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Repubblika ta 'Malta (Maltese)
Republic of Malta (English)
Republic of Malta
Flag of Malta
Maltese coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Official language Maltese and English
capital city Valletta
State and form of government parliamentary republic
Head of state President George Vella
Head of government Prime Minister Robert Abela
surface 316 km²
population approx. 520,700 (as of April 2020)
Population density 1648 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 3.7% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 15 billion ( 127. )
  • $ 22.1 billion ( 144. )
  • 28,294 USD ( 31. )
  • 42,856 USD ( 28. )
Human Development Index 0.895 ( 28th ) (2019)
currency Euro (EUR)
independence September 21, 1964
(from the UK )
National anthem L-Innu Malti
Time zone UTC + 1 CET
UTC + 2 CEST (March to October)
License Plate M.
ISO 3166 MT , MLT, 470
Internet TLD .mt
Telephone code +356
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Malta (full form: Republic of Malta ; Maltese Repubblika ta 'Malta , English Republic of Malta , Italian Repubblica di Malta ) is a southern European island state in the Mediterranean .

The Republic of Malta consists of the three inhabited islands of Malta (including the tiny island of Manoel ), about 246 square kilometers, Gozo ( Maltese Għawdex ), about 67 square kilometers, and Comino ( Maltese Kemmuna , about three square kilometers) as well as the uninhabited tiny islands of Cominotto ( Maltese Kemmunett ), Filfla , St. Paul's Islands ( Maltese Gżejjer ta 'San Pawl , also Gżejjer ta' Selmunett ) and Fungus Rock ( Maltese Ġebla tal-Ġeneral , also Ħaġret il-Ġeneral ). Politically, the main island of Malta is divided into two regions with five districts. Gozo and Comino together form the third region and the sixth district. Today's city was called Mdina Melita by the Romans ; this name probably goes back to the Punic name for a place of refuge, malet , which is probably the origin of the island's current name.

With around 520,000 inhabitants (in 2020) on an area of ​​316 square kilometers, Malta is the state with the fifth highest population density in the world. The majority of the population is concentrated in the capital region of Valletta , where around 394,000 people live.

In the late Neolithic , important megalithic temples were built on the archipelago , the remains of which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage . The Maltese culture was shaped by the Mediterranean empires, such as the Carthaginians , Romans , Byzantines and Arabs , to which the archipelago belonged in antiquity and the Middle Ages ; in religion and customs it is mainly influenced by the Roman Catholic southern Italy , linguistically by Arabic . It experienced an independent development from 1530 under the rule of the sovereign Order of Malta . British colony from 1814 , Malta gained independence on September 21, 1964. On May 1, 2004, the country joined the European Union , and it has been the smallest member state since then.

The country's official languages ​​are Maltese and English ; the native language of the Maltese is generally Maltese, also known as National Language applies Malta. Until the 20th century, Italian was the language of courts and education.

On January 1, 2008, Malta introduced the euro. From January 1 to June 30, 2017, Malta held the EU Council Presidency for the first time , and in 2018 Valletta was European Capital of Culture together with Leeuwarden (NL) .


Coastline during the last ice age

With an area of ​​316 square kilometers, Malta is one of the dwarf states , is somewhat smaller than the city of Bremen and almost twice as large as Liechtenstein . The Maltese archipelago is 81 kilometers south of the coast of Sicily , 350 kilometers north of the Libyan port city of al-Chums , 150 kilometers northeast of Lampedusa and about 285 kilometers southeast of the Tunisian Cap Bon peninsula . Besides Cyprus, it is the only country in the European Union that is completely south of the 37th  parallel .

Dingli Cliffs, highest point in the archipelago
Satellite image of Gozo, Cominotto, Comino and Malta

The main island of Malta ( Maltese Maltese Malta ) is 246 square kilometers, oriented to the southeast and reaches a length of 28 km and a maximum width of 13 km. Between its northwestern end and the second main island of Gozo ( Maltese Għawdex ) extends the 4.4 km wide Gozo Canal , in which the 2.7 square kilometer island Comino ( Maltese Kemmuna ) and the uninhabited rocky island of Cominotto ( Maltese Kemmunett ) lie. Gozo, 67 square kilometers in size, measures 14.3 km in length and up to 7.25 km in width in an east-west direction. The other - all uninhabited - islands of the state are Filfla, 4.4 km south of Malta, and Saint Paul's Islands ( Maltese Gżejjer ta 'San Pawl ) at the northern end of St. Paul's Bay, 83 meters off the coast, and actually whose connection piece can, however, be flooded in rough seas. In the west of Gozo, on the Black Lagoon near Dwejra Point, the 60 meter high Fungus Rock ( Maltese Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral ) juts out of the sea, a large limestone rock . Manoel Island ( Il-Gżira Manwel in Maltese ) in Marsamxett Harbor between Valletta and Sliema is generally no longer counted among the islands, as it is connected to the mainland by a dam and a road.

