 1 January 2008, replacing the...

 feature the Maltese Cross
Maltese cross
The Maltese cross, also known as the Amalfi cross, is identified as the symbol of an order of Christian warriors known as the Knights Hospitaller or Knights of Malta and through them came to be identified with the Mediterranean island of Malta and is one of the National symbols of Malta...

 on €2 and €1 coins, the Maltese Coat of Arms on the €0.50, €0.20 and €0.10 coins, and the Mnajdra
Mnajdra
Mnajdra is a megalithic temple complex found on the southern coast of the Mediterranean island of Malta. Mnajdra is approximately 500 metres from the Ħaġar Qim megalithic complex...

 Temples on the €0.05, €0.02 and €0.01 coins.

Malta has produced collectors' coins with face value ranging from 10 to 50 euro. These coins continue an existing national practice of minting of silver and gold commemorative coins. Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the eurozone. For instance, a €10 Maltese commemorative coin cannot be used in any other country.

From 1972 until introduction of the Euro in 2008, the currency was the Maltese Lira
Maltese lira
The lira was the currency of Malta from 1972 until 31 December 2007. The lira was abbreviated as Lm, although the traditional ₤ sign was often used locally...

, which had replaced the Maltese pound. The pound replaced the Maltese scudo
Maltese scudo
The scudo is the official currency of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and was the currency of Malta during the rule of the Order over Malta, which ended in 1798. It is subdivided into 12 tari , each of 20 grani with 6 piccioli to the grano...

 in 1798.

Tourism


In recent years, Malta has advertised itself as a medical tourism
Medical tourism
Medical tourism is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care...

 destination, and a number of health tourism provider
Health tourism provider
A health tourism provider or medical tourism provider is an organisation or a company which seeks to bring together a prospective patient with a service provider, usually a hospital or a clinic. If the patient is crossing international borders to obtain medical care, then that individual would...

s are developing the industry. However, no Maltese hospital has undergone independent international healthcare accreditation
International healthcare accreditation
Due to the near-universal desire for quality healthcare, there is a growing interest in international healthcare accreditation. Providing healthcare, especially of an adequate standard, is a complex and challenging process...

. Malta is popular with British medical tourists, pointing Maltese hospitals towards seeking UK-sourced accreditation, such as with the Trent Accreditation Scheme
Trent Accreditation Scheme
The Trent Accreditation Scheme , , was a British accreditation scheme formed with a mission to maintain and continually evaluate standards of quality, especially in health care delivery, through the surveying and accreditation of health care organisations, especially...

. Dual accreditation with the American-oriented Joint Commission is necessary if hospitals in Malta wish to compete with the Far East and Latin America for medical tourists from the United States.

Demographics



Malta conducts a census of population and housing every ten years. The census held in November 2005 managed to count an estimated 96% of the population. A preliminary report was issued in April 2006, and results were weighted to an estimate for 100% of the population.

Native Maltese people
Maltese people
The Maltese are an ethnic group indigenous to the Southern European nation of Malta, and identified with the Maltese language. Malta is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea...

 make up the majority of the island. However there are minorities, the largest of which are British people
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

, many of whom retired to Malta.
The population of Malta was estimated at 408,000. , 17% were aged 14 and under, 68% were within the 15–64 age bracket whilst the remaining 13% were 65 years and over. Malta's population density of 1,282 per square kilometer (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.

All censuses since 1842 have shown a slight excess of females over males. The 1901 and 1911 censuses came closest to recording a balance. The highest female-to-male ratio was reached in 1957 (1088:1000), and since the ratio has been constantly dropping. The 2005 census showed a 1013:1000 female-to-male ratio.
Population growth has slowed down, from +9.5% between the 1985 and 1995 censuses, to +6.9% between the 1995 and 2005 censuses (a yearly average of +0.7%). The birth rate stood at 3860 (a decrease of 21.8% from the 1995 census) and the death rate stood at 3025. Thus, there was a natural population increase of 835 (compared to +888 for 2004, of which over a hundred were foreign residents).


The population's age composition is similar to the age structure prevalent in the EU. Since 1967 there was observed a trend indicating an ageing population, and is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio
Dependency ratio
In economics and geography the dependency ratio is an age-population ratio of those typically not in the labor force and those typically in the labor force...

 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 canonical (ecclesiastical) marriages. Annulments by the ecclesiastical and civil courts are unrelated and are not necessarily mutually endorsed. Malta voted in favor of divorce legislation in a referendum held on 28 May 2011. Abortion in Malta is illegal. A person must be 16 to marry. The number of brides aged under 25 decreased from 1471 in 1997 to 766 in 2005; while the number of grooms under 25 decreased from 823 to 311. There is a constant trend that females are more likely than males to marry young. In 2005 there were 51 brides aged between 16 and 19, compared to 8 grooms.

At the end of 2007 the population of the Maltese Islands stood at 410,290 and is expected to reach 424,028 by 2025. At the moment, females slightly outnumber males, making up 50.3 per cent of the population. The largest proportion of persons 7.5 per cent were aged 25–29, while there were 7.3% falling into each of the 45–49 and 55–59 age brackets.

Languages


See also: Languages in education section (below)

The Maltese language
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

  is the constitutional national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

 of Malta. The Constitution also enshrines it as the country's official language, alongside English. Italian was the official language of Malta until 1934, when English and Maltese replaced it.

Maltese is originally a Semitic language descended from Siculo-Arabic
Siculo-Arabic
Siculo-Arabic was a variety of Arabic spoken in Sicily and Malta between the ninth and the fourteenth centuries. It is extinct in Sicily, but it has developed into what is now the Maltese language on the islands of Malta....

 (from southern Italy). The Maltese alphabet
Maltese alphabet
The Maltese alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet with the addition of some letters with diacritic marks and digraphs. It is used to write the Maltese language. It contains 30 letters: - Las muestras :...

 consists of 30 letters based on the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, including the diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

ally altered letters ż
Z
Z is the twenty-sixth and final letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.-Name and pronunciation:In most dialects of English, the letter's name is zed , reflecting its derivation from the Greek zeta but in American English, its name is zee , deriving from a late 17th century English dialectal...

, ċ
C
Ĉ or ĉ is a consonant in Esperanto orthography, representing the sound .Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for all four of its postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets...

and ġ
G
G is the seventh letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The letter 'G' was introduced in the Old Latin period as a variant of ⟨c⟩ to distinguish voiced, from voiceless, . The recorded originator of ⟨g⟩ is freedman Spurius Carvilius Ruga, the first Roman to open a fee-paying school,...

, as well as the letters , ħ, and ie.

Maltese has a semitic base with substantial borrowing from Sicilian
Sicilian language
Sicilian is a Romance language. Its dialects make up the Extreme-Southern Italian language group, which are spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands; in southern and central Calabria ; in the southern parts of Apulia, the Salento ; and Campania, on the Italian mainland, where it is...

, Italian, a little French, and more recently, and increasingly, English. The language includes different dialects that can vary strongly from one town to another or from one island to another.

The Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

 states that 100% of the population speak Maltese. Also, 88% of the population speak English, 66% speak Italian, and 17% speak French. This widespread knowledge of second language
Second language
A second language or L2 is any language learned after the first language or mother tongue. Some languages, often called auxiliary languages, are used primarily as second languages or lingua francas ....

s makes Malta one of the most multi-lingual countries in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. A study collecting public opinion on what language was "preferred" discovered that 86% of the population express a preference for Maltese, 12% for English, and 2% for Italian. Still, Italian television channels from Italy-based broadcasters, such as Mediaset
Mediaset
Mediaset S.p.A., known as Gruppo Mediaset in Italian, is an Italian-based media company which is the largest commercial broadcaster in the country...

 and RAI
RAI
RAI — Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A. known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane, is the Italian state owned public service broadcaster controlled by the Ministry of Economic Development. Rai is the biggest television company in Italy...

, reach Malta and remain popular.

