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Republic of Malta
Repubblika ta' Malta
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemL-Innu Malti
("The Maltese Hymn")

Location of  Malta  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark gray)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

Capital Valletta (de facto)
35°53′N 14°30′E / 35.883°N 14.5°E / 35.883; 14.5
Largest city Birkirkara
Official language(s) Maltese, English
Ethnic groups  Maltese 95.3%, British 1.6%, other 3.1% [1]
Demonym Maltese
Government Parliamentary Republic
 -  President George Abela
 -  Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi
 -  from the United Kingdom 21 September 1964 
 -  Republic 13 December 1974 
EU accession 1 May 2004
 -  Total 316 km2 (200)
121 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.001
 -  2008 estimate 413,609 (174th)
 -  2005 census 404,9621 
 -  Density 1,298/km2 (6th)
3,391/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $9.893 billion[2] (142nd)
 -  Per capita $23,971[2] (37th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $8.370 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $20,280[2] 
HDI (2007) 0.902 (very high) (38th)
Currency Euro ()2 (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .mt 3
Calling code 356
1 Total population includes foreign residents. Maltese residents population estimate at end 2004 was 389,769. All official population data provided by the NSO.[3]
2Before 2008: Maltese lira
3 Also .eu, shared with other European Union member states.
Malta en-us-Malta.ogg /ˈmɔːltə/ , officially the Republic of Malta (Maltese: Repubblika ta' Malta), is a developed southern European country and consists of an archipelago situated centrally in the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north-east of Tunisia, with Gibraltar 1,826 km to the west and Alexandria 1,510 km to the east.[4]
Malta covers just over 300 km² in land area, making it one of Europe's smallest and one of Europe's most densely populated countries.[5][6][7] Its de facto capital is Valletta and the largest city is Birkirkara. Maltese is the national language and a co-official language, alongside English.
Throughout history, Malta's location has given it great strategic importance[8] and a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Fatimids, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and British have all ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a Republic in 1974, whilst retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations (since 1964) and a member of the European Union (since 2004). Malta is also party to the Schengen Agreement (since 2007)[9] and member of the eurozone (since 2008).
Malta has a long Christian legacy and is an Apostolic See. According to the Acts of the Apostles,[10] St. Paul was shipwrecked on an island , which some scholars have identified as Malta , and ministered there.[11] Catholicism continues to be the official and dominant religion in Malta.[12][13] Malta is known for its world heritage sites,[14] most prominently the Megalithic Temples which are the oldest free-standing structures in Europe.[15][16][17]



The origin of the term "Malta" is uncertain, and the modern-day variation derives from the Maltese language. The most common etymology derives from the Greek word μέλι (meli), 'honey'. The Greeks called the island Μελίτη (Melite) meaning "honey-sweet," possibly due to Malta's unique production of honey; an endemic species of bee lives on the island, giving it the popular nickname the "land of honey."[18] The Romans went on to call the island Melita.[19] Another etymology is the Phoenician word 𐤈𐤄𐤋𐤀𐤌 Maleth, the Phoenician name for the islands, meaning "a haven"[20] in reference to Malta's many bays and coves.



Pottery found by archeologists at Skorba resembles that found in Italy, and suggests that the Maltese islands were first settled in 5200 BC mainly by stone age hunters or farmers who had arrived from the larger island of Sicily, possibly the Sicani. The extinction of the dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants has been linked to the earliest arrival of humans on Malta.[21] The most probable means by which people came to Malta was by using rafts. When they came to Malta they first settled in caves, such as Għar Dalam, and later built huts.[citation needed]
The Sicani were the only tribe known to have inhabited the island at this time[22][23] and are generally regarded as related to the Iberians.[24] The population on Malta grew cereals, raised domestic livestock and, in common with other ancient Mediterranean cultures, worshiped a fertility figure represented in Maltese prehistoric artifacts as exhibiting the large proportions seen in similar statuettes, including the Venus of Willendorf.
The temple complex of Mnajdra
Pottery from the Għar Dalam phase is similar to pottery found in Agrigento, Sicily. A culture of megalithic temple builders then either supplanted or arose from this early period. During 3500 BC, these people built some of the oldest existing, free-standing structures in the world in the form of the megalithic Ġgantija temples on Gozo;[25] other early temples include those at Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra.[26][27][28]
The temples have a distinctive architecture, typically a complex trefoil design, and were used from 4000–2500 BC. Animal bones and a knife found behind a removable altar stone suggest that temple rituals included animal sacrifice. Tentative information suggests that the sacrifices were made to the goddess of fertility, whose statue is now in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.[29] The culture apparently disappeared from the Maltese Islands around 2500 BC. Archeologists speculate that the temple builders fell victim to famine or disease; war is an unlikely cause as archeology has yielded little or no evidence of weapons.[citation needed]. Others have speculated on the links between this event and Plato's account of the disappearance of Atlantis.
Another interesting archeological feature of the Maltese islands often attributed to these ancient builders, are equidistant uniform grooves dubbed "cart tracks" or "cart ruts" which can be found in several locations throughout the islands with the most prominent being those found in an area of Malta named "Clapham Junction". These may have been caused by wooden-wheeled carts eroding soft limestone.[30][31]
After 2500 BC, the Maltese Islands were depopulated for several decades until the arrival of a new influx of Bronze Age immigrants, a culture that cremated its dead and introduced smaller megalithic structures called dolmens to Malta.[32]

Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans

Around 700 BC, the Ancient Greeks settled on Malta, especially around the area where Valletta now stands.[33] A century later, Phoenician traders,[33] who used the islands as a stop on their trade routes from the eastern Mediterranean to Cornwall, joined the natives on the island.[34] The Phoenicians inhabited the area now known as Mdina, and its surrounding town of Rabat, which they called Maleth.[35] The Romans, who also lived in Mdina, referred to it (and the island) as Melita.[19]
Roman mosaic from Rabat, Malta.
After the fall of Phoenicia, in 400 BC the area came under the control of Carthage, a former Phoenician colony.[36] During this time the people on Malta mainly cultivated olives and carobs, and produced textiles.[36]
During the First Punic War of 218 BC, tensions led the Maltese people to rebel against Carthage and turn control of their garrison over to the Roman Republic consul Sempronius.[19] Malta remained loyal to Rome during the Second Punic War and the Romans rewarded it with the title Foederata Civitas, a designation that meant it was exempt from paying tribute or the rule of Roman law, although at this time it fell within the jurisdiction of Sicilia province.[19]
By 117 AD, the Maltese Islands were a thriving part of the Roman Empire, being promoted to the status of Municipium under Hadrian.[19] Catacombs in Rabat testify to an early Christian community on the islands, and the Acts of the Apostles recount the shipwreck of St Paul and his ministry on the island (see Religion).
When the Roman Empire split into Eastern and Western divisions in the 4th century, Malta fell under the control of the Greek speaking Byzantine Empire from 395 to 870,[33] which ruled from Constantinople.[37] Although Malta was under Byzantine rule for four centuries, not much is known from this period. There is evidence that Germanic tribes, including the Goths and Vandals, briefly took control of the islands before the Byzantines launched a counter attack and retook Malta.[37]

Middle Ages

Roger I of Sicily returned Malta to Christian rule.
Flag of the Aragonese Kingdom of Sicily.
Malta was involved in the Byzantine-Arab Wars, and the conquest of Malta is closely linked with that of Sicily due to admiral Euphemius' betrayal of his fellow Byzantines, requesting that the Aghlabid dynasty invade the area.[38] As part of the Emirate of Sicily, rule switched to the Fatimids in 909.[39] The Arabs introduced new irrigation, some fruits and cotton and the Siculo-Arabic language was adopted on the island from Sicily and Southern Italy: it would eventually evolve into the Maltese language.[40]
The native Christians were allowed freedom of religion but had to pay jizya.[39] The Normans, as part of their conquest of Sicily, took Malta in 1091.[19] The local Christians warmly welcomed the arrival of Roger I and offered to fight for him; in response to this, Roger reportedly tore off a portion of his checkered red-and-white banner and presented it to the Maltese, forming the basis of the present-day Maltese flag.[19]
Ottoman map of Malta, by Piri Reis
The Norman period was productive; Malta became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Sicily which also covered the island of Sicily and the southern half of the Italian Peninsula.[19] The Catholic Church was re-instated as the state religion with Malta under the See of Palermo and much Norman architecture sprung up around Malta especially in its ancient capital Mdina.[19] Tancred of Sicily, the last Norman monarch, made Malta a feudal lordship or fief within the kingdom and a Count of Malta instated. As the islands were much desired due to their strategic importance, it was during this time the men of Malta were militarised to fend off capture attempts; the early counts were skilled Genoese corsairs.[19]
The kingdom passed on to the House of Hohenstaufen from 1194 until 1266. Malta was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation for 72 years. Malta was declared a county and a marquisate, but its trade was totally ruined. For a long time it remained solely a fortified garrison.[41] It was in 1224 under Frederick II that all remaining Muslims were expelled from Malta[42] or forced to convert[43][44] and the entire Christian male population of Celano in Abruzzo was deported to Malta.[19]
For a brief period the kingdom passed to the Capetian House of Anjou, however high taxes made the dynasty unpopular in Malta, due in part to Charles of Anjou's war against the Republic of Genoa and the island of Gozo was sacked in 1275.[19] A large revolt on Sicily known as the Sicilian Vespers followed these attacks, that saw the Peninsula separating into the Kingdom of Naples; the Kingdom of Sicily, including Malta, then fell under the rule of the Aragonese.[citation needed]
Relatives of the kings of Aragon ruled the island until 1409, when it passed to the Crown of Aragon.]]cn}} Early on in the Aragonese reign the sons of the monarchy received the title, "Count of Malta". It was also during this time that much of the local nobility was created. However by 1397 the bearing of the title "Count of Malta" reverted to a feudal basis with two families fighting over the distinction, which caused much distress. This led the king to abolish the title. Dispute over the title returned when the title was reinstated a few years later and the Maltese, led by the local nobility, rose up against Count Gonsalvo Monroy.[19] Although they opposed the Count, the Maltese voiced their loyalty to the Sicilian Crown, which so impressed Alfonso IV that he did not punish the people for their rebellion but promised never to grant the title to a third party, instead incorporating it back into the crown. The city of Mdina was given the title of Città Notabile as a result of this sequence of events.[19]

Knights of Malta and Napoleon

In 1530 Charles I of Spain gave the islands to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in perpetual lease. These knights, a military religious order now known as the Knights of Malta, had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. In 1551, Barbary corsairs enslaved the entire population of the Maltese island Gozo, about 5,000, sending them to Libya. The knights withstood a full-blown siege by the Ottoman Turks in 1565, at the time the greatest naval power in the Mediterranean. The knights, fighting alongside the Maltese, were victorious and speaking of the battle Voltaire said, "Nothing is more well known than the siege of Malta".[45]
After the siege they decided to increase Malta's fortifications, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new city of Valletta, named in honour of Grand Master Jean de la Valette, was built. They also established watchtowers along the coasts - the Wignacourt, Lascaris, and de Redin towers - named after the Grand Masters who ordered the work. The Knights' presence on the island saw the completion of many architectural and cultural projects, including the embellishment of Città Vittoriosa, the construction of new cities including Città Rohan and Città Hompesch and the introduction of new academic and social resources. Approximately 11,000 people out of a population of 70,000 died of plague in 1675.[46]
The Beheading of Saint John, by Caravaggio. Oil on canvas, Template:Convert/361. Oratory of the Co-Cathedral.
The Knights' reign ended when Napoleon captured Malta on the way to Egypt during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1798. As a ruse, Napoleon asked for safe harbour to resupply his ships. Once safely inside Valletta's harbour he turned his guns against his hosts. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim capitulated and Napoleon stayed in Malta for a few days, during which time he systematically looted many movable assets of the island and established an administration controlled by his nominees. He then sailed for Egypt, leaving behind a substantial garrison.
The occupying French forces were deeply unpopular with the Maltese,[47] due particularly to the French forces' hostility towards Catholicism.[47] The French financial and religious policies angered the Maltese who rebelled, forcing the French to retreat within the city fortifications. Great Britain, along with the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily, sent ammunition and aid to the Maltese and Britain also sent her navy, which blockaded the islands.
General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois surrendered his French forces in 1800. Maltese leaders presented the island to Sir Alexander Ball, asking that the island become a British Dominion. The Maltese people created a Declaration of Rights in which they agreed to come "under the protection and sovereignty of the King of the free people, His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". The Declaration also stated that "his Majesty has no right to cede these Islands to any power...if he chooses to withdraw his protection, and abandon his sovereignty, the right of electing another sovereign, or of the governing of these Islands, belongs to us, the inhabitants and aborigines alone, and without control."[48]

British Empire and World War II

The heavily bomb-damaged Republic Street in Valletta during the Siege of Malta, 1942.
In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris, Malta officially became a part of the British Empire and was used as a shipping way-station and fleet headquarters. Malta's position half-way between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal proved to be its main asset during these years and it was considered an important stop on the way to India. In 1919 British troops fired on a rally protesting against new taxes, killing four Maltese men. This led to increased resistance and support for the pro-Italian parties that had challenged the British presence on the island[citation needed]. The event, known as Sette Giugno (Italian for 7 June), is commemorated every year.
In the early 1930s the British Mediterranean Fleet, which was at that time the main contributor to commerce on the island, moved to Alexandria as an economic measure.
During World War II, Malta played an important role owing to its proximity to Axis shipping lanes. The bravery of the Maltese people during the second Siege of Malta moved HM King George VI to award the George Cross to Malta on a collective basis on 15 April 1942 "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". Some historians argue that the award caused Britain to incur disproportionate losses in defending Malta, as British credibility would have suffered if Malta surrendered, as Singapore had.[49] A replica of the George Cross now appears in the upper hoist corner of the Flag of Malta. The collective award remained unique until April 1999, when the Royal Ulster Constabulary became the second – and, to date, the only other – recipient of a collective George Cross.

Independence and Republic

Malta achieved its independence on 21 September 1964 (Independence Day). Under its 1964 constitution, Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta and thus Head of State, with a Governor-General exercising executive authority on her behalf. On 13 December 1974 (Republic Day) Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of state. A defence agreement signed soon after independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on 31 March 1979 (Freedom Day), under the prime minister Dom Mintoff.
On that day British military forces departed and Admiral Sir John Hamilton GBE, Commander in Chief of the Eastern Mediterranean fleet, lowered the Union Jack for the last time. The Maltese then raised the Maltese flag over the Freedom Monument in Vittoriosa, to the sound of the first playing of Malta's national anthem. Malta adopted a policy of neutrality in 1980 and was a member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries until 2004. In 1989, Malta was the venue of a summit between US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, their first face-to-face encounter, which signaled the end of the Cold War.
Malta joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.[50] Following the European Council of 21 June to 22 June 2007 it joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2008.[51]

Government and politics

The Courthouse, Valletta
Malta is a republic,[52] whose parliamentary system and public administration is closely modeled on the Westminster system. Malta had the second highest voter turnout in the world (and the highest for nations without mandatory voting), based on election turnout in national lower house elections from 1960 to 1995.[53] The unicameral House of Representatives, (Maltese: Il-Kamra tad- Deputati), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister.
The House of Representatives is made up of sixty-five Members of Parliament. However, where a party wins an absolute majority of votes, but does not have a majority of seats, that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority. The Constitution of Malta provides that the President appoint as Prime Minister the member of the House who is best able to command a (governing) majority in the House.
The President of the Republic is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is largely ceremonial. The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Labour Party, with Dr. Joseph Muscat as its leader, which is a social democratic party. The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Dr. Lawrence Gonzi. The Labour Party is in opposition. There are a number of smaller political parties in Malta that presently have no parliamentary representation.
Until World War II Maltese politics was dominated by the language question fought out by pro-Italian and pro-British parties.[54] Post-War politics dealt with constitutional questions on the relations with Britain (first with integration then independence) and, eventually, relations with the European Union.

Local government

Since 1993 Malta has been divided into 68 elected local councils, with each council responsible for the administration of cities or regions of varying sizes. Administrative responsibility is distributed between the local councils and the central government in Valletta. There are no intermediate levels between local government and national government and the levels of the six districts (five on the main island) and of the three regions (two on the main island) serve primarily statistical purposes.
The Local Councils Act, 1993 (Act XV of 1993) was published on 30 June 1993, subdividing Malta into 54 local councils in Malta and 14 in Gozo. The inhabitants who are registered elect the council every three years, as voters in the Local Councils' Electoral Register. Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The mayor is the head of the local council and the representative of the Council for all effects under the Act.
The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the council. Local councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, allocation of local wardens and refuse collection; they also carry out general administrative duties for the central government such as collection of government rents and funds and answer government-related public inquiries.


Satellite image of Malta
Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea (in its eastern basin), some 93 km (58 mi) south of the Italian island of Sicily across the Malta Channel. Only the three largest islands — Malta Island (Malta), Gozo (Għawdex), and Comino (Kemmuna) — are inhabited. The smaller islands (see below) are uninhabited. The islands of the archipelago were formed from the high points of a land bridge between Sicily and North Africa that became isolated as sea levels rose after the last Ice Age.[55] The archipelago lies on the edge of the African tectonic plate where it meets the Eurasian plate.[56]
Maltese Landscape, Għadira
Numerous bays along the indented coastline of the islands provide good harbours. The landscape consists of low hills with terraced fields. The highest point is Ta' Dmejrek on Malta Island at 253 metres (830 ft) near Dingli. Although there are some small rivers at times of high rainfall, there are no permanent rivers or lakes on Malta. However, some watercourses have fresh water running all year round at Baħrija, l-Imtaħleb and San Martin, and at Lunzjata Valley in Gozo.
Phytogeographically, Malta belongs to the Liguro-Tyrrhenian province of the Mediterranean Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Malta belongs to the ecoregion of "Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands and Scrub".[57]
The south of Malta is not Europe's most southern point; that distinction belongs to the Greek island of Gavdos.

