Language: Maltese, English
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Calling Code: 356


Description of Malta

Malta (full form: Republic of Malta; officially Maltese Repubblica ta' Malta and English Republic of Malta; Italian Repubblica di Malta) is a southern European island country in the strait between Tunisia and Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Republic of Malta includes the islands of the Maltese Archipelago, namely the three inhabited islands, Malta (about 246 square kilometers including the islet of Fort Manoel), Gozo (Maltese Għawdex, about 67 square kilometers) and Comino (Kemmuna, about 3 square kilometers), as well as the uninhabited Small islands Cominotto (Kemmunett), Filfla, St. Paul's Islands (Gżejjer ta' San Pawl, also called Gżejjer ta' Selmunett) and Fungus Rock (Ġebla tal-Ġeneral, also Ħaġret il-Ġeneral). Politically, the main island of Malta is divided into two regions with five districts. Gozo and Comino together make up the third region and sixth district. The Romans called today's city Mdina Melita; this name probably derives from the Punic name for a place of refuge, malet, which may also be the origin of the current name of the island.

With around 520,000 inhabitants (in 2020) on an area of 316 square kilometers, Malta is the country with the fifth highest population density in the world. Most of the population is concentrated in the capital region of Valletta, which has a population of around 394,000. Both in terms of population and area, Malta is about the size of the northern German city of Bremen.

In the late Neolithic, important megalithic temples were built on the archipelago, the remains of which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Maltese culture was shaped by the Mediterranean empires, such as the Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs, to which the archipelago belonged in ancient and medieval times; In terms of religion and customs, it is primarily influenced by Roman Catholic southern Italy, linguistically by Arabic. It experienced an independent development from 1530 under the rule of the sovereign Order of Malta, whose Maltese cross has become a national symbol of the island state. British colony from 1814, Malta gained independence on September 21, 1964. On May 1, 2004, the country joined the European Union, of which it has been the smallest member state ever since. On January 1, 2008, Malta introduced the euro. From 1 January to 30 June 2017, Malta held the EU Council Presidency for the first time. In 2018, Valletta was the European Capital of Culture together with Leeuwarden (NL).

The country's official languages are Maltese and English; the mother tongue of the Maltese is usually Maltese, which is also considered the national language of Malta.


Travel Destinations in Malta

Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni



Saint Mary's Tower



Ġgantija Temple



Getting in

entry requirements
Since Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and the Schengen Agreement on the free movement of persons was signed on December 21, 2007, an identity card is sufficient for entry from the Schengen area, or an identity card for Swiss citizens.

By plane
Scheduled flights of the national airline Air Malta, numerous other airlines and also low-cost carriers fly directly to Malta Airport (IATA: MLA) near Luqa in the south of the island. You can find an up-to-date overview of the arriving airlines on the Airport Arrivals & Departures page. The duration of direct flights from Germany is approx.

2:50 h from Dusseldorf DUS
2:45 h from Hanover HAJ
2:40 h from Frankfurt/M FRA
2:20 h from Munich MUC.

Between Pozzallo on the south coast of Sicily and Valetta there is a ferry connection with a catamaran - fast ferry of the Maltese company VirtuFerries, which transports people and motor vehicles; the crossing takes almost two hours. Trips operate once or twice a day on Mon, Wed, Fri and weekends, schedules are geared more towards day trips from Malta to Sicily. From Pozzalo there is a bus connection to Catania.

The ticket to Malta is offered online for €56 plus €10 with the bus ticket from Catania to Pozzallo (Christmas 2022). However, in order to avoid discussions and buying a new bus ticket, you should refrain from doing so and buy it on the spot. There are several bus companies that offer the route. The most common is AST. Their stops are in the middle of the roundabout in front of Catania train station. The bus ride takes about 2 hours. In addition, it should be noted that the bus stops about 3 km north-east of the ferry port. Accordingly, depending on the connection, urgency is required.

The security checks at the port are similar to those at airports. Pocket knives, nail scissors or the like are removed accordingly. However, you get your “weapons” back when you leave the ferry.


Getting around

In Malta there is left-hand traffic, the streets are often narrow and the traffic routing on the partly double-lane roundabouts with Mediterranean traffic temperament of the other road users is at least challenging! After heavy rainfall in the winter half-year, the streets outside the city region around Valetta can be under water because the sewage system is not able to swallow the runoff volumes. It should be noted that numerous gas stations are closed on Sundays, but it is increasingly possible to pay at banknote machines.

There are two types of taxis in Malta. The white and also more expensive taxis can be found at the taxi stand. You can only get the cheaper black taxis on (telephone) order. 10 kilometers cost about 14 euros, a half-day trip can be done for about 40 euros.

There is a well-developed public transport system in Malta. In July 2011, the bus service was taken over by the operating company "Arriva" and the old centralized bus system with concessionaires and their partly historic vehicles was abolished. The historic Maltese buses were replaced by 264 new air-conditioned vehicles. Some of the newly procured articulated buses proved to be unsuitable for the narrow streets in the capital area and soon had to be taken out of service again. After the operating company made a big loss, the bus system was taken over by the Ministry of Transport at the end of 2013:

Malta Public Transport. Price: One-way trip including transfers (max. 2 hours) €1.50 (winter) / €2.00 (summer) / €3.00 (at night, without a 2-hour limit), 12-ticket €15.00, weekly ticket with any number of trips €21.00 (adults)/€15.00 (children up to 10 years of age).

From 1 October 2022, Malta's bus system will be free. However, this only applies to residents of Malta, who must therefore continue to use a Tallinjacard when traveling by bus - only they receive it for free. Tourists will still have to pay in cash or with a purchased Tallinjacard.

Sightseeing hop on - hop off bus routes are operated on the island by two companies, using open-top, double-decker buses: Malta Sightseeing and City Sightseeing Malta. Tourist information about the sights is available via headphones. Both companies offer two round trip lines for the island of Malta (North and South route), as well as one or two round trip lines for Gozo. The operators sometimes use the same, sometimes different stops, which can lead to irritation. The tickets are not mutually recognized. The "red line" of Malta Sightseeing runs from Valetta via Marsaxlokk and the Blue Grotto to the south of the island of Gozo, the "blue line" serves the sights in the north-west of the greater Valletta area, the "yellow line" goes to the middle of the island Mosta, Mdina and Rabat. The prices are €20 each.

The (blue) "North Route (T1)" of City Sightseeing departs from Buggiba / St. Pauls Bay via Valletta and Mdina / Rabat, the (red) "South Route (T2)" from St. Julians via Valletta, Marsaxlokk and the Blue Grotto / Hagar Qim. A complete round trip of a line takes about 3 hours. The prices are €20.00 / €12.00 (adults / children 5-14 years) for the one-day ticket, €37.00 / €17.00 for the two-day ticket.

For some time you can also discover Malta by seaplane. HarbourAir Malta flies several times a day from the Grand Harbor in Valletta to Mgarr on Gozo and also offers sightseeing flights for €88, where you can see the interesting geology of Malta. Attention: However, the seaplane company has now suspended all flights until further notice!

There used to be a rail connection between Mdina and Valletta. However, this only rail connection was discontinued in 1931, so that one has to rely on other means of transport. A relic from this period can still be admired in the San Anton Gardens in Attard.



Since Malta was an English colony until 1964, English is the official language alongside Maltese. With numerous language schools, Malta offers a popular destination for language trips. The official language, Italian, was abolished in the 1930s.

The Maltese language is a Semitic language and therefore very similar to Arabic, with borrowings from French, Italian and English. The language is written in Latin letters as the only Semitic language. A language closely related to Maltese is spoken in Gozo with its own expressions. Every Maltese learns English at school. Private schools even use English as the language of instruction. But for many it remains a foreign language. If you want to converse in English in Malta, you have to be prepared for a more or less strong accent on the part of your counterpart.



Since January 1, 2008, the euro has been the official currency in Malta, the former Maltese lira is equivalent to 2.33 euros.

Malta has relatively few supermarkets. It's the land of small shops, and there are thousands of them on the island. Irrespective of the strong Catholic character, the shop opening times are much longer, even on Sundays and public holidays, than e.g. B. in Germany, especially the smaller shops sometimes have the longest opening times. While many larger shops and supermarkets often close at 7 p.m., the small shops are often open until 9 p.m. The best shopping is in Sliema or in Valletta on Republic Street, which starts at the old train station. Payment with major credit cards is possible in most shops and restaurants. The supply of ATMs is comparable to Germany.

Malta is not a shopper's paradise. Food prices are comparable to German-speaking countries, sometimes slightly cheaper, due to the fact that most of the food and raw materials have to be imported.
Glassware from local glass manufacturers, Maltese wine or olive oil are the most suitable souvenirs if you dare to take them home (observe hand luggage rules for liquids, or only buy them after the airport check). Maltese euro coins delight coin collectors.



More on this topic under Eating and drinking in Malta

The cuisine of Malta is vegetable-oriented and influenced by the English-Italian. The national drink is Kinnie, a non-alcoholic lemonade made with bitter oranges and spices that tastes similar to martini.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Maltese cuisine, the long British colonial era did a good job. There are only a few places that offer classic dishes. Due to the geographic proximity to Sicily and the Muslim occupation times, the original Maltese cuisine is based on heavily spiced pasta and hearty puff pastry. And if there's a traditional dish in Malta, it's rabbit ("fenek").

In addition to the traditional English sandwiches, Ftira sandwiches are available almost everywhere, especially with tuna and capers. Pastizzi, dumplings with a filling of ricotta, spinach or peas, are a suitable snack, and timpana, a type of lasagne with tube pasta, vegetables, cheese and sometimes ham, is also common.

Since Malta was a British colony until 1964, sausages with bacon and ham are still part of a good Maltese breakfast. Also traditional is a fish soup aljotta with garlic, pepperoni, tomatoes, rice and chopped marjoram or parsley. The national fish is the mahi-mahi (lampuki).



In the tourist areas there are always a large number of restaurants and pubs, where you can find something for every taste. Away from the tourist areas, however, it becomes difficult to find what you want.

The nightlife centers are St. Julian's and Paceville. Here you will find numerous dance halls, nightspots and bars. On weekends it gets very noisy here until the early hours of the morning.

Cafe's in Paceville (St Julian's)
A Piece of Cake, Triq Il-Wilga. The cheapest cappuccino is definitely offered here (LM 0.55 = € 1.38), and it is also a popular meeting place for language students.
Cesar's Cafe, Portomaso Marina. Huge selection of ice cream flavors and combinations, beautiful view of the Portomaso Marina (yacht port).



In almost all larger towns you will find at least one hotel. Naturally, you have the greatest choice in the tourist regions by the sea, such as in Bugibba, Sliema or St. Julian's. There is something for almost every budget in the two to five star hotels. If you want to live in St. Julian's, however, you should remember that you can't expect quiet nights there. On the other hand, if you like to wander around the houses at night, this is the place for you. Private accommodation can usually only be booked with an English course. Many original and beautifully restored self-catering farmhouses can be found in Malta and Gozo in particular. Many of these farmhouses even have a pool.



Malta is the land of language travel! Since English is the official language, you can choose your English course from over 40 language schools. In principle, the performance of the language schools is okay, but you should be aware that the schools are designed to improve existing English skills. You are not prepared for someone who doesn't speak English at all. The schools are often much larger than they appear in the photos on the Internet and usually have several branches.



Due to its island location, Malta is a safe travel destination, but of course you should - as in any holiday country - watch your pockets. There are significantly fewer tourist traps than in other classic travel countries. With taxi drivers, you should make sure that the taximeter is on or negotiate the price of the trip beforehand.