Religion



The Constitution of Malta declares Roman Catholicism
Christianity in Malta
In the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism.-Saint Paul:The Church in Malta is described in the Book of Acts to have been founded by its patrons Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Publius, who was its first bishop. The Islands of St. Paul In the...

 as the state religion although entrenched provisions for the freedom of religion are made. Freedom House and the World Factbook report that 98% of the population is Roman Catholic, making the nation one of the most Catholic countries in the world.

There are more than 360 churches in Malta, Gozo, and Comino, or one church for every 1,000 residents. The parish church (Maltese: "il-parroċċa", or "il-knisja parrokjali") is the architectural and geographic focal point of every Maltese town and village, and its main source of civic pride. This civic pride manifests itself in spectacular fashion during the local village festas, which mark the day of the patron saint of each parish with marching bands, religious processions, special Masses, fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

 (especially petards), and other festivities.
Malta is an Apostolic See
Apostolic See
In Christianity, an apostolic see is any episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus.Out of the many such sees, five acquired special importance in Chalcedonian Christianity and became classified as the Pentarchy in Eastern Orthodox Christianity...

; the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 tells of how Christians believe St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

, on his way from Crete to Rome to face trial, was shipwrecked on the island of "Melite", which many Bible scholars identify with Malta, an episode dated around AD 60. The Acts of the Apostles says St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 spent three months on the island, curing the sick including the father of Publius, the "chief man of the island". Various traditions are associated with this account. The shipwreck is said to have occurred in the place today known as St Paul's Bay. Saint Publius
Saint Publius
Saint Publius is the first maltese Saint. He is venerated as the first Bishop of Malta. Publius' conversion led to Malta being the first Christian nation in the West, and one of the first in the world....

 is said to have been made Malta's first bishop and a grotto in Rabat
Rabat, Malta
Rabat is a village just outside Mdina, Malta. The name of the village is derived from the Arabic word for 'suburb': الرباط, as it was the suburb of the old capital Mdina. Half of the present-day village core also formed part of the Roman city of Melita, before the latter was resized during the...

, now known as "St Paul's Grotto" (and in the vicinity of which evidence of Christian burials and rituals from the 3rd century AD has been found), is amongst the earliest known places of Christian worship on the island.

Further evidence of Christian practices and beliefs during the period of Roman persecution appears in catacombs
Catacombs
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire...

 that lie beneath various sites around Malta, including St Paul's Catacombs and St Agatha's Catacombs in Rabat
Rabat, Malta
Rabat is a village just outside Mdina, Malta. The name of the village is derived from the Arabic word for 'suburb': الرباط, as it was the suburb of the old capital Mdina. Half of the present-day village core also formed part of the Roman city of Melita, before the latter was resized during the...

, just outside the walls of Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

. The latter, in particular, were beautifully frescoed between 1200 and 1480, although marauding Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 defaced many of them in the 1550s. There are also a number of cave churches, including the grotto at Mellieħa, which is a Shrine of the Nativity of Our Lady where, according to legend, St. Luke painted a picture of the Madonna. It has been a place of pilgrimage since medieval times.

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 record that in 451 AD, a certain Acacius was Bishop of Malta (Melitenus Episcopus). It is also known that in 501 AD, a certain Constantinus, Episcopus Melitenensis, was present at the Fifth Ecumenical Council
Second Council of Constantinople
The Second Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Fifth Ecumenical Council by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was held from May 5 to June 2, 553, having been called by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian...

. In 588 AD, Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

 deposed Tucillus, Miletinae civitatis episcopus, and the clergy and people of Malta elected his successor Trajan in 599 AD. The last recorded Bishop of Malta before the invasion of the Islands was a Greek by the name of Manas, who was subsequently incarcerated at Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

.

Maltese historian, Giovanni Francesco Abela
Giovanni Francesco Abela
Giovanni Francesco Abela was a Maltese of noble birth who in the early 17th century wrote an important work on Malta, Malta illustrata con le sue Antichità ed altre Notizie ....

, states that following their conversion to Christianity at the hand of St. Paul, the Maltese retained their Christian religion, despite the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 invasion. Abela's writings describe Malta as a divinely ordained "bulwark of Christian, European civilization against the spread of Mediterranean Islam". The native Christian community that welcomed Roger I of Sicily
Roger I of Sicily
Roger I , called Bosso and the Great Count, was the Norman Count of Sicily from 1071 to 1101. He was the last great leader of the Norman conquest of southern Italy.-Conquest of Calabria and Sicily:...

 was further bolstered by immigration to Malta from Italy, in the 12th and 13th centuries.


For centuries, the Church in Malta was subordinate to the Diocese of Palermo, except when it was under Charles of Anjou, who appointed bishops for Malta, as did – on rare occasions – the Spanish and later, the Knights. Since 1808 all bishops of Malta have been Maltese. As a result of the Norman and Spanish periods, and the rule of the Knights, Malta became the devout Catholic nation that it is today. It is worth noting that the Office of the Inquisitor of Malta
Roman Inquisition
The Roman Inquisition was a system of tribunals developed by the Holy See during the second half of the 16th century, responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes related to heresy, including Protestantism, sorcery, immorality, blasphemy, Judaizing and witchcraft, as...

 had a very long tenure on the island following its establishment in 1530: the last Inquisitor departed from the Islands in 1798, after the Knights capitulated to the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. During the period of the Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, several Maltese families emigrated to Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

. Their descendants account for about two-thirds of the community of some 4000 Catholics that now live on that island.

The patron saints of Malta are Saint Paul, Saint Publius
Saint Publius
Saint Publius is the first maltese Saint. He is venerated as the first Bishop of Malta. Publius' conversion led to Malta being the first Christian nation in the West, and one of the first in the world....

, Saint Agatha
Agatha of Sicily
Saint Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint. Her memorial is on 5 February. Agatha was born at Catania, Sicily, and she was martyred in approximately 251...

 and Saint George
Saint George
Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

. Although not a patron saint, St George Preca
George Preca
George Preca was a Maltese Roman Catholic priest who founded the Society of Christian Doctrine, a society of lay catechists. In Malta, he is affectionately known as "Dun Ġorġ" and is popularly referred to as the "Second Apostle of Malta", after Saint Paul of Tarsus...

 (San Ġorġ Preca) is greatly revered as the first canonised Maltese saint. Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 canonised him on 3 June 2007. Also, a number of Maltese individuals are recognised as Blessed
Beatification
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

, including Maria Adeodata Pisani
Maria Adeodata Pisani
Born 29 December 1806 at Naples, Italy; Died 25 February 1855 at the Benedictine monastery at Mdina, MaltaVenerated: 24 April 2001 by Pope John Paul II Beatified: 9 May 2001 by Pope John Paul II...

 and Nazju Falzon
Nazju Falzon
Blessed Ignatius Falzon was a Maltese priest who was beatified in 2001.Falzon was born to Francis Joseph Falzon, a judge, and Mary Teresa Falzon, the daughter of a judge. He had three brothers; all four became lawyers, and two of the brothers entered the priesthood...

, with Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 having beatified them in 2001.

Various Roman Catholic religious orders are present in Malta, including the Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans and Little Sisters of the Poor
Little Sisters of the Poor
The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Roman Catholic religious order for women. It was founded in the 19th century by Saint Jeanne Jugan near Rennes, France. Jugan felt the need to care for the many impoverished elderly who lined the streets of French towns and cities.This led her to welcome an...

.

Most congregants of the local Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 churches are not Maltese; their congregations draw on the many British retirees living in the country and vacationers from many other nations. There are approximately 500 Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Bible Baptist Church, and the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
The Fellowship of Evangelical Churches is an evangelical body of Christians with a Mennonite heritage. Conference offices are located in Fort Wayne, IN....

 have about 60 affiliates. There are also some churches of other denominations, such as St. Andrew's Scots Church
St. Andrew's Scots Church, Malta
St. Andrew's Scots Church, Malta, is a joint congregation of the Church of Scotland and the Methodist Church of Great Britain. For Church of Scotland purposes it is part of the Presbytery of Europe. It is the only Reformed Church in Malta...

 in Valletta (a joint Presbyterian and Methodist
Methodist Church of Great Britain
The Methodist Church of Great Britain is the largest Wesleyan Methodist body in the United Kingdom, with congregations across Great Britain . It is the United Kingdom's fourth largest Christian denomination, with around 300,000 members and 6,000 churches...

 congregation) and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral
St Paul's Anglican Cathedral
St Paul's Pro-Cathedral is an Anglican pro-cathedral situated in Independence Square, Valletta, Malta, commissioned by Queen Adelaide during a visit to Malta in the 19th Century when she found out that there was no place of Anglican worship on the island....