The Maltese archipelago

The minor islands that form part of the archipelago are uninhabited and include:
  • Barbaganni Rock
  • Cominotto, (Kemmunett)
  • Delmarva Island
  • Filfla
  • Fessej Rock
  • Fungus Rock, (Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral)
  • Għallis Rock
  • Halfa Rock
  • Large Blue Lagoon Rocks
  • Islands of St. Paul/Selmunett Island
  • Manoel Island, which connects to the town of Gżira, on the mainland, via a bridge
  • Mistra Rocks
  • Tac-Cawl Rock
  • Qawra Point/Ta` Fraben Island
  • Small Blue Lagoon Rocks
  • Sala Rock
  • Xrob l-Għaġin Rock


The climate is Mediterranean (Köppen climate classification Csa) / Subtropical [58][59], with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. There is no real thermal dormant season for plants, although plant growth can be checked briefly by abnormal cold in winter (patches of ground frost may occur in inland locales), and summer heat and aridity may cause vegetation to wilt. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands attractive for tourists, especially during the drier months. However, strong winds can make Malta feel cold during the springtime.
Malta has a predominantly Mediterranean climate
Water supply poses a problem on Malta, as the summer is both rainless and the time of greatest water use, and the winter rainfall often falls as heavy showers running off to the sea rather than soaking into the ground. Malta depends on underground reserves of fresh water, drawn through a system of water tunnels called the Ta' Kandja galleries, which average about 97 m below surface and extend like the spokes of a wheel. In the galleries in Malta's porous limestone, fresh water lies in a lens upon brine. More than half the potable water of Malta is produced by desalination, which creates further issues of fossil fuel use and pollution.[60] Average water temperatures range from 16 °C (61 °F) in January to as high as 26 °C (79 °F) in August.[61]
Average number of days above 21 °C (69.8 °F) is 189, average number of days above 32 °C (89.6 °F) is 15. Average morning relative humidity: 82%, average evening relative humidity: 64%[62]
The lowest temperature ever recorded at Valletta was on 19 February 1895, with 1.2 °C (34.2 °F), and the highest temperature was 43.8 °C (110.8 °F) recorded in August 1999 at Luqa International Airport. An unofficial lowest temperature of −1.7 °C (28.9 °F) was recorded on 1 February 1962 in the Ta' Qali airfield with snow on the ground.
Snow is virtually unheard of, with very few and brief snow flurries recorded in February 1895, January 1905 and 31 January 1962. No accumulation has been reported on the coast at least since 1800, but on the last day of January 1962 snow briefly covered some parts of the interior of the main island. The following night the only frost in the history of Malta was recorded in the Ta' Qali airfield.
Climate data for Malta
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.2
Average low °C (°F) 9.2
Precipitation cm (inches) 8.90
Avg. precipitation days 13.7 10.9 8.9 6.4 2.8 1.1 0.4 1.0 3.9 10.2 10.6 14.2 84.1
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN)[63]


Until 1800 Malta depended on cotton, tobacco and its shipyards for exports. After the British arrived, they came to depend on the dockyard for support of the Royal Navy, especially during the Crimean War of 1854. The military base benefited craftsmen and all those who served the military.
In 1869 the opening of the Suez Canal gave Malta's economy a great boost, as there was a massive increase in the shipping which entered the port. Ships stopping at Malta's docks for refuelling helped the Entrepôt trade, which brought additional benefits to the island.
However, towards the end of the 19th century the economy began declining, and by the 1940s Malta's economy was in serious crisis. One factor was the longer range of newer merchant ships that required less frequent refuelling stops.
Valletta's maritime industrial zone
Presently, Malta’s major resources are limestone, a favourable geographic location and a productive labour force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade (serving as a freight trans-shipment point), manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles) and tourism. Tourism infrastructure has increased dramatically over the years and a number of good-quality hotels are present on the island, although overdevelopment and the destruction of traditional housing is of growing concern. An increasing number of Maltese now travel abroad on holiday.[64] Although they are still a net importer of tourism, the ratio of inbound tourists to outbound tourists is decreasing. The popular Mdina Glass enterprise was established on the island in 1968 by Michael Harris, a former tutor at the UK's RCA.
Film production is a growing contributor to the Maltese economy, with several big-budget foreign films shooting in Malta each year. The country has increased the exports of many other types of services such as banking and finance.
The government is investing heavily in education, including college.
Malta has recently privatised some state-controlled firms and liberalised markets in order to prepare for membership in the European Union, which it joined on 1 May 2004. For example, the government announced on 8 January 2007 that it is selling its 40% stake in Maltapost, in order to complete a privatisation process which has been ongoing for the past five years.
Malta and Tunisia are currently discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for petroleum exploration.
Malta does not have a property tax.
According to Eurostat data, Maltese PPS GDP per capita stood at 76 per cent of the EU average in 2008.[65]
Malta's representative in Brussels, Joe Borg, has recently courted controversy[citation needed] by opposing a ban on the sale of bluefin tuna, an increasingly rare fish that sells in Japan for tens of thousands of pounds per fish. Malta's bluefin tuna industry, which employs 1,000 of the country's 400,000 citizens, is worth €100m (£87m) a year in revenue to the island.[citation needed]

Money and banking

The Central Bank of Malta (Bank Ċentrali ta' Malta), has two key areas of responsibility: the formulation and implementation of monetary policy and the promotion of a sound and efficient financial system. It was established by the Central Bank of Malta Act on 17 April 1968. The Maltese government entered ERM II on 4 May 2005, and adopted the euro as the country's currency on 1 January 2008.[66]


Maltese euro coins feature the Maltese Cross on €2 and €1 coins, the Maltese Coat of Arms on the €0.50, €0.20 and €0.10 coins, and the Mnajdra Temples on the €0.05, €0.02 and €0.01 coins.[67]
Malta has already produced collectors' coins with face value ranging from 10 to 50 euro. These coins continue an existing national practice of minting of silver and gold commemorative coins. Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the eurozone. For instance, a €10 Maltese commemorative coin cannot be used in any other country.
From 1972 until introduction of the Euro in 2008, the currency was the Maltese Lira, which had replaced the Maltese pound. The pound replaced the Maltese scudo in 1798.


The two largest (and oldest) banks in the country are Bank of Valletta and HSBC Bank Malta, both of which can trace their origins back to the 19th Century. Malta is also home to an international financial center with several foreign offshore banks.


Malta has a long history of providing publicly funded health care. The first hospital recorded in the country was already functioning by 1372.[68] Today, Malta has both a public healthcare system, known as the government healthcare service, where healthcare is free at the point of delivery, and a private healthcare system.[69][70] Malta has a strong general practitioner-delivered primary care base and the public hospitals provide secondary and tertiary care. The Maltese Ministry of Health advises foreign residents to take out private medical insurance.[71]
Malta was ranked number five in the World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems,[72] compared to the United States (at 37), Australia (at 32), United Kingdom (at 18) and Canada (at 30). The healthcare system in Malta closely resembles the British system,[73] as healthcare is free at the point of delivery.


The recently completed Mater Dei Hospital is Malta's primary hospital, and one of the largest medical buildings in Europe. Several other government hospitals in Malta are:
  • Paul Boffa Hospital, an oncology hospital in Valletta.
  • St Vincent De Paule Hospital, a geriatrics hospital.
  • Gozo General Hospital, the only hospital found in Gozo.
In addition, Malta has three major private hospitals:
  • St Philip's Hospital, with a capacity of 75 beds, is in Santa Venera.
  • St James Capua Hospital (the former Capua Palace Hospital), with 80 beds, is in Sliema.
  • St James Hospital has several sites, including a 13 bed unit in Zabbar, as well as a partner hospital in Libya.
St Mark's Clinic, in Msida, with a capacity of 5 beds, also offers some private hospital services.[73]
Maltese student checking blood pressure
The University of Malta has a medical school, and an Institute of Health Care. The latter offering diploma, (BSc)degree and postgraduate degree courses in a number of health care disciplines.
The Medical Association of Malta represents practitioners of the medical profession. MMSA is a separate body representing Maltese medical students, and is a member of EMSA and IFMSA. MIME, the Maltese Institute for Medical Education, is an institute set up recently to provide CME to doctors in Malta as well as medical students. The Foundation Program followed in the UK is to be introduced in Malta in order to stem the 'brain drain' of medical students to the British Isles. MADS, the Malta Association of Dental Students, is a student association set up to promote the rights of Dental Surgery Students studying within the faculty of Dental Surgery of the University of Malta. It is affiliated with IADS, the International Association of Dental Students.

Medical tourism

In recent years, Malta has advertised itself as a medical tourism destination,[74] and a number of health tourism providers are developing the industry. However, no Maltese hospital has undergone independent international healthcare accreditation. Malta is popular with British medical tourists,[75][76] pointing Maltese hospitals towards seeking UK-sourced accreditation, such as with the Trent Accreditation Scheme. Dual accreditation with the American-orientated Joint Commission is necessary if hospitals in Malta wish to compete with the Far East and Latin America for medical tourists from the United States.



Valletta, Malta's historical capital city
A census of population and housing is held every ten years. The last census was held in November 2005, and managed to count an estimated 96% of the population. A preliminary report was issued in April 2006, and results were weighted to an estimate for 100% of the population.
Native Maltese people make up the majority of the island. However there are minorities, the largest of which are British people, many of whom retired to Malta. The resident population of Malta, which includes foreigners residing in Malta for at least a year, as of 27 November 2005 was estimated at 404,039 of whom 200,715 (49.7%) were males and 203,324 (50.3%) were females. Of these, 17.1 per cent were aged 14 and under, 68.2 per cent were within the 15–64 age bracket whilst the remaining 13.7 per cent were 65 years and over. Malta's population density of 1,282 per square kilometer (3,322/sq mi) is by far the highest in the EU, and one of the highest in the world. The only census year showing a fall in population was that of 1967, with a 1.7% total decrease, attributable to a substantial number of Maltese residents who emigrated.[77]
The Maltese-resident population for 2004 was estimated to make up 97.0% of the total resident population.[78] Through all the censuses since 1842 there was always a slightly higher female-to-male ratio. Closest to reaching equality were 1901 and 1911 censuses. The highest female-to-male ratio was reached in 1957 (1088:1000), and since the ratio has been constantly dropping. The 2005 census showed a 1013:1000 female-to-male ratio. Population growth has slowed down, from +9.5% between the 1985 and 1995 censuses, to +6.9% between the 1995 and 2005 censuses (a yearly average of +0.7%). The birth rate stood at 3860 (a decrease of 21.8% from the 1995 census) and the death rate stood at 3025. Thus, there was a natural population increase of 835 (compared to +888 for 2004, of which over a hundred were foreign residents).[79]
The Valletta Waterfront illuminations
The population's age composition is similar to the age structure prevalent in the EU. Since 1967 there was observed a trend indicating an aging population, and is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio rose from 17.2% in 1995 to 19.8% in 2005, reasonably lower than the EU's 24.9% average. In fact, 31.5% of the Maltese population is aged under 25 (compared to the EU's 29.1%); but the 50-64 age group constitutes 20.3% of the population, significantly higher than the EU's 17.9%. In conclusion, Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio is expected to continue rising steadily in the coming years.
Maltese legislation recognizes both civil and canonical (ecclesiastical) marriages. Annulments by the Ecclesiastes and civil courts are unrelated and are not necessarily granted. There is no divorce legislation and abortion in Malta is illegal. A person must be 16 to marry.[80] The number of brides aged under 25 decreased from 1471 in 1997 to 766 in 2005; while the number of grooms under 25 decreased from 823 to 311. There is a constant trend that females are more likely than males to marry young. In 2005 there were 51 brides aged between 16 and 19, compared to 8 grooms.[79]
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Malta.. The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM), founded in 2001, is a socio-political non-governmental organisation which has as its central focus the rights of the Maltese LGBT community.
At the end of 2007, the population of the Maltese Islands stood at 410,290 and is expected to reach 424,028 by 2025. At the moment, females slightly outnumber males, making up 50.3 per cent of the population. The largest proportion of persons – 7.5 per cent – were aged 25–29, while there were 7.3 percent falling into each of the 45-49 and 55-59 age brackets.[81]


See also: Languages in education section (below)
The Maltese language (Maltese: Malti) is the constitutional national language of Malta. The Constitution also enshrines it as the country's official language, alongside English. Italian was the official language of Malta until 1934, when English and Maltese replaced it.
Maltese is a Semitic language descended from Siculo-Arabic (from southern Italy).[82] The Maltese alphabet consists of 30 letters based on the Latin alphabet, including the diacritically altered letters ż, ċ and ġ, as well as the letters , ħ, and ie.
Maltese has substantial borrowing from Sicilian, Italian, a little French, and more recently, and increasingly, English.[83] The language includes different dialects that can vary strongly from one town to another or from one island to the other.
The Eurobarometer states that 100% of the population speaks Maltese. Also, 88% of the population speaks English, 66% speaks Italian, and 17% speaks French.[84] This widespread knowledge of second languages makes Malta one of the most multi-lingual countries in the European Union. A study collecting public opinion on what language was "preferred" discovered that 86% of the population express a preference for Maltese, 12% for English, and 2% for Italian.[85] Still, Italian television channels from Italy-based broadcasters, such as Mediaset and RAI, reach Malta and remain popular.[85][86][87]


The façade of St John's Co-Cathedral
The Constitution of Malta declares Roman Catholicism as the state religion although entrenched provisions for the freedom of religion are made. Freedom House and the World Factbook report that 98 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, making the nation one of the most Catholic countries in the world.
There are more than 360 churches in Malta, Gozo, and Comino, or one church for every 1,000 residents. The parish church (Maltese: "il-parroċċa", or "il-knisja parrokjali") is the architectural and geographic focal point of every Maltese town and village, and its main source of civic pride. This civic pride manifests itself in spectacular fashion during the local village festas, which mark the day of the patron saint of each parish with marching bands, religious processions, special Masses, fireworks (especially petards), and other festivities.
The Mosta Dome known as "Ir-Rotunda"
Malta is an Apostolic See; the Acts of the Apostles tells of how St. Paul, on his way from Crete to Rome to face trial, was shipwrecked on an island which some scholars have identified as Malta, an episode dated around AD 60[11]. The Acts of the Apostles says St. Paul spent three months on the island, curing the sick including the father of Publius, the "chief man of the island". Various traditions are associated with this account. The shipwreck is said to have occurred in the place today known as St Paul's Bay. Saint Publius is said to have been made Malta's first bishop and a grotto in Rabat, now known as "St Paul's Grotto" (and in the vicinity of which evidence of Christian burials and rituals from 3rd century AD has been found), is amongst the earliest known places of Christian worship on the island.
Further evidence of Christian practices and beliefs during the period of Roman persecution appears in catacombs that lie beneath various sites around Malta, including St Paul’s Catacombs and St Agatha’s Catacombs in Rabat, just outside the walls of Mdina. The latter, in particular, were beautifully frescoed between 1200 and 1480, although marauding Turks defaced many of them in the 1550s. There are also a number of cave churches, including the grotto at Mellieħa, which is a Shrine of the Nativity of Our Lady where, according to legend, St. Luke painted a picture of the Madonna. It has been a place of pilgrimage since medieval times.
The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon record that in 451 AD, a certain Acacius was Bishop of Malta (Melitenus Episcopus). It is also known that in 501 AD, a certain Constantinus, Episcopus Melitenensis, was present at the Fifth General Council. In 588 AD, Pope Gregory I deposed Tucillus, Miletinae civitatis episcopus, and the clergy and people of Malta elected his successor Trajan in 599 AD. The last recorded Bishop of Malta before the invasion of the Islands was a Greek by the name of Manas, who was subsequently incarcerated at Palermo.[88]
Maltese historian, Giovanni Francesco Abela, states that following their conversion to Christianity at the hand of St. Paul, the Maltese retained their Christian religion, despite the Fatimid invasion.[89] Abela's writings describe Malta as a divinely ordained "bulwark of Christian, European civilization against the spread of Mediterranean Islam".[90] The native Christian community that welcomed Roger I of Sicily[19] was further bolstered by immigration to Malta from Italy, in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Żejtun city centre Parish church
For centuries, the Church in Malta was subordinate to the Diocese of Palermo, except when it was under Charles of Anjou, who appointed bishops for Malta, as did - on rare occasions - the Spanish and later, the Knights. Since 1808 all bishops of Malta have been Maltese. As a result of the Norman and Spanish periods, and the rule of the Knights, Malta became the devout Catholic nation that it is today. It is worth noting that the Office of the Inquisitor of Malta had a very long tenure on the island following its establishment in 1530: the last Inquisitor departed from the Islands in 1798, after the Knights capitulated to the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. During the period of the Republic of Venice, several Maltese families emigrated to Corfu. Their descendants account for about two-thirds of the community of some 4000 Catholics that now live on that island.
The patron saints of Malta are Saint Paul, Saint Publius, Saint Agatha and Saint George. Although not a patron saint, St George Preca (San Ġorġ Preca) is greatly revered as the first canonised Maltese saint. Pope Benedict XVI canonised him on 3 June 2007. Also, a number of Maltese individuals are recognised as Blessed, including Maria Adeodata Pisani and Nazju Falzon, with Pope John Paul II having beatified them in 2001.
Various Roman Catholic religious orders are present in Malta, including the Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans and Little Sisters of the Poor.
Most congregants of the local Protestant churches are not Maltese; their congregations draw on the many British retirees living in the country and vacationers from many other nations. There are approximately 500 Jehovah's Witnesses; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Bible Baptist Church, and the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches have about 60 affiliates. There are also some churches of other denominations, such as St. Andrew's Scots Church in Valletta (a joint Presbyterian and Methodist congregation) and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, as well as a Seventh-day Adventist church in Birkirkara.
The Jewish population of Malta reached its peak in the Middle Ages under Norman rule. In 1479, Malta and Sicily came under Aragonese rule and the Alhambra Decree of 1492 forced all Jews to leave the country, permitting them to take with them only a few of their belongings. Several dozen Maltese Jews may have converted to Christianity at the time in order to remain in the country. Today, there is one Jewish congregation.
Zen Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith claim some 40 members. There is one Muslim mosque. A Muslim primary school recently opened; its existence remains a point of some controversy. Of the estimated 3,000 Muslims in Malta, approximately 2,250 are foreigners, approximately 600 are naturalized citizens, and approximately 150 are native-born Maltese.[91]


EU nationals require neither a visa nor a passport (an ID card or an expired passport are enough) to enter the country. Citizens of a number of third world countries are not required to apply for a visa and require only a valid passport when residing in Malta for up to three months. Visas for other nationalities are valid for one month.
Immigrants, even those with EU citizenship, are required to apply for a work permit. This exception to EU law was agreed upon before accession to safeguard the Maltese labour market.
The estimated net inflow (using data for 2002 to 2004) was of 1,913 persons yearly. Over the last 10 years, Malta accepted back a yearly average of 425 returning emigrants.[78]
During 2006, a total of 1,800 illegal immigrants reached Malta making the boat crossing from the North Africa coast. Most of them intended to reach mainland Europe and happened to come to Malta due to their sub-standard vessels breaking down, or being caught by Maltese and other EU officials.[92][93] In the first half of 2006, 967 irregular immigrants arrived in Malta – almost double the 473 who arrived in the same period in 2005.[94] Many immigrants have perished in the journey across the Mediterranean, with one notable incident being the May 2007 Malta migrant boat disaster.
Around 45% of immigrants landed in Malta have been granted refugee (5%) or protected humanitarian status (40%). A White Paper suggesting the grant of Maltese citizenship to refugees resident in Malta for over ten years was issued in 2005. Historically Malta gave refuge (and assisted in their resettlement) to eight hundred or so East African Asians who had been expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin and to just under a thousand Iraqis fleeing Saddam Hussein's regime.
Detention costs for the first half of 2006 alone cost € 746,385.[95]
In 2005, Malta sought EU aid in relation to reception of irregular immigrants, repatriation of those denied refugee status, resettlement of refugees into EU countries, and maritime security.[96] In December 2005, the European Council adopted The Global Approach to Migration: Priority Actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean; but the deployment of said actions has been limited to the western Mediterranean, thus putting further pressure on the central Mediterranean route for irregular immigration of which Malta forms a part.
Country To From Net migration Return %
Australia 86,787 17,847 68,940 21.56
Canada 19,792 4,798 14,997 24.24
UK 31,489 12,659 18,830 40.20
U.S.A. 11,601 2,580 9,021 22.24
Other 1,647 907 740 55.07
Total 155,060 39,087 115,973 25.21


A vintage photograph of St Aloysius' College
Primary schooling has been compulsory since 1946; secondary education up to the age of sixteen was made compulsory in 1971. The state provides education free of charge, and the Church and the private sector run a number of schools in Malta and Gozo, including De La Salle College in Cospicua, St. Aloysius' College in Birkirkara, San Anton School in the valley of L-Imselliet (near Mġarr) and Saint Monica Girls' School in Mosta. As of 2008, there are two international schools, Verdala International School and QSI Malta. The state pays a portion of the teachers' salary in Church schools.[98]
Education in Malta is based on the British model. Primary school lasts six years. At the age of 11 pupils sit for an examination to enter a secondary school, either a church school (the Common Entrance Examination) or a state school. Pupils sit for SEC O-level examinations at the age of 16, with passes obligatory in certain subjects such as mathematics, English and Maltese. Pupils may opt to continue studying at a sixth form college such as Junior College, St Edward's College, St Aloysius' College or else at another post-secondary institution such as MCAST. The sixth form course lasts for two years, at the end of which students sit for the Matriculation examination. Subject to their performance, students may then apply for an undergraduate degree or diploma.
The University of Malta (U.o.M.) provides Tertiary education at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate level. The adult literacy rate is 92.8%.[99]

Languages in education

English and Maltese are both used to teach students at primary and secondary school level, and both languages are also compulsory subjects. Public schools tend to use both Maltese and English in a balanced manner. Private schools prefer to use English for teaching, as is also the case with most departments of the University of Malta; this has a limiting effect on the capacity and development of the Maltese language.[85] Most university courses are in English.[100]
Of the total number of students studying a first foreign language at secondary level, 51% take Italian whilst 38% take French. Other choices include German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic.[85][101]


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


While Maltese music today is largely western, traditional Maltese music includes what is known as għana. This consists of background folk guitar music, while a few people, generally men, take it in turns to argue a point in a singsong voice. The aim of the lyrics, which are improvised, are to create a friendly yet challenging atmosphere, and it takes a number of years of practice to be able to combine the required artistic qualities with the ability to debate effectively.