The most characteristic geographical feature of Malta is the diversity of its coastlines , which is particularly evident on the main island. While the east and north-east side are characterized by flat beaches and wide bays such as Marsaxlokk Bay, Marsamxett Harbor, Grand Harbor, Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul's Bay, in the south-west and north there are very sharply defined coastlines with rock formations and grotto-like incisions. On this side, Malta rises very ruggedly from the sea and forms long steep coasts that culminate at the Dingli Cliffs in Ta 'Dmejrek , the highest elevation in the country at 253 meters. Further karst ridges can be found in the northwest with the Mellieħa Ridge, the Bajda Ridge and the Marfa Ridge, which is up to 122 meters high . The highest peaks of Gozo measure 127 meters.

Due to the extreme water scarcity (see section on water supply ), there are no permanent rivers in Malta, Gozo and Comino. After heavy rainfall in winter, some dried-up stream beds can temporarily fill with rainwater. These mostly small rivulets run together in narrow rock valleys, the Wieds , where they do not evaporate again as quickly. The longest temporary stream can be seen in the Wied il-Għasri , which flows into a fjord-like bay on the north coast of Gozo . The only larger lake in the archipelago is artificially created and is located within the Għadira Nature Reserve on the isthmus in front of the Marfa Ridge just under two kilometers northwest of Mellieħa . It measures 350 m by 220 m and has numerous inland islands.


General representation

Sedimentary rocks on Malta

The geological history of Malta began at the end of the Tertiary , when a land bridge existed between southern Sicily and North Africa that divided the early Mediterranean into two basins. After the rising sea level flooded it, sediments of coral and shell limestone were deposited at the site of today's archipelago in the Paleocene around 60 million years ago. In the course of the geological ages, deposits of globigerine limestone and blue clay followed, and in the Oligocene, sandstone and another coralline layer followed. In the Pliocene finally the islands slowly raised from the sea. During the Würm Ice Age, the land bridge formed again due to the sinking water level, but was finally interrupted at the end of the Ice Age a good 13,000 years ago. The Maltese islands are located in the zone between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, but Malta was considered an island of North Africa for centuries.

In quarries - like here near Fungus Rock on Gozo - globigerine limestone is the only natural resource in Malta.

After the emergence of the islands, the surface of the main island sloped towards the northeast over the course of several centuries due to the still unstable base, so that the southwestern coast was raised and the steep edges with the Dingli Cliffs formed. Malta is criss-crossed by several tectonic faults that appear small in global comparison, but shape the geological relief of the islands. Two rift systems are dominant: the older Great Fault, which extends in many individual sections over five kilometers from the southwestern coast to the northeast, and the younger Magħlaq Fault. This runs from northwest to southeast and, among other things, ensured the formation of the plateau on the small island of Filfla off Malta .

Sediments that can be found on the Maltese islands are the blue clay, the globigerine limestone (can be divided into upper, middle and lower) and the upper green sand, a division of the chalk formation. Upper green sand is very clayey and sandy, rich in chlorite , its upper layers are chalk-like and can turn into chloristic chalk. On Gozo there is a mixture of these different soil components, on Malta, on the other hand, the border is more clearly drawn. The north-west is dominated by coralline limestone and green sand, but the majority of the other part of the island is dominated by globigerine limestone. This beige natural material is Malta's only natural resource and is extensively mined and used by the population.

Coastal erosion

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

In Malta, the effects of the fault and different types of erosion play a role. Erosion shapes, shapes and develops the coastlines of the islands. In the northeast of the island there is a gently sloping rocky coast, while a steep, cliff-dominated coastline predominates in the southeast and west.

Different formations created by erosion can be found on the islands. In the lower coral limestone, waves wash cuts or plains at the foot of the cliff, which is mostly below sea level. On the Globigerina limestone coast, smooth and slightly sloping plains are created, while bays are created where clay and marl were quickly eroded, such as Xrobb l-Għaġin or Peter's Pool . Rubble heaps on land and in the water arise where the erosion of the blue tone undermines the upper coral limestone and thus forms the typical coastline. Examples are Għajn Tuffieħa , Qammieħ and San Blas. There are also karst land formations on Malta .

The world-famous Azure Window on Gozo, a rock gate created by erosion itself , collapsed on March 8, 2017 during a storm.

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

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

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

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


Malta has a subtropical , dry Mediterranean climate . This balanced maritime climate is characterized by mild, humid winters and dry, warm, but not excessively hot summers. The annual total precipitation on the islands is a good 620 millimeters, with the lowest precipitation with values ​​tending to zero in summer - especially in June and July - and the most frequent in winter. The rain usually pulls briefly and heavily over the country, whereas continuous rain is unusual. The humidity in Malta averages 74 percent in summer and around 70 percent in the winter months.