, as well as a Seventh-day Adventist
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

 church in Birkirkara
Birkirkara
Birkirkara or B'Kara is a city of 25,858 inhabitants in central Malta. It is the most populated town on the island and consists of four autonomous parishes: St Helen, St Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Mary. It also houses one of the most famous colleges in Malta, St Aloysius' College...

.

The Jewish population of Malta reached its peak in the Middle Ages under Norman rule. In 1479, Malta and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 came under Aragonese
Kingdom of Aragon
The Kingdom of Aragon was a medieval and early modern kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding to the modern-day autonomous community of Aragon, in Spain...

 rule and the Alhambra Decree
Alhambra decree
The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

 of 1492 forced all Jews to leave the country, permitting them to take with them only a few of their belongings. Several dozen Maltese Jews may have converted
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 to Christianity at the time in order to remain in the country. Today, there is one Jewish congregation.

Zen Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 claim some 40 members. There is one Muslim mosque. A Muslim primary school recently opened; its existence remains a point of some controversy. Of the estimated 3,000 Muslims in Malta
Islam in Malta
Islam is believed to have been introduced to Malta when the Muslims captured Sicily from the Byzantines in 870. Malta returned to a Christian European power with the Norman Conquest in 1091. Muslims were allowed to practise their religion freely until the 13th century.The present-day Muslim...

, approximately 2,250 are foreigners, approximately 600 are naturalized citizens, and approximately 150 are native-born Maltese.

Migration


EU nationals require neither a visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 nor a passport (an ID card or an expired passport are enough) to enter the country. Citizens of some developed countries do not need a visa and can live in Malta for up to three months providing they have a valid passport . Visas for other nationalities are valid for one month. Immigrants with EU citizenship (except Romanian and Bulgarian citizens) are no longer required to apply for a work permit.

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 2006, a total of 1,800 illegal immigrants reached Malta making the crossing from the North African coast. Most of them intended to reach mainland Europe and happened to come to Malta due to their sub-standard vessels breaking down or being caught by Maltese and other EU officials. In the first half of 2006, 967 irregular immigrants arrived in Malta almost double the 473 who arrived in the same period in 2005. Many immigrants have perished in the journey across the Mediterranean, with one notable incident being the May 2007 Malta migrant boat disaster
May 2007 Malta migrant boat disaster
On Monday, 21 May 2007, a small and crowded migrant boat was spotted some south of Malta by the Maltese Air Force, and photographed while the 53 people on board were apparently trying to bail out water. Then the boat went missing...

.

Around 45% of immigrants landed in Malta have been granted refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 (5%) or protected humanitarian status (40%). A White Paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

 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
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 by Idi Amin
Idi Amin
Idi Amin Dada was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946. Eventually he held the rank of Major General in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its Commander before seizing power in the military...

 and to just under a thousand Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

is fleeing Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

's regime.

Detention costs for the first half of 2006 alone cost € 746,385.

In 2005, Malta sought EU aid in relation to reception of irregular 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 irregular immigration of which Malta forms a part.

In the 19th century, most emigration from Malta was to North Africa and the Middle East, although rates of return migration
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 to Malta were high. Nonetheless, Maltese communities formed in these regions. By 1900, for example, British consular estimates suggest that there were 15,326 Maltese in Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, and in 1903 it was claimed that 15,000 people of Maltese origin were living in Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

.

Malta experienced significant emigration as a result of the collapse of a construction boom in 1907 and after World War II, when the birth rate
Birth rate
Crude birth rate is the nativity or childbirths per 1,000 people per year . Another word used interchangeably with "birth rate" is "natality". When the crude birth rate is subtracted from the crude death rate, it reveals the rate of natural increase...

 increased significantly, but in the 20th century most emigrants went to destinations in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

, particularly the United States and Australia. After World War II, Malta's Emigration Department would assist emigrants with the cost of their travel. Between 1948 and 1967, 30 per cent of the population emigrated. Between 1946 and the late 1970s, over 140,000 people left Malta on the assisted passage scheme, with 57.6% migrating to Australia, 22% to the UK, 13% to Canada and 7% to the United States.
Maltese migration patterns (1946–1996)
Country To From Net migration Return %
Australia 86,787 17,847 68,940 21.56
Canada 19,792 4,798 14,997 24.24
UK 31,489 12,659 18,830 40.20
U.S.A. 11,601 2,580 9,021 22.24
Other 1,647 907 740 55.07
Total 155,060 39,087 115,973 25.21

Emigration dropped dramatically after the mid-1970s and has since ceased to be a social phenomenon of significance. However, since Malta joined the EU in 2004 expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

 communities emerged in a number of European countries particularly in Belgium
Maltese in Belgium
Maltese in Belgium are people from Malta resident in Belgium, whether permanently or temporarily. They include Maltese who have acquired Belgian citizenship, students and workers with International organizations.- Population :...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

.

Education


Primary schooling has been compulsory since 1946; secondary education up to the age of sixteen was made compulsory in 1971. The state and the Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 provide education free of charge, both running a number of schools in Malta and Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

, including De La Salle College in Cospicua
Cospicua
Ċittà Cottonera, Ċittà Cospicua, Cospicua is a double-fortified harbour city on the Mediterranean island of Malta. It is the largest of the Three Cities. It was also given a title as Citta' Cottonera, but erroneously the title is now used to define the whole region...

, St. Aloysius' College in Birkirkara
Birkirkara
Birkirkara or B'Kara is a city of 25,858 inhabitants in central Malta. It is the most populated town on the island and consists of four autonomous parishes: St Helen, St Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Mary. It also houses one of the most famous colleges in Malta, St Aloysius' College...

, St. Joseph's School in Blata l-Bajda
Blata l-Bajda
Blata l-Bajda is a suburb of Ħamrun in Malta, on the way to VallettaNotable buildings include the Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and St. Joseph School, a school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. Spencer Monument is also found in this hamlet.Maria Regina Girls...

 and Saint Monica Girls' School in Mosta
Mosta
Mosta is a town situated in the middle of the island of Malta, to the north-west of Valletta. It had a population of 19,018 people in 2010. Mosta celebrates the feast of Saint Mary the Assumption on the 15th August. This is a very popular feast among the Mostin and tourists alike...

. A number of private schools are run in Malta, including San Andrea School
San Andrea School
The San Andrea School is a school in Malta. It was founded in 1992 at Sedqa, Independence Avenue, Naxxar by the Parents Foundation of Education . At the time it was composed of three classes...

 and San Anton School
San Anton School
San Anton School is a private co-educational school located near Mġarr, Malta.The school was originally founded in 1988 in the village of Attard, just a few metres away from the President's San Anton Palace - hence it was named "San Anton" School....

 in the valley of L-Imselliet (l/o Mġarr
Mgarr
Mġarr or Imġarr, formerly known as Mgiarro, is a small town in the northwest of the mainland of Malta. Mgarr is a typical rural village situated in an isolated region, west of Mosta. It is surrounded with rich farmland and vineyards...

), St. Martin's College in Swatar and St. Michael's School in San Ġwann
San Gwann
-History:The San Ġwann suburb is mostly made up of relatively modern buildings having been established as a parish only in 1965. However, the few scattered archeological remains found in the region suggest that San Ġwann has an ancient history which is woven into the national history of Malta.The...

. , there are two international schools, Verdala International School and QSI Malta. The state pays a portion of the teachers' salary in Church schools.

Education in Malta is based on the British model
Education in the United Kingdom
Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom having separate systems under separate governments: the UK Government is responsible for England, and the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are...

