MALTA

Date of Establishment: September 21, 1964

Brief history:

Ancient History: Malta has a long history of settlement dating back to prehistoric times, evidenced by its megalithic temples, which are among the oldest free-standing structures in the world. It was inhabited by various civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians.

218 BCE – 870 CE: Malta was part of the Roman Empire from 218 BCE, which brought significant development. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Malta came under the control of the Byzantine Empire. In 870 CE, Malta was conquered by the Arabs, who influenced the Maltese language and culture.

1091 – 1530: In 1091, Malta was conquered by the Normans and subsequently became part of the Kingdom of Sicily. During this period, Malta experienced various shifts in control, including periods under the rule of the Hohenstaufen, Angevins, and Aragonese.

1530 – 1798: In 1530, Emperor Charles V ceded the islands of Malta and Gozo to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitaller). The Order fortified the islands and famously withstood the Great Siege by the Ottoman Empire in 1565. The Knights Hospitaller ruled until the French invasion in 1798.

1798 – 1800: Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Malta in 1798 during his campaign in Egypt. However, the French rule was short-lived, as the Maltese, with the help of British and Neapolitan forces, successfully revolted against the French, leading to a blockade and the eventual surrender of French forces in 1800.

1800 – 1964: Malta became a British protectorate in 1800 and a crown colony in 1813. Under British rule, Malta became a significant naval base, particularly during the Crimean War and World War II. The island played a crucial role in the Allied war effort and was awarded the George Cross in 1942 for bravery.

September 1964: Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom on September 21, 1964, becoming a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state.

December 1974: Malta became a republic on December 13, 1974, with its own president as the head of state. However, it did not withdraw from the Commonwealth; it remains a member to this day.

2004: Malta joined the European Union on May 1, 2004, further integrating into the European community and adopting the euro as its currency in 2008.

 

International Abbreviation: M

 

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Before adopting the euro, Malta used the Maltese lira (Maltese pound, Lm or ₤). The transition to the euro allowed for easier and smoother trade with other EU countries and facilitated travel for tourists. Since the adoption of the euro, the lira is no longer valid and cannot be used as legal tender.

 

Internet Domain: .mt

 

Dialing code: +356

 

Time zone: +1 GMT

 

Geography:

Malta is an island country located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy. It consists of several islands, of which only three are inhabited: Malta, Gozo, and Comino, although Comino has a very small population.

The country is known for its rocky coastlines, picturesque bays, beautiful beaches, and warm Mediterranean climate.

 

Highest Point: Ta’ Dmejrek 253 m (831 ft) above sea level

This peak is located on the island of Gozo. Ta’ Dmejrek reaches an elevation of 253 meters (831 feet) above sea level and is the highest point in the entire Maltese archipelago. The peak offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the Mediterranean Sea. As Gozo is hillier than Malta, Ta’ Dmejrek is a popular spot for tourists seeking beautiful vistas and pleasant nature walks.

 

Climate:

Malta has a Mediterranean climate, typical for the region. This means mild and humid winters and hot, dry summers.

The best time to visit depends on preferences – some people prefer the hot summers for swimming and sunbathing, while others may prefer milder temperatures in spring or autumn for exploring nature and historical sites.

 

Flora and Fauna:

Malta has Mediterranean vegetation with typical species such as olive trees, fig trees, lemon trees, cypresses, and carob trees. The Maltese Centaury (Cheirolophus crassifolius) is a characteristic flower and the national plant of the country.

Notable bird species in Malta include the blue rock thrush (the national bird), peregrine falcon, and European kingfisher. Reptiles include the western whip snake, the Maltese wall lizard, and the Mediterranean chameleon. Malta is home to various insects, including butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and beetles. Notably, the Maltese islands do not have any venomous snakes such as vipers.

 

Agriculture:

The limited land area and dry Mediterranean climate influence agriculture on the islands of Malta. The main crops grown include olives, grapes (for wine production), figs, and horticultural produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and peppers. Additionally, other crops such as potatoes, onions, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are also cultivated. Livestock farming is significant, with sheep and poultry being common, but rabbit farming is also notable in Malta’s agricultural sector, with rabbit meat being a traditional delicacy. Furthermore, beekeeping is an important agricultural activity, contributing to honey production and pollination services for crops.