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

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

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Malta
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 15.7 15.7 17.5 19.8 24.1 28.7 31.4 31.8 28.4 25.1 20.8 17.1 O 23
Min. Temperature (° C) 9.5 9.1 10.4 12.2 15.4 19.3 21.7 22.7 20.8 18th 14.3 11.3 O 15.4
Temperature (° C) 12.6 12.4 12.4 14th 19.8 24 26.6 27.3 24.6 21.6 17.6 14.2 O 19th
Precipitation ( mm ) 93 63 43 24 21 7th 0 19th 64 77 95 114 Σ 620
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 4th 4th 7th 8th 10 11th 12th 12th 9 5 5 4th O 7.6
Rainy days ( d ) 18th 15th 13th 12th 7th 4th 1 3 10 15th 17th 21 Σ 136
Water temperature (° C) 16.6 15.1 15.4 16.4 18.1 21.7 22.8 21.1 21.2 23 21.8 19.1 O 19.4
Humidity ( % ) 71 69 74 78 76 76 74 74 73 72 70 69 O 73
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Source: absent

Nature: general overview

All of the Maltese islands are rocky. The main island is a limestone mountain range that rises up to 260 meters. The south and the southwest drop steeply towards the sea. The coast of Malta is indented and inaccessible there. There are picturesque little bays between the torn rocks. In the north and northeast of Malta, hills and flatter plains define the landscape. The coast there gradually sinks to the sea and is cut by bays that are surrounded by sandy beaches. There are no mountains or rivers in Malta. The numerous caves that were created by the erosion of the limestone are remarkable. As a result of the scarcity of water, the vegetation in Malta consists of less demanding but numerous plants; large trees are rather rare. Some fig trees grow wild along the roadside and on the stony fields.


View from St. Agatha's Tower to the only protected area of the island, on the left side Mellieha Bay, behind Mellieħa

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

As early as the Neolithic period, people began to cut down the forest on the islands for boat building and other purposes, so that the islands are now forestless. An exception is the human-made, 900-meter-long and up to 200-meter-wide forest area of Buskett Gardens , which is 1.1 kilometers east of Dingli and just as far south of Rabat .

The predominant types of vegetation are maquis , garrigue and steppe , significant special locations are in particular those of the flat and steep coasts, but also of the few fresh water bodies. Formations of disturbed locations are widespread.

Common plant species include carob , olive , head thyme , mastic , multi-flowered heather , Teucrium fruticans and Euphorbia melitensis . Furthermore, various milkweed and leek plants as well as sea lavender species and almost 15 orchid species  grow . Nodding wood sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae) is widespread . Endemic species are Cremnophyton lanfrancoi , Darniella melitensis , Euphorbia melitensis, Limonium melitense , Limonium zeraphae , Cheirolophus crassifolius , Jasonia bocconei , Helichrysum melitense , hyoseris frutescens , Zannichellia melitensis , Allium Lojaconoi , Allium melitense and Ophrys melitensis .

Edible ice plant , an invasive neophyte from Malta (here in Tunisia)

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


Paleontological finds

The Għar Dalam (mt .: Cave of Darkness) is a karst cave in the southeast of the island of Malta, near the town of Birżebbuġa and only about 500 m from St George's Bay. It has a maximum width of 18  m , is up to 8 m high and leads about 145 m into the limestone cliffs. The lowest fossil-free layer has an assumed age of around 180,000 years, while the hippopotamus layer on top belongs to the last warm period ( Eem warm period , 126,000 to 115,000 years ago). It represents a compact bone breccia . In the layer, researchers found numerous bones of the Pleistocene animal world, such as the eponymous hippopotamus , which comes in two size variations with Hippopotamus pentlandi (slightly smaller than today's hippopotamus) and Hippopotamus melitensis (very small pygmy hippopotamus) . Also of importance are the pygmy elephants , which are also available in two differently sized species. Thus achieved Elephas mnaidriensis a shoulder height of 1.9 to 2 m and weighed about 2.5  tonnes . In contrast, its relative Elephas falconeri was only 0.9–1.1 m high with a reconstructed weight of 170  kg . In addition to these the remains of several other animals like were Bilche ( Leithie Cartei ), various bats and a rich bird life found.


The blue roe is the national bird of Malta.
Lizard on Gozo

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

Several bird families are native to the islands, such as larks , finches , swallows and thrushes . The turtle dove , the oriole and some species of birds of prey are also part of the fauna of Malta. The common blue roe is also the national bird of the island state. In spring 2008 the government registered 27 protected areas for flora and fauna as part of Natura 2000 . These areas include the limestone cliffs of Rdumijiet ta 'Malta, which are used as nesting sites for many sea birds, such as the Levant shearwater ( Puffinus yelkouan ). In addition, there is the Għadira Bird Reserve in the north of the main island . Furthermore, Malta is one of the few stations for migratory birds on their way from Europe to Africa or in the opposite direction in spring and autumn .