. Primary school lasts six years. At the age of 11 pupils sit for an examination to enter a secondary school, either a church school
Church school
A church school is a place of education, the precise nature of which varies from one national jurisdiction to another.The State of Alabama defines a church school as follows:...

 (the Common Entrance Examination) or a state school. Pupils sit for SEC O-level examinations at the age of 16, with passes obligatory in certain subjects such as mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, English and Maltese
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

. Pupils may opt to continue studying at a sixth form college
Sixth form college
A sixth form college is an educational institution in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Belize, Hong Kong or Malta where students aged 16 to 18 typically study for advanced school-level qualifications, such as A-levels, or school-level qualifications such as GCSEs. In Singapore and India, this is...

 such as Junior College, St Aloysius' College, De La Salle College, St Edward's College or else at another post-secondary institution such as MCAST
MCAST
MCAST is the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology. Its mission is "To provide universally accessible vocational and professional education and training with an international dimension, responsive to the needs of the individual and the economy"....

. The sixth form course lasts for two years, at the end of which students sit for the Matriculation examination. Subject to their performance, students may then apply for an undergraduate degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 or diploma.

The University of Malta
University of Malta
The University of Malta is the highest educational institution in Malta Europe and is one of the most respected universities in Europe. The University offers undergraduate Bachelor's Degrees, postgraduate Master's Degrees and postgraduate Doctorates .-History:The University of Malta was founded in...

 (U.o.M.) provides Tertiary education at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate level. The adult literacy rate is 92.8%.
Maltese and English are both used to teach students at primary and secondary school level, and both languages are also compulsory subjects. Public schools tend to use both Maltese and English in a balanced manner. Private schools prefer to use English for teaching, as is also the case with most departments of the University of Malta
University of Malta
The University of Malta is the highest educational institution in Malta Europe and is one of the most respected universities in Europe. The University offers undergraduate Bachelor's Degrees, postgraduate Master's Degrees and postgraduate Doctorates .-History:The University of Malta was founded in...

; this has a limiting effect on the capacity and development of the Maltese language. Most university courses are in English.

Of the total number of students studying a first foreign language at secondary level, 51% take Italian whilst 38% take French. Other choices include German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic.

Healthcare


Malta has a long history of providing publicly funded health care. The first hospital recorded in the country was already functioning by 1372.
Today, Malta has both a public healthcare system, known as the government healthcare service, where healthcare is free at the point of delivery, and a private healthcare
Private healthcare
Private healthcare or private medicine is healthcare and medicine provided by entities other than the government. The term is generally used more in Europe and other countries which have publicly-funded health care, to differentiate the arrangement from the usual system.Ethical issues relating to...

 system. Malta has a strong general practitioner-delivered primary care base and the public hospitals provide secondary and tertiary care. The Maltese Ministry of Health advises foreign residents to take out private medical insurance.

Malta was ranked number five in the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

's ranking of the world's health systems, compared to the United States
Health care in the United States
Health care in the United States is provided by many separate legal entities. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by the private sector...

 (at 37), Australia
Health care in Australia
Health care in Australia is provided by both private and government institutions. The Minister for Health and Ageing, currently Nicola Roxon, administers national health policy...

 (at 32), United Kingdom (at 18) and Canada
Health care in Canada
Health care in Canada is delivered through a publicly-funded health care system, which is mostly free at the point of use and has most services provided by private entities. It is guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act. The government assures the quality of care through federal standards...

 (at 30). The healthcare system in Malta closely resembles the British system, as healthcare is free at the point of delivery.

Malta also boasts voluntary organisations such as St John Ambulance, who provide first aid/nursing services during events involving crowds.
The Mater Dei Hospital
Mater Dei Hospital
Mater Dei Hospital is a state of the art public hospital in Msida, Malta. It opened its doors to the public for the first time on 29 June 2007. The 250,000 sqm complex includes 825 beds and 25 operating theaters. It was designed and built by the Swedish construction firm Skanska Malta JV...

, Malta's primary hospital, opened in 2007. It has one of the largest medical buildings in Europe. Other government hospitals in Malta include:
  • Paul Boffa Hospital, an oncology hospital in Floriana
  • St Vincent De Paule Hospital, a geriatrics hospital
  • Gozo General Hospital, the only hospital on Gozo


In addition, Malta has three major private hospitals:
  • St Philip's Hospital
    St Philip's Hospital
    St Philip's Hospital is a 75-bedded capacity hospital located in Santa Venera, Malta.It is English-speaking, and offers a wide range of health care services, specializing in hip and knee joint replacement and cosmetic surgery...

    , with a capacity of 75 beds, is in Santa Venera (currently closed).
  • St James Capua Hospital
    St James Capua Hospital
    St James Capua Hospital, or Saint James Hospital Sliema, started out in 1996 as the Capua Palace Hospital. In 2002 it was taken over by the Saint James Hospital Group, which owns other hospitals in Malta, Libya and Hungary....

     (the former Capua Palace Hospital), with 80 beds, is in Sliema.
  • St James Hospital has several sites, including a 13 bed unit in Zabbar, as well as a partner hospital in Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

    .


St Mark's Clinic, in Msida, with a capacity of 5 beds, also offers some private hospital services.


The University of Malta
University of Malta
The University of Malta is the highest educational institution in Malta Europe and is one of the most respected universities in Europe. The University offers undergraduate Bachelor's Degrees, postgraduate Master's Degrees and postgraduate Doctorates .-History:The University of Malta was founded in...

 has a medical school
Medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...

, and a Faculty of Health Sciences. The latter offering diploma, (BSc)degree and postgraduate degree courses in a number of health care disciplines.

The Medical Association of Malta represents practitioners of the medical profession. MMSA
Malta Medical Students' Association
The Malta Medical Students' Association is one of the oldest student associations found at the University of Malta, established in 1951...

 is a separate body representing Maltese medical students, and is a member of EMSA
European Medical Students' Association
The European Medical Students' Association is a non-governmental non-profit organisation for medical students focusing on medical education, ethics and science in Europe.- About EMSA :EMSA was founded in Brussels in 1991...

 and IFMSA
International Federation of Medical Students' Associations
The International Federation of Medical Students' Associations is a non governmental organization representing associations of medical students. It was founded in May 1951, and currently maintains 102 National Member Organizations from 95 countries across six continents...

. MIME
Malta Institute for Medical Education
The Malta Institute for Medical Education was set up in 2007 by a group of dedicated medical specialists. Based at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, Malta, MIME organises short medical courses mostly at post-graduate level. The local faculty is made up of several consultants,...

, the Maltese Institute for Medical Education, is an institute set up recently to provide CME to doctors in Malta as well as medical students. The Foundation Program followed in the UK has been introduced in Malta in order to stem the 'brain drain' of newly graduated doctors to the British Isles. MADS
Mads
Mads may refer to:People with the given name Mads:*Mads In theatre:* Macclesfield Amateur Dramatic Society, a British amateur drama company, founded in 1947Other:...

, the Malta Association of Dental Students, is a student association set up to promote the rights of Dental Surgery Students studying within the faculty of Dental Surgery of the University of Malta. It is affiliated with IADS, the International Association of Dental Students.

Culture



The culture of Malta reflects the various cultures that have come into contact with the Maltese Islands throughout the centuries, including neighbouring Mediterranean cultures, and the cultures of the nations that ruled Malta for long periods of time prior to its independence in 1964.

Music




While Maltese music today is largely Western, traditional Maltese music includes what is known as għana. This consists of background folk guitar music, while a few people, generally men, take it in turns to argue a point in a sing-song voice. The aim of the lyrics, which are improvised, is to create a friendly yet challenging atmosphere, and it takes a number of years of practice to be able to combine the required artistic qualities with the ability to debate
Debate
Debate or debating is a method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion...

 effectively.