There are two state and some private hospitals and health centers in Malta and Gozo. Many hotels and diving centers also work directly with a doctor. The statutory health insurance companies cover treatment costs within the framework of the EU agreements. You should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or provisional replacement certificate from your health insurance company before you travel. A private international health insurance with return option is definitely advisable. These cost between €20 and €40 per year, depending on how many family members are also insured.



Shoulders must be covered when visiting churches, and there are usually cloaks at the entrance to the church. Nudist or topless bathing is not tolerated in Malta.

Post and telecommunications
Since Malta is part of the EU, since June 15, 2017, the domestic tariff from D or A can be used without roaming charges like at home. There are numerous ways to access the Internet anywhere, either in dedicated Internet payphones or in Internet cafes. There are also some WiFi hotspots, including at the airport or in selected hotels. There is an app from the Malta Communications Authority (Android) that will show you where to find free hotspots.

The postage for letters within Malta and postcards to all of Europe is a standard 37 cents, letters to other European countries are 82 cents, the Maltese postal service delivers quickly and reliably.


Practical advice

Malta's earlier colonial era also has an impact on the sockets, the "Commonwealth - Type G" sockets with three rectangular prongs are used. As a special feature, the sockets themselves often have an on/off switch and the plugs have a fuse inside, both of which should be checked if there are problems with the power supply.

You should carry an adapter for English sockets or buy it locally. It should be borne in mind that many multi-travel adapters are equipped with an internal fuse, which will blow if a device with a higher power (hair dryer, kettle) is connected. The "Euro plug type C" may fit in sockets for razors, but only small consumers may be connected here due to the very low secured power.

In some better hotels there are also Schuko sockets in the room.

In December 2021, Malta was the first EU country to partially legalize cannabis, so that e.g. B. Carrying up to 7 grams of cannabis is legal. Note, however, that public consumption of cannabis is still prohibited.



Day trips can be made from Malta to Sicily, which is a 90 minute fast catamaran ferry ride away. The highlight here is a visit to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. Bus tours lead up to around 1,900 meters, from there the cable car takes you up to 2,500 meters. From here you can still get to just below the rim of the crater by off-road bus and mountain guide. However, on organized tours there is no time for this unless you disconnect. On such an excursion, either Taormina or Modica is also headed for. In Modica, chocolate shops are interesting, offering unusual chocolates of numerous flavors.



The origin of the name "Malta" is not exactly established. The most common version of the origin is that the word "Malta" comes from the Greek. μέλι, meli "honey". The ancient Greeks called the island Μελίτη (Melitē), which means "sweet honey", perhaps due to the unique production of honey - an endemic subspecies of bees lived on the island. The Romans called the island "Melita", which can be seen as a Latinization of the Greek Μελίτη or an adaptation of the Doric Greek pronunciation of the same word Μελίτα.

According to another hypothesis, the word "Malta" comes from the Phoenician word "Malet", meaning "refuge" or "port" in relation to the many bays and bays of Malta. The word "Malta" appears in its current form in the Itinerary of Antonina.



On the islands of the Maltse archipelago there are Stone Age temples from prehistoric times, built between 3800 and 2500 BC. were built (megalithic culture). The archipelago was repopulated in the Bronze Age.

From antiquity onwards, Malta has been under the influence of almost all the major Mediterranean cultures in turn: the Phoenician (from 800 BC) was followed by the 217 BC; the Roman and 395 AD the Eastern Roman-Byzantine rule. In 455 Malta fell to the Vandals, in 494 to the Ostrogoths, before being conquered again by the Byzantines in 533 and by the Arabs in 870, who Islamized it and introduced a new language, Arabic. According to a census conducted in 991, 6,339 Christian and 14,972 Muslim families lived on the islands at the time. Around 1049, new Arabic-speaking settlers arrived in Malta from Sicily. After 1091, the archipelago became Norman, and Arabic-speaking Sicilians settled in Malta again. After 1240, Muslims were expelled from Malta by the Hohenstaufen Frederick II; a significant part of the Muslim population may have converted to Christianity in this situation and stayed in Malta.

In the following centuries, Malta shared the fate of Sicily, first among the Staufers, then from 1266 under the Angevins, the Aragonese (from 1284) and the Castilians (from 1412). Local rule was mostly exercised by the feudal bearers of the respective king. Under the rule of the Hohenstaufens, the Maltese population was granted a certain say; they were allowed to elect deputies to the consiglio popolare, an administrative body that represented the population vis-à-vis the ruling house. Although the kings of Aragon and Castile ruled Sicily with the island of Malta for around 250 years, the Spanish and Catalan culture and language did not exert any significant influence; the Sicilian-Italian influence persisted. The administrative language was Latin for a long time, before Sicilian and later Italian prevailed.

According to the Alhambra Edict of 1492/93 by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, all Jews had to leave Malta or convert to Christianity.

In 1530, Emperor Charles V gave the islands as a fief to the Order of St. John. The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, also known as the Order of the Hospitallers and often called the Order of Malta since the takeover of the Maltese archipelago, strengthened the harbor fortifications and defended the islands against Ottoman attacks. As a result of the Great Ottoman Siege of 1565, the fortified city of Valletta was founded in 1566, named after the Grand Master of the Order at the time, Jean Parisot de la Valette.

The entry of the Order of St. John in 1530 meant the political separation of Malta from Sicily and the beginning of an independent historical development. Malta became the headquarters of a political and military power; the Hospitallers were the first rulers not to use Malta as an outpost. The knights belonged to an elite spread across Europe and brought the archipelago "cosmopolitan openness, a high cultural standard and considerable financial resources", which not only united Malta in the military fortifications after the Ottoman defenses, but above all in some magnificent baroque buildings found expression to this day. The beginnings of an independent Maltese education system can also be found in this phase (University of Malta).

In 1798 the Order of Malta gave way to Napoleon Bonaparte's French revolutionary troops. After a request for help from Maltese insurgents against the French, British ships blocked the ports of the archipelago plundered by the French. When they had to withdraw in 1800, a British regiment was stationed in Malta, and in the First Peace of Paris of 1814 the archipelago became a British crown colony, playing an important strategic role due to its central location on a strait between the western and eastern Mediterranean. Despite the end of its rule over Malta, the Order of Malta still maintains a state-like status under international law (not recognized by all states), but without making any territorial claims on Malta.

During World War II, Malta earned a reputation as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” from which the British thwarted the supply and advance of the German Afrika Korps. During the siege of Malta in 1941/42, the main island was hit by a massive shortage of supplies and thousands of air raids, in which more than a thousand residents died. For Malta's role in World War II, the British King awarded the population the George's Cross in 1942, which still adorns the national flag of Malta today.

In July 1945, the Maltese National Assembly passed a bill giving all women and men over the age of 18 the right to vote. Until then, only selected men over the age of 21 could vote. In 1947 Great Britain granted the country self-government. On September 5, 1947, the MacMichael Constitution came into effect, which included universal suffrage and the principle of "one person, one vote" for women and men over the age of 21. The first elections took place from October 25th to 27th, 1947. Finally, Malta gained independence as a parliamentary democracy in 1964. It remained a member of the Commonwealth. Only since the republic was proclaimed on December 13, 1974 has the head of the British royal family no longer been the head of state in Malta.

On May 1st, 2004, Malta joined the European Union. On January 1, 2008, the euro replaced the Maltese lira (Maltese Lira Maltija) as the official national currency.



With an area of 316 square kilometers, Malta is one of the dwarf states, is slightly smaller than the city of Bremen and almost twice the size of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The Maltese Islands are 81 kilometers south of the coast of Sicily, 350 kilometers north of the Libyan port of al-Khums, 150 kilometers northeast of the Italian island of Lampedusa and approximately 285 kilometers southeast of Tunisia's Cap Bon Peninsula. Along with Cyprus, Malta is the only country in the European Union that lies entirely south of the 37th parallel.

The main island, Malta (Maltese Malta), is 246 square kilometers in size, faces southeast and reaches a maximum length of 28 kilometers and a maximum width of 13 kilometers. Between its northwestern end and the second main island of the archipelago, Gozo (Maltese Għawdex), the 4.4-kilometer-wide Gozo Channel stretches, in which the 2.7 square-kilometer island of Comino (Maltese Kemmuna) and the uninhabited rocky island of Cominotto (Maltese Kemmunett) lay. Gozo, 67 square kilometers in size, measures 14.3 kilometers in length from east to west and up to 7.25 kilometers in width. The other - all uninhabited - islands of the archipelago are Filfla, 4.4 kilometers south of the island of Malta, and the Saint Paul's Islands (Maltese Gżejjer ta' San Pawl) at the northern end of St. Paul's Bay, which lie 83 meters off the coast and are actually connected to each other, but whose land connection is washed over when the sea is rough. In western Gozo, at the Black Lagoon near Dwejra Point, the 60 meter high Fungus Rock (Maltese Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral) rises out of the sea, a large limestone cliff. Manoel Island (Maltese Il-Gżira Manwel) in Marsamxett Harbor between Valletta and Sliema is no longer commonly considered an island as it is connected to the mainland by an artificial causeway.

The most distinctive geographical feature of Malta is the diversity of its coastline, which is particularly evident on the main island. While the east and north-east sides are characterized by flat beaches and wide bays such as Marsaxlokk Bay, Marsamxett Harbour, Grand Harbour, Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul's Bay, the south-west and north have very sharply defined coastal sections with rock formations and grotto-like incisions. On this side, Malta rises precipitously out of the sea and forms long cliffs that culminate at the Dingli Cliffs in Ta' Dmejrek, the highest point in the archipelago at 253 metres. Further karst ridges can be found in the northwest: Mellieħa Ridge, Bajda Ridge and the up to 122 meter high Marfa Ridge. The highest peaks in Gozo measure 127 metres.

Due to the extreme lack of water (see section on water supply), there are no permanently water-carrying rivers in Malta, Gozo and Comino. After heavy rainfall in winter, some dried-up creek beds can temporarily fill up with rainwater. These mostly small rivulets converge in narrow rocky valleys, the wieds (see also wadi), where they stay for a while. The longest intermittent stream is found in the Wied il-Għasri and drains into a fjord-like bay on the north coast of Gozo. The only major lake in the archipelago is man-made and is located within the Għadira Nature Reserve on the isthmus off Marfa Ridge just under two kilometers northwest of Mellieħa. It is 350 meters long and 220 meters wide and has numerous inland islands.



General presentation
The geological history of Malta begins in the Paleogene period, when a land bridge existed between southern Sicily and northern Africa, dividing the early Mediterranean into two basins. After the rising sea level had flooded these, sediments of coral and shell limestone were deposited around 60 million years ago at the site of today's archipelago. Over the geological ages, deposits of globigerine limestone and blue clay followed, and in the Oligocene sandstone and another coralline layer. Finally, in the Pliocene, the islands slowly rose from the sea. During the Würm Ice Age, the land bridge formed again due to the sinking water level, but was finally interrupted at the end of the Ice Age a good 13,000 years ago. The Maltese Islands lie in the zone between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, but for centuries Malta was considered an island in North Africa.

After the islands appeared, the surface of the main island tilted towards the north-east over the course of several centuries due to the still unstable base, so that the south-west coast was raised and the steep edges with the Dingli Cliffs were formed. Malta is traversed by several tectonic faults, which may appear small in global comparison, but shape the geological relief of the islands. Two graben systems are dominant: the older Great Fault, which extends in many discrete sections over five kilometers northeast from the southwest coast, and the younger Magħlaq Fault. This runs from north-west to south-east and is responsible, among other things, for the formation of the plateau on the small island of Filfla off Malta.