Endemic species

Bird hunting and bird protection

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

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

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

After progress had been made in curbing bird hunting in 2014, the Maltese government again allowed seven species of finches, golden plovers and song thrushes to be hunted with huge folding nets in autumn 2014. The Committee against Bird Murder reported on this extensively and precisely documents this offense against applicable EU law.

environmental Protection

Acceptance from the end of the 20th century

Nature conservation has only been popular in Malta since 1990. In that year, the protected area was around 0.1 percent of the total area of ​​the country. In the following years this value increased significantly, so that in 2013 already 13% of the country's area was protected (protected areas according to the Habitats Directive). In 2014, an area of ​​193 km² was protected in the area of ​​the country's aquatic areas. The original Mediterranean landscapes are protected in these areas. Among the most popular nature reserves in Malta are the island of Filfla and the wetlands of Għadira and Simar. However, the proportions of artificial areas in Malta are to be assessed as high. About a third of the country can be classified in this category.

Malta has made great efforts to improve the environment since joining the EU, but the bigger picture is contradicting itself. The share of all environmentally-related tax revenues in GDP was 3.74% in 2008 and exceeded the European average, but information on environmental protection expenditure in the public sector or environmental protection investments in industry is not available. The share of agricultural land under agri-environmental aid in relation to the total agricultural area was 21% in 2005, compared with around 6.9% in the previous year.

However, greenhouse gas emissions have been rising steadily for years and stood at 149.2 CO 2 equivalents in 2007  (no target values ​​were set for Malta and Cyprus). On the other hand, the urban population's exposure to air pollution with airborne dust is 23.9 micrograms per cubic meter. This value is below the European average and, for example, below that of the Netherlands. The pollution of the urban population by air pollution with ozone is in turn well above the European average and has the second highest value in Europe after Greece.

Conservation problems

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

Water supply

Aqueduct in Gozo

According to statistics published by the United Nations in March 2011, the ratio between renewable drinking water and the number of inhabitants, namely 191 m³ per capita per year, makes Malta the most arid country on earth. Of the already low rate of precipitation - around 580 mm annually - only about half remains on the surface or in the groundwater, as these rainfalls, as is typical for semi-arid areas, are rare and brief, but intensive in occur during the winter months from October to February. Much of the precipitation evaporates in summer. In addition, Malta has only a few above-ground freshwater sources that could be fed by the precipitation, the limestone soil formed from corals is very dry due to the high temperatures and can hardly absorb water.

The lack of fresh water on islands such as Malta is justified by the fact that salt water is washed into the groundwater reserves and therefore the quality of the drinking water is extremely reduced. In addition, the stocks were used excessively anthropogenic , which induced subsidence and changes in the aquifers . The irrigation of agricultural areas, which took place via underground water abstraction, salinated the seepage water and the groundwater level sank. Rain from precipitation should be caught, house owners are required by law to build a cistern .

Agriculture has the second highest share of water consumption in Malta. Maltese households have the highest consumption due to their density and the high standard of living of the population. The water supply as a central infrastructural task is carried out by both the public and the private sector. But there is only one company that produces drinking water using different methods:

  • It is possible to resort to natural procedures. In the limestone aquifer z. B. water reservoirs in which small amounts of salt-free water floats on the salt water due to its lower density and can be removed. In Ta Kandja near Siġġiewi is the Water Services Corporation's Groundwater Pumping Station, which was completed in 1963 and takes fresh water collected from approximately 6.2 kilometers of tunnels. A 42-kilometer system of these tunnels runs beneath Malta's villages.
  • The second source of supply, the pumping of groundwater through deep wells, is avoided as far as possible - except for use in agriculture.
  • The reverse osmosis process , i.e. seawater desalination , is an intensively used method. The tap water is therefore noticeably salty, especially on Gozo . The process consumes a large amount of energy, which is obtained from the combustion of fossil resources and is therefore environmentally harmful and costly. In the 2010s, methods of extracting drinking water from rainwater are being examined, most of which would otherwise run off into the sea.

However, the infiltration of salt water into the island's sewage systems creates additional water quality problems. Therefore about 85 percent of the drinking water is used, inter alia. from Sicily, imported to Malta.

The provision of clean drinking water and the sustainable use of water remain a key task for the Maltese government - not only in terms of environmental protection, but also from an economic point of view. Economic developers cite the lack of resources such as water as a major challenge for the economy of the state. An attempt is made to counter the problem by establishing an effective water distribution system and permanent control of possible leaks in the sewer system. With the Water Catchment Management Plan published in 2011 based on the ideas of the EU Water Framework Directive (an EU organization for the provision and sustainable use of sufficient and high quality water), the shortage is to be remedied step by step.


Mnajdra temple complex in southern Malta

Stone Age temple complexes can be found on the islands , which were built between 3800 BC. BC and 2500 BC Were built in BC. There was a new settlement in the Bronze Age . Malta was under the changing influence of almost all of the great cultures of the Mediterranean: The Phoenician (from 800 BC) followed in 217 BC. Chr. The Roman and 395 n. Chr. The Eastern Roman and Byzantine rule. In 455 Malta belonged to the Vandal empire , the Ostrogoths came in 494 , before Malta was conquered again by the Byzantines in 533 and by the Arabs in 870 , who Islamized it and introduced a new language, Arabic. According to a census carried out in 991, 6,339 Christian and 14,972 Muslim families lived on the islands at that time.