Literature



Documented Maltese literature is over 200 years old. However a recently unearthed love ballad testifies to literary activity in the local tongue from the Medieval period. Malta followed a Romantic literary tradition, culminating in the works of Dun Karm, Malta's National Poet. Subsequent writers like Ruzar Briffa
Ruzar Briffa
Rużar Briffa was a Maltese poet and dermatologist, and a major figure in Maltese literature.“I never thought of publishing these poems in a book. Some were written in hard times, others in moments of joy...

 and Karmenu Vassallo tried to estrange themselves from the rigidity of formal themes and versification.

It was late in the 1960s that Maltese literature experienced its most radical transformation amongst poets, prose writers and dramatists. Names of significant poets that stand out from the last quarter of the 20th century include Mario Azzopardi
Mario Azzopardi
Mario Philip Azzopardi , is a television and film director and writer.He has worked on such shows as The Outer Limits, Stargate SG-1 , and Stargate Atlantis...

, Victor Fenech, Oliver Friggieri, Joe Friggieri
Joe Friggieri
Joe Friggieri is professor of philosophy at the University of Malta – the first not be a Catholic priest – succeeding Peter Serracino Inglott in 1996 upon the latter’s retirement. He holds degrees from the universities of Milan and Oxford. He has written two books on J.L. Austin and a history of...

, Charles Flores, Daniel Massa, Maria Ganado, Lillian Sciberras and Akille Mizzi. In prose, Frans Sammut
Frans Sammut
Frans Sammut was a Maltese novelist and non-fiction writer.-Life:Sammut was born in Zebbug, Malta. He studied at the Zebbug Primary School, St Aloysius' College, St Michael's Teacher Training College, the University of Malta Rome University and Perugia University Frans Sammut (November 19, 1945 –...

, Paul P. Borg and Joe J. Camilleri led the avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 meanwhile among the prominent names in theatre are Francis Ebejer
Francis Ebejer
Francis Ebejer was a Maltese dramatist and novelist. Ebejer studied medicine at the University of Malta between 1942 and 1943 before abandoning the course to work as an English-Italian interpreter with the 8th Army of the British Forces in Tripolitania, North Africa...

, Alfred Sant
Alfred Sant
Alfred Sant is a Maltese politician. He led the Labour Party from 1992 to 2008 and served as Prime Minister of Malta between 1996 and 1998 and as Leader of the Opposition from 1992 to 1996 and from 1998 to 2008....

, Doreen Micallef, Oreste Calleja, Joe Friggieri and Martin Gauci.

The next generation of writers widened the tracks further, especially in prose. Guze' Stagno, Karl Schembri
Karl Schembri
Karl Schembri is a Maltese writer and journalist. A sociology graduate from the University of Malta, he has written two novels, Taħt il-Kappa tax-Xemx in 2002 and Il-manifest tal-killer in 2006...

 and Clare Azzopardi are young writers fast establishing themselves while in poetry, significant names include Adrian Grima, Immanuel Mifsud
Immanuel Mifsud
Immanuel Mifsud is a writer of poetry and prose, born in Paola, Malta. He was for a time involved in research theatre. He wrote six collections of short stories, six poetry collections, and also children stories.- Prose work :...

, Norbert Bugeja and Simone Inguanez.
In literary criticism, Peter Serracino Inglott
Peter Serracino Inglott
Peter Serracino Inglott is Emeritus Professor of philosophy at and former rector of the University of Malta...

, Oliver Friggieri and Charles Briffa introduced perceptive historical, philosophical and psycho-social themes into Maltese theory.

Other writers, born in Malta or of Maltese descent, have established careers abroad. These included the novelist Trezza Azzopardi
Trezza Azzopardi
Trezza Azzopardi is a British writer.She was born in Cardiff to a Maltese father and a Welsh mother. She studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia, and currently works as a lecturer there...

, best-selling children's author Saviour Pirotta
Saviour Pirotta
Saviour Pirotta is a children's book author based in England.- Background :The second of five brothers, he grew up speaking both English and Maltese. He attended Naxxar Primary School and later won a scholarship to St Aloysius' College , one of the most prestigious schools on the island...

 and comic-book artist/journalist Joe Sacco
Joe Sacco
Joe Sacco is a Maltese-American comics artist and journalist. He achieved international fame through the 1996 American Book Award-winning Palestine, and his graphic novel on the Bosnian War, Safe Area Goražde.- Biography :...

.

Art and architecture


Malta has a long history of architecture, influenced by many different Mediterranean cultures over its history, and most recently, British architecture. The first settlers on the island constructed Ġgantija
Ggantija
Ġgantija is a Neolithic, megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of a series of megalithic temples in Malta. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic Age , which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and...

, one of the oldest manmade freestanding structure in the world. Malta is currently undergoing large scale building projects that includes constructions such as SmartCity Malta
SmartCity Malta
SmartCity is a technology park currently under development in Kalkara, Malta. The plan is to transform the Ricasoli Industrial Estate into a state-of-the-art information technology and media city on the models of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. The project was unveiled on 10 September...

, the M-Towers
M-Towers
The M-towers are three towers currently under construction in Gzira, Malta. The tallest of the three, at 33 stories, is set to become the tallest building on the island, surpassing the 98m Portomaso tower. The towers form part of a massive project, Metropolis Plaza, which includes a large plaza,...

, and Pendergardens
Pendergardens
Pendergardens is a self-contained pedestrian development being constructed in the last open space left in Paceville, St. Julian's, Malta. The megaproject, which will cover an area of , and is to be completed in 2012.- General :...

, while areas such as the Valletta Waterfront
Valletta Waterfront
The Valletta Waterfront, in Floriana, Malta, is baroque wharf built by Manuel Pinto de Fonseca in the 18th century. It has been thoroughly renovated by a private consortium who run the Waterfront and offer management overseeing for Malta's cruise liner business...

 and Tigne Point
Tigne Point
-History:During the Great Siege of 1565, the Turkish privateer and Ottoman admiral Dragut ar-Rais stationed a number of cannons at Tigné Point in a siege to capture Fort St Elmo from the Knights of Malta...

 are receiving renovation.

The Neolithic temple builders 3800–2500 BC endowed the numerous temples of Malta and Gozo with intricate bas relief designs, including spirals evocative of the tree of life and animal portraits, designs painted in red ochre, ceramics, and a vast collection of human form sculptures, particularly the Venus of Malta. These can be viewed at the temples themselves (most notably, the Hypogeum
Hypogeum
Hypogeum or hypogaeum literally means "underground", from Greek hypo and gaia . It usually refers to an underground, non-Christian temple or a tomb...

 and Tarxien Temples), and at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

.

The Roman period introduced highly decorative mosaic floors, marble colonnades and classical statuary, remnants of which are beautifully preserved and presented in the Roman Domus, a country villa just outside the walls of Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

. The early Christian frescoes that decorate the catacombs
Catacombs
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire...

 beneath Malta reveal a propensity for eastern, Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 tastes. These tastes continued to inform the endeavours of medieval Maltese artists, but they were increasingly influenced by the Romanesque
Romanesque art
Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...

 and Southern Gothic
Southern Gothic
Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction unique to American literature that takes place exclusively in the American South. It resembles its parent genre in that it relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot...

 movements. Towards the end of the 15th century, Maltese artists, like their counterparts in neighbouring Sicily, came under the influence of the School of Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina, properly Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio was an Italian painter from Messina, Sicily, active during the Italian Renaissance...

, which introduced Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 ideals and concepts to the decorative arts in Malta.
The artistic heritage of Malta blossomed under the Knights of St. John
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

, who brought Italian and Flemish Mannerist painters to decorate their palaces and the churches of these islands, most notably, Matteo Perez d'Aleccio
Matteo Perez d'Aleccio
Matteo Perez d'Aleccio was an Italian painter of devotional, historical and maritime subjects during the Mannerist period. He was also known as Matteo da Lecce or Leccio by virtue of his hometown of Lecce....

, whose works appear in the Magisterial Palace
Grandmaster's Palace
The Grandmaster's Palace is located in Valletta. It currently houses the Office of the President of Malta and the House of Representatives, as well as being a heritage site run by Heritage Malta.-History:...

 and in the Conventual Church of St. John in Valletta, and Filippo Paladini, who was active in Malta from 1590 to 1595. For many years, Mannerism continued to inform the tastes and ideals of local Maltese artists.