Sediments found on the Maltese Islands are the Blue Clay, the Globigerine Limestone (dividable into Upper, Middle and Lower) and the Upper Greensand, a division of the Cretaceous Formation. Upper greensand is very clayey and sandy, rich in chlorite, its upper layers are chalky and may transition to chloristic chalk. In Gozo there is a mix of these different soil components, in Malta the boundary is more clearly drawn. The northwest is dominated by coralline limestone and greensand, but most of the other part of the island is dominated by globigerine limestone. This beige natural material represents Malta's only natural resource and is intensively mined and used by the population.


Coastal erosion

Coastal erosion is a natural phenomenon that affects seafront countries around the world. So far, however, there is no published study that addresses the rate and risks of coastal erosion in Malta.

On Malta, the effects of faulting and different types of erosion play a role. Erosion forms, shapes and develops the shorelines of the islands. In the north-east of the island there is a gently sloping rocky coast, while in the south-east and west there is a steep, cliff-dominated coastline.

Different formations caused by erosion can be found on the islands. On the lower coral limestone, waves wash indentations or plains at the base of the cliffs, which is mostly below sea level. Smooth and gently sloping plains emerge on the Globigerina Limestone Coast, while bays emerge where clay and marl have been rapidly eroded, such as Xrobb l-Għaġin or Peter's Pool. Shoals of rubble on land and in the sea arise where the erosion of the blue tone undermines the upper coral limestone, forming the typical coastline. Examples include Għajn Tuffieħa, Qammieħ and San Blas. There are also karst land formations on Malta.

The world famous Azure Window on Gozo, a rock arch itself formed by erosion, collapsed during a storm on March 8th 2017.

In addition, the rainwater after heavy rain events saturates the clay, which becomes plastic and can cause mudslides.

Coastal erosion on Malta is accelerating due to a combination of natural processes and anthropogenic influences. One reason for this may be a destabilization of the subsoil during infrastructure construction measures, which can be seen on the coastal road along Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. Another reason accelerating coastal erosion is the construction of hotel buildings on the coast, as evidenced by Għajn Tuffieħa and Golden Bay. In Malta, a large part of the economic activity and infrastructure is located close to the coast, which requires precise planning, as there are few alternative development options on an island of this size.

To protect the coast, the government of Malta uses the Do Nothing strategy in the 21st century based on Doody's (2004) classification of coastal erosion management. This means that no coastal protection measures are taken and there is no explicit coastline management, although 11 of the 14 ministries are directly involved in the regulation of the coastal zone. The only official document related to shoreline management is the Structure Plan, which is only intended to regulate coastal development.

In practice, some inter-agency networks exist and there is collaboration with conservation organizations Nature Trust Malta and The Gaia Foundation. This has concluded a contract with a responsible ministry for the management of some coastal areas that belong to the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network and are looked after by the nature conservation organization.



Malta has a subtropical, dry Mediterranean climate. This balanced maritime climate is characterized by mild, wet winters and dry, warm but not overly hot summers. The annual precipitation total on the islands is a good 620 millimetres, with the lowest precipitation, tending to zero, being recorded in summer - especially in June and July - and the most frequent in winter. The rain usually falls short and heavy across the country, while continuous rain is unusual. Humidity in Malta averages 74 percent in summer and around 70 percent in the winter months.

As is typical for island locations, the daily temperature differences of five to ten degrees Celsius are usually very small. The highest temperatures are reached in the summer months of July and August, when the average values rise up to 31.8 degrees. The lowest monthly average temperature occurs in January at 9.5 degrees Celsius. Especially in the weeks of rising temperatures in March and April, strong, cold winds can reduce the perceived temperature. The water temperatures in the Mediterranean around the islands vary according to the climate. In August they are around 22.8 °C and only drop below 20 °C from December. Below this level they usually last until May, when lows of 15°C can be reached.

The national weather and climate station is the Meteorological Office Malta International Airport at the country's international airport near the town of Luqa in the southeast of the main island. The lowest temperature ever recorded and officially confirmed in the Maltese archipelago was 1.2 °C in Valletta on February 19, 1895. The value of −1.7 °C on February 1, 1962 at Ta’ Qali airfield is unconfirmed. In August 1999, 43.8 °C was measured at the airport, the highest temperature since weather records began. According to the climatic conditions, snow is an extremely rare phenomenon in Malta. There has been no snow cover on the islands since 1800; however, light snow showers were observed and noted in February 1895, January 1905 and January 31, 1962.


Nature: General Overview

All Maltese islands are rocky. The main island is a ridge of limestone rock rising up to 260 meters. The south and south-west drop steeply towards the sea. The coast of Malta is unindented and inaccessible there. Between the torn rocks there are picturesque small bays. Hills and flatter plains dominate the landscape in the north and north-east of Malta. The coast there gradually descends to the sea and is cut by bays surrounded by sandy beaches. There are no mountains and rivers in Malta. Noteworthy are the numerous caves that were created by erosion of the limestone. Due to the scarcity of water, the vegetation in Malta consists of less demanding but numerous plants, large trees are rather rare. Fig trees sometimes grow wild along the roadside and on the stony fields.



With around 800 native plant species, the Maltese Islands have a great variety of plants for an area of this size. This is all the more remarkable as Malta shows no significant differences in altitude, has little diversity in terms of location and has already been heavily reshaped by human influences over thousands of years. The species spectrum is typically Mediterranean, the flora of Malta is closely related to that of Sicily, but also shows strong North African influences.

As early as Neolithic times, people began clearing the islands' forest for boat building and other purposes, so the islands are now forestless. An exception is the man-made forest area of Buskett Gardens, 900 meters long and up to 200 meters wide, which is 1.1 kilometers east of Dingli and just as far south of Rabat.

The predominant types of vegetation are maquis, garrigue and steppe, important special locations are those of the flat and steep coasts, but also the few fresh waters. Formations of disturbed sites are widespread.

Common plant species include carob, olive, thyme, mastic, heather, Teucrium fruticans and Euphorbia melitensis. Various spurge and leek plants as well as species of sea lavender and almost 15 species of orchids also grow. Wood sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae) is widespread. Endemic species are Cremnophyton lanfrancoi, Darniella melitensis, Euphorbia melitensis, Limonium melitense, Limonium zeraphae, Cheirolophus crassifolius, Jasonia bocconei, Helichrysum melitense, Hyoseris frutescens, Zannichellia melitensis, Allium lojaconoi, Allium melitense and Ophrys melitensis.

Since the end of the 20th century, nature conservation issues have gradually come to the attention of the Maltese public, in particular due to the accession to the European Union in 2004, the first protected areas were designated as part of the Natura 2000 program. Notwithstanding, some Maltese plants are considered endangered or critically endangered, the IUCN lists three plants unique to Malta among its Top 50 Mediterranean Island Plants that are threatened with extinction, including Cremnophyton lanfrancoi and Helichrysum melitense as well as the 1971 national plant of the island state proclaimed Cheirolophus crassifolius. The Maltese national tree, the sandarak tree, is also listed as critically endangered. The historically significant Maltese sponge, on the other hand, which occurs on Fungus Rock, is protected there, since entering Fungus Rock is only permitted for scientific purposes. Problematic as invasive species are the nodding sorrel, which originated in South Africa and was introduced in the 19th century, which has conquered the coasts of the entire Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic from Malta to Great Britain. So far only problematic in Malta is the Chilean aster squamatus, which has become one of the island's most common weeds since the 1930s. Also of importance as invasive neophytes is the miracle tree, which was introduced as an ornamental plant and displaces native species in the few wetlands on the islands. The edible ice plant, the agave americana and the opuntia ficus-indica are spreading along the sensitive coasts.



Paleontological finds

The Għar Dalam (mt.: Cave of Darkness) is a karst cave in the southeast of the island of Malta, near the town of Birżebbuġa and only about 500 m from St George's Bay. It has a maximum width of 18 m, is up to 8 m high and leads about 145 m far into the limestone cliffs. The lowest fossil-free layer has an assumed age of around 180,000 years, while the Hippopotamus layer above it belongs to the last interglacial period (Eem Interglacial, 126,000 to 115,000 years ago). It represents a compact bone breccia. In the layer, researchers found numerous bones of the Pleistocene animal world, such as the eponymous hippopotamus, which occurs in two size variations with Hippopotamus pentlandi (slightly smaller than today's hippopotamus) and Hippopotamus melitensis (very small pygmy hippopotamus). The pygmy elephants, which also come in two different sized species, are also important. So Elephas mnaidriensis reached a shoulder height of 1.9-2 m and weighed around 2.5 t. In contrast, its relative Elephas falconeri was only 0.9–1.1 m tall with a reconstructed weight of 170 kg. In addition to these, remains of various other animal species such as Bilche (Leithie cartei), various bats and a rich bird fauna were found.



Overall, Malta's fauna is considered to be relatively species-poor. Animals living on the islands include mice, rats, the long-winged bat, rabbits, hedgehogs, weasels, lizards, wall geckos, chameleons and several populations of non-venomous snakes such as the leopard snake.

A number of bird families are native to the islands, such as larks, finches, swallows and thrushes. The turtle dove, the oriole and some species of birds of prey also belong to the fauna of Malta. The common Blue Rock Thrush is the national bird of the island state. In the spring of 2008, the government registered 27 protected areas for flora and fauna as part of Natura 2000. These areas include the limestone cliffs of Rdumijiet ta' Malta, which are nesting sites for many seabirds, including the Levantine shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan). In the north of the main island lies the Għadira Bird Reserve. Furthermore, in spring and autumn, Malta is one of the few stops for migratory birds on their way from Europe to Africa and back.

Endemic animal species
Crocidura sicula ssp. calypso (subspecies of Sicilian shrew)
Phragmatobia fuliginosa ssp. melitensis (subspecies of cinnamon bear)
Eukoenenia christiani
Papilio machaon ssp. melitensis (swallowtail subspecies)
Maltese freshwater crab (Potamon fluviatile lanfrancoi)
Pimelia rugulosa ssp. melitana
Ogcodes schembrii
several subspecies of the Malta lizard (Podarcis filfolensis)


Bird hunting and bird protection

Bird hunting is a traditional folk sport in Malta. With around 18,000 official hunting licenses, Malta has the highest concentration of hunters in Europe. One of the largest hunting grounds is the Marfa Ridge. Until accession to the EU in 2004, Maltese regulations even allowed the hunting of protected species such as snipe, little snipe, ruff and birds of prey. Estimates of the total number of birds killed vary between 200,000 and 1,000,000 annually. The animals are mostly stuffed and sold as trophies or – if caught alive – sold illegally as cage birds. This bird hunting was and is mostly still considered a male domain and was "inherited" over generations.

European regulations such as the Birds Directive and the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive have applied to Malta since 2004. However, the Maltese government was able to negotiate a transitional compromise. Spring hunting was restricted to turtle doves and quail, and the capture of seven finch species was allowed until 2008 in order to be able to set up a breeding system. The 23-strong Law Enforcement Police, which is also responsible for controlling prostitution and gambling, was established to monitor the implementation of this compromise. NABU and BirdLife Malta have been calling for an end to migratory bird hunting on the Mediterranean island since 2004. In autumn 2007, the bird conservationists not only recorded the bird migration, but also the extensive hunting in the south of the island. A total of 209 violations were documented and reported to the local police. Most of the cases involved illegal shootings of birds of prey. Among these, the honey buzzard, which is particularly rare in Central Europe, came first. On 31 January 2008, the European Commission initiated legal proceedings against Malta in the European Court of Justice, the focus of which was to end the particularly harmful spring hunt for quail and turtledoves.