Documented Maltese literature is over 200 years old. However a recently unearthed love ballad testifies to literary activity in the local tongue from the Medieval period. Malta followed a Romantic literary tradition, culminating in the works of Dun Karm, Malta's National Poet. Subsequent writers like Ruzar Briffa and Karmenu Vassallo tried to estrange themselves from the rigidity of formal themes and versification.
It was late in the 1960s that Maltese literature experienced its most radical transformation amongst poets, prose writers and dramatists. Names of significant poets that stand out from the last quarter of the 20th century include Mario Azzopardi, Victor Fenech, Oliver Friggieri, Joe Friggieri, Charles Flores, Daniel Massa, Maria Ganado, Lillian Sciberras and Akille Mizzi. In prose, Frans Sammut, Paul P. Borg and Joe J. Camilleri led the avant-garde meanwhile among the prominent names in theatre are Francis Ebejer, Alfred Sant, Doreen Micallef, Oreste Calleja, Joe Friggieri and Martin Gauci.
The next generation of writers widened the tracks further, especially in prose. Guze' Stagno, Karl Schembri and Clare Azzopardi are young writers fast establishing themselves while in poetry, significant names include Adrian Grima, Immanuel Mifsud, Norbet Bugeja and Simone Inguanez.
In literary criticism, Peter Serracino Inglott, Oliver Friggieri and Charles Briffa introduced perceptive historical, philosophical and psycho-social themes into Maltese theory.
Other writers, born in Malta or of Maltese descent, have established careers abroad. These included the novelist Trezza Azzopardi, best-selling children's author Saviour Pirotta and comic-book artist/journalist Joe Sacco.

Art and architecture

Upper Barrakka Gardens
Malta has a long history of architecture, influenced by many different Mediterranean cultures over its history, and most recently, British architecture. The first settlers on the island constructed Ġgantija, one of the oldest manmade freestanding structure in the world. Malta is currently undergoing large scale building projects that includes constructions such as SmartCity Malta, the M-Towers, and Pendergardens, while areas such as the Valletta Waterfront and Tigne Point are receiving renovation.
The Neolithic temple builders 3800-2500 BC endowed the numerous temples of Malta and Gozo with intricate bas relief designs, including spirals evocative of the tree of life and animal portraits, designs painted in red ochre, ceramics, and a vast collection of human form sculptures, particularly the Venus of Malta. These can be viewed at the temples themselves (most notably, the Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples), and at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.
The Roman period introduced highly decorative mosaic floors, marble colonnades and classical statuary, remnants of which are beautifully preserved and presented in the Roman Domus, a country villa just outside the walls of Mdina. The early Christian frescoes that decorate the catacombs beneath Malta reveal a propensity for eastern, Byzantine tastes. These tastes continued to inform the endeavours of medieval Maltese artists, but they were increasingly influenced by the Romanesque and Southern Gothic movements. Towards the end of the 15th century, Maltese artists, like their counterparts in neighbouring Sicily, came under the influence of the School of Antonello da Messina, which introduced Renaissance ideals and concepts to the decorative arts in Malta.[102]
Saint Jerome Writing
Artist Caravaggio
Year c. 1607-1608
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 117 cm × 157 cm (46 in × 62 in)
Location St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta
The artistic heritage of Malta blossomed under the Knights of St. John, who brought Italian and Flemish Mannerist painters to decorate their palaces and the churches of these islands, most notably, Matteo Perez d'Aleccio, whose works appear in the Magisterial Palace and in the Conventual Church of St. John in Valetta, and Filippo Paladini, who was active in Malta from 1590 to 1595. For many years, Mannerism continued to inform the tastes and ideals of local Maltese artists.[102]
The arrival in Malta of Caravaggio, who painted at least seven works during his 15-month stay on these islands, further revolutionized local art. Two of Caravaggio's most notable works, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Jerome Writing, are on display in the Oratory of the Conventual Church of St. John. His legacy is evident in the works of local artists Giulio Cassarino (1582–1637) and Stefano Erardi (1630–1716). However, the Baroque movement that followed was destined to have the most enduring impact on Maltese art and architecture. The glorious vault paintings of the celebrated Calabrese artist, Mattia Preti transformed the severe, Mannerist interior of the Conventual Church St. John into a Baroque masterpiece. Preti spent the last 40 years of his life in Malta, where he created many of his finest works, now on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta. During this period, local sculptor Melchior Gafà (1639–1667) emerged as one of the top Baroque sculptors of the Roman School.
The Siege of Malta - Flight of the Turks, by Matteo Perez d'Aleccio
During the 17th and 18th century, Neapolitan and Rococo influences emerged in the works of the Italian painters Luca Giordano (1632–1705) and Francesco Solimena (1657–1747), and these developments can be seen in the work of their Maltese contemporaries such as Giovanni Nicola Buhagiar (1698–1752) and Francesco Zahra (1710–1773). The Rococo movement was greatly enhanced by the relocation to Malta of Antoine de Favray (1706–1798), who assumed the position of court painter to Grand Master Pinto in 1744.
Neo-classicism made some inroads among local Maltese artists in the late 18th century, but this trend was reversed in the early 19th century, as the local Church authorities - perhaps in an effort to strengthen Catholic resolve against the perceived threat of Protestantism during the early days of British rule in Malta - favoured and avidly promoted the religious themes embraced by the Nazarene movement of artists. Romanticism, tempered by the naturalism introduced to Malta by Giuseppe Calì, informed the "salon" artists of the early 20th century, including Edward and Robert Caruana Dingli.
Parliament established the National School of Art in the 1920s. During the reconstruction period that followed the Second World War, the emergence of the "Modern Art Group", whose members included Josef Kalleya (1898–1998), George Preca (1909–1984), Anton Inglott (1915–1945), Emvin Cremona (1919–1986), Frank Portelli (b.1922), Antoine Camilleri (b.1922) and Esprit Barthet (b.1919) greatly enhanced the local art scene.


This article refers exclusively to the traditional dishes of Malta and Gozo.
Pastizzi, a typically Maltese snack
A variety of Maltese bread, called ftira
Maltese cuisine is typically Mediterranean in character, based on fresh seasonal locally available produce and seafood. While many dishes are native to the island, some popular Maltese recipes reflect Sicilian and Southern Italian as well as traces of Moorish, Spanish, Berber, French and British influences (such as qassatat). There are many unique, distinctive and popular local dishes such as ftira biż-żejt, ġbejniet, pastizzi and ross il-forn. Maltese cuisine is still popular in households and restaurants in Malta.
Influences from outside Malta continue to develop. Alongside the traditional cuisine of the island one can find an eclectic mix of dishes offered in various restaurants, drawn from Asia, North America etc.


Maltese folktales include various stories about mysterious creatures and supernatural goings on. These were most comprehensively compiled by the scholar (and pioneer in Maltese archeology) Manwel Magri[103] in his core criticism "Ħrejjef Missirijietna" ("Stories from our Forefathers"). This collection of material inspired subsequent researchers and academics to gather traditional tales, fables and legends from all over the Archipelago.
Magri's work also inspired a series of comic books (released by Klabb Kotba Maltin in 1984): the titles included Bin is-Sultan Jiźźewweġ x-Xebba tat-Tronġiet Mewwija and Ir-Rjieħ. Many of these stories have been popularly re-written as Children's literature by authors writing in Maltese, such as Trevor Żahra. While giants, witches and dragons feature in many of the stories, some contain entirely Maltese creatures like the Kaw kaw, Il-Belliegħa and L-Imħalla amongst others. The traditional Maltese obsession with maintaining spiritual (or ritual) purity[104] means that many of these creatures have the role of guarding forbidden or restricted areas and attacking individuals who broke the strict codes of conduct that characterized the island's pre-industrial society.
Traditional life
Traditional Maltese proverbs reveal a cultural preoccupation with childbearing and fertility: "iż-żwieġ mingħajr tarbija ma fihx tgawdija" (a childless marriage cannot be a happy one). This is a belief that Malta shares with many other Mediterranean cultures. In Maltese folktales the local variant of the classic closing formula, "and they all lived happily ever after" is "u għammru u tgħammru, u spiċċat" (and they lived together, and they had children together, and the tale is finished).[105]
Rural Malta shares in common with Mediterranean and traditional Jewish society a number of superstitions regarding fertility, menstruation, and pregnancy, including the avoidance of cemeteries during the months leading up to childbirth, and avoiding the preparation of certain foods during menses. Pregnant women are encouraged to satisfy their cravings for specific foods, out of fear that their unborn child will bear a representational birth mark (Maltese: xewqa, literally "desire" or "craving"). Maltese and Sicilian women also share certain traditions that are believed to predict the sex of an unborn child, such as the cycle of the moon on the anticipated date of birth, whether the baby is carried "high" or "low" during pregnancy, and the movement of a wedding ring, dangled on a string above the abdomen (sideways denoting a girl, back and forth denoting a boy).
Traditionally, Maltese newborns were baptised as promptly as possible, partly out of fear of limbo should the child die in infancy, and partly because according to Maltese (and Sicilian) folklore an unbaptised child is not yet a Christian, but "still a Turk". Traditional Maltese delicacies served at a baptismal feast include biskuttini tal-magħmudija (almond macaroons covered in white or pink icing), it-torta tal-marmorata (a spicy, heart-shaped tart of chocolate-flavoured almond paste), and a liqueur known as rożolin, made with rose petals, violets and almonds.
On a child's first birthday, in a tradition that still survives today, Maltese parents would organize a game known as il-quċċija, where a variety of symbolic objects would be randomly placed around the seated child. These may include a hard-boiled egg, a Bible, crucifix or rosary beads, a book, and so on. Whichever object the child shows most interest in is said to reveal the child's path and fortunes in adulthood.
Money refers to a rich future while a book expresses intelligence and a possible career as a teacher. Infants who select a pencil or pen will be writers. Choosing bibles or rosary beads refers to a clerical or monastic life. If the child chooses a hard-boiled egg, it will have a long life and many children. More recent additions include calculators (refers to accounting), thread (fashion) and wooden spoons (cooking and a great appetite).
Traditional Maltese weddings featured the bridal party walking in procession beneath an ornate canopy, from the home of the bride's family to the parish church, with singers trailing behind serenading the bride and groom. The Maltese word for this custom is il-ġilwa. This custom along with many others has long since disappeared from the Islands, in the face of modern practices.
Recreation of a traditional Maltese 16th century wedding
New wives would wear the għonnella, a traditional item of Maltese clothing. However, it is no longer worn in modern Malta. Today's couples are married in churches or chapels in the village or town of their choice. The nuptials are usually followed by a lavish wedding reception, often including several hundred guests. Occasionally, couples will try to incorporate elements of the traditional Maltese wedding in their celebration. A resurgent interest in the traditional wedding was evident in May 2007, when thousands of Maltese and tourists attended a traditional Maltese wedding in the style of the 16th century, in the Village of Żurrieq. This included il-ġilwa, which led the bride and groom to a wedding ceremony that took place on the parvis of St. Andrew's Chapel. The reception that followed featured folklore music (għana) and dancing.
Local festivals, similar to those in southern Italy, are commonplace in Malta and Gozo, celebrating weddings, christenings and, most prominently, saints' days, honouring the patron saint of the local parish. On saints' days, the festa reaches its apex with a High Mass featuring a sermon on the life and achievements of the patron saint, after which a statue of the religious patron is taken around the local streets in solemn procession, with the faithful following in respectful prayer. The religious atmosphere quickly gives way to several days of revelry, band processions, fireworks, and late night parties. Lija is one villages with a notable firework display.
Carnival (Maltese: il-karnival ta' Malta) has had an important place on the cultural calendar after Grand Master Piero de Ponte introduced it to the Islands in 1535. It is held during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, and typically includes masked balls, fancy dress and grotesque mask competitions, lavish late-night parties, a colourful, ticker-tape parade of allegorical floats presided over by King Carnival (Maltese: ir-Re tal-Karnival), marching bands and costumed revellers.
Holy Week (Maltese: il-Ġimgħa Mqaddsa) starts on Palm Sunday (Ħadd il-Palm) and ends on Easter Sunday (Ħadd il-Għid). Numerous religious traditions, most of them inherited from one generation to the next, are part of the paschal celebrations in the Maltese Islands, honouring the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Mnarja, or l-Imnarja (pronounced lim-nar-ya) is one of the most important dates on the Maltese cultural calendar. Officially, it is a national festival dedicated to the feast of Saints Peter and St. Paul. In fact, one can trace its roots back to the pagan Roman feast of Luminaria (literally, "the illumination"), when torches and bonfires lit up the early summer night of 29 June.
A national feast since the rule of the Knights, Mnarja is a traditional Maltese festival of food, religion and music. The festivities still commence today with the reading of the "bandu", an official governmental announcement, which has been read on this day in Malta since the 16th century. Originally, Mnarja was celebrated outside St. Paul's Grotto, in the north of Malta. However, by 1613 the focus of the festivities had shifted to the Cathedral of St. Paul, in Mdina, and featured torchlight processions, the firing of 100 petards, horseraces, and races for men, boys and slaves. Modern Mnarja festivals take place in and around the woodlands of Buskett, just outside the town of Rabat.
It is said that under the Knights, this was the one day in the year when the Maltese were allowed to hunt and eat wild rabbit, which was otherwise reserved for the hunting pleasures of the Knights. The close connection between Mnarja and rabbit stew (Maltese: "fenkata") remains strong today.
In 1854 British governor William Reid launched an agricultural show at Buskett which is still being held today. The farmers' exhibition is still a seminal part of the Mnarja festivities today.
Mnarja today is one of the few occasions when participants may hear traditional Maltese "għana". Traditionally, grooms would promise to take their brides to Mnarja during the first of year of marriage. For luck, many of the brides would attend in their wedding gown and veil, although this custom has long since disappeared from the Islands.


Malta has its own national football stadium, Ta' Qali Stadium. It is generally noted that the population tends to be split half and half with regards to supporting Italy or England in sports games, due to the cultural affinities of the island.[106]
The Maltese national football team won several matches over big opponents that reached the final phases in World Cups like Belgians and Hungarians and the Greeks.
Malta also hosts a snooker round, the Malta Cup, which as of 2008 became a non-ranking event.[citation needed]
In 2008 Malta's Tony Drago was a member of a victorious European Mosconi Cup team, which was played in Portomaso, Malta.[citation needed]
Boxer Jeff Fenech is of Maltese descent.[107]
There are over 1200 rock climbing routes in Malta. The island offers a mixture of both trad climbing and sport climbing and also offers a good variety of bouldering and deep water soloing . The geography and small size of the island makes the climbing easily accessible. The sport is growing in popularity with local communities, as well as tourists and visitors.
In the last decade the aviation sport of Microlight Flying was introduced to the island by the Island Microlight Club.[108] There are now a total of twenty-two microlight aircraft that operate out of the Malta International Airport.
Boċċi is the Maltese version of the Italian game of bocce, French pétanque and British bowls. Other than certain differences in rules and the ground on which the game is played, one of the most obvious differences between Maltese boċċi and foreign equivalents is the shape of the bowls themselves which tend to be cylindrical rather than spherical in shape. Many small clubs (usually called Klabbs tal-Boċċi in Maltese) can be found in Maltese and Gozitan localities, and are usually well-frequented and are quite active on a local and European level.



The most widely read and financially the strongest newspapers are published by Allied Newspapers Ltd., mainly the The Times (27%) and The Sunday Times (51.6%). Due to bilingualism half of the newspapers are published in English and the other half in Maltese. The Sunday newspaper It-Torċa (The Torch) published by the Union Press, a subsidiary of the GWU, is the paper with the biggest circulation in the Maltese language. Its sister paper, L-Orizzont, is the Maltese daily with biggest circulation. Newspapers are definitively losing out to radio and television (and radio is losing to television) as preferred source of news. There is a high number of daily or weekly newspapers, there is one paper for every 28,000 people. Advertising, sales and subsidies are the three main methods of financing newspapers and magazines. However, most of the papers and magazines tied to institutions are subsidised by the same institutions, they depend on advertising or subsidies from their owners.[109]


There is a great a presence of the institutionschurch, political parties, trade unions - in the print media, though not as in the broadcasting media. Trade Unions are not represented in the broadcasting media, but are in the print media, and only the General Workers Union owns a newspaper. The UHM, the second biggest union, has no newspaper, TV, or radio stations.[109]


There are eight major nationwide television channels in Malta: TVM, One Television, NET Television, Smash Television, Favourite Channel, Calypso Music TV, ITV, and Education22 - currently transmitted by analogue terrestrial, free-to-air signals. The state and political parties subsidise most of the fundings of these television stations. The Public Broadcasting Services is the state-owned station and is a member of the EBU. Media Link Communications Ltd and One Productions Ltd are affiliated with the Nationalist Party and Labour Party respectively. Smash Communications Ltd is privately owned. The Broadcasting Authority supervises all local broadcasting stations and ensures their compliance with legal and licence obligations as well as the preservation of due impartiality; in respect of matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy; while fairly apportioning broadcasting facilities and time between persons belong to different political parties. The Broadcasting Authority ensures that local broadcasting services consist of public, private and community broadcasts that offer varied and comprehensive programming to cater for all interests and tastes.
Cable, terrestrial and satellite reception are all available, though the cable service is the most diffused. Cable subscriptions reached almost 124,000 in February 2006 reaching about 80% of Maltese households, and a small but increasing number of households own satellite dishes to receive other European television networks such as the BBC from Great Britain and RAI and Mediaset from Italy.

Mobile telephony

The mobile penetration rate in Malta stood at 101.3% as at the end of 2009.[110] Malta uses the GSM900 mobile phone network. This is compatible with the rest of the European countries, Australia and also New Zealand.

Phone codes

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

Transportation infrastructure


Traffic in Malta drives on the left, as in the UK. Car ownership in Malta is exceedingly high, given the very small size of the islands; it is the fourth highest in the European Union. The number of registered cars in 1990 amounted to 182,254, giving an automobile density of 582 /km2 (1,510 /sq mi).[111]
Malta has 2,254 kilometres (1,401 mi) of road, 1,972 km (1,225 mi) (87.5%) of which are paved and 282 km (175 mi) are unpaved (December 2003).[112]


Principal highways
A traditional Maltese bus in Sliema
Buses (xarabank or karozza tal-linja) are the primary method of public transport for the islands, which offer a relatively cheap and frequent service to many parts of Malta and Gozo. The vast majority of buses on Malta depart from a large circular terminus in Valletta.
The island has had buses since 1905. Due to their appearance, Malta's classic buses have become tourist attractions in their own right and appear on many Maltese advertisements to promote tourism, as well as on gifts and merchandise for tourists. However, these old buses are slowly being replaced by a more modern fleet, albeit still customised in the tradition of the older buses.
The buses used to be colour coded, according to the their routes, before being painted green. Now the buses in Malta are all dark yellow, with a band of orange, while those on the sister island of Gozo are grey, with a red band.
There are approximately 500 buses in public transit service in Malta. The drivers themselves own most of the buses, but operate to a unified timetable set by the transport authority. Malta buses carry approximately 31 million passengers per year.[113] On any one day, half the bus fleet works on the public transport network (called 'route buses'), while the other half provides private tours and school transportation.


Between 1883 and 1931, Malta had a railway line that connected Valletta to the army barracks at Mtarfa via Mdina and a number of towns and villages. The railway fell into disuse and eventually closed altogether, following the introduction of electric trams and buses. At the height of the bombing of Malta during World War II, Mussolini announced that his forces had destroyed the railway system but by the time war broke out, the railway had been mothballed for more than nine years.