The arrival in Malta of Caravaggio
Caravaggio
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian artist active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque...

, who painted at least seven works during his 15-month stay on these islands, further revolutionized local art. Two of Caravaggio's most notable works, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (Caravaggio)
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is an oil painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio. According to Andrea Pomella in Caravaggio: An Artist through Images , the work is widely considered to be Caravaggio's masterpiece as well as "one of the most important works in Western...

and Saint Jerome Writing, are on display in the Oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

 of the Conventual Church of St. John. His legacy is evident in the works of local artists Giulio Cassarino (1582–1637) and Stefano Erardi (1630–1716). However, the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 movement that followed was destined to have the most enduring impact on Maltese art and architecture. The glorious vault paintings of the celebrated Calabrese artist, Mattia Preti
Mattia Preti
Mattia Preti was an Italian Baroque artist who worked in Italy and Malta.- Biography :Born in the small town of Taverna in Calabria, Preti was sometimes called Il Cavalier Calabrese...

 transformed the severe, Mannerist interior of the Conventual Church St. John into a Baroque masterpiece. Preti spent the last 40 years of his life in Malta, where he created many of his finest works, now on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

. During this period, local sculptor Melchior Gafà (1639–1667) emerged as one of the top Baroque sculptors of the Roman School.

During the 17th and 18th century, Neapolitan
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 influences emerged in the works of the Italian painters Luca Giordano
Luca Giordano
Luca Giordano was an Italian late Baroque painter and printmaker in etching. Fluent and decorative, he worked successfully in Naples and Rome, Florence and Venice, before spending a decade in Spain....

 (1632–1705) and Francesco Solimena
Francesco Solimena
Francesco Solimena was a prolific Italian painter of the Baroque era, one of an established family of painters and draughtsmen.-Biography:Francesco Solimena was born in Canale di Serino, near Avellino....

 (1657–1747), and these developments can be seen in the work of their Maltese contemporaries such as Giovanni Nicola Buhagiar (1698–1752) and Francesco Zahra (1710–1773). The Rococo movement was greatly enhanced by the relocation to Malta of Antoine de Favray (1706–1798), who assumed the position of court painter to Grand Master Pinto in 1744.

Neo-classicism made some inroads among local Maltese artists in the late 18th century, but this trend was reversed in the early 19th century, as the local Church authorities – perhaps in an effort to strengthen Catholic resolve against the perceived threat of Protestantism during the early days of British rule in Malta – favoured and avidly promoted the religious themes embraced by the Nazarene movement
Nazarene movement
The name Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art...

 of artists. Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, tempered by the naturalism introduced to Malta by Giuseppe Calì
Giuseppe Calì
Giuseppe Calì was a Maltese painter, born in Valletta of Neapolitan parents and educated at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Naples under Giuseppe Mancinelli...

, informed the "salon" artists of the early 20th century, including Edward and Robert Caruana Dingli.

Parliament established the National School of Art in the 1920s. During the reconstruction period that followed the Second World War, the emergence of the "Modern Art Group", whose members included Josef Kalleya (1898–1998), George Preca (1909–1984), Anton Inglott (1915–1945), Emvin Cremona (1919–1986), Frank Portelli (b.1922), Antoine Camilleri (b.1922) and Esprit Barthet (b.1919) greatly enhanced the local art scene.

Cuisine





Maltese cuisine shows strong Sicilian and English influences as well as influences of Spanish
Spanish cuisine
Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country's deep maritime roots...

, Maghrebin and Provençal cuisines. A number of regional variations, particularly with regards to Gozo, can be noted as well as seasonal variations associated with the seasonal availability of produce and Christian feasts (such as Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, Easter and Christmas). Food has been important historically in the development of a national identity in particular the traditional fenkata (i.e. the eating of stewed or fried rabbit).

Customs


A 2010 Charities Aid Foundation
Charities Aid Foundation
The Charities Aid Foundation is a registered UK charity. Its Head Office is located in the King's Hill business park, West Malling, Kent with a second office in London on St Andrew Street, EC4A 3AY...

 study found that Maltese were the most generous peoples in the world, with 83% contributing to charity.

Maltese folktales include various stories about mysterious creatures and supernatural events. These were most comprehensively compiled by the scholar (and pioneer in Maltese archeology) Manwel Magri
Manuel Magri
Fr Emmanuel Magri, S.J. was a Maltese ethnographer, archaeologist and writer....

 in his core criticism "Ħrejjef Missirijietna" ("Stories from our Forefathers"). This collection of material inspired subsequent researchers and academics to gather traditional tales, fable
Fable
A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized , and that illustrates a moral lesson , which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.A fable differs from...

s and legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s from all over the Archipelago.

Magri's work also inspired a series of comic books (released by Klabb Kotba Maltin in 1984): the titles included Bin is-Sultan Jiźźewweġ x-Xebba tat-Tronġiet Mewwija and Ir-Rjieħ. Many of these stories have been popularly re-written as Children's literature by authors writing in Maltese
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

, such as Trevor Żahra. While giants, witches and dragons feature in many of the stories, some contain entirely Maltese creatures like the Kaw kaw
Kaw kaw
In Maltese mythology the Kaw Kaw is a 'slimy greyish bogey man' who strolls the streets at night. He is able to smell a person's guilt and is capable of entering their homes by extending and contracting his snail-like body through any crack or fissure...

, Il-Belliegħa and L-Imħalla amongst others. The traditional Maltese obsession with maintaining spiritual (or ritual) purity means that many of these creatures have the role of guarding forbidden or restricted areas and attacking individuals who broke the strict codes of conduct that characterized the island's pre-industrial society.

Traditions


Traditional Maltese proverbs reveal a cultural preoccupation with childbearing and fertility: "iż-żwieġ mingħajr tarbija ma fihx tgawdija" (a childless marriage cannot be a happy one). This is a belief that Malta shares with many other Mediterranean cultures. In Maltese folktales the local variant of the classic closing formula, "and they all lived happily ever after" is "u għammru u tgħammru, u spiċċat" (and they lived together, and they had children together, and the tale is finished).

Rural Malta shares in common with Mediterranean and traditional Jewish society a number of superstitions regarding fertility, menstruation, and pregnancy, including the avoidance of cemeteries during the months leading up to childbirth, and avoiding the preparation of certain foods during menses. Pregnant women are encouraged to satisfy their cravings for specific foods, out of fear that their unborn child will bear a representational birth mark (Maltese: xewqa, literally "desire" or "craving"). Maltese and Sicilian women also share certain traditions that are believed to predict the sex of an unborn child, such as the cycle of the moon on the anticipated date of birth, whether the baby is carried "high" or "low" during pregnancy, and the movement of a wedding ring, dangled on a string above the abdomen (sideways denoting a girl, back and forth denoting a boy).

Traditionally, Maltese newborns were baptised as promptly as possible, partly out of fear of limbo
Limbo
In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church or any other...

 should the child die in infancy, and partly because according to Maltese (and Sicilian) folklore an unbaptised child is not yet a Christian, but "still a Turk". Traditional Maltese delicacies served at a baptismal feast include biskuttini tal-magħmudija (almond macaroons covered in white or pink icing), it-torta tal-marmorata (a spicy, heart-shaped tart of chocolate-flavoured almond paste), and a liqueur known as rożolin, made with rose petals, violets and almonds.

On a child's first birthday, in a tradition that still survives today, Maltese parents would organize a game known as il-quċċija, where a variety of symbolic objects would be randomly placed around the seated child. These may include a hard-boiled egg, a Bible, crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

 or rosary beads, a book, and so on. Whichever object the child shows most interest in is said to reveal the child's path and fortunes in adulthood.

Money refers to a rich future while a book expresses intelligence and a possible career as a teacher. Infants who select a pencil or pen will be writers. Choosing bibles or rosary beads refers to a clerical or monastic life. If the child chooses a hard-boiled egg, it will have a long life and many children. More recent additions include calculators (refers to accounting), thread (fashion) and wooden spoons (cooking and a great appetite).