Arabic-speaking settlers came to Malta from Sicily around 1049. After 1091 the archipelago became Norman ; again, Arabic-speaking Sicilians settled in Malta. It was not until after 1240 that the Muslims were expelled from Malta by the Hohenstaufen Frederick II ; a significant part of the Muslim population would have converted to Christianity in this situation and stayed in Malta. In the centuries that followed, Malta shared the fate of Sicily first among the Hohenstaufen, from 1266 under the Anjou , the Aragonese (from 1284) and the Castilians (from 1412). The rulership on site was mostly exercised by fiefdoms of the respective king. Under the rule of the Hohenstaufen the Maltese population was given a certain say; so the Maltese were allowed to elect their own representatives in the Consiglio Popolare, an administrative body that represented the population vis-à-vis the ruling house. Although the kings of Aragon and Castile ruled Malta for around 250 years, Spanish culture and language did not exert any significant influence on Malta; the Sicilian and Italian influence continued. The administrative language was Latin for a long time before Sicilian and later Italian prevailed.

Monument to Jean de la Valette in Valletta

1530 - Malta, along with Aragon and Castile, belonged to the United Kingdom of Spain ruled by the Habsburgs - Emperor Charles V gave the islands to the Order of St. John as a fief . The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, also known as the Hospitaller Order and often called the Order of Malta since the takeover of the Maltese archipelago , strengthened the fortifications at the port and defended the islands against Ottoman attacks. As a result of the Great Siege by the Ottomans in 1565, the fortress city of Valletta was founded in 1566 , named after the Grand Master of the Order at the time, Jean Parisot de la Valette . The arrival of the Order of St. John in 1530 meant the political dissolution of Malta from Sicily and the beginning of an independent historical development; in addition, Malta became the headquarters of a political and military power for the first time. The Johanniter were the first occupiers not to use Malta as a distant outpost. The knights were members of a European elite and brought "cosmopolitan openness, a high level of culture and considerable financial resources" to the islands, which was expressed in intensive, sometimes magnificent, mostly baroque building activity after the defeat of the Ottomans. The beginnings of a separate Maltese education system can also be found in this phase of Malta's history (see University of Malta ).

In 1798 the Order of Malta gave way to Napoleon Bonaparte's French revolutionary troops ; nevertheless the order maintains a state-like status under international law (although not recognized everywhere) , but without territorial claims to the Republic of Malta. After Maltese insurgents sought help against the French, the British blocked the ports of the archipelago plundered by the French. When they had to withdraw in 1800, a British regiment was stationed on Malta, and with the First Peace of Paris in 1814, the archipelago became a British crown colony .

The heavily bombed street in Valletta during the Siege of Malta , 1942

During the Second World War , Malta acquired the reputation of an "unsinkable aircraft carrier " from which the British hindered the supply and advance of the German Africa Corps . During the siege of Malta in 1941/42, the main island was hit by a massive emergency and by thousands of air raids, which killed more than a thousand residents. For the role of Malta in World War II, the British king awarded its population the George Cross in 1942 , which is still depicted on the state flag of Malta today. On July 20, 1945, a bill was introduced in the National Assembly providing the right to vote for all women and men over the age of 18. Until then, only selected men over the age of 21 could vote. The bill was passed.

In 1947 Great Britain granted the country self-government. On September 5, 1947, the MacMichael Constitution came into force, which contained universal suffrage and the "one person - one vote" principle for women and men over the age of 21, which abolished multiple votes. Universal suffrage for men and women was introduced at the same time. Six weeks later, on October 25, 26 and 27, 1947, the first elections took place.

Finally, Malta gained independence as a parliamentary democracy in 1964. It remained a member of the Commonwealth . Only since the proclamation of the republic on December 13, 1974, has the Queen ceased to be head of state of Malta. On May 1, 2004, Malta joined the European Union . On January 1, 2008, the euro replaced the Maltese lira ( Maltese lira maltija) as the official national currency.


Population pyramid of Malta 2016

Population structure


The last census in Malta was in 2013. This census was published in August 2015 and forms the basis for this article. The representation of the population structure takes into account the birth and death rate as well as the emigration and immigration rate.

In December 2013, the population of Malta was 425,384. This corresponds to a growth of one percent compared to the previous year and the constant low population growth of Malta since 1985, which is also forecast for the next 50 years. Due to a small total area of ​​316 square kilometers, there is a relatively high population density of 1,346 inhabitants per square kilometer, which is only surpassed by the completely urbanized Monaco. For comparison: Germany has 230 inhabitants / km² , the Netherlands 408, but the Principality of Monaco around 19,000 inhabitants per square kilometer. Malta has the fifth highest population density of any country in the world. 92 percent of people live in cities.

The population distribution of Malta shows the typical population structure of a developed country. The proportion of people over the age of 25 is higher than that of those under the age of 25. About a quarter of the total population is 60 years or older and only 17.8% of Malta's residents are minors under 18 years of age. Due to demographic change and new ways of life, there are only a few children without children or in small families.