New public transport network

A new public transport network is being proposed for the islands of Malta and Gozo that will include a day service from 6am to 11pm and a night service from 11pm to 6am. The proposed network would provide three types of services. The fast Crossline services would operate at a frequency of 30 minutes. These would connect with Mainline services, which would operate at a frequency of between 10 and 30 minutes. At regional and local levels the Feederlines would serve villages and neighbouring areas at a frequency of 30 minutes. Apart from the interchange at Valletta, which would be upgraded, the proposal includes other major interchanges in the network at Mater Dei Hospital, Luxol in Swieqi, Paola, Marsa, Malta International Airport and Msida. Public transport information would be made available in various media including real time, mobile and online. Enhanced bus stop and interchange facilities would provide shelter, security, information, comfort and convenience.[114]

Ports and harbours

Valletta Harbour
A ferry departs at Ċirkewwa harbour from Mġarr, Gozo
Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island.
  • The Grand Harbour (or Port il-Kbir), located at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta, has been a harbour since Roman times. It has several extensive docks and wharves, as well as a cruise liner terminal. A terminal at the Grand Harbour serves ferries that connect Malta to Pozzallo & Catania in Sicily.
  • Marsamxett Harbour, located on the western side of Valletta, accommodates a number of yacht marinas.
  • Marsaxlokk Harbour, at Marsaxlokk on the south-eastern side of Malta, is the site of the Malta Freeport, the islands' main cargo terminal.
There are also two man-made harbours that serve a passenger and car ferry service that connects Ċirkewwa Harbour on Malta and Mġarr Harbour on Gozo. The ferry makes numerous runs each day.

Airports and heliports

Malta International Airport (Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta) is the only airport serving the Maltese Islands. It is built on the land formerly occupied by the RAF Luqa air base. A heliport is also located there, but the scheduled service to Gozo ceased in 2006. Since June 2007, Harbour Air Malta has operated a thrice-daily floatplane service between the sea terminal in Grand Harbour and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.
Two further airfields at Ta' Qali and Ħal Far airfields operated during World War II and into the 1960s but are now closed. Today, Ta' Qali houses a national park, stadium, the Crafts Village visitor attraction and the Malta Aviation Museum. This museum preserves several aircraft, including Hurricane and Spitfire fighters that defended the island in World War II.
An Air Malta flight
The national airline is Air Malta, which is based in at Malta International Airport, and which operates services to 36 destinations in Europe and North Africa. The owners of Air Malta are Maltese government (98%) and private investors (2%). Air Malta employs 1,547 staff and a 25% shareholding in Medavia.
Air Malta has concluded over 191 interline ticketing agreements with other IATA airlines. It also has a codeshare agreement with Qantas covering the following routes: Sydney-Singapore-Heathrow-Malta, Sydney-Bangkok-Heathrow-Malta and Melbourne-Singapore-Heathrow-Malta. In September 2007, Air Malta made two agreements with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways by which Air Malta wet-leased two Airbus aircraft to Etihad Airways for the winter period starting 1 September 2007, and provided operational support on another Airbus A320, aircraft which it leased to Etihad Airways.


The objectives of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) are to maintain a military organisation with the primary aim of defending the Islands' integrity according to the defence roles as set by Government in an efficient and cost effective manner. This is achieved by emphasising the maintenance of Malta's territorial waters and airspace integrity.
The AFM also engages in combating terrorism, fighting against illicit drug trafficking, conducting anti-illegal immigrant and anti-illegal fishing operations, operating Search and Rescue (SAR) services, and physical/electronic security/surveillance of sensitive locations. Malta's Search and Rescue area extends from east of Tunisia to west of Crete covering an area of around 250,000 km2.
As a military organisation, the AFM provides backup support to the Malta Police Force (MPF) and other government departments/agencies in situations as required in an organised, disciplined manner in the event of national emergencies (such as natural disasters) or internal security and bomb disposal.
On another level, the AFM establishes and/or consolidates bilateral co-operation with other countries to reach higher operational effectiveness related to AFM roles.


See also

External links

General information
News media

Notes and citations

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    Malta remained for 72 years subject of the emperors of Germany. The island was after the period of Count Roger of the Normans afterwards given up to the Germans, on account of the marriage between Constance, heiress of Sicily, and Henry VI, son of the Emperor Friedrick Barbarossa. Malta was elevated to a county and a marquisate, but its trade was now totally ruined, and for a considerable period of it remained solely a fortified garrison.
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  43. ^ Google Books Malta, Mediterranean bridge, Stefan Goodwin 2002. Page 31
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  47. ^ a b The French in Malta, 1798-1800 / Carmel Testa
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  54. ^ - History - The Independence at
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  60. ^ BBC News "Briney future for vulnerable Malta" 4 April 2007
  61. ^ "Malta Weather and Climate". Malta Climate. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  62. ^ Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Malta
  63. ^ "Weather Information for Malta". 
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  65. ^ "GDP per capita in PPS". Eurostat. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
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  77. ^ Census of Population and Housing 2005: Preliminary Report. Valletta: National Statistics Office. 2005. ISBN 978-99909-73-38-9. 
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  80. ^ [3]
  81. ^ - Population in Malta, Gozo exceeds 410,000 at
  82. ^ MED Magazine
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  88. ^ "''Catholic Encyclopedia''". Retrieved 31 March 2009. 
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  90. ^ A. Luttrell, The Making of Christian Malta: From the Early Middle Ages to 1530, Aldershot, Hants.: Ashgate Varorium, 2002.
  91. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2003 – Malta". Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 
  92. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs (30 January 2006). "Frendo holds talks with three European Union Commission Members" (PDF). Press release. Retrieved 6 July 2006. 
  93. ^ "Immigrant frustration for Malta". BBC News Europe. 21 October 2005. Retrieved 12 October 2007. 
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  100. ^ MED Magazine at
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  110. ^
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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Malta
Quick Facts
Capital Valletta
Government republic
Currency euro (EUR) - since 01 January 2008
Area 316 sq km
Population 400,214 (July 2006 est.)
Language Maltese (official), English (official), Italian
Religion Roman Catholic 98%
Electricity 230V/50Hz (United Kingdom plug)
Calling Code +356
Internet TLD .mt
Time Zone UTC +1
Malta [1] is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea that lies south of the island of Sicily, Italy. The country is an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Għawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited.
Map of Malta
Map of Malta


By inhabited island:
  • Valletta — the capital, named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, a French nobleman who was Grand Master of the Order of St. John and leader of the defenders during the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565.
  • Buġibba
  • Cottonera (Three Cities) — The name used when referring to the three historic and ancient cities of Birgu (aka Vittoriosa), Isla (aka Senglea) and Bormla (aka Cospicua), three towns conglomerated by 16th century fortifications called the Cottonera lines.
  • Marsaxlokk — fishing village south of the island
  • Marsaskala — an enchanting promenade ensures you a pleasant evening here
  • Mdina — Malta's well-preserved quiet old capital. pronounced 'im-dina'
  • Mgarr
  • Rabat — hosts numerous historical attractions such as St. Paul's catacombs and the Roman Villa
  • Qormi - a city in central Malta where there are still several old traditional bakeries.
  • Saint Julians — perfect area for nightlife & entertainment
  • San Gwann
  • Sliema — shopping centre just north of Valletta
  • Hagar Qim and Mnajdra - Two very beautiful stone age temples set on the cliffside of south west Malta. Their majesty has now been marred by protective tents and a 2 storey new building nearby.
  • Mellieħa - A locality in Malta surrounded by the largest and some of the most wonderful sandy beaches on the Islands
  • Golden Bay - One of Malta's most beautiful sandy beaches, on the northwest coast of the island.
  • Għajn Tuffieha - "Long Steps Bay", just behind Golden Bay. Just as beautiful, but less crowded during the high season.
  • Blue Grotto - A series of seven caves and inlets on the southern side of Malta famous for deep blue waters and spectacular natural rock formations. The Blue Grotto may be accessed by small traditional boats, skippered by cheerful Maltese guides, which leave from a well-signposted pier just off the main road along the south coast.
  • Clapham Junction - An area of western central Malta (not far from Buskett woods) where deep ruts in the bedrock appear to have been formed in the remote past by wagons or carts. Some of these ruts cross rock-cut punic tombs, proving that the ruts existed before the tombs. In the vicinity there are large caves which used to be inhabited by troglodites.
  • St.Thomas Bay - A quaint inlet, 1km beyond Marsaskala, with a sloping, built up area on one side, and barren Munxar white cliffs on the other. There are 2 small sandy beaches ideal for swimming in summer. Beneath Munxar there is now a 'window' at the cliffside. Beyond Munxar Point there are amazing, very high, white cliffs, with 2 large and deep caves in them. Many amateur fishermen own boathouses in the vicinity and go fishing whenever the sea is calm.



Although small, Malta has a long and rich history, with evidence for habitation going back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium B.C.). The country boasts some of the world's most ancient standing buildings (the Neolithic temples), and its strategic location and good harbors in the middle of the Mediterannean have attracted Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders, the French and finally the British, with the colonial period lasting until 1964.
The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitallers and Knights of Malta, took over sovereign control of Malta in 1530, and by 1533 the Order had built a hospital at Birgu (one of the Three Cities) to care for the sick. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, mounted a great siege of Malta with a fleet of 180 ships and a landing force of 30,000 men. In response the Order, with only 8,000 defenders, drove the Ottoman Turks away after a hard siege of several months. After this siege, the Order founded the city of Valletta on a peninsula, and fortified it with massive stone walls, which even withstood heavy bombing during the Second World War. By 1575 the Order had built a new large hospital known as the Grand Hospital or Sacred Infirmary in order to continue with its primary mission of caring for the sick.
In 1798, the French under Napoleon took the island on 12 June, without resistance, when the Grand Master of the Order capitulated after deciding that the island could not be defended against the opposing French naval force. French rule lasted a little over 2 years, until they surrendered to the British Royal Navy, under Admiral Nelson's command, in September 1800.
Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars.
The island was awarded the George Cross for its heroic resistance during the Second World War. An image of the cross is displayed on the flag.
21 September 1964 (from UK)
National holidays 
Freedom Day, 31 March (1979); Sette Giugno, 7 June (1919); Feast of Our Lady of Victories, 8 September (1565); Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974).
Malta remained in the Commonwealth of Nations when it became independent from Great Britain in 1964. It is still a member.
A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has become a freight trans-shipment point, financial centre and tourist destination.
Malta gained European Union membership in May 2004.


Malta's Climate [2] is influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and is similar to other Mediterranean climates. Winters are wet and windy. Summers are virtually guaranteed to be dry and hot.


Mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains, with a coastline [3] that has many coastal cliffs and numerous bays that provide good harbors.
Highest point 
Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)

Get in

Malta is a member of the Schengen Agreement. For EU, EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or Swiss citizens, an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Others will generally need a passport for entry.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: Not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union.
Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you travelling within the Schengen area or not, some airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
Keep in mind that the counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa.
As of January 2010 only the citizens of the following non-EU/EEA/Swiss countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area; note that they must not stay longer than three months in half a year and must not work while in the EU: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.
Note that
  • while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.
However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
Further note that
(*) Macedonian, Montenegrin and Serbian citizens need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel and
(**) Serbian citizens with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (Serbs residing in Kosovo) still do need a visa.
Visitors from outside the EU, including Americans, must fill out a landing card, available on board some arriving flights (sometimes) or in the entrance hall of the airport from the small box between the customs agents.

By plane

Malta possesses its own national carrier, Air Malta [4], with regular connections to many European, North African and Middle Eastern centres.
Ryanair [5] flies to/from London Luton, Edinburgh, Dublin, Madrid, Trapani, Bristol, Bremen, Pisa, Stockholm (Skavsta), Valencia, Venice (Treviso), Girona, and Bari. Easyjet flies to/from Manchester, Newcastle, and London Gatwick.
The island's international Airport [6] is located at Luqa.

By boat

There are frequent fast ferries to the Sicilian port of Catania 3 hours and Pozzallo 90 min , Italy. but it can be turbulent with a heavy swell, if it's windy.usually trip takes around twice the time on large passenger ships but fares are lot cheaper and easier which make it ideal for drivers of car,trucks,campers,etc , other destination includes from ,Livorno,Salerno,Rome (civitavechia),Palermo,Genoa and Tunis but usually with airlines like ryanair,windjet and efly are cheaper and easier.
Maltese Bus
Maltese Bus

By bus

One of Malta's joys (at least in small doses) is the wonderfully antiquated public bus system, consisting of 1950s-era exports from Britain usually kitted up with more chintz than a Christmas tree plus icons of every saint in the Bible and then some (as well as new chinese buses -king long-). Fares are very cheap and even the longest ride across the island costs less than €1.30; the only catch is that almost all buses radiate out from Valletta, so you may have to detour back to the capital to reach your next destination. A short question - "To Valletta?" - to the driver when you get on will help you confirm your ending destination.
The only problem there might be is the smouldering heat during the summer but a typical bus ride is only around 20 minutes so it should be fine. A typical bus fare is €0.47 so do not expect to give €20 to change as you will probably be denied a bus fare (with good reason), so be ready with reasonable change when getting on a bus.
Also, most buses usually stop running around 21.30 - 22.00. So make sure you have an alternate means of transport for evening journeys. There is, of course, the exception of a Friday or Saturday night out in Paceville (ONLY LEAVING PACEVILLE)- there are buses leaving at 00.00, 01.30 and 03.00. Most of these are 'direct' routes so make sure you know the number for your destination.

By taxi

Malta's white taxis are the ones you can pick you up off the street. They have meters that are uniformly ignored, figure on €15 for short hops and not much more than €35 for a trip across the island.
For cheaper airport transfers and local taxis try using one of the local "Black cab" taxi firms such as Swansea Chauffeur Drive [7] Active cars or Wembleys [8] for airport transfers. Their rates are normally lower than white taxis and their drivers are smarter and more educated. Their services must be prebooked however (at least fifteen minutes notice) since SwanSea and Wembley cabs cannot be picked up from the street and have to be prebooked or called (356) 20107444 or (356) 2133261. Wembley is the largest taxi firm but Swansea offers a more reliable, personalised and professional service at roughly the same rates.

By car

Renting a car in Malta is a fine way to see the country, since it's cheap (try Swansea car hire [9] or Active car rental [10] or JS Car Hire [11]) and driving conditions have improved greatly in the last ten years. Having your own car allows you to make a lot more of your trip and discover the many hidden charms these small islands have to offer.
It is always best to pre-book your car rental online as this works out cheaper than booking when you arrive. According to the Mediterranean markets, Malta has very low rates for car rental. Any driver and additional drivers must take with them their driving licenses in order to be covered for by the insurances provided by the local car rental supplier.
There is GPS coverage of the Island by popular brands such as and I GO Garmin, however, do check with your rental company as to whether they make this available to you or not. Popular opinion states that the GPS mapping of Malta isn't altogether that accurate, where certain routes planned on the GPS, will send you up 1 way streets without warning, best to use common sense in conjunction with this technology. Also the Maltese can be a very friendly bunch of people when giving directions are concerned.

By ferry

There is the regular ferry service [12] between Ċirkewwa on Malta and Mġarr on Gozo, it goes every 45 minutes in the summer and almost as often in the winter. You buy a return ticket at the Malta end for about €4.70. There are also irregular services to Comino.

By seaplane

Regular flights between Valletta Grand Harbour and Mgarr by Harbourair [13] started recently. There is also a planned service to Sicily. The company also offers scenic flights for around 90EUR that take 30mins and provide beautiful views of the Maltese islands. Flights start in Valletta's grand harbor. Check-in and ticket office is at the sea passenger terminal, on the very end of the "Valletta waterfront", behind the cruise ship terminals.

By helicopter

Scheduled helicopter service between Malta and Gozo has been terminated.

By bike

Renting a bike in Malta is a very common and popular practice. It doesn't cost much, but offers enough flexibility to explore.
Traffic safety billboard
Traffic safety billboard
The official languages are Maltese and English. Italian is widely understood and spoken. Some people have basic French, but few people can speak fluent French in Malta. Getting around with English or Italian is very much possible
Maltese is a Semitic language, though it has borrowed a substantial amount of vocabulary from the Romance languages (particularly Italian). The closest living relative of Maltese is Arabic, a dialect particularly spoken in North Africa known as Maghreb Arabic(Spoken in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) though Maltese is written in the Latin alphabet instead of the Arabic script. Maltese is also more distantly related to Hebrew and Amharic, so if you speak any of these three languages, you'll recognise some similarities. It also has substantial English elements in it. Knowing a few phrases in Maltese may be useful. See the Maltese phrasebook for details.
Note that the younger generations are less versed in Italian than past ones. The passage of time has left a contempt for English due to the colonial era imprinted in the working class' descendants, and the Second World War broke the tradition of centuries as regards speaking Italian, when the Italians bombed the island repeatedly. The British additionally discouraged the use of Italian, favouring the populace to learn English instead. After Maltese independence, a socialist period of isolationism followed, which contributed to the disregard of English in some cases. However, in modern Malta, one is guaranteed that there will be no problems travelling in Malta if one can speak English. It would simply make most Maltese people a great deal friendlier if approached in the Maltese language.


The official currency of Malta is the euro (€).
Major currencies, even though they were widely accepted years ago and changed on the fly at restaurants and bars are no longer acceptable as an over the counter currency. So if you have dollars or pounds, it's best to change them at the plethora of exchange bureaus or banks across the island prior to going out.


Transportation costs are much cheaper by European standards. Food costs are very reasonable. Having a Maltese size pizza in a decent restaurant costs around €6.50. A set at Mc Donald's will cost you €5.70 as of May 2009.


The ancient capital of Mdina, also known as the Silent City, rests at a high point in the heart of the island. Surrounded by the scenic town of Rabat, this fortress is one of Malta's finest jewels, boasting architecture, history and a quality cup of coffee with a splendid view. Valletta is similar in that it boasts a rich history, only being the modern capital, it is very much alive and much more modern, serving as both a shopping area during the day and offering an array of museums and cultural sites. Of particular note is St John's Co-Cathedral, built by one of the earlier Grandmasters of the Knights Hospitaller. It contains the various chapels of the Knights' langues, with Caravaggio paintings, tapestries and various relics of immense value to the Maltese heritage. The very floors of the Cathedral are the tombs of the most famous knights of the Order of St John, and a crypt, though off-limits to tourists, hosts the bodies of some of the most illustrious of Grandmasters, including the city's founder, Jean de Valette. In Gozo, a rural atmosphere is predominant. Billy Connolly purchased a home in Gozo several years ago, owing to the island's quiet and relaxing nature. Visitors will be interested in taking a look at the impressive geographical feature of the Inland Sea, carved out by the Mediterranean. One is also obliged to visit the Citadel, Gozo's version of Mdina.
For a look into more traditional Maltese life, the seldom seen south of Malta is a possible option for visitation. Townships like Ghaxaq often escape public notice, but some of the island's finest churches lie in the south. The many churches of Malta are testaments to the style and design of their times. Many towns in the north were stripped of their culture due to rapid urbanisation, but this has been felt less in the south of Malta. However, the south is less tourist friendly, and one is unlikely to be accomodated by tailored sites as in the north.
Finally, Malta's megalithic temples are some of the oldest in the world, and one should not forget to take walks in the countryside. The most popular tourist destinations of Sliema and St. Julians probably have the least to offer as regards a taste of Malta, though they continue to be the most frequented. They are the most modern of locations, with most old buildings having been knocked down due to the monstrous construction industry fuelling the economy.


Sample the local delecacies. In Summer, the island is perfect for water sports and beach activities. The island has been described as an open-air museum by some; one is unlikely to run out of things to see during a visit to Malta. Each township has its own unique sights to offer if one pays close enough attention. Hiking in the countryside offers a taste of rural Malta, especially if trekking along the coast of Gozo. Sailing is a wonderful option, as Malta boasts an impressive array of caves, scenic sunsets and other views.