Traditional Maltese weddings featured the bridal party walking in procession beneath an ornate canopy, from the home of the bride's family to the parish church, with singers trailing behind serenading the bride and groom. The Maltese word for this custom is il-ġilwa. This custom along with many others has long since disappeared from the Islands, in the face of modern practices.

New wives would wear the għonnella, a traditional item of Maltese clothing. However, it is no longer worn in modern Malta. Today's couples are married in churches or chapels in the village or town of their choice. The nuptials are usually followed by a lavish wedding reception, often including several hundred guests. Occasionally, couples will try to incorporate elements of the traditional Maltese wedding in their celebration. A resurgent interest in the traditional wedding was evident in May 2007, when thousands of Maltese and tourists attended a traditional Maltese wedding in the style of the 16th century, in the Village of Żurrieq
Zurrieq
Żurrieq is one of the oldest towns in Malta, and has a population of 12,000 inhabitants . Żurrieq is situated in the South West of Malta. The first documentation about it being a parish dates back to 1436 dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. The island of Filfla is administratively a part of...

. This included il-ġilwa, which led the bride and groom to a wedding ceremony that took place on the parvis of St. Andrew's Chapel. The reception that followed featured folklore music (għana) and dancing.

Festivals


Local festivals, similar to those in southern Italy, are commonplace in Malta and Gozo, celebrating weddings, christenings
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 and, most prominently, saints' days, honouring the patron saint of the local parish. On saints' days, the festa reaches its apex with a High Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 featuring a sermon on the life and achievements of the patron saint, after which a statue
Statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

 of the religious patron is taken around the local streets in solemn procession, with the faithful following in respectful prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

. The religious atmosphere quickly gives way to several days of revelry, band processions, fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

, and late night parties. Lija is one villages with a notable firework display.

Carnival
Maltese Carnival
Carnival has had an important place on the Maltese cultural calendar for just under five centuries, having been introduced to the Islands by Grand Master Piero de Ponte in 1535...

(Maltese: il-karnival ta' Malta) has had an important place on the cultural calendar after Grand Master
Grand Master (order)
Grand Master is the typical title of the supreme head of various orders of knighthood, including various military orders, religious orders and civil orders such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order...

 Piero de Ponte
Piero de Ponte
Fra' Piero del Ponte was the 45th Grand Master of the Order of Malta between 1534 and 1535.He hailed from Asti, in northern Italy and was a descendent of the ancient family of Casal-Gros and Lombriax...

 introduced it to the Islands in 1535. It is held during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter...

, and typically includes masked balls, fancy dress and grotesque mask competitions, lavish late-night parties, a colourful, ticker-tape parade of allegorical floats
Float (parade)
A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as those of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Carnival of Viareggio, the Maltese Carnival, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Key West Fantasy Fest parade, the...

 presided over by King Carnival (Maltese: ir-Re tal-Karnival), marching bands and costumed revellers.

Holy Week
Holy Week in Malta
Numerous religious traditions, most of them inherited from one generation to the next, are part of the Paschal celebrations in the Maltese Islands.-Lent:Lent begins by Ash Wednesday , that is obligatory for fasting...

(Maltese: il-Ġimgħa Mqaddsa) starts on Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

 (Ħadd il-Palm) and ends on Easter Sunday (Ħadd il-Għid). Numerous religious traditions, most of them inherited from one generation to the next, are part of the paschal
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 celebrations in the Maltese Islands, honouring the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Mnarja, or l-Imnarja is one of the most important dates on the Maltese cultural calendar. Officially, it is a national festival dedicated to the feast of Saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

s Peter and St. Paul. In fact, one can trace its roots back to the pagan Roman
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 feast of Luminaria (literally, "the illumination"), when torches and bonfires lit up the early summer night of 29 June.

A national feast since the rule of the Knights
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

, Mnarja is a traditional Maltese festival of food, religion and music. The festivities still commence today with the reading of the "bandu", an official governmental announcement, which has been read on this day in Malta since the 16th century. Originally, Mnarja was celebrated outside St. Paul's Grotto, in the north of Malta. However, by 1613 the focus of the festivities had shifted to the Cathedral of St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

, in Mdina
Mdina
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, is the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly...

, and featured torchlight processions, the firing of 100 petards, horseraces, and races for men, boys and slaves. Modern Mnarja festivals take place in and around the woodlands of Buskett
Buskett
Buskett, in Siġġiewi, Malta is one of the few woodland area in Malta and is overlooked by Verdala Palace.The Buskett Gardens are located in the fertile valley of Wied Il- Luq, Siġġiewi. They are located to the south of Rabat and just east of Dingli...

, just outside the town of Rabat
Rabat
Rabat , is the capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco with a population of approximately 650,000...

.

It is said that under the Knights, this was the one day in the year when the Maltese were allowed to hunt and eat wild rabbit
Hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

, which was otherwise reserved for the hunting pleasures of the Knights. The close connection between Mnarja and rabbit stew (Maltese: "fenkata") remains strong today.

In 1854 British governor William Reid
William Reid (British Army officer)
Sir William Reid was a British soldier, administrator and meteorologist.He was born at Kinglassie, Fife and was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich....

 launched an agricultural show at Buskett which is still being held today. The farmers' exhibition is still a seminal part of the Mnarja festivities today.

Mnarja today is one of the few occasions when participants may hear traditional Maltese "għana". Traditionally, grooms would promise to take their brides to Mnarja during the first of year of marriage. For luck, many of the brides would attend in their wedding gown and veil, although this custom has long since disappeared from the Islands.

In 2009 the first New Year's Eve street party was organized in Malta, parallel to what other major countries in the world organize. Although the event was not highly advertised and controversial, due to the closing of an arterial street on the day, it is deemed to have been successful and will most likely be organized every year.

Holidays


Maltese public holidays
Day Holiday
1 January New Year's Day
10 February St. Paul's Shipwreck
19 March St. Joseph
31 March Freedom Day
March/April (date changes) Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
7 June Sette Giugno
29 June St. Peter and St. Paul (L-Imnarja)
15 August The Assumption (Santa Marija)
8 September Our Lady of Victories
21 September Independence Day
8 December Immaculate Conception
13 December Republic Day
25 December Christmas Day


Sports



Association football is the most popular sport in Malta. The national stadium is called Ta' Qali Stadium. It is generally noted that the population tends to be split half and half with regards to supporting Italy or England in football, due to the cultural affinities of the island. The national football team
Malta national football team
The Malta national football team is the national football team of Malta and is controlled by the Malta Football Association. Malta played its first international game in February 1957, and began competing for qualification to major tournaments in 1962. The side's first competitive victory came in...

 has won several matches over big opponents that reached the final phases in World Cups
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

, such as Belgium, Hungary
Hungary national football team
The Hungary national football team represents Hungary in international football and is controlled by the Hungarian Football Federation....

, and Greece
Greece national football team
The Greece national football team represents Greece in association football and is controlled by the Hellenic Football Federation, the governing body for football in Greece. Greece's home ground is Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus and their head coach is Fernando Santos...

.

Rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

 is popular in Malta, with the national men's team
Malta national rugby union team
The Malta national rugby union team are governed by the Malta Rugby Football Union . Although Malta has yet to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, the island state has made remarkable progression since its first international in 2000...

 currently (May 2010) ranked 49th in the world – the third highest ranking that Malta holds in any international team sport after Table Football and Rugby League.

Rugby league
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

 is played in Malta, with the national Men's Team
Malta national rugby league team
In 2004, the Maltese Rugby League Association was formed to introduce the game of rugby league football to Malta. Malta played its first game in Malta on October 22, 2005 when they defeated England Lionhearts 36-6 at the Marsa Stadium, and in 2008 a domestic competition kicked off on the island.The...

 currently ranked 23rd in the world (August 2011). The National team are known as the Malta Knights, and boast players currently playing in the European Superleague
European Superleague
European Superleague is a football sports management game released for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC 6128, Atari ST, PC and Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128/+3 platforms. It was created in 1990 by Matrix Developments and published by CDS Microsystems.- Gameplay :...