Notwithstanding all the protests and proceedings, the government again issued an exceptional regulation in 2012 for the shooting of thousands of endangered migratory birds across Europe.

After initial progress in curbing bird hunting in 2014, the Maltese government again allowed the hunting of seven species of finches, golden plovers and song thrushes with huge folding nets in autumn 2014. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter reported extensively on this and precisely documented this violation of applicable EU law.


Environmental Protection

Acceptance from the late 20th century
Conservation has only caught on in Malta since the 1990s. That year, the protected area was about 0.1 percent compared to the total area of the country. In the years that followed, this value increased significantly, so that in 2013 13% of the country's areas were already protected (protected areas under the Habitats Directive). In the area of the country's aquatic areas, an area of 193 square kilometers was protected in 2014. In these areas, the original Mediterranean landscapes are protected. Among the most popular nature reserves in Malta are the island of Filfla and the wetlands of Għadira and Simar. However, the proportion of artificial areas in Malta is considered to be high. About a third of the country can be placed in this category.

Malta has made major efforts to improve environmental protection since joining the EU, but the overall picture is contradictory. The share of all environment-related tax revenues in GDP was 3.74% in 2008, above the European average, but no information is available on environmental protection spending by the public sector or environmental protection investments by industry. The proportion of agricultural land receiving agri-environmental aid in relation to the total agricultural land was 21% in 2005, compared with around 6.9% in the previous year.

However, emissions of greenhouse gases have been increasing continuously for years and amounted to 149.2 CO2 equivalents in 2007 (no target values were specified for Malta and Cyprus). On the other hand, the exposure of the urban population to air pollution with airborne particles is 23.9 micrograms per cubic meter. This value is below the European average and, for example, below that of the Netherlands. However, the exposure of the urban population to air pollution with ozone is far above the European average and reaches the second highest value in Europe after Greece.

problems for nature conservation
Nature is primarily threatened by population growth, suburban area growth and tourism. On the one hand, these factors lead to a reduction in habitats and, on the other hand, to a fragmentation of the landscape. In Malta, all waste is landfilled. With an annual 648 kg of waste per capita, Malta achieves a lone negative peak value in the European Union after Cyprus. This is particularly problematic given the island's small size and high population density. There are hardly any larger areas on the islands that could be used for agriculture, so many products have to be imported. Due to the low or lacking environmental awareness of the locals, some of this waste ends up in the landscape.


Water supply

According to statistics published by the United Nations in March 2011, the ratio between renewable drinking water and the number of inhabitants, namely 191 m³ per capita and year, makes Malta the most water-poor country in the world. Of the already low precipitation rate - about 580 mm annually - only about half remains on the surface or in the groundwater, since rainfall, as is typical for semi-arid areas, is rare and short, but intense in the winter months from Occur October to February. In summer, most of the precipitation evaporates. In addition, Malta has only a few above-ground sources of fresh water that could feed the precipitation, the limestone soil formed from coral is very dry due to the high temperatures and cannot absorb water well.

The lack of fresh water on islands like Malta is due to the fact that salt water is washed into the ground water reserves and the drinking water quality is therefore extremely reduced. In addition, the stocks were used excessively by humans, which induced subsidence and changes in the aquifers. Due to the irrigation of agricultural areas, which took place via underground water extraction, the seepage water became salty and the groundwater level dropped. Rain from precipitation is to be collected, homeowners are required by law to create a cistern.

Agriculture accounts for the second highest share of water consumption in Malta. Maltese households record the highest consumption due to their density and the high standard of living of the population. The water supply as a central infrastructural task is taken over by both the public and the private sector. However, there is only one company that produces drinking water using various methods:

It is possible to resort to natural methods. In the limestone aquifer z. B. water reservoirs in which small amounts of salt-free water floats on the salt water due to its lower density and can be removed. In Ta Kandja near Siġġiewi is the Water Services Corporation's Groundwater Pumping Station, completed in 1963, which withdraws collected freshwater from approximately 6.2 kilometers of underground tunnels. A 42 km long system of these tunnels runs beneath Malta's villages.
The second source of supply, the pumping of groundwater via deep wells, is avoided wherever possible, with the exception of use in agriculture.
The process of reverse osmosis, i.e. seawater desalination, is an intensively used method. The tap water is therefore noticeably salty, especially in Gozo. The process consumes a large amount of energy, which is obtained from burning fossil resources and is therefore environmentally harmful and expensive. In the 2010s, processes for obtaining drinking water from rainwater, most of which otherwise flows into the sea, are being tested.

However, the infiltration of salt water into the island's sewage systems creates other water quality problems. Therefore, about 85 percent of drinking water, e.g. from Sicily, imported to Malta.

The provision of clean drinking water and the sustainable use of water as a resource remains a key task for the Maltese government - not only in terms of environmental protection, but also from an economic point of view. Economic promoters state that the lack of resources such as water is a major challenge for the state's economy. With the establishment of an effective water distribution system and the permanent control of possible leaks in the sewage system, attempts are being made to counteract the problem. With the Water Catchment Management Plan published in 2011 based on the ideas of the EU Water Framework Directive (an EU organization for the provision and sustainable use of sufficient and high-quality water), the deficiency is to be gradually remedied.




According to the 2021 census, Malta had 519,562 inhabitants, 24% more than in 2011. This means that Malta had 1,649 inhabitants per square kilometer, giving the country one of the highest population densities in the world. In 2021, 95 percent of Malta's residents lived in cities.

The population distribution of Malta shows the typical population structure of a developed country. The share of under 25 year olds was 23% in 2021, that of over 64 year olds 18.8%.

The life expectancy of residents of Malta from birth was 82.7 years in 2020 (women: 84.6, men: 80.8).

In 2021, 22% of people living in Malta had foreign nationality.

The number of births per woman was statistically 1.1 in 2020. Malta thus has the lowest fertility rate in the European Union. Due to the low net replacement rate, Malta is classified as a declining nation in long-term projections by demographers. This can also be seen in the population pyramid, which tended from a bell shape to an urn shape. A bell shape indicates a stagnant, stable population. With an urn shape, the population shrinks because there are fewer and fewer children.

Malta is the only EU country and one of the few countries in the world where abortion is banned in all cases, even if the fetus is not viable and/or the mother's life is in danger and/or the pregnancy is the result of rape. In the case of an unauthorized termination of pregnancy, women face imprisonment of between 18 months and three years. In practice, however, not every case is prosecuted.

2,578 marriages took place in Malta in 2013, 53.5% of which were church-related. The number of marriages has fallen by 8.7%, but is in line with the average number of marriages per year over the past 15 years. Divorce was not legally possible in Catholic Malta until 2011, when the Maltese voted in a referendum on May 29, 2011 in favor of a divorce law, which was then introduced by law with effect from October 1, 2011. In 2013, 399 couples divorced. In addition, in April 2014, Parliament passed a law on the civil law recognition of same-sex partnerships.



The vast majority of the Maltese population (93.9% in 2018) is Roman Catholic; there are also some Protestants (including Baptists), Orthodox Christians (Exarchate of Malta of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), Jews and Muslims. Malta is thus the only country with an Arabic dialect as an official language, the majority of whose population belongs to Christian denominations.

The Catholic Church has had a strong influence on Malta's politics and social life since the Middle Ages. Abortion is still a punishable offense and topless bathing is forbidden. The Catholic communities belong to the dioceses of Malta and Gozo. Catholicism is enshrined in Malta's constitution as the state religion and is practiced by a majority of the population. External signs of this are house altars, sculpted and colorfully decorated images of saints, bishops and pastors on building fronts, as well as monuments of saints or popes in public squares.

According to a founding legend popular in Malta, the history of Christianity in Malta began with the arrival of the Apostle Paul. The story of his shipwreck (Acts 28.1-11 EU) off Melite is interpreted as evidence of his arrival in Malta, and the Greek name Melite is equated with Malta. However, the description of Melite contained in the tale does not correspond to the geography and topography of Malta. Nevertheless, the islands are still the destination of numerous pilgrims, also as a stopover on the journey to Palestine. People who fled for religious reasons often found a new home in Malta, for example with the help of the Jesuit Refugee Service Malta.

The Arab conquest in 870 (see History of Malta) led not only to the introduction of the Arabic language, which gave rise to Maltese, to the settlement of Muslims and probably also to the conversion of many local Christians to Islam. In the High Middle Ages, the Muslim population of Malta was fully Christianized, so today's Islamic community consists essentially of immigrant Libyans who run a mosque built in Valletta in the 1970s. The Muslim-Arab customs of the Middle Ages have hardly left any traces except in the Maltese language.

The roots of Judaism in Malta date back at least to the 3rd century when the island was part of the Roman Empire. Under Spanish rule, Jews who refused to be baptized were forced to leave the country from 1493. The Jewish presence is documented in numerous buildings, such as the catacombs near Rabat, the Jewish Gate and the Jewish Silk Market in Mdina, the street name Triq ta' Lhud (Jewish Alley) and the Jewish Gate in Valletta. The important Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia lived on the island of Comino at the end of the 13th century.

See also: List of churches in Malta
A representative survey commissioned by the European Commission as part of the Eurobarometer in 2020 showed that religion is important to 58 percent of the people in Malta, to 21 percent it is neither important nor unimportant and to 20 percent it is unimportant.



Although Malta was always under foreign rule until independence in 1964, the Maltese have preserved their own language, which evolved from medieval North African and Sicilian Arabic. In addition to the former colonial language, English, Maltese is a state language of Malta. It is also recognized by law as the sole national language of the Maltese people and as a result of membership in the European Union it is an official language of the EU.

Maltese is one of the Semitic languages and developed from an Arabic dialect. Structurally, it is closely related to the North African varieties of Arabic and the extinct Sicilian Arabic, but it also contains larger parts of the vocabulary from Italian and smaller parts from Spanish, French and English. Maltese is the only Semitic language in Europe and the only Semitic language to use the Latin alphabet (Y and C excluded) augmented with five graphemes: ċ, ġ and ż, and għ and ħ, which contain some specifically Italian sibilants and syllables respectively. depict Arabic guttural sounds.

Maltese is generally the native language of the Maltese; English and Italian are second languages reserved for public life. After the handover of Malta by the Arabs to Sicily in the 11th century, Italian (initially in its Sicilian form) was used as the language of education by the now immigrating Christian landed gentry and also played a role as the language of the church. It was the language of the courts in Malta until 1934 and the language of choice for education and writing among the Maltese. French was used by the local merchants and artisans to communicate with the Order of St John from 1530 until the end of the Order's rule over Malta. As a result of the British colonial period in the 19th/20th By the 19th century almost all Maltese had mastered English, which was on an equal footing with Maltese in education or, as in some private schools and the university, was predominant in the classroom. Knowledge of Italian is still widespread due to the geographic proximity, the traditionally close economic ties with southern Italy and, last but not least, the popularity of Italian television programs; In schools, Italian is chosen by around half of the pupils as a third language after Maltese and English. In 1934, the British made Maltese an official language alongside English in order to suppress Italian and prevent the possible influence of Italy's fascist regime on the local population. Arabic, which was propagated as a school language after independence from Great Britain in the course of a political and economic rapprochement between the Republic of Malta and Libya, hardly finds any interest anymore. Only about one percent of the students learn Arabic.