Distinctly Maltese cuisine is hard to find but does exist. The food eaten draws its influences from Italian cuisine. Most restaurants in resort areas like Sliema cater largely to British tourists, offering pub grub like meat and three veg or bangers and mash, and you have to go a little out of the way to find 'real' Maltese food. One of the island's specialities is rabbit (fenek), and small savoury pastries known as pastizzi are also ubiquitous.
The Maltese celebratory meal is fenkata, a feast of rabbit, marinated overnight in wine and bay leaves. The first course is usually spaghetti in rabbit sauce, followed by the rabbit meat stewed or fried (with or without gravy). Look out for specialist fenkata restaurants, such as Ta L'Ingliz in Mgarr.
True Maltese food is quite humble in nature, and rather fish and vegetable based -- the kind of food that would have been available to a poor farmer, fisherman or mason. Thus one would find staples like soppa ta' l-armla (widow's soup) which is basically a coarse mash of whatever vegetables are in season, cooked in a thick tomato stock. Then there's arjoli which is a julienne of vegetables, spiced up and oiled, and to which are added butter beans, a puree made from broadbeans and herbs called bigilla, and whatever other delicacies are available, like Maltese sausage (a confection of spicy minced pork,coriander seeds and parsley, wrapped in stomach lining) or ġbejniet (simple cheeselets made from goats'or sheep milk and rennet, served either fresh, dried or peppered). Maltese sausage is incredibly versatile and delicious. It can be eaten raw (the pork is salted despite appearances), dried or roasted. A good plan is to try it as part of a Maltese platter, increasingly available in tourist restaurants. Sun dried tomatoes and bigilla with water biscuits are also excellent. Towards the end of summer one can have one's fill of fried lampuki (dolphin fish) in tomato and caper sauce (see here for the peculiar method of catching this fish: [14]. One must also try to have a bite of ħobż biż-żejt, which is leavened Maltese bread, cut into thick chunks, or else baked unleavened ftira, and served drenched in oil. The bread is then spread with a thick layer of strong tomato paste, and topped (or filled) with olives tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and the optional arjoli (which in its simpler form is called ġardiniera).


A typical soft drink that originated in Malta is Kinnie, a non-alcoholic fizzy drink made from bitter oranges and slightly reminiscent of Martini.
The local beer is called Cisk (pronounced "Chisk") and, for a premium lager (4.2% by volume), it is very reasonably priced by UK standards. It has a uniquely sweeter taste than most European lagers and is well worth trying. Other local beers, produced by the same company which brews Cisk, are Blue Label Ale, Hopleaf, 1565, Lacto ("milk stout") and Shandy (a typical british mixture pre-mixture of equal measures of lager and 7-UP). Other beers have been produced in Malta in direct competition with Cisk such as '1565' brewed and bottled in the Lowenbrau brewery in Malta. Since late 2006 another beer produced by a different company was released in the market called "Caqnu". A lot of beers are also imported from other countries or brewed under license in Malta, such as Carlsberg, Lowenbrau, SKOL, Bavaria, Guinness, Murphy's stout and ale, Kilkenny, John Smith's, Budweiser, Becks, Heineken, Efes, and many more.
Malta has two indigenous grape varieties, Girgentina and Gellewza, although most Maltese wine is made from various imported vines. Maltese wines directly derived from grapes are generally of a good quality, Marsovin [15] and Delicata [16] being prominent examples, and inexpensive, as little as 60-95ct per bottle. There are also many amateurs who make wine in their free time and sometimes this can be found in local shops and restaurants, especially in the Mgarr and Siggiewi area. Premium wines such as Meridiana [17] are an excellent example of the dedication that can be found with local vineyards.
The main Maltese night life district is Paceville (pronounced "pach-a-vil"), just north of St. Julian's. Young Maltese (as young as high school-age) come from all over the island to let their hair down, hence it gets very busy here, especially on weekends (also somewhat on Wednesdays, for midweek drinking sessions). Almost all the bars and clubs have free entry so you can wander from venue to venue until you find something that suits you. The bustling atmosphere, cheap drinks and lack of cover charges makes Paceville well worth a visit. The nightlife crowd becomes slightly older after about midnight, when most of the youngsters catch buses back to their towns to meet curfew. Paceville is still going strong until the early hours of the morning, especially on the weekends.
Interestingly it does not rain much on Malta and almost all of the drinking water is obtained from the sea via large desalination plants on the west of the island or from the underground aquifer.

Christmas in Malta

Christmas is a largely religious affair on the Maltese islands. This is due to the fact that most Maltese people are catholics. During the festive season, various Christmas cribs or Presepji as they're called in Maltese, can be seen on display in churches, shopping centres, etc.
The Maltese people have many Christmas customs that are unique to the island. A very popular traditional Christmas dessert are the Qaghaq ta' l-Ghasel. These are light pastry rings filled with honey.


Malta has promoted itself successfully as an entirely bi-lingual nation for Maltese and English. It counts for many educational institutes in the rest of the world as a country where English is the first language and they therefore will often even subsidise students to go there to learn it. Admittedly their command of the language is on average better than in other European countries.


For foreigners work is unfortunately often very hard to find, the Maltese are rather insular and figures show that even in the tourist sector they are very reluctant to hire people not from the island. There is a sense that since joining the EU there is more willingness to hire professionals from abroad as the business sector diversifies.

Stay safe

Malta is generally safe, in fact it's considered as one of the safest in the world with little in the way of violent crime or political disturbances.
Malta is generally safe compared to its European counterparts. However, with growing illegal immigration in detention camps located in the south of the Island, locals are beginning to feel a sense of uncertainty in regards to their safety in these areas.
Regarding nightlife, the Island is very safe as long as you do not walk alone. Due to Malta being a major Mediterranean port, sailors with shore leave tend to become quite rowdy after long voyages, as well as with the advent of low cost air travel coming to Malta has brought an influx of teens from across Europe enjoying short cheap weekend breaks in the sun.

Stay healthy

The main health risk in Malta is the fierce sun in the summer, which can scorch unsuspecting tourists. Apply sunblock liberally.
For ambulance, fire or police dial 112. The main hospitals are Mater Dei Telephone: (+356) 2545 0000 and Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, tel. 2156 1600. For a complete list of government hospital services visit [18].
  • Malta is a strictly Roman Catholic country and carousing by tourists, while tolerated to some extent, is not looked on very favorably, especially outside of St. Julian's and Paceville.
  • The native language is Maltese, and many would take offence if told that their language is Arabic or an Arabic dialect.
  • Dress respectfully when visiting churches. As a guide, remove any hats and sunglasses and make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Some churches, especially those on popular package tours, provide shawls and/or skirts for any inappropriately-dressed visitors.
  • You may be refused entry to a church if there is a service going on that has already started, make sure you arrive promptly if you wish to see them.
  • Homosexuality is tolerated, but the people do not fully accept it. It is inappropriate to display affection between same sex persons publicly.


The country has three mobile phone networks available: Vodafone, Go Mobile, and Melita Mobile; as well as with other countries, you can find white labelled cell plans such as the Bay Mobiles plan that can offer alternative rates. Due to international agreements with providers across the globe, Vodafone, GO and Melita are sure to be apart of your carriers roaming plan.
Internet cafés and wi-fi zones are quite abundant with connection rates peaking at 30mbps.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

.MALTA, the largest of the Maltese Islands, situated between Europe and Africa, in the central channel which connects the eastern and western basins of the Mediterranean Sea.^ "Malta" means the Island of Malta, the Island of Gozo and the other island of the Maltese Archipelago, including the territorial waters thereof; .
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

The group belongs to the British Empire. It extends over 29 m., and consists of Malta, 91 sq. m., Gozo 20 sq. m., Comino (set apart as a quarantine station) sq. m., and the uninhabited rocks called Cominotto and Filfla. Malta (lat. of Valletta Observatory 35° 53' 55" N., long. 14 3 0 ' 45° .) is about 60 m. from the nearest point of Sicily, 140 m. from the mainland of Europe and 180 from Africa; it has a magnificent natural harbour. From the dawn of maritime trade its possession has been important to the strongest nations on the sea for the time being.
Malta is about 171 m. long by 84 broad; Gozo is 84 by 41 m. This chain of islands stretches from N.E. to S.E. On the S.W. the declivities towards the sea are steep, and in places rise abruptly some 400 ft. from deep water. The general slope of these ridges is towards the N.W., facing Sicily and snow-capped Etna, the source of cool evening breezes. The Bingemma range, rising 726 ft., is nearly at right angles to the axis of the main island. The geological " Great Fault " stretches from sea to sea at the foot of these hills. .There are good anchorages in the channels between Gozo and Comino, and between Comino and Malta.^ (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration .
  • CIA - The World Factbook -- Field Listing :: Note 12 September 2009 12:40 UTC [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

In addition to the harbours of Valletta, there are in Malta, facing N.W., the bays called Mellieha and St Paul's, the inlets of the Salina, of Madalena, of St Julian and St Thomas; on the S.E. there is the large bay of Marsa Scirocco. There are landing places on the S. W. at Fomh-il-rih and Miggiarro. Mount Sceberras (on which Valletta is built) is a precipitous promontory about m. long, pointing N.E. It rises out of deep water; well-sheltered creeks indent the opposite shores on both sides. The waters on the S.E. form the " Grand Harbour," having a narrow entrance between Ricasoli Point and Fort St Elmo. The series of bays to the N.W., approached between the points of Tigne and St Elmo, is known as the Marsamuscetto (or Quarantine) Harbour.
Mighty fortifications and harbour works have assisted to make this ideal situation an emporium of Mediterranean trade. During the Napoleonic wars and the Crimean campaign the Grand Harbour was frequently overcrowded with shipping. The gradual supplanting of sail by steamships has made Malta a coaling station of primary importance. But the tendency to great length and size in modern vessels caused those responsible for the civil administration towards the end of the 19th century to realize that the harbour accommodation was becoming inadequate for modern fleets and first-class liners. A breakwater was therefore planned on the Monarch shoal, to double the available anchorage area and increase the frontage of deep-water wharves available in all weathers.
The Maltese Islands consist largely of Tertiary Limestone, with somewhat variable beds of Crystalline Sandstone, Greensand and Marl or Blue Clay. The series appears to be in line with Geology similar formations at Tripoli in Africa, Cagliari in and Water Sardinia, and to the east of Marseilles. To the south- Supply. east of the Great Fault (already mentioned) the beds are more regular, comprising, in descending order, (a) Upper Coralline Limestone; (b) Yellow, Black or Greensand; (c) Marl or Blue Clay; (d) White, Grey and Pale Yellow Sandstone; (e) Chocolate-coloured nodules with shells, &c.; (f) Yellow Sandstone; (g) Lower Crystalline Limestone. The Lower Limestone probably belongs to the Tongarian stage of the Oligocene series, and the Upper Coralline Limestone to the Tortonian stage of the Miocene. The beds are not folded. The general dip of the strata is from W.S.W. to E.N.E. North of the Great Fault and at Comino the level of the beds is about 400 ft. lower, bringing (c), the Marl, in juxtaposition with (g), the semi-crystalline Limestone. .There is a system of lesser faults, parallel to the Great Fault, dividing the area into a number of blocks, some of which have fallen more than others.^ Where a person is entitled to exercise an option as to which of two or more laws shall apply in his case,- the law for which he opts shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be more favourable to him than the other law or laws.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Constitution, a person shall not be entitled to be registered as a citizen of Malta more than once under the same provision of this Constitution.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ Electoral Commission at the first count of all the votes, but the number of its candidates elected at such election is less than the total of all the other candidates so elected; or .
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

There are also indications of another series of faults roughly parallel to the south-east coast, which point to the islands being fragments of a former extensive plateau. The mammalian remains found in Pleistocene deposits are of exceptional interest. Among the more remarkable forms are a species of hippopotamus, the elephant (including a pigmy variety), and a gigantic dormouse.
In the Coralline Limestone the following fossils have been noted :- Spondylus, Ostrea, Pecten, Cytherea, Arca, Terebratula, Orthis, Clavagella, Echinus, Cidaris, Nucleolites, Brissus, Spatangus; in the Marl the Nautilus zigzag; in the Yellow, Black and Greensand shells of Lenticulites complanatus, teeth and vertebrae of Squalidae and Cetacea; in the Sandstone Vaginula depressa, Crystallaria, Nodosaria, Brissus, Nucleolites, Pecten burdigallensis, Scalaria, Scutella subrotunda, Spatangus, Nautilus, Ostrea navicularis and Pecten cristatus (see Captain Spratt's work and papers by Lord Ducie and Dr Adams).
The Blue Clay forms, at the higher levels, a stratum impervious to water, and holds up the rainfall, which soaks through the spongy mass of the superimposed coralline formations. Hence arise the springs which run perennially, several of which have been collected into the gravitation water supplies of the Vignacourt and Fawara aqueducts. The larger part of the water supply, however, is now derived by pumping from strata at about sea-level. These strata are generally impregnated with salt water, and are practically impenetrable to the rain-water of less weight. The honeycomb of rock, and capillary action, retard the lighter fresh-water from sinking to the sea; the soakage from rain has therefore to move horizontally, over the strata about sea-level, seeking outlets. At this stage the rain-water is intercepted by wells, and by galleries hewn for miles in the water-bearing rock. Large reservoirs assist to store this water after it is raised, and to equalize its distribution.
The climate is, for the greater part of the year, temperate and healthy; the thermometer records an annual mean of 67° F. Between June and September the temperature ranges from to 90 0; the mean for December, January and February is 56°; March, May and November are mild. Pleasant north-east winds blow for an average of 150 days a year, cool northerly winds for 31 days, east winds 70 days, west for 34 days. The north-west " Gregale " (Euroclydon of Acts xxvii. 14) blows about the equinox, and occasionally, in the winter months, with almost hurricane force for three days together; it is recorded to have caused the drowning of 600 persons in the harbour in 1555. This wind has been a constant menace to shipping at anchor; the new breakwater on the Monarch Shoal was designed to resist its ravages. The regular tides are hardly perceptible, but, under the influence of barometric pressure and wind, the sea-level occasionally varies as much as ft. .The average rainfall is in.; it is, however, uncertain; periods of drought have extended over three years.^ Provided that any stay in Malta for a period or periods not exceeding three months in any one year or of twelve months in the aggregate shall not be taken into account and shall not be considered as a return to Malta.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ A member of the Employment Commission shall not, within a period of three years commencing with the day on which he last held office or acted as a member, be eligible for appointment to or to act in any public office.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ A member of the Broadcasting Authority shall not, within a period of three years commencing with the day on which he last held office or acted as a member, be eligible for appointment to or to act in any public office.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

Snow is seen once or twice in a generation; violent hailstorms occur. On the 19th of October 1898, exceptionally large hailstones fell - one, over 4 in. in length, being brought to the governor, Sir Arthur Fremantle, for inspection. Mediterranean (sometimes called " Malta ") fever has been traced by Colonel David Bruce to a Micrococcus melitensis. The supply of water under pressure is widely distributed and excellent. There is a modern system of drainage for the towns, and all sewerage has been intercepted from the Grand Harbour. There are efficient hospitals and asylums, a system of sanitary inspection, and modernized quarantine stations.
It is hardly possible to differentiate between imported and indigenous plants. Among the marine flora may be mentioned. Porphyra laciniata, the edible laver; Codium tomentosum, a coarse species; Padina pavonia, common in shallow water; Ulva latissima; Haliseris polypodioides; Sargassum bacciferum; the well-known gulf weed, probably transported from the Atlantic; Zostera marina, forming dense beds in muddy bays; the roots are cast up by storms and are valuable to dress the fields. .Among the land plants may be noted the blue anemone; the ranunculus along the road-sides, with a strong perfume of violets; the Malta heath, which flowers at all seasons; Cynomorium coccineum, the curious " Malta fungus," formerly so valued for medicinal purposes that a guard was set for its preservation under the rule of the Knights; the pheasant's-eye; three species of mallow and geranium; Oxalis cernua, a very troublesome imported weed; Lotus edulis; Scorpiurus subvillosa, wild and cultivated as forage; two species of the horseshoe-vetch; the opium poppy; the yellow and claret-coloured poppy; wild rose; Cartaegus azarolus, of which the fruit is delicious preserved; the ice-plant; squirting cucumber; many species of Umbelliferae; Labiatae, to which the spicy flavour of the honey (equal to that of Mt Hymettus) is ascribed; snapdragons; broom-rape; glass-wort; Salsola soda, which produces when burnt a considerable amount of alkali; there are fifteen species of orchids; the gladiolus and iris are also found; Urginia scilla, the medicinal squill, abounds with its large bulbous roots near the sea; seventeen species of sedges and seventy-seven grasses have been recorded.^ House of Representatives supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the Members of the House declaring that democratic institutions in Malta are threatened by subversion.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ The Maltese and the English languages and such other language as may be prescribed by Parliament (by a law passed by not less than two-thirds of all the members of the House of Representatives) shall be the official languages of Malta and the Administration may for all official purposes use any of such languages: .
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

There are four species of lizard and three snakes, none of which is venomous; a land tortoise, a turtle and a frog. Of birds very few are indigenous; the jackdaw, blue solitary thrush, spectacled warbler, the robin, kestrel and the herring-gull. A bird known locally as Hangi, not met elsewhere in Europe, nests at Filfla. Flights of quail and turtle doves, as well as teal and ducks, stay long enough to afford sport. Of migratory birds over two hundred species have been enumerated. The only wild mammalia in the island are the hedgehogs, two species of weasel, the Norway rat, and the domestic mouse. The Maltese dog was never wild and has ceased to exist as a breed.
Malta has several species of zoophytes, sponges, mollusca and crustacea. Insect life is represented by plant-bugs, locusts, crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, dragon-flies, butterflies, numerous varieties of moths, bees and mosquitoes.
Among the fish may be mentioned the tunny, dolphin, mackerel, sardine, sea-bream, dentice and pagnell; wrasse, of exquisite rainbow hue and good for food; members of the herring family, sardines, anchovies, flying-fish, sea-pike; a few representatives of the cod family, and some flat fish; soles (very rare); Cernus which grows to large size; several species of grey and red mullet; eleven species of Triglidae, including the beautiful flying gurnard whose colours rival the angel-fish of the West Indies; and eighteen species of mackerel, all migratory.
The real population of Malta, viz. of the country districts, is to be differentiated from the cosmopolitan fringe of the cities. .There is continuous historical evidence that Malta remains to-day what Diodorus Siculus described it in and the 1st century, " a colony of the Phoenicians "; this branch of the Caucasian race came down the great rivers to the Persian Gulf and thence to Palestine.^ Every person who, having been born in Malta, is on the day before the appointed day a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies shall become a citizen of Malta on the appointed day: .
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^ Malta before the appointed day and, but for his having ceased to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies before that day, would have become a citizen of Malta by virtue of section 22(1) of this Constitution; or .
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^ Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal .
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It carried the art of navigation through the Mediterranean, along the Atlantic seaboard as far as Great Britain, leaving colonies along its path. In prehistoric times one of these colonies displaced previous inhabitants of Libyan origin. The similarity of the megalithic temples of Malta and of Stonehenge connect along the shores of western Europe the earliest evidence of Phoenician civilization. Philology proves that, though called " Canaanites " from having sojourned in that land, the Phoenicians have no racial connexion with the African descendants of Ham. No subsequent invader of Malta attempted to displace the Phoenician race in the country districts. The Carthaginians governed settlements of kindred races with a light hand; the Romans took over the Maltese as " dedititii," not as a conquered race. Their conversion by St Paul added difference of religion to the causes which prevented mixture of race. The Arabs from Sicily came to eject the Byzantine garrison; they treated the Maltese as friends, and were not sufficiently numerous to colonize. The Normans came as fellowChristians and deliverers; they found very few Arabs in Malta. The fallacy that Maltese is a dialect of Arabia has been luminously disproved by A. E. Caruana, Sull' origine della lingua Maltese. The upper classes h 've Norman, Spanish and Italian origin. The knights of St John of Jerusalem, commonly called " of Malta," were drawn from the nobility of Catholic Europe. They took vows of celibacy, but they frequently gave refuge in Malta to relatives driven to seek asylum from feudal wars and disturbances in their own lands. At the British occupation there were about two dozen families bearing titles of nobility granted, alt. allett a R and adjacent Islands .? or recognized, by the Grand Masters, and descending by primogeniture. .These " privileges " were guaranteed, together with the rights and religion of the islanders, when they became British subjects, but no government has ever recognized papal titles in Malta.^ Section 21: Guiding Principles are no Rights The provisions of this Chapter shall not be enforceable in any court, but the principles therein contained are nevertheless fundamental to the governance of the country and it shall be the aim of the State to apply these principles in making laws.
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^ British Nationality Act, 1948t by virtue of his having been naturalised in Malta as a British subject before that Act came into force; or .
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^ Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Malta.
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High and low, all speak among themselves the Phoenician Maltese, altogether different from the Italian language; Italian was only spoken by 13.24% in 1901. Such Italian as is spoken by the lingering minority has marked divergences of pronunciation and inflexion from the language of Rome and Florence. .In 1901, in addition to visitors and the naval and military forces, 18,922 Maltese spoke English, and the number has been rapidly increasing.^ Maltese territory, other than military personnel performing, or assisting in the performance of, civil works or activities, and other than a reasonable number of military technical personnel assisting in the defence of the Republic of Malta; .
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In appearance the Maltese are a handsome, well-formed race, about the middle height, and well set up; they have escaped the negroid contamination noticeable in Sicily, and their features are less dark than the southern Italians. The women are generally smaller than the men, with black eyes, fine hair and graceful carriage. They are a thrifty and industrious people, prolific and devoted to their offspring, good-humoured, quick-tempered and impressionable. The food of the working classes is principally bread, with oil, olives, cheese and fruit, sometimes fish, but seldom meat; common wine is largely imported from southern Europe. .The Maltese are strict adherents to the Roman Catholic religion, and enthusiastic observers of festivals, fasts and ceremonials.^ A requirement, however made, that the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion shall be taught by a person professing that religion shall not be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section.
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^ The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion.
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In 1906 the birth-rate was 40.68 per thousand, and the excess of births over deaths 2637. In April 1907 the estimated population was 206,690 of whom 21,911 were in Gozo. This phenomenal congestion of population gives interest to records of its growth; in the 10th century there were 16,767 inhabitants in Malta and 4514 in Gozo; the total population in 1514 was 22,000. Estimates made at the arrival of the knights (1530) varied from 15,000 to 25,000: it was then necessary to import annually io,000 quarters of grain from Sicily. The population in 1551 was, Malta 24,000, Gozo 7000. In 1582, 20,000 quarters of imported grain were required to avert famine. A census of 1 590 makes the population 30,500; in that year 3000 died of want. The numbers rose in 1601 to 33,000; in 1614 to 41,084; in 1632 to 50,113; in 1667 to 55,155; :n 1667 11,000 are said to have died of plague out of the total population. At the end of the rule of the knights (1798) the population was estimated at roo,000; sickness, famine and emigration during the blockade of the French in Valletta probably reduced the inhabitants to 80,000. In 1829 the population was 114,236; in 1836, 119,878 (inclusive of the garrison); in 18 73, 1 45, 60 5; at the census in 1901 the civil population was 184,742. Sanitation decreases the death-rate, religion keeps up the birth-rate. Nothing is done to promote emigration or to introduce manufactures.
Table of contents