.

Malta also hosts a snooker
Snooker
Snooker is a cue sport that is played on a green baize-covered table with pockets in each of the four corners and in the middle of each of the long side cushions. A regular table is . It is played using a cue and snooker balls: one white , 15 worth one point each, and six balls of different :...

 round, the Malta Cup
Malta Cup
The Malta Cup was a professional snooker tournament that has been on the World Snooker calendar since the 1988/89 season. It was previously known as the European Open as the sole ranking tournament in Europe, outside the British Isles.- History :Prior to the 1988/89 season, there were no ranking...

, which became a non-ranking event. In 2008 Malta's Tony Drago
Tony Drago
Tony Drago is a professional snooker and pool player from Malta. He won the 2003 World Pool Masters Tournament beating Hsia Hui-kai 8–6 and also reached the quarter finals of the World Snooker Championship...

 was a member of a victorious European Mosconi Cup
Mosconi Cup
The Mosconi Cup is an annual nine-ball pool tournament contested between teams representing Europe and the USA since 1994. The trophy is named after American player Willie Mosconi, and is modeled on and compared to the Ryder Cup in golf...

 team, which was played in Portomaso, Malta. Boxer Jeff Fenech
Jeff Fenech
Jeff Fenech is a retired Australian boxer and a three-time world champion who is now a boxing trainer.-Boxing career:...

 is of Maltese descent.

There are over 1200 rock climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

 routes in Malta. The island offers a mixture of both trad climbing and sport climbing
Sport climbing
Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock, and possibly bolts, for protection,...

 and also offers a good variety of bouldering
Bouldering
Bouldering is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury. It is typically practiced on large natural boulders or artificial boulders in gyms and outdoor urban areas...

 and deep water soloing. The geography and small size of the island makes the climbing easily accessible. The sport is growing in popularity with local communities, as well as tourists and visitors. In the last decade the aviation sport of Microlight Flying was introduced to the island by the Island Microlight Club. There are now a total of twenty-two microlight aircraft that operate out of the Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport
Malta International Airport is the only airport in Malta and it serves the whole Maltese Archipelago. It is located between Luqa and Gudja. It occupies the location of the former RAF Luqa and was completely re-furbished, becoming fully operational on 25 March 1992...

.

Boċċi is the Maltese version of the Italian game of bocce
Bocce
Bocce is a ball sport belonging to the boules sport family, closely related to bowls and pétanque with a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire...

, French pétanque
Pétanque
Pétanque is a form of boules where the goal is, while standing inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground, to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet or jack. It is also sometimes called a bouchon or le petit...

 and British bowls
Bowls
Bowls is a sport in which the objective is to roll slightly asymmetric balls so that they stop close to a smaller "jack" or "kitty". It is played on a pitch which may be flat or convex or uneven...

. Other than certain differences in rules and the ground on which the game is played, one of the most obvious differences between Maltese boċċi and foreign equivalents is the shape of the bowls themselves which tend to be cylindrical rather than spherical in shape. Many small clubs (usually called Klabbs tal-Boċċi in Maltese
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

) can be found in Maltese and Gozitan localities, and are usually well-frequented and are quite active on a local and European level.

Media



The most widely read and financially the strongest newspapers are published by Allied Newspapers Ltd., mainly The Times (27%) and The Sunday Times (51.6%). Due to bilingualism half of the newspapers are published in English and the other half in Maltese
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

. The Sunday newspaper It-Torċa (The Torch) published by the Union Press, a subsidiary of the GWU
General Workers' Union (Malta)
The General Workers' Union is a national trade union center in Malta.The GWU was founded in 1943 and has been politically identified with the Labour Party as the trade union is the major left-wing trade union in Malta...

, is the paper with the biggest circulation in the Maltese language. Its sister paper, L-Orizzont
L-Orizzont
L-Orizzont is a national newspaper published daily in Malta. It is published by the General Workers' Union and has been published since 1962....

, is the Maltese daily with biggest circulation. There is a high number of daily or weekly newspapers, there is one paper for every 28,000 people. Advertising, sales and subsidies are the three main methods of financing newspapers and magazines. However, most of the papers and magazines tied to institutions are subsidised by the same institutions, they depend on advertising or subsidies from their owners.
There is a great a presence of the institutions – church, political parties, trade unions – in the print media, though not as in the broadcasting media. Trade Unions are not represented in the broadcasting media, but are in the print media, and only the General Workers Union
General Workers' Union (Malta)
The General Workers' Union is a national trade union center in Malta.The GWU was founded in 1943 and has been politically identified with the Labour Party as the trade union is the major left-wing trade union in Malta...

 owns a newspaper. The UHM, the second biggest union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

, has no newspaper, TV, or radio stations.
There are eight major nationwide television channels in Malta: TVM
TVM (Malta)
Television Malta is the national television station of Malta. TVM is operated by Public Broadcasting Services Ltd . PBS Ltd is state owned....

, One Television, NET Television
NET Television (Malta)
NET Television is the television station owned by the Nationalist Party in Malta....

, Smash Television
Smash Television
Smash Television is a Maltese television station. One can describe Smash TV as a neutral TV station whereby different opinions on politics inter alia are expressed....

, Favourite Channel, Calypso Music TV, ITV,Education22 and Big Ben TV – currently transmitted by analogue terrestrial, free-to-air signals. The state and political parties subsidise most of the fundings of these television stations. The Public Broadcasting Services
Public Broadcasting Services
Public Broadcasting Services Limited is Malta's public broadcasting company, responsible for the TVM television channel and the Radio Malta and Radju Parlament and Magic radio stations. PBS is funded by government grant and the sale of commercial airtime...

 is the state-owned station and is a member of the EBU
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

. Media Link Communications Ltd and One Productions Ltd
One Productions Ltd
ONE Productions Limited was founded in the late 1980s to operate Super One Radio, now known as ONE Radio and eventually Super One Television, now known as ONE. In September 1990 the company’s name was changed to ONE Productions Limited. ONE Radio is the only radio station in Malta that transmits...

 are affiliated with the Nationalist Party
Nationalist Party (Malta)
The Nationalist Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in Malta, along with the Labour Party. It was founded by Fortunato Mizzi in 1880 as the Anti-Reform Party, opposing taxation decreed by the British colonial authorities and measures to Anglicise the educational and the...

 and Labour Party respectively. Smash Communications Ltd is privately owned. The Broadcasting Authority supervises all local broadcasting stations and ensures their compliance with legal and licence obligations as well as the preservation of due impartiality; in respect of matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy; while fairly apportioning broadcasting facilities and time between persons belong to different political parties. The Broadcasting Authority ensures that local broadcasting services consist of public, private and community broadcasts that offer varied and comprehensive programming to cater for all interests and tastes.

Cable, terrestrial and satellite reception are all available, though the cable service is the most diffused. Cable subscriptions reached almost 124,000 in February 2006 reaching about 80% of Maltese households, and a small but increasing number of households own satellite dishes to receive other European television networks such as the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 from Great Britain and RAI
RAI
RAI — Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A. known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane, is the Italian state owned public service broadcaster controlled by the Ministry of Economic Development. Rai is the biggest television company in Italy...

 and Mediaset
Mediaset
Mediaset S.p.A., known as Gruppo Mediaset in Italian, is an Italian-based media company which is the largest commercial broadcaster in the country...

 from Italy.

See also


  • Endemic Maltese wildlife
    Endemic Maltese wildlife
    An endemic organism is said to be found only in certain areas of the world. This makes the organism in some cases endangered.The Maltese Islands, although small in area , host a large number of endemic species, some of which are unique and unusual...

  • List of Maltese people

External links


Government

General information
  • Migration Malta – An information source on immigration and Malta (scholarly articles, policy documents, press releases etc.)
  • Malta from UCB Libraries GovPubs

News media
Travel