Legislative branch

The Republic of Malta has a unicameral parliament, the House of Representatives, which consists of at least 65 MPs. Elections are held in 13 five-person constituencies. The dominant parties in Malta are the Partit Laburista and the conservative Partit Nazzjonalista, which occupy all seats in Parliament. The Maltese President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are also members of Parliament.


Voting behavior

Most of the Maltese have long-term party ties, and the number of swing voters is correspondingly small. This makes it difficult for new parties to enter parliament. Long-term party loyalty is also promoted by the Maltese system of proportional representation based on the process of transferable individual votes in multi-mandate constituencies, each with five mandates.

Voter turnout in Malta – there is no compulsory voting – has traditionally been extraordinarily high. Voter turnout is well over 90% in parliamentary elections and 72.7% in the 2019 European elections.



The Constitution is the supreme source of state law. All laws can be prepared by specialist commissions and, if necessary, made known to the public in advance in a white paper. Finally, they are passed by Parliament as Acts of Parliament. Legislative power can also be transferred to other bodies, such as ministries, authorities or public bodies. Associated with this is the elaboration and enactment of implementing regulations (“secondary legal regulations, Local Councils Bye-Laws”). Existing foreign policy treaties are always incorporated directly into applicable Maltese law. All laws are published in the government newspaper. Upon request, the House of Representatives can decide on additions or text changes to existing laws.

Party system and parliamentary elections
In Malta, a two-party system has existed since independence: the bourgeois-conservative Partit Nazzjonalista (Nationalist Party) faces the socialist-social-democratic Partit Laburista (Labour Party). Both parties have taken turns in government at irregular intervals. The parliamentary majorities were often relatively tight. Voter turnout has always been very high in the past, which speaks for the pronounced political interest of the population.



The President of Malta is elected after being proposed by the Prime Minister. President since April 2019 is George Vella, who belongs to the social democratic Partit Laburista. Prime Minister is Robert Abela from the same party. The Maltese government is elected for a five-year term.

Malta has a central government and 68 local governments, which are also elected every five years.

In total (including pre-trial detainees/prisoners on remand) 569 people were held captive in 2015. Of these, around 6% were female locals, 23% male locals, 2% young people and minors and 40% foreigners. There is only one prison in Malta, the Corradino Correctional Facility, in Paola near Valletta, with a capacity of 675 places.

The Prison and Probation Administration Headquarters is located in Valletta, where all current court judgments are collected and processed or published. He reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.



Judicial bodies are civil and criminal courts under the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government. The civil courts include the Court of Appeal, the Trichamber Civil Court, Court of Magistrates, Court of Magistrates Gozo and the Small Claims Tribunal. Criminal jurisdictions are the Court of Criminal Appeal, Criminal Court, Court of Magistrates, Court of Magistrates Gozo and uvenile Court.

The law enshrined in the various legal acts is interpreted by the members of the courts. Judges follow this case law except for important reasons.

Around 2,000 private lawyers practice in the municipalities and cities.


Domestic policy

In connection with global climate change, nature conservation is playing an increasingly important role in Malta. In 2012, the then Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs published a National Climate Change (Adaptation) Strategy. In this, the government states that the protection of nature, especially biodiversity, is a focus of its activities. These and ecologically dependent ecosystems should be specially protected. In addition, efforts are being made to restore existing habitats, which are then to be designated as nature reserves. The aim is to take action against the endangerment of species and to strive for the existence of populations that have a future-oriented size. However, no timeframe for implementation was given. Necessary measures should be implemented when they are applicable. EcoGozo initiates different projects to achieve these goals. For example, sustainable energies are supported; 68% of the electricity required for the ministry is already obtained from solar energy. In addition, the use of electric cars is supported by installing charging stations on the island of Gozo.

Malta became the first EU country to partially legalize cannabis in December 2021.

Some trade unions, such as the General Workers' Union and the Catholic Church, have a major influence in everyday political life.


Foreign policy: EU enlargement

On July 16, 1990, Malta applied for the first time to join the European Community (EC). The application was linked to the hope that Italy would support Malta's membership in the context of the next enlargement. However, Italy's influence in the Council was severely weakened from 1992 onwards due to the political upheavals in the wake of the Mani pulite. As a result, the outcome of the 1992 Lisbon Summit was not in Malta's favour. The Commission's Opinion on Malta's Application, published in 1993, while perceived by the Maltese Government as positive for Malta, also identified some political, economic and institutional problems that Malta's accession to the Union would pose. Some of these problems were, for example, Malta's political neutrality or the necessary, thorough overhaul of the market-regulating system.

Despite the predominantly positive assessment of Malta, the European Council decided to postpone the decision on possible accession until the planned Intergovernmental Conference of the Member States in 1996.

Following the Nationalist Party's electoral defeat in 1996, Malta postponed EU membership by two years. Efforts to join the EU came to a premature end because the socialists were pursuing the goal of establishing Malta as a “Switzerland in the Mediterranean”. As the ruling party, they not only withdrew the bid to join the EU, but withdrew from NATO's Partnership for Peace. Malta had joined just a year earlier to signal to the EU that it was able to maintain its neutrality and still enter into a partnership with a military organization. Instead of membership in the European Union, the new government asked for a partnership, which the European Commission rejected. As a result of internal party disputes, new elections were held in 1998 after only two years as the governing party. The Nationalist Party emerged victorious, and the application for EU membership was renewed. But it was not only Malta that saw some changes, the European Union had also developed further in the meantime. With the Amsterdam Treaty, the advancement of monetary union and other milestones, the EU was a different institution than it was in 1990, when Malta first applied. The standards that had to be met for accession had also changed. For example, EU candidate countries had to accept the acquis communautaire and meet the Copenhagen criteria before joining the EU. This checked and evaluated how competent they were in implementing EU law into their own.

After the restoration of the bid, Malta asked the Commission to update the Opinion published in 1993. The most important part of this report was the recommendation to start the screening process of Malta so that the actual accession negotiations could begin. After this process had taken place between May 1999 and January 2000, negotiations were able to start in February. In September of the same year, the Maltese Government published its first version of the National Program of Adaptation of the Acquis, which served as a guideline for reviewing the legislative and administrative system.

Following the decision at the EU summit meeting on December 13, 2002 in Copenhagen, Malta was admitted to the European Union on May 1, 2004 as part of the EU enlargement along with eight Central and Eastern European countries and Cyprus. Nevertheless, Malta was able to maintain its neutrality status, which has been laid down in the constitution since 1987, as it was also recorded in the accession treaty.

But before admission, the Maltese held a referendum on March 8, 2003. The Nationalist Party was in favor of joining the EU, while the Socialists and trade unions campaigned against it. The turnout among the 390,000 Maltese was 91%, approval at 53.65% and thus slightly above forecasts. Malta has replaced Luxembourg as the smallest EU country.

Malta can send six MPs to the European Parliament, who come from the ruling and opposition parties, depending on the national election result. In the first half of 2017, Malta took over the EU Council Presidency. The preparation for this demanding task took place via a joint work program in a trio presidency with the Netherlands and Slovakia, which chaired in 2016.


Accusation: tax avoidance, money laundering, purchasable citizenship

As of March 2019, Malta's policies have been reprimanded by the European Parliament in several respects. Above all, the sale of Maltese passports to wealthy foreigners and thus their free access to the Schengen area was criticized. Along with Cyprus, which has been accused of a similar practice, around 6,000 people had, by the time of the report, been able to gain legal access to the European Union through purchased citizenships. Malta's government also takes insufficient action against money laundering, including those funds that potential criminals bring into the country. Malta is also one of the EU countries accused of helping tax avoidance and being sometimes described as a tax haven. In October 2020, the EU Commission launched infringement procedures against Malta (and Cyprus) for selling citizenship to wealthy non-EU citizens. Malta is said to have given it in return for an investment of 2.5 million euros. In September 2022, the EU Commission took Malta to the European Court of Justice for issuing these passports. The Commission considers that issuing such EU citizenships in exchange for pre-arranged payments or investments with no real connection to the country concerned is not compatible with the principles of the European Union.


Entry requirements

Entry into Malta is possible with a valid passport or identity card. Children's ID cards (provided they have a photo) are accepted. Provisional passports and ID cards are not always accepted. The entry of a child in a parent's passport has not been valid for entry since 2012.

Malta has been a member of the Schengen area since December 21, 2007, so there are no border controls at Malta International Airport. Foreigners who have a Schengen visa or a Schengen stay do not need a Maltese visa for entry.


Refugee issue

In June 2011, the EU opened the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Malta, which implements asylum policy, provides advice and support to Member States.

In 2015, around 10,000 boat people from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and other African countries were living in Malta. Most of these refugees do not have the status of being entitled to asylum, but are not deported for humanitarian reasons (civil war, etc.). Due to the high population density and small size of its land area, Malta refuses to take in any more African boat people. At the same time, Malta's navy is responsible for coordinating sea rescue in an area of 180 × 600 nautical miles. Malta is increasingly facing criticism from human rights organizations and the Suspended European Parliament (as of around 2008). However, the EU interior ministers have so far rejected Malta's proposal to distribute boat people equally among all member states of the European Union.

On July 4, 2018, it became known that Malta would no longer allow the Sea-Watch and Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative (HPI) Moonbird aircraft to conduct reconnaissance flights from Malta. In 2017, the "Moonbird" sighted 119 boats in distress.



Education was not compulsory in Malta until 1946. It was not introduced to elementary schools until after the end of the Second World War. Since 1971, secondary school attendance has also been compulsory up to and including the age of 16. State schools are free of charge, but there are also church institutions and private schools, such as St. Aloysius' College in Birkirkara, Savio College in Dingli and the San Anton School near Mġarr. The majority of teachers in church schools also receive their salary from the state. There are also two international schools, Verdala International School and QSI Malta. The adult literacy rate in Malta is 94.4% (as of 2015). In 2005, Malta spent 6.76% of gross domestic product on education, surpassed only by the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden and Cyprus in the EU. Measured in terms of economic power, Malta invests an above-average amount in education, the expenditure per pupil/student compared to GDP per capita even reaches the highest value in the European Union. The expenditure per student compared to the GDP per capita is only surpassed by Cyprus in Europe and is higher than that of Japan in an international comparison. Higher education is largely funded by the state, with the share of public spending here being 95%. Financing of the higher education sector by organisations, associations, foundations and companies is largely unknown in Malta. About 75 percent of the expenditure on tertiary education benefits the university directly, 25.2 percent is paid out as scholarships and grants.

In 2007, 98.8% of all four-year-olds attended an educational institution with a pre-school function. Malta thus ranked fourth within the European Union together with the Netherlands, after Belgium, France and Italy.

The Maltese multi-level school system is subordinate to the Ministry of Education. It is based on that of Great Britain and has a six-year primary school. At the age of eleven, pupils have to take an entrance exam for secondary school and are then free to choose their provider. At state schools, sixteen-year-olds take the secondary school leaving examination, which is usually conducted in the subjects English, Maltese and mathematics. With these exams, the official compulsory schooling ends, but the students can decide whether they want to expand their school education. There are two ways of doing this: attending a two-year advanced level course - offered at Junior College and the church institutions of St Edward's College, St Aloysius' College and De La Salle College - and enrolling at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST ). At the end of the upper school there is a university entrance exam. Depending on the result, graduates receive either their diploma or a certificate of admission from the University of Malta, the highest educational institution on the archipelago.