The average life expectancy of newborns in Malta is 81.9 years. Boys are expected to live to be 79.6 years old, and the average age at death for women is around 84 years. The proportion of the female and male population is more or less the same, with women in the minor majority at 50.06%. In contrast, there is a clear surplus of women among the over 70s.

5.9% of the people living in Malta are foreign nationals. 3.2% come from other countries in the European Union, especially Great Britain, Italy, Bulgaria and Germany. From outside the EU, mostly people with Somali citizenship live in Malta.

Population development
year resident
1950 312,000
1960 312,000
1970 320,000
1980 333,000
1990 364,000
2000 397,000
2010 416,000
2016 431,000

Source: UN

In 2020 the population was given as around 520,700.


In 2013, 4,127 babies were born in Malta, of which 97.7% are of Maltese descent. About 16% of children grow up without a father and 1,028 out of wedlock. The average age of mothers at birth is 29.6 years.

The fertility rate in Malta was in 2018 at 1.23. Malta has the lowest fertility rate in the European Union. Due to the low net reproduction rate , Malta is classified in the projections of demographers as a shrinking nation in the long term. This can also be seen in the population pyramid, which tends from a bell shape to an urn shape. A bell shape characterizes a stagnating, steady population. With an urn shape, the population shrinks because there are fewer and fewer children.

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


3,236 people died in Malta in 2013. Of these, 65% were older than 75 years and 30.4% were between 20 and 74 years old at the time of their death. This means that the proportion of those who have died over the age of 75 has risen and the proportion of the second age group has decreased. 40% of all deaths are due to circulatory diseases and 26.9% to tumor diseases. In 2013 there were 19 stillbirths, a decrease of five percent compared to the previous year. Child mortality increased from 22 children (2012) to 27 (2013), which corresponds to a child mortality rate of 6.7.


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


Religions in Malta (2018)
Roman Catholic Christians
other Christs
Non-religious ( atheists & agnostics )

The vast majority of the Maltese population (93.9% in 2018) is Roman Catholic ; there are also some Protestants (including Baptists ), Orthodox Christians , Jews and Muslims .

The Catholic Church has had a strong influence on the politics and social life of Malta since the Middle Ages. Sun is still the abortion punishable and " topless banned bathing". The Catholic parishes belong to the dioceses of Malta and Gozo . Catholicism is anchored in the constitution of Malta as the state religion and is practiced by the majority of the population. External signs of this are house altars, colorfully carved portraits of saints, bishops and pastors as well as monuments of saints or popes in public places.

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

The Arab conquest in 870 (see History of Malta) led to the introduction of the Arabic language , from which Maltese emerged , to the settlement of Muslims and probably also to the conversion of many native Christians to Islam. In the High Middle Ages, the Muslim population of Malta was completely Christianized, so that the Islamic community essentially consists of Libyans living on Malta who run a mosque built in Valletta in the 1970s . The Muslim-Arabic customs of the Middle Ages left hardly any traces except in the language of Malta.

The roots of Judaism in Malta go back at least to the 3rd century when the island belonged to the Roman Empire . Under Spanish rule, Jews who were not baptized had to leave the country from 1493. The Jewish presence is documented in numerous buildings, such as the catacombs near Rabat , the Judentor and the Jewish silk market in Mdina , the street name Triq ta 'Lhud and the Judentor in Valletta . The important Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia lived on the island of Comino at the end of the 13th century .


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

Maltese is one of the Semitic languages and developed from an Arabic dialect. Structurally, it is closely related to the North African varieties of Arabic and the extinct Sicilian Arabic, but Maltese also contains larger parts of the vocabulary from Italian and less from Spanish , French and English. Maltese is the only Semitic language that uses the Latin alphabet ( Y and C excluded), expanded by five graphemes: ċ, ġ and ż as well as għ and ħ, which depict some specifically Italian sibilants and Arabic throat sounds .

Maltese is usually the native language of the Maltese; English and Italian are second languages reserved for public life. Italian (initially in its Sicilian form) was used by the now immigrating Christian landed gentry as the language of education after Malta was handed over by the Arabs to Sicily in the 11th century, and it also played a role as the language of the church . It was the judicial language of Malta (until 1934) and the preferred educational and written language of the Maltese. French was used for communication between the local merchants and artisans and the Order of St. John from 1530 until the end of the Order's rule over Malta. As a result of the British colonial days in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 19th century, almost all Maltese masters English, which is on an equal footing with Maltese in education or, as in individual private schools and universities, even predominates in the classroom. Knowledge of Italian is still widespread due to the geographical proximity, the traditionally close economic ties with southern Italy and, last but not least, the popularity of Italian television programs; Italian is chosen as the third language in schools by around half of the students. It was not until 1934 that the British made Maltese an official language alongside English, in order to suppress Italian and to prevent the Italian fascist regime from influencing the local population. Arabic, which was propagated as the school language after independence from Great Britain in the course of the political and economic rapprochement between the Republic of Malta and Libya, hardly finds any interested parties. Only around one percent of students also learn Arabic.


Parliament and government, president and administration

Parliament building (Valletta).