Towns and Villages

The capital is named after its founder, the Grand Master de la Valette, but from its foundation it has been called Valletta (pop. 1901, 24,685); it contains the palace of the Grand Masters, the magnificent Auberges of the several " Langues " of the Order, the unique cathedral of St John with the tombs of the Knights and magnificent tapestries and marble work; a fine opera house and hospital are conspicuous. Between the inner fortifications of Valletta and the outer works, across the neck of the peninsula, is the suburb of Floriana (pop. 7278). To the southeast of Valletta, at the other side of the Grand Harbour, are the cities of Senglea (pop. 8093), Vittoriosa (pop. 8 993); and Cospicua (pop. 12,184); this group is often spoken of as " The Three Cities." The old capital, near the centre of the island is variously called Notabile, Citta Vecchia, and Medina, with its suburb Rabat, its population in 1901 was 7515; here are the catacombs and the ancient cathedral of Malta. Across the Marsamuscetto Harbour of Valletta is a considerable modern town called Sliema. The villages of Malta are Mellieha, StPaul's Bay, Musta, Birchircara, Lia, Atterd, Balzan, Naxaro, Gargur, Misida, S. Julian's, S. Giuseppe, Dingli, Zebbug, Siggieui, Curmi, Luca, Tarxein, Zurrico, Crendi, Micabbiba, Circop, Zabbar, Asciak, Zeitun, Gudia and Marsa Scirocco. The chief town of Gozo is called Victoria, and there are several small villages.

Industry and Trade

The area under cultivation in 1906 was 41,534 acres. As a rule the tillers of the soil live away from their lands, in some neighbouring village. The fields are small and composed of terraces by which the soil has been walled up along the contours of the hills, with enormous labour, to save it from being washed away. Viewed from the sea, the top of one wall just appearing above the next produces a barren effect; but the aspect of the land from a hill in early spring is a beautiful contrast of luxuriant verdure. It is estimated that there are about io,000 small holdings averaging about four acres and intensely cultivated. The grain crops are maize, wheat and barley; the two latter are frequently sown together. In 1906, 13,000 acres produced 17,975 quarters of wheat and 12,000 quarters of barley. The principal fodder crops are green barley and a tall clover called " sulla " (Hedysarum coronarum), having a beautiful purple blossom. Vegetables of all sorts are easily grown, and a rotation of these is raised on land irrigated from wells and springs. Potatoes and onions are grown for exportation at seasons when they are scarce in northern Europe. The rent of average land is about £2 an acre, of very good land over £3; favoured spots, irrigated from running springs, are worth up to £12 an acre. .Two, and often three, crops are raised in the year; on irrigated land more than twice as many croppings are possible.^ Where a person is entitled to exercise an option as to which of two or more laws shall apply in his case,- the law for which he opts shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be more favourable to him than the other law or laws.
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^ Provided that the life of Parliament shall not be extended under this subsection for more than five years.
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^ At any time when Malta is at war, Parliament may from time to time extend the period of five years specified in subsection (2) of this section for not more than twelve months at a time .
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The presence of phosphates accounts for the fertility of a shallow soil. .There is a considerable area under vines, but it is generally more profitable to sell the fruit as grapes than to convert it into wine.^ Provided that the life of Parliament shall not be extended under this subsection for more than five years.
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^ Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Constitution, a person shall not be entitled to be registered as a citizen of Malta more than once under the same provision of this Constitution.
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Some of the best oranges in the world are grown, and exported; but sufficient care is not taken to keep down insect pests, and to replace old trees. Figs, apricots, nectarines and peaches grow to perfection. Some cotton is raised as a rotation crop, but no care is taken to improve the quality. The caroub tree and the prickly pear are extensively cultivated. There are exceptionally fine breeds of cattle, asses and goats; cows of a large and very powerful build are used for ploughing. The supply of butchers' meat has to be kept up by constant importations. More than two-thirds of the wheat comes from abroad; fish, vegetables and fruit are also imported from Sicily in considerable quantities. Excellent honey is produced in Malta; at certain seasons tunny-fish and young dolphin (lampuca) are abundant; other varieties of fish are caught all the year round.
About 5000 women and children are engaged in producing Maltese lace. The weaving of cotton by hand-looms survives as a languishing industry. Pottery is manufactured on a small scale; ornamental carvings are made in Maltese stone and exported to a limited extent. The principal resources of Malta are derived from its being an important military station and the headquarters of the Mediterranean fleet. There are great naval docks, refitting yards, magazines and stores on the south-east side of the Grand Harbour; small vessels of war have also been built here. Steamers of several lines call regularly, and there is a daily mail to Syracuse. The shipping cleared in1905-1906was 3524 vessels of 3,718,168 tons. Internal communications include a railway about eight miles long from Valletta to Notabile; there are electric tramways and motor omnibus services in-several directions. The currency is English. Local weights and measures include the cantar, 175 lb; salm, one imperial quarter; cafiso, 42 gallons; canna, 6 ft. 102 in.; the tumolo (256 sq. ca.), about a third of an acre.
The principal exports of local produce are potatoes, cumin seed, vegetables, oranges, goats and sheep, cotton goods and stone.
To keep alive, in a fair standard of comfort, the population of 206,690, food supplies have to be imported for nine and a half months in the year. The annual value of exports would be set off against imported food for about one month and a half. The Maltese have to pay for food imports by imperial wages, earned' in connexion with naval and military services, by commercial services to passing steamers and visitors, by earnings which emigrants send home from northern Africa and elsewhere, and by interest on investments of Maltese capital abroad. A long absence of the Mediterranean fleet, and withdrawals of imperial forces, produce immediate distress.


The financial position in1906-1907is indicated by the following: Public revenue £513,594 (including £51,039 carried to revenue from capital); expenditure £446,849; imports (actual), I,219,819; imports in transit, £5,876,981; exports (actual), £123,510; exports in transit £6,127,277; imports from the United Kingdom (actual), £218,461. In March 1907 there were 8159 depositors in the government savings bank, with £569,731 to their credit.


Malta is a crown colony, within the jurisdiction of a high commissioner and a commander-in-chief, to whom important questions of policy are reserved; in other matters the administration is under a military governor (£3000), assisted by a civil lieutenant-governor or chief secretary. .There is an executive council, now comprising eleven members with the governor as president.^ There shall be a Commission for the Administration of Justice which shall consist of the President, who shall be the Chairman, and nine other members as follows: .
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.The legislative council, under letters patent of the 3rd of June 1903, is composed of the governor (president), ten official members, and eight elected members.^ Parliament, a member of any council, board, panel, committee or other similar body established by or under any law.
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There are eight electoral districts with a total of about io,000 electors. A voter is qualified on an income from property of £6, or by paying rent to the same amount, or having the qualifications required to serve as a common juror. There are no municipal institutions. Letters patent, orders in council, and local ordinances have the force of law. The laws of Justinian are still the basis of the common law, the Code of Rohan is not altogether abrogated, and considerable weight is still given to the Roman Canon Law. .The principal provisions of the Napoleonic Code and some English enactments have been copied in a series of ordinances forming the Statute Law.^ Constitution and (in so far as it forms part of the law of Malta) any of the provisions of the Malta Independence Act, 1964.
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.Latin was the language of the courts till 1784, and was not ceppletely supplanted by Italian till 1815. The partial use of English (with illogical limitations to the detriment of the Maltese-born British subjects who speak English) was introduced by local ordinances and orders in council at the end of the 19th century.^ The language of the courts shall be the Maltese language: .
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^ The Maltese and the English languages and such other language as may be prescribed by Parliament (by a law passed by not less than two-thirds of all the members of the House of Representatives) shall be the official languages of Malta and the Administration may for all official purposes use any of such languages: .
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^ Provided that Parliament may make such provision for the use of the English language in such cases and under such conditions as it may prescribe.
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The Maltese, of whom 86% cannot understand Italian, are still liable to be tried, even for their lives, in Italian, to them a foreign language. The endeavour to restrict juries to those who understand Italian reveals glaring incongruities.


There were, in 1906, 98 elementary day schools, and 33 night schools. The attendance on the 1st of September 1905 was 16,530, the percentage on those enrolled 84.6; the total enrolment was 18,719. The average cost per pupil in these schools was 35 s. 11d. a year on daily attendance. There is a secondary school for girls in Valletta, and one for boys in Gozo. A lyceum in Malta had an average attendance of 464. The number of students at the university was about 150. The average cost per student in the lyceum was 8, os. 'Id.; in the university X26, los. id. The fees in these institutions are almost nominal, the middle-classes are thus educated at the expense of the masses. In the 18th century the government of the Knights and of the Inquisition did not favour the education of the people, after 1800 British governors were slow to make any substantial change. About the middle of the 19th century it began to be recognized that the education of the people was more conducive to the safety of the fortress than to leave in ignorance congested masses of southern race liable to be swayed spasmodically by prejudice. At first an attempt was made to make Maltese a literary language by adapting the Arabic characters to record it in print. .This failed for several reasons, the foremost being that the language was not Arabic but Phoenician, and because professors and teachers, whose personal ascendancy was based on the official prominence of Italian, did not realize that educational institutions existed for the rising generation rather than to provide salaries for alien teachers and men behind the times.^ House of Representatives by or under any law for the time being in force in Malta by reason of his having been convicted of any offence connected with the election of members of the House of Representatives.
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^ Provided that any person may address the Administration in any of the official languages and the reply of the Administration thereto shall be in such language.
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^ The House of Representatives shall meet not later than two months after the publication of the official result of any general election by the Electoral Commission on a day appointed by the .
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.Various educational schemes were proposed, but they were easier to propose than to carry into effect: no one, except Mr Savona, had the ability to urge English as the basis of instruction, and he agitated and was installed as director of education and made a member of the Executive.^ No property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of, and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsorily acquired, except where provision is made by a law applicable to that taking of possession or acquisition.
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^ Except by a bill for an Act of Parliament passed in the manner specified in subsection (2) of section 66 of this Constitution, no alteration in any law shall be made -- .
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The obstruction which he encountered alarmed him, and he compromised by adopting a mixed system of both English and Italian, pan: passu, as the basis of Maltese education; he resigned after a brief effort. .Mr Savona's attempt to teach the Maltese children simultaneously two foreign languages (of which they were quite ignorant, and their teachers only partially conversant) without first teaching how to read and write the native Maltese systematically was continued for some years under an eminent archaeologist, Dr A. A. Caruana, who became Director of Education.^ Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, Parliament, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date of its first sitting after any dissolution and shall then stand dissolved.
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^ August 1989, and who was on the effective date of his adoption under the age of ten years, shall be construed as a reference to the adopters; .
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^ Every person who is a British subject without citizenship under the British Nationality Act, 1948 or who continues to be a British subject under section 2 of that Act shall by virtue of that status have the status of a Commonwealth citizen.
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He began to give some preference to English indirectly. On his resignation Sir G. Strickland established a new system of education based on the principle of beginning from the bottom, by teaching to read and write in Maltese as the medium for assimilating, at a further stage, either English or Italian, one at a time, and aiming at imparting general knowledge in colloquial English. A series of school books, in the Maltese language printed in Roman characters, with translations in English interlined in different type, was produced at the government printing office and sold at cost price. The parents and guardians were called upon to select whether each child should learn English or Italian next after learning reading, writing and arithmetic in Maltese. About 89% recorded their preference in favour of English at the outset; then, as a result of violent political agitation, this percentage was considerably lowered, but soon crept up again. Teachers and professors who were weak in English, lawyers, newspaper men and others, combined to deprive these reforms of their legitimate consequence, viz. that after a number of years .English should be the language of the courts as well as of education, and to protect those belonging to the old order of knowledge from the competition of young Maltese better educated than themselves, whose rapid rise everywhere would be assured by knowing English thoroughly.^ The language of the courts shall be the Maltese language: .
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^ The Maltese and the English languages and such other language as may be prescribed by Parliament (by a law passed by not less than two-thirds of all the members of the House of Representatives) shall be the official languages of Malta and the Administration may for all official purposes use any of such languages: .
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.An order in council was enacted in 1899 providing that no Maltese (except students of theology) should thenceforth suffer any detriment through inability to pass examinations in Italian, in either the schools or university, but the fraction of the Maltese who claim to speak Italian (13.24%) still command sufficient influence to hamper the full enjoyment of this emancipation by the majority.^ Except by a bill for an Act of Parliament passed in the manner specified in subsection (2) of section 66 of this Constitution, no alteration in any law shall be made -- .
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In the university most of the textbooks used are English, nevertheless many of the lectures are still delivered in Italian - for the convenience of some professors or to please the politicians, rather than for the benefit of the students. The number of students who enter the university without passing any examination in Italian is rapidly increasing; the longer the period of transition, the greater the detriment to the rising generation.

History and Antiquities

.The earliest inhabitants of Malta (Melita) and Gozo (Gaulos) belonged to a culture-circle which included the whole of the western Mediterranean, and to a race which perhaps originated from North Africa; and it is they, and not the Phoenicians, who were the builders of the remarkable megalithic monuments which these islands contain, the Gigantia in Gozo, Hagiar Kim and Mnaidra near Crendi, the rock-cut hypogeum of Halsaflieni,' and the megalithic buildings on the hill of Corradino in Malta, being the most noteworthy.^ "Malta" means the Island of Malta, the Island of Gozo and the other island of the Maltese Archipelago, including the territorial waters thereof; .
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The contemporaneity of these structures has been demonstrated by the identity of the pottery and other objects discovered in them, including some remarkable steatopygic figures in stone, and it is clear that they belong to the neolithic period, numerous flints, but no metal, having been found. .Those that have been mentioned seem to have been sanctuaries (some of them in part dwelling-places), but Halsaflieni was an enormous ossuary, of which others may have existed in other parts of the island; for the numerous rock-cut tombs which are everywhere to be seen belong to the Phoenician and Roman periods.^ Malta as to the interpretation of this Constitution other than those which may fall under section 46 of this Constitution; .
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^ Malta on questions as to the validity of laws other than those which may fall under section 46 of this Constitution; and .
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^ Provided that provision may be made by law whereby, if a person is unable, by reason of blindness, other physical cause or illiteracy to mark on his ballot paper, his ballot paper may be marked on his behalf and on his directions by some other person officially supervising the poll at the place of voting.
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In these buildings there is a great preference for apsidal terminations to the internal chambers, and the façades are as a rule slightly curved. The numerous niches, generally containing sacrificial (?) tables, 2 are often approached by window-like openings hewn out of one of the flat slabs by which they are enclosed. The surface of the stones in the interior is often pitted, as a form of ornamentation. Even the barren islet of Comino, between Malta and Gozo, was inhabited in prehistoric times.
To the Phoenician period, besides the tombs already mentioned, belong some remains of houses and cisterns, and (probably) a few round towers which are scattered about the island, while the important Roman house at Cittavecchia is the finest monument of this period in the islands.
The Carthaginians came to Malta in the 6th century B.C., not as conquerors, but as friends of a sister Phoenician colony (Freeman, Hist. Sicily, i. 255): Carthage in her struggle with Rome was at last driven to levy oppressive tribute, whereupon the Maltese gave up the Punic garrison to Titus Sempronius under circumstances described by Livy (xxi. 51). The Romans did not treat the Maltese as conquered enemies, and at once gave them the privileges of a municipium; Cicero (in Verrem) refers to the Maltese as " Socii." Nothing was to be gained by displacing the Phoenician inhabitants in a country from which any race less thrifty would find life impossible by agriculture. .On the strength of a monument bearing his name, it has been surmised that Hannibal was born in Malta, while his father was governor-general of Sicily; he certainly did not die in Malta.^ Constitution in relation to a person born outside Malta whose father at the date of that person's birth is a citizen of Malta by virtue of subsection (l) of section 22 or subsection (1) of section 25 of this Constitution: .
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There is evidence from Cicero (in Verrem) that a very high stage of manufacturing and commercial prosperity, attained in 1 See T. Zammit, The Halsaflieni prehistoric hypogeum at Casal Paula, Malta (Malta, 1910).
2 Sometimes the pillar which represents the baetylus, which seems to have been the object of worship (see A. J. Evans in Journal of Hellenic Studies, xxi., 1901) stands free sometimes it serves as support to the table stone which covers the niche, and sometimes again monolithic tables occur. Conical stones (possibly themselves baetyli) are also found.
.Carthaginian times, continued in Malta under the Romans.^ House of Representatives by or under any law for the time being in force in Malta by reason of his having been convicted of any offence connected with the election of members of the House of Representatives.
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^ Any reference to the Constitutional Court under either subsection (4) or subsection (5) of this section shall be made and shall be determined by that Court in accordance with any law for the time being in force in Malta.
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^ Government of Malta and the accounts of other public authorities and other bodies administering public funds in Malta as may be prescribed by or under any law for the time being in force in Malta; or .
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The Phoenician temple of Juno, which stood on the site of Fort St Angelo, is also mentioned by Valerius Maximus. An inscription records the restoration of the temple of Proserpine by Cheriston, a freed-man of Augustus and procurator of Malta. Diodorus Siculus (L. V., c. 4) speaks of the importance and ornamentation of Maltese dwellings, and to this day remains of palaces and dwellings of the Roman period indicate a high degree of civilization and wealth. When forced to select a place of exile, Cicero was at first (ad Att. III. 4, X. i. 8, 9) attracted to Malta, over which he had ruled as quaestor A.D. 75. Among his Maltese friends were Aulus Licinius and Diodorus. Lucius Castricius is mentioned as a Roman governor under Augustus. Publius was " chief of the island " when St Paul was shipwrecked (Acts xxvii. 7); and is said to have become the first Christian bishop of Malta. The site where the cathedral at Notabile now stands is reputed to have been the residence of Publius and to have been converted by him into the first Christian place of worship, which was rebuilt in 1090 by Count Roger, the Norman conqueror of Malta. The Maltese catacombs are strikingly similar to those of Rome, and were likewise used as places of burial and of refuge in time of persecution. They contain clear indication of the interment of martyrs. .St Paul's Bay was the site of shipwreck of the apostle in A.D. 58; the " topon diathalasson " referred to in Acts is the strait between Malta and the islet of Selmun.^ Constitution or of the Malta Independence Act, 1964 include references to any law that amends or replaces that provision; and .
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^ Constitution or of the Malta Independence Act, 1964 include references to the amendment, modification or re-enactment, with or without amendment or modification, of that provision, the suspension or repeal of that provision and the making of a different provision in lieu of that provision.
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