The proportion of the population aged 25-64 with at least an upper secondary qualification increased from 27.8% in 2008 to 43.5% in 2015, the lowest figure in the EU. The proportion of female students was 57.4% in 2007, higher than the EU average (55.2%). In engineering, manufacturing and construction, 29.2% of all students are women, which is more than the EU average (24.7%). The proportion of students studying abroad has more than doubled from 0.4% (1998) to 1.0% (in 2007), yet Maltese students exhibit by far the lowest mobility within the European Union.

In keeping with Malta's bilingualism (Maltese is the national language, English is the second language), primary and secondary school classes are held in both languages. It is taken into account that Maltese is the mother tongue that all students usually speak, while English has to be learned like a foreign language. Both languages are compulsory subjects for the students and are treated equally. The majority of private schools, on the other hand, prefer teaching in English; Likewise, most courses at the university are offered exclusively in English. However, the students also communicate with their lecturers in Maltese.

In secondary school, students choose another language. 51% opt for Italian and 38 percent for French. German, Russian, Spanish and Arabic are also offered. On average, Maltese secondary school students learn 2.2 foreign languages; this is the second highest value in the European Union with Finland after Luxembourg.



Malta has a very dense media network, which is strongly based on the model of the former colonial power Great Britain. This is also the name of the largest daily newspaper, published by Allied Newspapers Ltd., referring to London's The Times, The Times of Malta. The centre-right oriented paper has been published since 1930 and is therefore the country's most traditional newspaper, with a circulation of 37,000 and a market share of 27%. The Times of Malta was published weekly until 1935, and daily thereafter. The Sunday Times has a market share of 51.6%. Another major daily newspaper is The Malta Independent. The liberal Malta Today has been published in tabloid format on Wednesdays and Sundays since 1999. The tabloid with the highest circulation is The People. The Malta Star is Malta's only internet-only newspaper.

Due to Malta's bilingualism, about half of the newspapers are published in English and half in Maltese. Among the Maltese-language print media, the Sunday newspaper It-Torċa (“The Torch”) has the widest reach. In addition, there are numerous Maltese-language weekly newspapers and party, church and trade union newspapers. The most important in this segment is In-Nazzjon (“The Nation”), which is close to the Partit Nazzjonalista (Nationalist Party).

In 2004, daily newspaper readers accounted for 12.7% of the population. In relation to this relatively low value, the newspaper density in Malta is very high: there is one newspaper for every 28,000 inhabitants. The newspapers are mainly financed by advertisements and subsidies.

Radio and television are the main sources of information for the people of Malta. They are largely in the hands of the public broadcasting services (PBS). These broadcast the radio programs Radju Malta, Radju Malta 2 (both in Maltese) and Magic Malta (moderated in English). The latter, with its low number of words and modern music programs, is particularly popular with the young population, but also with foreign tourists. The largest private broadcaster is Bay Radio. There is also the Catholic radio station RTK and Radio 101, which belongs to the Partit Nazzjonalista. There are a total of 14 national radio programs as well as 19 regional stations in Malta and eleven regional stations in Gozo. From 1971 to 1996, Deutsche Welle operated the Cyclops relay station.

With TV Malta (TVM), the PBS, which has been a member of the European Broadcasting Union since 1975, also has the largest national television broadcaster. Seven other channels are available across the country: One Television, NET Television, Smash Television, Favorite Channel, ITV, Education22 and Family TV. Most of the stations are state-funded. One Television, produced by One Productions Ltd., serves as the mouthpiece of the Partit Laburista (Labour Party), while that produced by Media Link Communications Ltd. broadcast NET Television is attributed to Partit Nazzjonalista. Smash Communications Ltd. (Smash Television), on the other hand, is a private company.

The State Broadcasting Authority monitors all television stations and, in addition to compliance with legality and licensing obligations, also ensures compliance with the principle of objectivity in political reporting. It also examines the local broadcasters to ensure that they broadcast both public, private and municipal programs and thus offer a wide-ranging, varied program that covers as many interests as possible. TV programs can be received both via cable and terrestrial. In February 2006, 124,000 Maltese used the first method, so that almost 80 percent of Maltese households have a cable connection. An even smaller but increasing percentage of the population uses parabolic antennas to also receive other European television programs such as the British BBC or the Italian RAI.

In 2021, 87.5 percent of Malta's residents used the internet. In 2017, the Maltese population was fully supplied with an internet connection of at least 30 Mbit.

In 2017, a journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was killed in Malta. She was known for her investigative work. According to the 2017 report by the NGO Reporters Without Borders, the victim's death was directly linked to journalistic activity. According to the organization, her death is still having an impact. Reporters Without Borders sees the journalistic working conditions characterized by a lack of rule of law, a lack of independence of the judiciary and constant attempts to exert political influence.


Economy and Infrastructure

Malta's economy is doing relatively well compared to the other Member States that joined the EU in 2004. The two traditional industries are agriculture and fishing. Agriculture is mainly practiced on Gozo. Although the environmental conditions (little rain, low runoff, calcareous subsoil and hot climate) do not offer good conditions for agricultural use, high yields are achieved with various types of vegetables and cereals, and viticulture is also profitable. Despite this, Malta produces only 20 percent of its own food needs. The country's largest employer is Malta Drydocks, the second largest shipyard in Europe.

Tourism plays a big role (40 percent of the gross national product) and also financial services (eleven percent). Most holidaymakers come from Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Russia. Since 1965, the number of tourists has increased about tenfold, there are more than a million tourists a year, who mainly visit the beaches, the historic cities and the rocky landscape, plus about a million cruise tourists. Around 70,000 tourists come to Malta every year for an English course. This area of tourism is supervised and promoted by the state. A share of 1.8% of the GDP is generated by the language schools in Malta.

The clothing and textile industry are other important economic sectors. In 1992, Malta's own stock exchange was established.

Malta has limestone deposits that are important to its construction industry. Important natural gas and oil deposits are located in Maltese territorial waters.

European companies have been lured with tax breaks since the 1970s. Around 55 German companies produce for export, including Playmobil and Lloyd shoes. The electronic component company STMicroelectronics also has a large production site.

The gross domestic product (GDP) is 8.8 billion euros (estimate for 2015). In comparison with the GDP of the EU (EU-28 = 100), expressed in purchasing power standards, Malta has an index of 89 (2015). In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a country's competitiveness, Malta ranks 39th out of 138 countries (as of 2016). The country ranked 50th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Economic Freedom Index.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.9% by June 2018, below the EU average. In 2017, youth unemployment was 10.0%.

power supply
Two power plants with a total output of 571 megawatts burn oil and gas imported from Italy and Great Britain. In 2010, for the first time in Malta, 5% of electricity was generated from renewable energy sources (2009: 0%).

The Maltese power grid was operated as an island grid until 2015 (today: Iceland, Cyprus). The highest voltage level is 132 kV and has only 87 kilometers of underground cable. At the next voltage level, 33 kV, there are also 13 kilometers of submarine cables. With an order from 2010, Nexans built the Malta-Sicily Interconnector (Qalet-Marku, Malta to Marina di Ragusa), a 100-kilometer submarine cable with 220 kV AC voltage, which went into operation in April 2015, can transmit 200 MW of power and transports energy in both directions permitted. The cable has three copper conductors and contains two fiber optic bundles, each with 36 conductors.

Although there is only one electricity supplier (Enemalta) in Malta and the electricity market is therefore not exposed to any competition, the electricity price for private households in 2007 was 9.4 cents per kWh and thus well below the EU average (15.28 cents).

Lacking adequate waste management, Malta has had a major waste problem for years. An important economic factor is the entire capital (see there).

state budget
In 2015, the state budget included expenditures equivalent to US$3.4 billion, compared to revenues equivalent to US$4.0 billion (both estimates). This results in a budget surplus of 6.6% of GDP. Public debt was around 60.6% of GDP at the end of 2015.

Share of government spending (as a percentage of GDP) in key areas:
Health: 8.7% (2013)
Education: 6.8% (2012)
Military: 0.61% (2013)



Malta's industry accounts for 23 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the Malta County Report, the target industries in Malta are the financial, maritime, aviation, film, tourism, manufacturing, education and medical technology sectors. The production strengths are pharmacy/chemistry, medical technology, precision engineering, electrical engineering, food and print. Electrical engineering is by far the most important.

The manufacturing industry in Malta is manageable, with the exception of a few large manufacturing companies such as Playmobil and ST Microelectronics. A total of 15 percent of employees work in industry. The German company Playmobil has been on the island since 1970 and is one of the most important investors in the manufacturing industry. The toy manufacturer regularly invests in new machines and systems in order to keep production at the high technical level of the island. Mechanical engineering essentially consists of a few small production companies that mainly produce components for machines and equipment for export. One of the few products with the Made in Malta mark of origin are Playmobil figures, which are only manufactured in Malta and sent to the other Playmobil factories in Europe, including the headquarters in Germany, for the completion of the respective play sets. Almost 100 percent of the domestic demand for goods in Malta has to be covered by imports.

Electrical engineering manufacturing is one of the most important industries in Malta. The manufacturer ST Microelectronics has a monopoly on the island. It is the most important private employer and accounts for a large proportion of Maltese exports. As a result, Malta has a highly developed information and communications infrastructure, ranked 29th out of 143 countries according to the 2015 Network Readiness Index. Germany is 13th, while countries like Spain and Italy are behind Malta at 34th and 55th. The Network Readiness Index (NRI) gives a good insight into the development of the countries in the ICT sector, which produce around 98 percent of the world GDP. Strengths and weaknesses in the ICT area are revealed. A new development project is the Smart City near Kalkara, which is set to become the leading IT center in Europe. This project, financed from Dubai, is intended to further increase the attractiveness of Malta as an industrial location and give new impetus. Due to the advanced ICT environment, information and communication technology, digital media, arts and crafts, online gaming and film production are among the growth sectors in Malta. The company Vodafone adopts the high ICT standard and the geographical size by testing new systems or software in Malta before they are integrated in Europe. Vodafone uses the advantages of the small state theory, since Malta is regarded as a micro state island due to its small size and population and is an ideal test market.

Around 250 foreign companies, including 70 German ones, are currently based in Malta. Lufthansa, which settled in Malta in 2003, is also one of the German companies. Around 600 people are employed, all of whom have been trained by Lufthansa. In this way, Malta is to develop into an important maintenance location in the Mediterranean region. The maintenance facility is one of Lufthansa's eight maintenance facilities worldwide and is also the largest in Europe. Other airlines such as Easy Jet (GB) and SR Technics (CH) came after Lufthansa.

The maritime industry is represented by the Malta Freeport, which belongs to the top league of transhipment centers due to increasing privatization. An increase in berths has enabled it to handle the world's largest container ships and has turned the island into a major port-of-call for some of the largest shipping companies. With its central location on the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is a major warehousing and distribution hub used by logistics companies thanks to its supply chain advantages and efficiency, as well as its geographical proximity to the African and European markets. In 2014, 6,505 ships sailed under the Maltese flag, making Malta the leading maritime fleet in Europe and the seventh largest in the world.

The automotive industry market is limited by the small number of inhabitants. In 2013, the government presented a national plan to expand electromobility. The country has positioned itself as a test market. The network of charging stations for electric cars is being expanded, and the government has been subsidizing the purchase of electric cars since 2016. With the use of electric vehicles in car-sharing services and at the port, sustainable mobility is becoming increasingly important in Malta. The small size of the island offers the best conditions for electric vehicles, since the main island with a maximum length of 27 kilometers is well below the maximum range of electric vehicles. Sustainable mobility also helps to reduce noise and air pollution in densely populated areas.