The Republic of Malta has a unicameral parliament , the House of Representatives , which consists of at least 65 members. In addition, the are Maltese President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives ex officio members of Parliament. President George Vella , a member of the social democratic Partit Laburista , has been President since April 2019 . Head of government is Robert Abela from the same party. The Maltese government is elected for a five-year term. The largest parties in Malta are the Partit Laburista and the conservative Partit Nazzjonalista , which last ruled from 1998 to 2013. The Maltese President is elected after being proposed by the Prime Minister. This is sealed by a simple majority. Malta has a central government and 68 local governments , which are also elected every five years. Some trade unions, such as the General Workers' Union and the Catholic Church, have a high say in everyday politics .

Voting behavior

The party affiliation of most Maltese is long-term, the number of swing voters is correspondingly low. This makes it difficult for new parties to enter parliament. Long-term party loyalty is also promoted by the Maltese proportional representation system based on the procedure of transferable individual voting in multi-mandate constituencies with five mandates each.

Voter turnout in Malta - there is no compulsory voting - is traditionally extremely high. In parliamentary elections, the turnout is well over 90%, in the European elections in 2009 it was 78.79%.


The state government is divided into the following ministries:

  • Prime Minister's Office
  • Ministry of European Affairs and implementation of the electoral program
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Education and Labor
  • Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure
  • Ministry of Gozo
  • Ministry of Social Dialogue, Consumer Protection and Civil Liberties
  • Ministry of Economy, Investment and Small Business
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Family and Social Solidarity
  • Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Security
  • Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change
  • Ministry of Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Economic Services
  • Ministry of Health

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 33.6 out of 120 156 of 178 Stability of the country: very stable
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 7.68 out of 10 30 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 90 out of 100 - Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 30.46 out of 100 81 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 53 of 100 52 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Domestic politics

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

Foreign policy: EU enlargement

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malta can send six MEPs to the European Parliament, who come from the ruling party or the opposition party, depending on the country's election results. Malta took over the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2017 . The preparation for this demanding task took place via a joint work program in a trio presidency with the Netherlands and Slovakia, which were chaired in 2016.

Alleged tax avoidance, money laundering and selling citizenship to non-EU citizens

Malta's policy was criticized by the European Parliament in several ways (as of March 2019) . Above all, the sale of Maltese passports to wealthy foreigners and thus their free access to the Schengen area was criticized . Together with Cyprus, which has been accused of a similar practice, around 6,000 people had been given legal access to the European Union by the time the report was published. Malta's government is also inadequate against money laundering, including against agents that bring potential criminals into the country. Malta is also one of the EU countries accused of helping with tax avoidance and is sometimes referred to as a tax haven . In October 2020, the European Commission against Malta (and Cyprus) initiated infringement proceedings a result of the sale of citizenship to wealthy non-EU citizens. Malta is said to have awarded them in return for an investment of 2.5 million euros.

Entry requirements

Entry into Malta is possible with a valid passport or identity card . Children's IDs (provided they have a photo) are recognized. Temporary passports and ID cards are not always accepted. The entry of a child in the passport of a parent is no longer valid for entry since 2012.

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

Refugee issue

Refugee camp in Ħal Far

In June 2011, the EU opened in Malta the European Support Office on Asylum (EASO = European Asylum Support Office) which implements asylum policy, advising the Member States and supported.

In 2015 there were around 10,000 boat refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and other African countries living in Malta . Most of these refugees do not have the status of asylum seekers, but are not deported for humanitarian reasons (civil war etc.). Malta is refusing to accept any more African boat refugees due to the high population density and small size of its land area . At the same time, Malta's Navy is responsible for coordinating sea rescue in an area of ​​180 × 600  nautical miles . Because of the refusal to allow ships with refugees rescued from distress to enter its ports and because of the living conditions in the internment camps administered by the Maltese military , in which asylum seekers are sometimes detained for up to 18 months, Malta faces increasing criticism from human rights organizations and the European Parliament suspended (as of 2008). Malta's proposal to distribute boat refugees equally among all member states of the European Union has so far been rejected by the EU interior ministers.

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


Telephone booth and post box in Valletta

Through Malta's membership in the Commonwealth - the confederation of former (mostly) British colonies - Maltese have a privileged status in some of these states compared to other EU citizens when it comes to entry and residence requirements.

Security policy

The Maltese Army ( Armed Forces of Malta / Forzi Armati ta 'Malta ) has around 2,140 soldiers and several helicopters, which are used for patrol flights as well as reconnaissance and rescue tasks. There is also the Maritime Squadron, which has the task of protecting the territorial waters and operates seven patrol boats .

A treaty with Italy has existed since March 11, 1983, guaranteeing the protection of Maltese neutrality. For this purpose there is an Italian contingent of troops in Pembroke , Malta.

Membership in international organizations

Diplomatic relations

Malta maintains diplomatic relations and exchanges ambassadors with more than 100 countries. Most of the foreign embassies are located in the neighboring cities of Valletta around Marsamxett Harbor and are hardly noticeable here due to the large security measures.