The claim that St Paul was shipwrecked at Meleda off the Dalmatian coast, and not at Malta, has been clearly set at rest, on nautical grounds, by Mr Smith of Jordanhill (Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul, London, 1848). According to tradition and to St Chrysostom (Horn. 54) the stay of the apostle resulted in the conversion of the Maltese to Christianity. The description of the islanders in Acts as " barbaroi " confirms the testimony of Diodorus Siculus that they were Phoenicians, neither hellenized nor romanized. The bishopric of Malta is referred to by Rocco Pirro (Sicilia sacra), and by Gregory the Great (Epist. 2, 44; 9, 63; 10, 1). It appears that Malta was not materially affected by the Greek schism, and remained subject to Rome.
On the final division of the Roman dominions in A. D. 395 Malta was assigned to the empire of Constantinople. On the third Arab invasion, A. D. 870, the Maltese joined forces against the Byzantine garrison, and 3000 Greeks were massacred. Unable to garrison the island with a large force, the Arabs cleared a zone between the central stronghold, Medina, and the suburb called Rabat, to restrict the fortified area. Many Arab coins, some Kufic inscriptions and several burial-places were left by the Arabs; but they did not establish their religion or leave a permanent impression on the Phoenician inhabitants, or deprive the Maltese language of the characteristics which differentiate it from Arabic. There is no historical evidence that the domination of the Goths and Vandals in the Mediterranean ever extended to Malta: there are fine Gothic arches in two old palaces at Notabile, but these were built after the Norman conquest of Malta. In 1090 Count Roger the Norman (son of Tancred de Hauteville), then master of Sicily, came to Malta with a small retinue; the Arab garrison was unable to offer effective opposition, and the Maltese were willing and able to welcome the Normans as deliverers and to hold the island after the immediate withdrawal of Count Roger. .A bishop of Malta was witness to a document in 1090. The Phoenician population had continued Christian during the mild Arab rule.^ Malta and has during the eighteen months immediately preceding his registration been a resident for a continuous period of six months or for periods amounting in the aggregate to six months: .
  • Chapter I The Republic of Malta 20 September 2009 11:58 UTC [Source type: Original source]

Under the Normans the power of the Roman Church quickly augmented, tithes were granted, and ecclesiastical buildings erected and endowed. The Normans, like the Arabs, were not numerically strong; the rule of both, in Sicily as well as Malta, was based on a recognition of municipal institutions under local officials; the Normans, however, exterminated the Mahommedans. Gradually feudal customs asserted themselves. In 1193 Margarito Brundusio received Malta as a fief with the title of count; he was Grand Admiral of Sicily. Constance, wife of the emperor Henry IV. of Germany became, in 1194, heiress of Sicily and Malta; she was the last of the Norman dynasty. The Grand Admiral of Sicily in 1223 was Henry, count of Malta. He had led 300 Maltese at the capture of two forts in Tripoli by the Genoese. In 1265 Pope Alexander IV. conferred the crown of Sicily on Charles of Anjou to the detriment of Manfred, from whom the French won the kingdom at the battle of Benevento. Under the will of Corradino a representative of the blood of Roger the Norman, Peter of Aragon claimed the succession, and it came to him by the revolution known as " the Sicilian Vespers " when 28,000 French were exterminated in Sicily. Charles held Malta for two years longer, when the Aragonese fleet met the French off Malta, and finally crushed them in the Grand Harbour. In 1427 the Turks raided Malta and Gozo, they carried many of the inhabitants into captivity, but gained no foothold. The Maltese joined the Spaniards in a disastrous raid against Gerbi on the African coast in 1432. In 1492 the Aragonese expelled the Jews. Dissatisfaction arose under Aragonese rule from the periodical grants of Malta, as a marquisate or countship, to great officers of state or illegitimate descendants of the sovereign. Exemption was obtained from these incidences of feudalism by large payments to the Crown in return for charters covenanting that Malta should for ever be administered under the royal exchequer without the intervention of intermediary feudal lords. This compact was twice broken, and in 1428 the Maltese paid King Alfonso 30,000 florins for a confirmation of privileges, with a proviso that entitled them to resist by force of arms any intermediate lord that his successors might attempt to impose. Under the Aragonese, Malta, as regards local affairs, was administered bya Universitd or municipal commonwealth with wide and indefinite powers, including the election of its officers, Capitan di Verga, Jurats, &c. The minutes of the " Consiglio Popolare " of this period are preserved, showing it had no legislative power; this was vested in the king, and was exercised despotically in the interests of the Crown. The knights of St John having been driven from Rhodes by the Turks, obtained the grant of Malta, Gozo and Tripoli in 1530 from the emperor Charles V., subject to a reversion in favour of the emperor's successor in the kingdom of Aragon should the knights leave Malta, and to the annual tribute of a falcon in acknowledgment that Malta was under the suzerainty of Spain. The Maltese, at first, challenged the grant as a breach of the charter of King Alfonso, but eventually welcomed the knights. The Grand Master de 1'Isle Adam, on entering the ancient capital of Notabile, swore for himself and his successors to maintain the rights and liberties of the Maltese. The Order of St John took up its abode on the promontory guarded by the castle of St Angelo on the southern shore of the Grand Harbour, and, in expectation of attacks from the Turks, commenced to fortify the neighbouring town called the Borgo. The knights lived apart from the Maltese, and derived their principal revenues from estates of the Order in the richest countries of Europe. They accumulated wealth by war, or by privateering against the Turks and their allies. The African Arabs under Selim Pasha in 1551 ravaged Gozo, after an unsuccessful attempt on Malta, repulsed by cavalry under Upton, an English knight. The Order of St John and the Christian Maltese now realized that an attempt to exterminate them would soon be made by Soliman II., and careful preparations were made to meet the attack.
The great siege of Malta which made the island and its knights famous, and checked the advance of Mahommedan power in southern and western Europe, began in May 1565. The fighting men of the defenders are variously recorded between 6100 and 9121; the roll comprises one English knight, Oliver Starkey. The Mahommedan forces were estimated from 29,000 to 38,500. Jehan Parisot de la Valette had participated in the defence of Rhodes, and in many naval engagements. He had been taken prisoner by Dragut, who made him row for a year as a galley slave till ransomed. This Grand Master had gained the confidence of Philip of Spain, the friendship of the viceroy of Sicily, of the pope and of the Genoese admiral, Doria. The Sultan placed his troops under the veteran Mustapha, and his galleys under his youthful relative Piali, he hesitated to make either supreme and ordered them to await the arrival of Dragut with his Algerian allies, before deciding on their final plans. Meanwhile, against Mustapha's better judgment, Piali induced the council of war to attack St Elmo, in order to open the way for his fleet to an anchorage, safe in all weathers, in Marsamuscetto harbour. This strategical blunder was turned to the best advantage by La Valette, who so prolonged the most heroic defence of. St Elmo that the Turks lost 7000 killed and as many wounded before exterminating the 1200 defenders, who fill at their post. In the interval Dragut was mortally wounded, the attack on Notabile was neglected, valuable time lost, and the main objective (the Borgo) and St Angelo left intact. The subsequent siege of St Angelo, and its supporting fortifications, was marked by the greatest bravery on both sides. The knights and their Maltese troops fought for death or victory, without asking or giving quarter. The Grand Master proved as wise a leader as he was brave. By September food and ammunition were getting scarce, a large relieving force was expected from Sicily, and Piali became restive, on the approach of the equinox, for the safety of his galleys. At last the viceroy of Sicily, who had the Spanish and allied fleets at his disposal, was spurred to action by his council. He timidly landed about 6000 or 8000 troops at the north-west of Malta and withdrew. The Turks began a hurried embarcation and allowed the Christians to join forces at Notabile; then, hearing less alarming particulars of the relieving force, Mustapha relanded his reluctant troops, faced his enemies in the open, and was driven in confusion to his ships on the 8th of September.
The Order thus reached the highest pinnacle of its fame, and new knights flocked to be enrolled therein from the flower of the nobility of Europe; La Valette refused a cardinal's hat, determined not to impair his independence. He made his name immortal by founding on Mt Sceberras " a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen " and making Valletta a magnificent example of fortification, unrivalled in the world. The pope and other sovereigns donated vast sums for this new bulwark of Christianity, but, as its ramparts grew in strength, the knights were slow to seek the enemy in his own waters, and became false to their traditional strategy as a naval power. Nevertheless, they harassed Turkish commerce and made booty in minor engagements throughout the 16th and 18th centuries, and they took part as an allied Christian power in the great victory of Lepanto. With the growth of wealth and security the martial spirit of the Order began to wane, and so also did its friendly relations with the Maltese. The field for recruiting its members, as well as its landed estates, became restricted by the Reformation in England and Germany, and the French knights gradually gained a preponderance which upset the international equilibrium of the Order. The election of elderly Grand Masters became prevalent, the turmoil and chances of frequent elections being acceptable to younger members. The civil government became neglected and disorganized, licentiousness increased, and riots began to be threatening. Expenditure on costly buildings was almost ceaseless, and kept the people alive. In 1614 the Vignacourt aqueduct was constructed. The Jesuits established a university, but they were expelled and their property confiscated in 1768. British ships of war visited Malta in 1675, and in 1688 a fleet under the duke of Grafton came to Valletta. The fortifications of the " Three Cities " were greatly strengthened under the Grand Master Cotoner.
In 1722 the Turkish prisoners and slaves, then very numerous, formed a conspiracy to rise and seize the island.. Premature discovery was followed by prompt suppression. Castle St Angelo and the fort of St James were, in 1775, surprised by rebels, clamouring against bad government; this rising is known as the Rebellion of the Priests, from its leader, Mannarino. The last but one of the Grand Masters who reigned in Malta, de Rohan, restored good government, abated abuses and promulgated a code of laws; but the ascendancy acquired by the Inquisition over the Order, the confiscation of the property of the knights in France on the outbreak of the Revolution, and the intrigues of the French made the task of regenerating the Order evidently hopeless in the changed conditions of Christendom. On the death of Rohan the French knights disagreed as to the selection of his successor, and a minority were able to elect, in 1797, a German of weak character, Ferdinand Hompesch, as the last Grand Master to rule in Malta. Bonaparte had arranged to obtain Malta by treachery, and he took possession without resistance in June 1798; after a stay of six days he proceeded with the bulk of his forces to Egypt, leaving General Vaubois with 6000 troops to hold Valletta. The exiled knights made an attempt to reconstruct themselves under the emperor Paul of Russia, but finally the Catholic parent stem of the Order settled in Rome and continues there under papal auspices. It still comprises members who take vows of celibacy and prove the requisite number of quarterings.
Towards the close of the rule of the knights in Malta feudal institutions had been shaken to their foundations, but the transition to republican rule was too sudden and extreme for the people to accept it. The French plundered the churches, abolished monks, nuns and nobles, and set up forthwith the ways and doings of the French Revolution. Among other laws Bonaparte enacted that French should at once be the official language, that 30 young men should every year be sent to France for their education; that all foreign monks be expelled, that no new priests be ordained before employment could be found for those existing; that ecclesiastical jurisdiction should cease; that neither the bishop nor the priests could charge fees for sacramental ministrations, &c. Stoppage of trade, absence of work (in a population of which more than half had been living on foreign revenues of the knights), and famine, followed the defeat of Bonaparte at the Nile, and the failure of his plans to make Malta a centre of French trade. An attempt to seize church valuables at Notabile was forcibly resisted by the Maltese, and general discontent broke out into open rebellion on the 2nd of September 1798. The French soon discovered to their dismay that, from behind the rubble walls of every field, the agile Maltese were unassailable. The prospect of an English blockade of Malta encouraged the revolt, of which Canon Caruana became the leader. Nelson was appealed to, and with the aid of Portuguese allies he established a blockade and deputed Captain Ball, R. N. (afterwards the first governor) to assume, on the 9th of February 1799, the provisional administration of Malta and to superintend operations on land. Nelson recognized the movement in Malta as a successful revolution against the French, and upheld the contention that the king of Sicily (as successor to Charles V. in That part of the former kingdom of Aragon) was the legitimate sovereign of Malta. British troops were landed to assist in the siege; few lives were lost in actual combat, nevertheless famine and sickness killed thousands of the inhabitants, and finally forced the French to surrender to the allies. Canon Caruana and other leaders of the Maltese aspired to obtain for Malta the freedom of the Roman Catholic religion guaranteed by England in Canada and other dependencies, and promoted a petition in order that Malta should come under the strong power of England rather than revert to the kingdom of the two Sicilies.
The Treaty of Amiens (1802) provided for the restoration of the island to the Order of St John; against this the Maltese strongly protested, realizing that it would be followed by the re-establishment of French influence. The English flag was flown side by side with the Neapolitan, and England actually renewed war with France sooner than give up Malta. The Treaty of Paris (1814), with the acclamations of the Maltese, confirmed Great Britain in the aggregation of Malta to the empire.
A period elapsed before the government of Malta again became self-supporting, during which over £600,000 was contributed by the British exchequer in aid of revenue, and for the importation of food-stuffs. The restoration of Church property, the re-establishment of law and administration on lines to which the people were accustomed before the French invasion, and the claiming for the Crown of the vast landed property of the knights, were the first cares of British civil rule. As successor to the Order, the Crown claimed and eventually established (by the negotiations in Rome of Sir Frederick Hankey, Sir Gerald Strickland and Sir Lintorn Simmons) with regard to the presentation of the bishopric (worth about £4000 a year) the right to veto the appointment of distasteful candidates. This right was exercised to secure the nomination of Canon Caruana and later of Monsignor Pace. When the pledge, given by the Treaty of Amiens, to restore the Order of St John with a national Maltese "langue," could not be fulfilled, political leaders began demanding instead the re-establishment of the " Consiglio Popolare " of Norman times (without reflecting that it never had legislative power); but by degrees popular aspirations developed in favour of a free constitution on English lines. The British authorities steadily maintained that, at least until the mass of the people became educated, representative institutions would merely screen irresponsible oligarchies. After the Treaty of Paris stability of government developed, and many important reforms were introduced under the strong government of the masterful Sir Thomas Maitland; he acted promptly, without seeking popularity or fearing the reverse, and he ultimately gained more real respect than any other governor, not excepting the marquess of Hastings, who was a brilliant and sympathetic administrator. Trial by jury for criminal cases was established in 1829. A council of government, of which the members were nominated, was constituted by letters patent in 1835, but this measure only increased the agitation for a representative legislature. Freedom of the press and many salutary innovations were brought about on a report of John Austin and G. C. Lewis, royal commissioners, appointed in 1836. The basis of taxation was widened, sinecures abolished, schools opened in the country districts, legal procedure simplified, and Police established on an English footing. Queen Adelaide vistied Malta in 1838 and founded the Anglican collegiate church of St Paul. Sir F. Hankey as chief secretary was for many years the principal official of the civil administration. In 1847 Mr R. Moore O'Ferrall was appointed civil governor. In June 1849 the constitution of the council was altered to comprise ten nominated and eight elected members.
The revolutions in Italy caused about this time many, including Crispi and some of the most intellectual Italians, to take refuge in Malta. These foreigners introduced new life into politics and the press, and made it fashionable for educated Maltese to delude themselves with the idea that the Maltese were Italians, because a few of them could speak the language of the peninsula. A clerical reaction followed against new progressive ideas and English methods of development. After much unreasoning vituperation the Irish Catholic civil governor, who had arrived amidst the acclamations of all, left his post in disgust. His successor as civil governor was Sir W. Reid, who had formerly held military command. His determined attempts to promote education met with intense opposition and little success. At this period the Crimean War brought great wealth and commercial prosperity to Malta. Under Sir G. Le Marchant, in 1858, the nominal rule of military governors was re-established, but the civil administration was largely confided to Sir Victor Houlton as chief secretary, whilst the real power began to be concentrated in the hands of Sir A. Dingli, the Crown advocate, who was the interpreter of the law, and largely its maker, as well as the principal depository of local knowledge, able to prevent the preferment of rivals, and to countenance the barrier which difference of language created between governors and governed. The civil service gravitated into the hands of a clique. At this period much money was spent on the Marsa extension of the Grand Harbour, but the rapid increase in the size of steamships made the scheme inadequate, and limited its value prematurely. The military defences were entirely remodelled under Sir G. Le Marchant, and considerable municipal improvements and embellishments were completed. But this governor was obstructed and misrepresented by local politicians as vehemently as his predecessors and his successors. Ministers at home have of ten appeared to be inclined to the policy of pleasing by avoiding the reforming of what might be left as it was found. Sir A. Dingli adapted a considerable portion of the Napoleonic Code in a series of Malta Ordinances, but stopped short at points likely to cause agitation. Sir P. Julyan was appointed royal commis sioner on the civil establishments, and Sir P. Keenan on education; their work revived the reform movement in 1881. Mr Savona led an agitation for a more sincere system of education on English lines. Fierce opposition ensued, and the pari passu compromise was adopted to which reference is made in the section on Education above; Mr Savona was an able organizer, and began the real emancipation of the Maltese masses from educational ignorance; but he succumbed to agitation before accomplishing substantial results.
An executive council was established in 1881, and the franchise was extended in 1883. A quarter of a century of Sir Victor Houlton's policy of laissez-faire was changed in 1883 by the appointment of Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson as chief secretary. An attempt was made to utilize fully the abilities of this eminent administrator by creating him civil lieutenant-governor, in whom to concentrate both the real and the nominal power of detailed administration; but the military authorities objected to his corresponding directly with the Colonial Office; and a political deadlock began to develop. Sir A. Dingli was transferred from an administrative office to that of chief justice. With the continuance of military power over details, the public could not understand where responsibility really rested. The elected members under the leadership of Dr Mizzi clamoured for more power, opposed reforms and protested against the carrying of government measures by the casting vote of a military governor as president of the council. To force a crisis, abstention of elected members from the council was resorted to, together with the election of notoriously unfit candidates. Under these circumstances a constitution of a more severe type was recommended by those responsible for the government of Malta and was about to be adopted, as the only alternative to a deadlock, by the imperial authorities.
A regulation excluding Maltese from the navy (because of their speaking on board a language that their officers did not understand) provoked from Trinity College, Cambridge, the Strickland correspondence in The Times on the constitutional rights of the Maltese, and a leading article induced the Colonial Office to try an experiment known as the Strickland-Mizzi Constitution of 1887. This constitution (abolished in 1903) ended a period of government by presidential casting votes and official ascendancy. For the first time the elected members were placed in a majority; they were given three seats in the executive council; in local questions the government had to make every effort to carry the majority by persuasion. When persuasion failed and imperial interests, or the rights of unrepresented minorities, were involved the power of the Crown to legislate by order in council could be (and was) freely used. This system had the merit of counteracting any abuse of power by the bureaucracy. It brought to bear on officials effective criticism, which made them alert and hard-working. Governor Simmons eventually gave his support to the new constitution, which was received with acclamation. Strickland, who had been elected while an undergraduate on the cry of equality of rights for Maltese and English, and Mizzi, the leader of the anti-English agitation, were, as soon as elected, given seats in the executive council to co-operate with the government; but their aims were irreconcilable. Mizzi wanted to undo the educational forms of Mr Savona, to ensure the predominance of the Italian language and to work the council as a caucus. Strickland desired to replace bureaucratic government by a system more in touch with the independent gentlemen of the country, and to introduce English ideas and precedents. Friction soon arose. Mizzi cared little for a constitution that did not make him complete master of the situation, and resigned his post in the government.
Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson left Malta in March 1889, and was succeeded by Sir Gerald Strickland (Count Della Catena), who lost no time in pushing, and carrying with a rapidity that was considered hasty, reforms that had been retarded for years. The majorities behind the government began to dwindle and agitation to grow. Meanwhile the Royal Malta Militia was established as a link between the Maltese and the garrison. The police were reorganized with proper pay, criminal laws were rigorously xvIl. 17 enforced. A naval officer was placed over the police to diminish difficulties with the naval authorities and sailors. A marine force was raised to stop smuggling; and the subtraction of coal during coaling operations was stopped by drastic legislation. The civil service was reorganized so as to reward merit and work by promotion. Tenders were strictly enforced in letting government property and contracts; a largely increased revenue was applied on water supply, drainage and other works. Lepers were segregated by law.
The Malta marriage question evoked widespread agitation; Sir A. Dingli had refrained from making any provision in his code as to marrying. The Maltese relied on the Roman Canon Law, the English on the common law of England, Scots or Irish had nothing but the English law to fall back upon. Maltese authorities were ignorant of the disabilities of British Nonconformists at common law, and they had not perceived that persons with a British domicile could not evade their own laws by marrying in Malta, e.g. that an English girl up to the age of 21 required the father's or guardian's consent from which a Maltese was legally exempt at 18. Sir G. Strickland preferred legislation to the covering up of difficulties by governors' licences and appeals to incongruous precedents. Sir Lintorn Simmons was appointed envoy to the Holy See, to ascertain how far legislation might be pushed in the direction of civil marriage without justifying clerical agitation and obstruction in the council. He succeeded in coming to an agreement with Rome. Nevertheless Sir A. Dingli and ecclesiastics of all denominations, for conflicting reasons, swelled the opposition against the liberal concessions obtained from Leo XIII. The legal necessity for legislation in accordance with the agreement was, nevertheless, on a special reference, submitted to the privy council, whose decision affirmed the advisibility of legislation and the need for validating retrospectively marriages not supported by either Maltese or English common law. Agitation in the imperial parliament stopped government action, but the publicity of the finding of the privy council warned all concerned against the risk of neglecting the common law of the empire whenever they were not prepared to follow the lex loci contractus. Since the British occupation it was disputed whether the military authorities had the right to alienate for the benefit of the imperial exchequer fortress sites no longer required for defence. The reversion of such property was claimed for the local civil government, and the principles governing these rights were ultimately laid down by an order in council, which also determined military rights to restrict buildings within the range of forts. The co-operation of naval and military authorities was obtained for the construction, at imperial expense, of the breakwater designed to save Malta from being abandoned by long and deep draft modern vessels. British-born subjects were given the right to be tried in English. The new system of education (already described) was set up, and many new schools were built with funds provided by order in council against the wishes of the elected majority.
An order in council (1899) making English the language of the courts after fifteen years (by which the Maltese would have obtained the right to be tried in English) was promulgated at a time when the system of taxation was also being revised; henceforth agitation in favour of Italian and against taxation attained proportions unpleasant for those who preferred popularity to reform and progress. The elected members demanded the recall of Sir G. Strickland on his refusing to change his policy. The military governor gave way, as regards making English the language of the courts on a fixed date, but educational reforms and the imposition of new taxes (those in Malta being 2 7s. 6d. per head, against 93s. in England) were enacted by an order in council notwithstanding the agitation. Mr Mereweather was appointed chief secretary and civil lieutenant-governor in 1902, and Sir Gerald Strickland became governor and commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands. Governor Sir F. Grenfell was created a peer. Strenuous efforts were made to placate the Italian party in the administration of the educational reforms; but, as these were not repealed, elected members refused supply, and kept away from the council. Persistence in this course led to the repeal by letters-patent of 1903 of the Strickland-Mizzi Constitution of 1887. In place of occasional orders in council for important matters in urgent cases, bureaucratic government with an official majority was again, with its drawbacks, fully re-established for all local affairs great and small. The representatives of the people were repeatedly re-elected, only to resign again and again as a protest against a restricted constitution.