 

Raw materials extraction:

Due to its geographical location and geological composition, Malta does not have many natural resources suitable for extraction. The islands are predominantly composed of limestone and other sedimentary rocks. As a result, raw materials extraction is limited and has not played a significant role in the country’s economy. However, Malta does extract some salt from seawater through solar evaporation, primarily for domestic consumption and industrial use. Additionally, quarrying of limestone for construction purposes is conducted on a small scale.

 

Industry:

Malta’s industrial sector faces limitations due to its small territory and dependence on imported raw materials. However, several industrial sectors contribute significantly to the local economy. These include the food industry, which encompasses food processing and beverage production, utilising Malta’s agricultural products and culinary traditions. The electronic and electrical engineering sector is another important contributor, with companies specializing in electronics manufacturing, assembly, and related services. Pharmaceuticals and chemicals manufacturing are also notable industries, supported by Malta’s skilled workforce and strategic location within the European Union. Additionally, construction and building materials manufacturing play a crucial role in Malta’s economy, driven by ongoing infrastructure development and real estate projects.

 

Services and other economic areas: Tourism, education, maritime and air transport

Malta’s pleasant climate, historical and cultural attractions, and beautiful landscapes have made it a popular tourist destination worldwide.

Major tourist attractions include ancient megalithic temples, such as Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim.

Maltese beaches are known for their clear waters and sandy shores. Tourists come here to enjoy sunbathing and swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Malta is also a favorite destination for divers due to its stunning diving sites, such as shipwrecks and underwater caves.

 

 

System of government: Parliamentary republic

Malta is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. It is a sovereign state with its own constitution and laws. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the parliament for a five-year term. The president mainly fulfills ceremonial functions.

The highest legislative authority is parliament, known as the House of Representatives. It is a unicameral body consisting of 65 members of parliament (MPs). MPs are elected in general elections for a five-year term.

Executive power is vested in the government, led by the prime minister. The prime minister is appointed by the president and is usually the leader of the party with the most seats in parliament. The government is responsible for governing the country, implementing policies, and preparing legislation.

The judiciary in Malta is independent and is ensured by the courts, which exercise judicial power. The Constitutional Court of appeal is the highest court in the country.

 

Capital city: Valletta

Valletta is located on the eastern coast of the main island of Malta and is considered one of the smallest and oldest capital cities in the world. It was founded in 1566 as a fortress and fortified city by the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (also known as the Knights Hospitaller) following their victory in the Great Siege of Malta against the Ottoman Empire.

The city is renowned for its architectural heritage, historical sites, and fortification walls. Notable landmarks in Valletta include the Great Siege Bell Memorial, which commemorates the Siege of Malta, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece housing intricate Baroque art and the tombs of the Knights, and the Grandmaster’s Palace, which served as the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller and now houses the Office of the President of Malta and the Parliament House. Additionally, Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its cultural significance and historical importance.

 

Area: 316 km² (122 sq mi)

 

Population: 533 000 (2022 estimate)

Malta has a relatively high population density due to the limited size of the islands and the concentration of people in urban areas with better living conditions.

Malta is a multicultural country, influenced by its long history and strategic location in the Mediterranean. The population is predominantly Maltese, but there are also significant minorities, including immigrants from various countries, particularly from Europe and North Africa.

The Maltese language is the national language and holds official status, but English is also an official language and widely used in various sectors such as business, tourism, and government communications, owing to Malta’s colonial history and strong ties with English-speaking countries. Additionally, Italian is widely spoken and understood due to historical and cultural ties with Italy.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 3

 

  1. City of Valletta (1980) – This picturesque historic city was founded in 1566 and features fortified walls, historical alleys, and Renaissance and Baroque architecture, making it one of the main tourist attractions in Malta.
  2. Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (1980) – A fascinating underground archaeological site in Malta. It is an underground necropolis located in the town of Paola, near Valletta, the capital of Malta.
  3. The Megalithic Temples of Malta (1980) – Remarkable archaeological sites that are among the oldest freestanding stone buildings in the world. These temples were constructed during the Neolithic period, approximately between 3600 and 2500 BCE. They are made of huge limestone blocks, some weighing several tons.

 

National parks: 3

 

Il-Majjistral National Park.

Salini National Park

Ta’Qali National Park