A smaller industry in Malta that has grown in recent years, particularly as a result of Malta's patent laws and tax breaks, is the chemical industry. Manufacturers of generics such as Actavis, Siegfried Generics, Medichem etc. have built plants for production in Malta. A generic is a finished drug that contains active ingredients that are no longer subject to patent protection, an imitation of an older original drug.

The construction industry has little attention in Malta. Therefore, the government wants to introduce measures to stimulate this industry. EU subsidies for road construction have given the market new impetus, and the tourism boom is also leading to new investments in new buildings or the modernization of apartments and hotels. New luxury hotels are being built and there is potential for renovation and modernization of old and historic buildings.

The advantages of Malta for foreign entrepreneurs are the low wage costs, support in the purchase or construction of factory buildings, and good cooperation with local suppliers. Malta is also considered the link between European companies and the Mediterranean and African markets. Disadvantages are the limited size of Malta and thus a small domestic market. The island is therefore particularly interesting for small and medium-sized companies, as there are tax advantages and targeted incentives for medium-sized companies and credit and investment programs on the other. It is also interesting that the foreign companies have no interest in bringing goods to the local market, as there is no local market in Malta. All goods produced in Malta are exported.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report, Malta's advantages lie in its stable political environment and highly developed ICT infrastructure. Disadvantages are the small market size, bureaucratic inefficiency, difficult access to credit and a lack of transport infrastructure.


Tax and Finance Economics

Malta's gross domestic product (GDP) was $9.8 billion in 2015 and has shown a steady increase of 3.5-5.4 percent per year over the past decade. GDP is unevenly distributed between the different economic sectors. The primary sector makes up 1.4% of annual production, the secondary sector 15.5% and the largest part is generated by the tertiary sector, by services. This proportion is 83.1%. The services with the highest demand are located in the financial sector. In comparison to large European industrial nations, Malta trades less in material goods and more in financial services. Malta Private LLC is the service most in demand. A central factor for the success of the Maltese financial economy are the considerable tax advantages that offshoring brings with it. Compared to two economically strong European nations, Germany and Great Britain, the tax advantages in Malta initially appear small. Corporate tax is 35 percent for companies registered in Malta, 15 percent in Germany and 21 percent in the UK. Malta's top tax rates are also 35%, but those in Germany and the UK are around 47%. This initially seems inconsistent with a classification of Malta as a tax haven. With a so-called 6/7 rule, a large part of the taxes paid can be refunded. Using special procedures, the profits are paid out to the shareholders in the form of dividends or bonuses and the taxes paid are later reimbursed to the company by the Maltese government. This reduces the effective tax rate for companies to 5 percent.

It should be mentioned that there are other ways of reducing tax payments, in some cases no taxes are actually paid and the tax rate is therefore zero percent. The most popular methods include the so-called 6/7, 2/3, 5/7 and 100 percent refunds.

The current developments surrounding the revelations of the Panama Papers have put pressure on countries classified as tax havens and the politicians in these countries are subject to greater political pressure. In the report of the European Parliament's investigative committee, Malta is criticized for obstructing investigations into tax evasion and money laundering.

On the indicator for identifying tax havens, which is formed from incorporated companies per inhabitant, Malta is high: Malta at 0.11. there is one company for every tenth inhabitant.

In 2000, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundring, an international body against money laundering, included Malta on the list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories as one of those countries whose legislation against money laundering and terrorism does not meet internationally recognized standards. Since June 2021, the country has also been on the so-called FATF gray list, according to which the country is under increased surveillance. Credit institutions in the member countries of the OECD are therefore obliged to monitor transactions and transactions with Malta in particular.


Tourism and ecotourism

General overview
Malta is an important part of international tourism and one of the main destinations for European tourists in the Mediterranean during the summer. Tourism is a crucial branch of Malta's economy. April to October is the high season in Malta, with August being the busiest month. The high occupancy rate is due to the fact that Malta's tourism policy creates alternatives to the existing tourism offerings in the Mediterranean region. In addition to beach holidaymakers, many cultural and city tourists come to the island, which means that Malta has a weaker seasonality than other Mediterranean islands. Visitor numbers never fall below 40,000 visitors per month from November to February, so many hotels stay open all year round. In the main season, bathing and beach holidaymakers come mainly, while in the winter months weather-independent forms of tourism, such as cultural and educational tourism, come into play. A large branch is language travel, whereby mainly English and Italian courses are offered. Malta offers space for around 60,000 language students. Package holidays to Malta tend to be more expensive than comparable trips to Spain or Greece, so Malta doesn't have many low-income tourists. In 2014, 149 tourism businesses with a total of 40,222 beds were registered in Malta. The government spends approximately 11.4% of its total budget on the tourism sector each year. In 2015, the number of visitors increased by six percent compared to the previous year to a total of 1.79 million. The number of cruise tourists increased by 27.3% to 600,156 visitors, with Germans forming the largest group of cruise tourists with 124,285 visitors. After Great Britain and Italy, most tourists come to Malta from Germany every year. In 2015, a total of 142,010 German vacationers were registered in Malta.


Spatial distribution of tourism

Luqa International Airport is located about seven kilometers south of Valletta. Due to its central location, the airport can be reached from anywhere in Malta within 30-40 minutes. The tourist spots are mainly located in the north-west and south-east of the main island. The southwest and the extreme south, on the other hand, are not particularly attractive for tourists due to the cliffs. There are some exceptions, like the sandy beaches of Golden Bay or Għajn Tuffieħa Bay. The most popular tourist attractions include the Blue Grotto, the Dingli Cliffs, the old town of Valletta, the fortified town of Mdina and the small coastal towns such as Marsaxlokk.

On the neighboring islands of Gozo and Comino there are mostly day tourists and therefore there are only a few tourist facilities. There is only one mid-range hotel on Comino. Also on Gozo there are only a few smaller hotel complexes, restaurants or pubs. Here the few companies are spread over the whole island. Gozo represents the traditional rural Malta and because of this and the high quality of life it is being developed by the residents and the government as a green tourism destination in particular.


History of tourism

Apart from medieval pilgrimage (see “Religion”) as well as trade and migration in exchange with other coastal regions of the Mediterranean, especially Sicily, Malta initially played little role for travellers. Considerations to systematically promote tourism came up in the 1950s. A tourism authority was established in 1955 to create organizational foundations. At that time Malta was still occupied by Britain and the colonial administration was responsible for all matters related to tourism. Among other things, St. George's Bay, Għajn Tuffieħa and Paradise Bay have been designated as tourist zones. Malta gained independence in 1964 and the government developed plans to expand tourism as part of economic development. By 1969, visitor numbers had risen to 186,000. More than 75% of those arriving came from Great Britain, the former colonial power.

In the early 1970s, due to declining visitor numbers, additional measures were taken, including the construction of modern hotel facilities, the renewal of the port and the airport. Dependence on Great Britain should be contained and other target groups should be addressed. The first consequence was that the number of British tourists fell, but the total number of visitors did not increase. In view of increasing competition from other Mediterranean countries, e.g. B. Tunisia and Cyprus, the Maltese government increased its investments in tourism. Official tourism zones were defined, beach hotels were built, museum opening times were extended and the tourism infrastructure was brought up to European standards.

The measures bore fruit and brought about an initial tourism boom: over 700,000 visitors came to Malta each year until 1980, with the proportion of British tourists rising again to 75%. Because of the economic crisis in Great Britain in the early 1980s, visitor numbers to Malta plummeted; A construction freeze was ordered in the tourist zones and prices fell. This led to a focus on increasing the quality of the hotel sector, which stabilized the tourism market in the late 1980s. Visitor numbers rose to almost 900,000 per year by 1990, and the proportion of British visitors dropped to 50%. Dependence on the UK market was reduced but not entirely eliminated. In the 1990s, also in the course of the boom in the cruise industry, Malta has developed into a major destination.



Ecotourism is a responsible form of travel to natural areas that contributes to the protection of the environment and the well-being of the local population. It is a small, newer form of tourism and is therefore not yet particularly pronounced in Malta. Ecotourism in Malta began to take off in 2002, the International Year of Ecotourism. The University of Malta, in partnership with the Biological Conservation Research Foundation, won an award for their work in marine and wildlife conservation. Since then, the Ministry of Tourism has tried to promote tourism without endangering the environment. The Maltese Tourist Board has introduced an "Eco-certification". The criteria that tourism businesses have to meet for this certificate are the introduction of better waste systems, the reduction of energy and water consumption, better air quality and the presence of green spaces.

Like many small islands, Malta has problems with waste disposal. In addition, there is a high level of environmental pollution from sewage problems, noise pollution and air pollution, which can be attributed to mass tourism or is intensified by it. On the other hand, tourism also has a positive impact on Malta's environment, as more attention is paid to the garbage problem in tourist regions. Overall, Malta is very dependent on the many mass tourists and ecotourism is not widespread on the main island. Eco-tourism offers can therefore be found for the most part on the more rural side island of Gozo, as the number of traditional tourists here is significantly lower than on the main island.

Gozo has a population of just 31,000 and is not as heavily sealed as the main island. The government organization EcoGozo is trying to establish the aspect of sustainability in all areas of life on Gozo and an image is being created that is increasingly aimed at the ecological aspect. The current way of life in Western culture, which is no longer geared solely to consumption, is also changing the variety of offers in tourism. On Gozo, for example, the Xwejni Salt Plants can be visited, where salt is extracted directly from seawater. Here tourists have a chance to experience how local families live in harmony with nature. Gozo therefore has potential for establishing ecotourism, while Malta is very much geared towards mass tourists due to its long tourist tradition.


Agriculture and fisheries

Despite its minor economic role, agriculture is an important branch of the economy in Malta. In 2010, agriculture contributed 1.92% to Malta's gross domestic product. In 2003, the proportion was still 2.89%. Around 18,500 people were employed in agriculture in 2010, which corresponds to 10.6% of all employed people in Malta. Of these, around 1,300 are employed full-time.

Due to the low rainfall, most agricultural areas are only cultivated during the rainy months in winter. A total of five percent of the areas are artificially irrigated, but almost exclusively with collected rainwater. Various vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, potatoes, olives, peaches and strawberries are grown. The native grape varieties are Girgentina and Ġellewża.

51.2 percent of Malta's total area is used for agriculture, which corresponds to an area of approximately 160 square kilometers. Agriculture is particularly intensive on Gozo, as there are underground water resources on the island that can be used for irrigation. While agriculture plays a minor role for Malta as a whole, it is of greater importance for Gozo.

In 2010 there were 12,530 farms in Malta, an increase of 14% since 2003. The increase in farms is due to two factors. On the one hand, there was a systematic update of the registers, in which all Maltese farms were checked, and on the other hand, the land is divided during inheritance. There is minimal negative growth in terms of average farm size. The average size is 0.9 ha. It can be seen that the opposite trend is emerging in almost all other EU member states. 89% of farms have arable land that is less than two hectares. This development also contrasts with that of other EU member states.

Pigs, cattle and poultry are the main farm animals in Malta. Together they make up 92% of the population. In the period from 2003 to 2010, the number of livestock fell by 12.3%, and the number of farms with livestock also decreased.

Fishing in Malta is an old tradition, but of little importance as the fish stocks are not particularly pronounced. The reason for this is the lack of rivers, which would normally supply the coasts with important nutrients such as plankton.