- Kenrick'sPhoenicia(1855); A.A.Caruana's Reports on Phoenician and Roman Antiquities in Malta (1881 and 1882); Albert Mayr, Die Inset Malta im Altertum (1909); James Smith, Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul (1866); R. Pirro, Sicilia sacra;  T. Fazello, Storia di Sicilia (1833); C. de Bazincourt, Histoire de la Sicile (1846); G. F. Abela, Malta illustrate (1772); J. Quintin, Insulae Melitae descriptio (1536); G. W. von Streitburg, Reyse nach der Inselmalta (1632); R. Gregoria, Considerazioni sopra la storia di Sicilia (1839); F. C. A. Davalos, Tableau historique de Malte  (1802); Houel, Voyage pittoresque (vol. iv., 1787); G. P. Badger, Description of Malta and Gozo (1858); G. N. Goodwin, Guide to and Natural History of Maltese Islands (1800); Whitworth Porter, History of Knights of Malta (1858); A. Bigelow, Travels in Malta and Sicily (1831); M. Miege, Histoire de Malte (1840); Parliamentary Papers, reports by Mr Rownell on Taxation and Expenditure in Malta (1878), by Sir F. Julyan on Civil Establishments (1880); and Mr Keenan on the Educational System (1880), (the last two deal with the language question); F. Vella, Maltese Grammar for the Use of the English (1831); Malta Penny Magazine (1839-1841); J. T. Mifsud, Biblioteca Maltese (1764); C. M. de Piro, Squarci di storia;  Michele Acciardi, Mustafa bascia di Rodi schiavo in Malta (1761); A. F. Freiherr, Reise nach Malta in 1830 (Vienna, 1837); B. Niderstedt, Malta vetus et nova, 1660; F. Panzavecchia, Storia dell' isola di Malta; N. W. Senior, Conversations on Egypt and Malta (1882); G. A. Vassallo, Storia di Malta (1890); H. Felsch, Reisebeschreibung  (1858); W. Hardman, Malta,1798-1815 (1909; A. Nieuterberg, Malta  (1879); Terrinoni, La Presa di Malta (1860); Azzopardi, Presa di Malta (1864); Castagna, Storia di Malta (1900); Boisredon, Ransijat, Blocus et siege de Malte (1802); Buchon, Nouvelles recherches historiques; C. Samminniateli, Zabarella, L' Assedio di Malta del 1565  (1902); Professor G. B. Mifsud, Guida al torso di Procedura Penale Maltese (1907); P. de Bono Debono, Storia della legislazione in Malta (1897); Monsignor A. Mifsud, L'Origine della sovranitcl della Grand Brettagna su Malta (1907); A. A. Caruana, Frammento critico della storia di Malta (1899); Ancient Pagan Tombs and Christian Cemeteries in the Island of Malta, Explored and Surveyed from 1881 to 1897; Strickland, Remarks and Correspondence on the Constitution of Malta (1887) 
A. Mayr, Die vorgeschichtlichen Denkmdler von Malta (1901); A. E. Caruana, Sull' origine della lingua Maltese (1896); J. C. Grech, Flora melitensis (1853); Furse, Medagliere Gerosolimitano; Pisani, Medagliere; Galizia, Church of St John; J. Murray, " The Maltese Islands, with special reference to their Geological Structure," Scottish Geog. Mag. (vol. vi., 1890); J. W. Gregory, " The Maltese Fossil Echinoidea and their evidence on the correlation of the Maltese Rocks," Trans. Roy. Soc. Edin. (vol. xxxvi., 1892); J. H. Cook, The Har Dalam Cavern, Malta, Evidences of Prehistoric Man in Malta; Collegamento geodetico delle isole maltesi con la Sicilia (1902); A. Zeri, I porti delle isole del gruppo di Malta (1906); G. F. Bonamico, Delle glossipietre di Malta (1688).
Brydone, Teonge, John Dryden jun., W. Tallack, Rev. H. Seddall, Boisgolin, Rev. W. K. Bedford, W. H. Bartlett, St Priest. Msgr. Bres, M. G. Borch, Oliver Drapper, John Davy, G. M. Letard, Taafe, Busuttil, T. MacGill, J. Quintana, have also written on Malta. For natural science see the works of Dr A. L. Adams, Professor E. Forbes, Captain Spratt, Dr G. Gulia, C. A. Wright and Wood's Tourist Flora. For the language question, see Mr Chamberlain's speech in the House of Commons, on the 28th of January 1902. Also parliamentary papers for Grievances of the Maltese Nobility, and Constitutional Changes.

<< Malt


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also malta, and Málta



Wikipedia has an article on:


From a Phoenician root מלט (mlṭ), meaning "refuge".


Proper noun

  1. A country in Europe. Official name: Republic of Malta.
  2. The largest island of the Maltese Archipelago.


Derived terms


See also


  • Anagrams of aalmt
  • tamal


Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta


Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta



Proper noun

Malta n.
  1. Malta


Estonian Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia et

Proper noun

  1. Malta (country)
  2. Malta (island)


Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

  1. Malta


Derived terms


Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta

Related terms


German Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Malta n.
  1. Malta

Derived terms


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta

Derived terms


Proper noun

  1. Malta

Related terms



Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta


Singular only
Nominative Malta
Genitive Malty
Dative Malcie
Accusative Maltę
Instrumental Maltą
Locative Malcie
Vocative Malto

Derived terms

  • Maltańczyk m., Maltanka f.
  • adjective: maltański


Proper noun

Malta f.
Malt stem
declension pattern žena
  1. Malta

Derived terms

  • maltézsky rád
  • maltský


Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta

Related terms


Proper noun

Malta f.
  1. Malta

Related terms


Proper noun

  1. Malta

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The group of Maltese islands, including Malta (91.5 sq. m.), Gozo (24 3/4 sq. m.), Comine (1 sq. m.) and a few inconsiderable islets, lies 58 miles south of Sicily and about 180 miles S.E. by E. of Cape Bon in Tunisia. Malta is the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet, and the principal coaling station in the Mediterranean. Owing to the prosperity consequent upon its important position, the island is able to support a population out of all proportion to its size. The estimated civil population of the islands was 205, 059 on 1 April, 1906. If about 18,000 be added for the garrison and the Royal Navy, we reach a total of over 223,000. Without reckoning the fluctuating population of the harbours, the density of the population in Malta itself works out at over 2000 persons per sq. mile. Of the civil population over 99% are Catholics. In 1901 there were in the civil population 696 lunatics, 418 blind, 80 lepers, 211 lawyers, and 190 doctors. In the same year the secular clergy consisted of 698 priests and 251 clerics; the regular clergy of 249 priests, 151 clerics and novices, and 140 lay brothers. There were 470 religious women including novices and lay-sisters. In Malta and Gozo there are 27 religious houses of men and 36 convents and institutes of religious women. There are about 190 schools, in which some 20,000 persons are being educated. Besides the university (about 120 students), the Lyceum (400), and 79 government elementary schools, there are 53 other government schools, 2 seminaries (312), 22 schools under religious direction, the rest under the direction of private individuals. The overflow of the population is mainly to other Mediterranean ports. In 1901, 33,948 Maltese returned as residing in countries bordering on the Mediterranean. Of these, 15,208 were in Tunis and 6984 in Egypt.
The government consists of an Executive Council of eleven members besides the governor, who is usually a distinguished general, and of a Legislative Council consisting of ten official and eight elected members. All the judges and most of the other government officials are Maltese. Italian and English are the languages of the educated in Malta. Both are taught in every school but only a small percentage of the population speak either fluently. The revenue for the year 1903-04 was £464,590, of which £274,251 came from the customs. Under this latter head the duty on imported grain amounted to £97,210. In 1879 proposals were made to reduce the grain duty, which weighs heavily on the poorer classes. Strangely enough, both the people and their representatives stoutly opposed the reduction. There is no direct taxation in Malta and strictly speaking no public debt. The higher education at the university is paid for by public tax. In 1902-3 the total expenditure under this head was £3950, of which £3674 was paid out of the treasury. In 1904, 38748 acres, i.e. 60.5 sq. miles, were under cultivation in the Maltese islands. Of these 6546 belonged to Government, 6682 to the Church and pious institutions, and 25,520 to private individuals. Wheat and barley, potatoes, cotton, and grapes form the chief produce of the land. The Maltese honey, from the superior quality of which the island was supposed to derive its name of Melita (i.e. Greek meli, gen. melitos = honey), now lives mostly on its reputation. Agriculture in Malta has been starved by trade. A peculiarly national industry is the Maltese lace, chiefly made in Gozo.


There can be no doubt that, at a very early date, Malta was colonized by the Phoenicians. Numerous megalithic and other remains, as well as inscriptions, testify to this fact. It is even probable that the Phoenicians gave the island its name, which seems to be derived from the verb "malat", "to take refuge" and to mean, therefore, "the place of refuge". It is often asserted that Malta, during the eighth century B.C., passed into the possession of the Greeks and was held by them for three centuries, but there is little evidence to support this view. It is clear, however, that the Carthaginians became masters of the island, probably in the fifth century B.C., at a time when the weaker Phoenician states united, for mutual protection, under the leadership of Carthage. It is certain, too, that Malta, about the time of the Second Punic war, though the precise date of its capture cannot be fixed (cf. Livy, xxi, 51), became a Roman possession and, after the destruction of the Roman power in the West, remained subject to the Byzantine Empire until 870. In that year the Arabs established themselves in the island where, it appears, they were, as in Sicily and elsewhere, welcomed as deliverers from the hated Byzantine yoke.
The principal and almost the only monument of the Arab dominion is said to be the Maltese language, which is Semitic and has much in common with Arabic. The weight of the best authority seems, however, to incline decidedly to the view that the present Maltese language is directly descended from the Phoenician with but little modification by the Arabic. The Arabs, in fact, seem to have left the Maltese very much to themselves and to have interfered with their language as little as they interfered with their religion and their popular customs. The account of the capture of Malta by the Normans, as given by Mataterra, the secretary of Count Roger, does not, certainly, convey the idea that the Saracens were sufficiently numerous to offer any serious resistance to the invaders. If the Arab influence had prevailed so far as to make a complete change in the language of the islanders, this could only have been the sequel to a process of denationalization which had no counterpart in the neighbouring island of Sicily and which would have implied the presence of a strong army of occupation. History and philology alike point to the conclusion that the Maltese, in spite of powerful outside influences, are still substantially, a Phoenician people. Count Roger of Sicily, who landed in Malta in 1090, was welcomed, it seems, not as a deliverer from an oppressive yoke, but because the islanders naturally preferred a Christian to a Mohammedan rule. The Norman domination established by him lasted about a century. It was probably during this period that the absence of a national literature, the need of employing foreign notaries, and other causes, forced the Maltese to adopt Sicilian as their written language. Later on, when the more fully developed Italian asserted itself in Sicily it naturally became the medium of legal and commercial transactions in Malta. Its influence on the spoken language was confined to the vocabulary, which contains a number of Italian words, the structure remaining unaltered. At least conjointly with Latin and other languages, Italian has remained the literary language of the island right down to our own times.
In 1199 Malta, along with Sicily, passed into the hands of the Swabian emperors, but, after the battle of Beneventum (1266) in which Charles of Anjou put an end to the Swabian rule in Apulia and Sicily, it remained for seventeen years in the possession of the French. In 1283, the year after the "Sicilian Vespers", the island, which had fared badly under the Swabians and worse still under the French, once more changed masters and became the property of King Peter III of Aragon. Under the Spanish rule, which lasted two centuries and a half, Malta made considerable progress in civilization. This was very largely owing to the influence of the religious orders, especially the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians, but partly also to the influx of foreign beneficiaries who, if they lived on the wealth of the land, made some return in the higher culture which they helped to diffuse. Early in 1523, the Knights of St. John, after the fall of Rhodes, left that island with the honours of war, and being unable, for nearly seven years, to find a lodgment that was convenient to all parties concerned, they were at length established in Malta, which was conferred upon them by the Emperor Charles V in the year 1530. The earlier period of their rule was the golden age of the history of the island, for during that time Malta was one of the chief bulwarks of Christendom against the power of the Turks. The successful defence of the island by the Grand Master La Vallette, in 1565, ranks as high as the Battle of Lepanto among the feats of Christian chivalry. The invaders, numbering over 40,000 men, must have considerably outnumbered the total population of the island which contained but 8500 men bearing arms, including the 592 members of the order. Yet such was the spirit which the brave islanders imbibed from their leaders that they compelled the enemy to retire, with heavy loss, after a siege of nearly four months.
The decline of the Ottoman power meant the decay of the Order of St. John. By the end of the eighteenth century, so rife was the spirit of the Revolution, so powerful the clique of traitors among the Knights, and so great the disaffection of the people, that, when Napoleon Bonaparte appeared before Malta in June, 1798, he found that there was little left for him to do but to take quiet possession of the island. After a few days' sojourn, during which he drew up a new scheme of government and made French the national language, he departed on his fatal expedition to Egypt, carrying with him a great part of the loot which, to the value of £250,000, had been taken from the churches and palaces of Malta. Shortly after his departure the French garrison, cut off by Nelson's fleet from all chance of reinforcements, was shut up in Valetta by the Maltese who were aided, at the last, by English and Neapolitan troops, and was compelled to surrender in September, 1800, after a siege of two years. Immediately after this event the Maltese, who had no reason for desiring the return of the Knights and still less of falling into the power of France or Russia, offered to place the island under the protection of the British flag. The offer was accepted on the distinct understanding that their religion and institutions should be respected. The British sovereignty was confirmed at the treaty of Paris (1814). The population of Malta and Gozo was over 25,000 in 1535; over 40,000 in 1621; 54,463 in 1632, and 114,000 in 1798. Since this last date it has nearly doubled.


The Church in Malta was founded by St. Paul, and St. Publius, whose name is mentioned in the Acts, was its first bishop. After ruling the Maltese Church for thirty-one years he was, we are told, transferred in A.D. 90 to the See of Athens, where he was martyred in 125. Though a complete list of bishops from the days of St. Paul to Constantine has been made out, its authenticity is more than doubtful. Still there seems no reason to suppose that, during the early days of persecution, the flock was long without a shepherd. In 451 there was an Acacius, Melitenus Episcopus, whose name is subscribed to the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon. In 501 Constantinus, Episcopus Melitenensis, was present at the Fifth General Council. In 588 Tucillus, Miletinae civitatis episcopus, was deposed by St. Gregory, and his successor Trajan elected by the clergy and people of Malta in 599. The last bishop before the Saracen conquest was the Greek Manas. After the Council of Chalcedon in 868, he was unable to return to his see, which was being invaded by the Arabs, and not long after we find him in chains in a Saracen prison at Palermo. Of successors of his under the Arabs there are no records, though probably such were appointed. Hence, if probable breaks in the episcopate be no bar to their claim, the Maltese can boast of belonging to the only extant Apostolic see, with the single exception of Rome. Except under Charles of Anjou, who caused Maltese prelates to be appointed, the Bishop of Malta was commonly a Sicilian. There was one Maltese bishop under the Spaniards, one Maltese and one half Maltese under the Knights. Since 1808 all the bishops have been natives of the island. No Maltese was allowed to become a knight of St. John. This arrangement was made with the purpose, among others, of preventing the existence, within the order, of a faction supported by the native population. Ecclesiastical grades, however, were open to natives, and we find the names of three Maltese who were grand priors of the order.
The clergy in Malta have always been the natural leaders of the people. It was a priest, Gaetano Mannarino, who headed an abortive revolt against the government of the Knights in 1775. In 1788 Canon F. X. Caruana acquired a more enviable reputation by accepting the leadership of the people in their insurrection against the French invaders. It was he too who demanded the annexation of Malta to Great Britain. He became bishop in 1831. Since 1864 the island of Gozo has had its own bishop. Hence, with their two bishops and nearly a thousand priests, the Maltese islands are more plentifully provided with pastors than any other country in the world. The place occupied by religion in the life of the people is betokened not only by the large number of the secular clergy and of religious men and women, but also by the frequent festas and processions which stay the traffic of the streets, by the constant ringing of bells, and by the size and beauty of even the village churches. The church of the village of Musta boasts the third largest dome in the world. Canon law prevails in Malta as the law of the land. Hence mixed marriages are illegal unless performed by a Catholic priest. The large number of clerics in Malta is due, in some measure, to the smallness of the patrimony fixed as a condition for receiving the priesthood. The necessary minimum is XX10. Equivalent to this is a benefice of XX5 rental. In 1777 Pius VI, in order to lessen the excessive number of clerics in the island, raised the minimum patrimony from 45 Maltese ducats or scudi (abt. $19) to 80 (abt. $34).
Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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Up to date as of December 14, 2010

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