Raw materials

There are few raw materials found on the Maltese Islands compared to other countries. There are some natural gas and oil deposits in Malta's territorial waters, but these are only used to a small extent. A more effective promotion with more potential was developed in the 2010s.

Other notable raw materials in Malta are globigerine lime. This is one of the island state's few natural raw materials and is mainly mined on the island of Gozo. The sand-lime brick on Malta is of great importance for the construction industry, as this is the main building material on the two islands. As in previous years, commercial buildings, residential buildings and churches are being built from this material, and it is also used to build sidewalks. Other natural raw materials found in Malta are sediments such as the blue clay and the upper green sand.

Since people had already started deforesting Malta in Neolithic times, there are hardly any forests on the island and therefore no wood. For this reason, artificially created forest areas were created, which essentially serve as recreation areas.

Another, rather subordinate raw material in Malta is sea salt, which is traditionally produced in salt pans. On the island of Gozo, this production can be visited by tourists and sea salt can be purchased. In the bay off Qawra there are extensive salt flats and a salt flats national park.

Territories and resources/fish stocks in the Mediterranean
As a condition of Malta's accession to the EU in 2004, a 25-mile management zone, also known as the fisheries zone/protected fisheries zone, was created around the island beyond the territorial sea. In this Malta has exclusive rights and sovereignty in fishing. Fishing is restricted to vessels under 12m overall length that are not permitted to use mechanical towing gear. As a result, the deployment of larger fishing vessels from all nations has shifted to the Tunisian coast, among other places.

Malta is obliged to monitor and control the compliance of vessels flying its flag with the provisions contained in the various treaties. In addition, the declaration of sovereign rights presupposes greater control by Malta with regard to the conservation of resources and the environment. Overall, Malta's sovereignty in the Mediterranean covers around 8231 square kilometers. Of these, 21 square kilometers are internal waters, 3,020 km² of coastal waters and, at 5,190 square kilometers, the fisheries protection zone forms the largest part.

Like most Mediterranean countries, Malta signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 and ratified it in 1993, which sets out principles and regulations for the conservation and management of the living resources of the high seas. In addition, Malta joined the Fisheries Agreement (SFS 1995) in 2001, which legally obliges the countries to conserve and sustainably manage fish stocks and to settle disputes about deep-sea fishing peacefully.

Occurring sea creatures
Common fish species found in Malta's waters are jacks, groupers, various species of bream, flying fish, gurnards, stingrays, shellfish, cod, goatfish, parrotfish and moray eels. The rocky structures of Malta's underwater coast also offer optimal living conditions for eels. In addition, there are also octopus and other squid. In winter, dolphins, tuna and bonito stay close to Malta's coast. Mainly mahi-mahi ('Lampuki'), which is considered Malta's national fish, as well as swordfish and conger eels are landed.


Culture and sports

The Maltese encyclopedia Kullana Kulturali was published between 1999 and 2006.

Museums, theaters and cinemas
There are a total of 16 state museums in Valletta, the most important being the National Museum of Archaeology, the War Museum, the Malta Post Museum, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Grandmaster's Palace. In the village of Qawra are the Malta National Aquarium and the Malta Classic Car Collection Museum. Other interesting collections are the Fort Rinella in Kalkara with historical military technology (including a 100-ton gun), the Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum (in Mdina) and the Malta Aviation Museum (in Ta' Qali).

In the capital are the Teatru Manoel, the St. James Cavalier Center for Creativity and the Mediterranean Conference Centre. An open-air concert facility was set up in the surviving remains of the Royal Opera House, which was destroyed in the bombing of World War II.

According to a compilation on the Internet, there are six multiplex cinemas and some cinema halls in other buildings on the two inhabited islands.

Church building (selection)
The small Republic of Malta is home to more than 365 churches, including two with some of the largest cantilever domes in Europe: The Rotunda of Xewkija (Gozo), dedicated to John the Baptist, has the fourth largest cantilever church dome in Europe (list of largest domes of its time) . It is surpassed by the Rotunda of Mosta in Malta itself with a diameter of 39 meters, which is second in Europe.

There were exactly 22 places of worship in Valletta, most of them on Republic Street. Other notable church buildings are St. Andrew's Scot Church in Valletta, the parish church of Francis of Assisi in the district of Qawra, which is designed more like a fortress, or the Bible Baptist Church in Gzira.

From a cultural tourism point of view, it should be noted that many church buildings are closed or only open to a very limited extent for mass or short visiting times, mostly in the morning.

world heritage
From Malta there are three entries in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which essentially took place in 1980: the core city of Valletta, the hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni and six megalithic temples (enlarged in 1992). In addition, seven other sites were nominated in 1998, but so far have not been considered, including the military installations and the old capital Mdina.

Permanent festivals and events (selection)
March 31 is Freedom Day, May 1 is Labor Day, September 21 is Independence Day and December 13 is Republic Day. An agricultural fair is also held once a year. In addition, there are the following cultural events:

Maltese Carnival (Maltese il-karnival ta' Malta)
Regional Christian celebrations such as Holy Week or Mnarja (l-Imnarja), a devotion to Saints Peter and Paul
a one-day music festival (Isle of MTV) in Fosos Square in Floriana, since 2007. Already 50,000 visitors have been counted.

Sports (selection)
Established in Malta are football (top division Maltese Premier League with twelve teams; see also football in Malta), water polo, rugby, motor sports and snooker. Sport climbing, surfing, boxing and kickboxing as well as tennis and bocce (Boċċi) are also common amateur sports. The Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) has its club facilities in Ta' Xbiex and has hosted major regattas such as the Rolex Middle Sea Race (Around Sardinia starting and finishing in Malta) since 1968.

film industry
Initially, the activity of the film industry in Malta was determined by the favorable location of the Maltese archipelago both in the Mediterranean and within the British Empire. Some British productions used Malta as a filming location. It is only since independence (1964) that countries outside the UK have recognized the benefits that Malta offers filmmakers. The islands have become a popular film and television setting thanks to their diverse landscape and architecture.

The attractiveness of the location increased the support of the State Film Commission and the infrastructure of the Mediterranean Film Studios. The latter operate the two largest water tanks in the world suitable for film shooting (surface tanks: 122 m × 92 m with 22 million liters, deep water tanks: 108 m × 49 m with 43.2 million liters) and have been involved in film and television productions such as Die Gustloff, Marco W. - 247 days in Turkish prison, The sinking of the Pamir, Kon-Tiki, Asterix & Obelix - On behalf of Her Majesty, The men of Emden and Vicky and the strong men involved.

Well-known cinema films, some of which were filmed in Malta, are U-571, Monte Cristo, Troy, Alexander, Gladiator, Midnight Express, The Da Vinci Code - Da Vinci Code and Munich; among the television productions created there is Game of Thrones in particular. The theatrical film Gladiator helped revitalize Malta's film-related services and promote Malta as a film set. Malta's buildings and streets served to represent ancient Rome, the port city of Marseille in the 19th century and Beirut in the 1960s.

For the economy of the Republic of Malta, the film industry is interesting from two points of view. On the one hand it is an important field of the rapidly growing service sector, on the other hand it contributes to tourism (e.g. Popeye Village). The economic performance of the film industry varies from year to year depending on the order situation. 2015 was considered a record year as more than €100 million flowed into the Maltese economy through the film sector. In 2014, however, investments only amounted to 29 million euros.

Malta in literature
Jörg Fauser: The Snowman, 1981
Walter Laufenberg: Hypogeum - Triumph of Venus of Malta, 2013
Walter Laufenberg: Favorite of two gentlemen, 2010
Walter Laufenberg: Sarcophagus, 2008
Tim Willocks: The Sacrament, 2006
Dan Turèll: Murder in Malta, 2004
David Ball: Asha, Son of Malta, 2003
Nicholas Monsarrat: The Chaplain of Malta, 1973
Jürgen Ebertowski: Malta Gold, 1994
Jürgen Ebertowski: The Last Grandmaster, 2012
Johann Peters: The Falcon of Malta, 2013
Alexander Kent: Thunder under the horizon: Admiral Bolitho and the Tribunal of Malta, 1986
Alexander Kent: The Last Stand: Admiral Bolitho off Malta, 1998
Sigurd Göttlicher: Maltese Blood, 2014
Jürg Federspiel: A part-time job in Pompeii, 1993
Haruki Murakami: Mister Clockwork Bird, 1998


Ships and boats

A special feature of the Maltese Islands are the Luzzus, brightly painted wooden fishing boats whose prows are decorated with eyes (Horus or Osiris eye). The construction of the boats is said to go back to the Phoenicians; according to tradition, the eye should protect the fishermen from danger. In addition, the boats usually bear the names of Christian saints.

The colorful boats are a popular photo opportunity for tourists; therefore, their maintenance is subsidized by the government. However, they are used by the fishermen as working equipment. Some modern tourist excursion boats are modeled after the traditional Luzzu in style.



Ġbejna is a small goat's milk cheese. Capers, rabbits and of course the national fish, the mahi-mahi ('Lampuki'), are very popular, as are pastizzis and qassatas. These are dumplings filled with ricotta, tuna, meat, spinach or peas. In Malta people also like to eat qagħaq tal-għasel, bigilla, aljotta and nougat (cake). Maltese cuisine has a lot in common with Italian and Greek cuisine.

Kinnie is the name of a lemonade made in Malta, which is made from, among other things, bitter oranges and herbs, especially wormwood. The amber-colored, non-alcoholic and carbonated drink has a bitter-sweet taste. Another well-known Maltese drink is the Cisk lager. Due to the geographic location and the climatic conditions, more and more wines are produced in Malta. In addition, there is also a variety of different liqueurs.


Maltese literature

The creation and standardization of Maltese took place in the early 19th century by Mikiel Anton Vassalli, who was influenced by the French Enlightenment. A literature of national romanticism dominated well into the 20th century. The priest Dun Karm Psaila (1871-1961), who also wrote the text of the Maltese national anthem, is considered the Maltese national poet. Karmenu Vassallo (1913–1987) was one of the first writers in the Maltese language who became known abroad. Perhaps the most important novelist in Malta is Frans Sammut (1945-2011).

Many modern Maltese writers are bilingual, writing mostly in Maltese and English, sometimes in Italian. In 1989, an anthology of Maltese literature was published in West Germany for the first time. The National Book Council (Kunsill nazzjonali tal-ktieb) annually awards book prizes in several categories. 2020 received i.a. Georg Peresso, who also writes plays, won a prize in the novels category. John Aquilina, an already well-known poet, received the first prize for Poetry (in Maltese). Carlo Bonini, Manuel Delia and John Sweeney received an award for their political non-fiction book Murder on the Malta Express: Who Killed Daphne Caruana Galizia?


Public holidays

In addition to the public holidays common in many European countries (New Year, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, Labor Day, Assumption Day, Immaculate Conception and Christmas), the following days are official public holidays:

February 10: In-Nawfraġju ta' San Pawl
March 19: San Ġużepp (Feast of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph)
March 31: Jum il-Ħelsien (Freedom Day, departure of the last British troops 1979)
June 7: Sette Giugno (Sette Giugno, national holiday)
June 29: L-Imnarya (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, St. Peter and Paul)
8 September: Il-Vittorja (Our Lady of Victory, end of the great Ottoman siege of 1565)
September 21: L-Indipendenza (Independence Day, Independence Day 1964)
December 13: Jum ir-Repubblika (Republic Day, proclamation of the republic 1974)