Germany and Malta agreed concrete relations in 1965, shortly after Malta's independence. In connection with the island republic joining the EU in May 2004, the existing contacts at all levels (trade and economy, culture, education) have become more and more intensive. In spring 2015, Federal President Joachim Gauck was on a state visit to Malta; in February 2015, official talks between Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat took place in Berlin . The German Embassy is based in the Whitehall Mansions; the extraordinary and authorized ambassador is Walter Haßmann . The Maltese Embassy in Germany is located at Klingelhöferstrasse 7 in Berlin-Tiergarten .

Judicial system

Court of Justice building (Valletta)


The constitution is the highest legal source of the state. All laws can be prepared by specialist commissions and, if necessary, made known to the public in advance in a white paper. Finally, they are passed by Parliament as Acts of Parliament . The legislative power can also be transferred to other bodies, for example ministries, authorities or corporations under public law. Associated with this is the drafting and implementation of implementing provisions ("secondary law provisions, Local Councils Bye-Laws"). Existing foreign policy agreements are always incorporated directly into the applicable Maltese law. All laws are published in the government newspaper. The House of Representatives can decide on additions or changes to the text of existing laws.


The judicial organs are civil and criminal courts, which are subordinate to the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government. Civil courts include the Court of Appeal, the Three Chamber Civil Court, Court of Magistrates, Court of Magistrates Gozo and the Small Claims Tribunal. Criminal jurisdictions are the Court of Criminal Appeal, Criminal Court, Court of Magistrates, Court of Magistrates Gozo and uvenile Court.

The law enshrined in the various legal acts is interpreted by the members of the courts. Except for important reasons, judges adhere to this case law.

Around 2000 private lawyers practice in the municipalities and cities.

→ see collection of all Maltese laws

Malta Police Force

Correctional Justice and Police

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

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

Administrative division


Since 1993 Malta has been divided into 68  municipalities :

Attard Balzan Birkirkara Birżebbuġa Cospicua Dingli Fgura Floriana Fontana Għajnsielem Għajnsielem Għarb Għargħur Għasri Għaxaq Gudja Gżira Ħamrun Iklin Kalkara Kerċem Kirkop Lija Luqa Marsa Marsaskala Marsaxlokk Mdina Mellieħa Mġarr Mosta Mqabba Msida Mtarfa Munxar Qala Naxxar Paola Pembroke Pietà Nadur Qormi Qrendi Rabat Safi San Ġiljan San Ġwann San Lawrenz San Pawl il-Baħar Sannat Santa Luċija Santa Venera Senglea Siġġiewi Sliema Swieqi Tarxien Ta’ Xbiex Valletta Victoria Vittoriosa Xagħra Xewkija Xgħajra Żabbar Żebbuġ Żebbuġ Żejtun Żurrieq
Municipalities of Malta (clickable map)

For statistical purposes, the municipalities are grouped into six districts and these in turn into three regions. The two smaller islands together form the Gozo and Comino district , which is congruent with the Gozo and Comino region.


The two large unions are the Partit Laburista (MLP) related General Workers' Union (GWU) with around 48,000 members and the Partit Nazzjonalista related Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin (UĦM) umbrella organization with around 25,000 members. There are also small industry unions.


Library in Valletta

Education was not compulsory in Malta until 1946. This was only introduced for elementary schools after the end of the Second World War . Since 1971, attendance at secondary school has also been mandatory up to and including the age of 16. State schools are free of charge , but there are also church educational institutions and private schools, such as St. Aloysius' College in Birkirkara , Savio College in Dingli and the San Anton School near Mġarr . The majority of teachers in church schools receive their salaries from the state. There are also two international schools, the Verdala International School and the QSI Malta . The adult literacy rate in Malta is 94.4% (as of 2015). In 2005 Malta spent 6.76% of GDP on education and was only surpassed in the EU by the Scandinavian countries Denmark and Sweden and Cyprus. Measured in terms of economic strength, Malta invests far above average in education, with expenditure per pupil / student compared to GDP per capita reaching the highest level in the European Union. The expenditure per student compared to the GDP per capita is only surpassed by Cyprus in Europe and is higher than that of Japan in an international comparison. The higher education is largely financed by the state, the share of public expenditure is around 95%, financing of the higher education sector by organizations, associations, foundations and companies is largely unknown in Malta. Around 75 percent of the expenditures for education in the tertiary sector benefit the university directly, 25.2% are paid out as grants and grants.

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

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

The proportion of the population between the ages of 25 and 64 with at least an upper secondary qualification rose from 27.8% to 43.5% between 2008 and 2015, but this is still the lowest value within the EU. The share of female students was 57.4% in 2007, more than the EU average (55.2%). In engineering, manufacturing and construction, 29.2% of all students are women, more than the EU average (24.7%). The proportion of students studying abroad has more than doubled from 0.4% (1998) to 1.0% (in 2007), but Maltese students are by far the least mobile within the European Union.

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

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


Malta has a very close-knit media network that is based on the model of the former colonial power Great Britain. This is also the name of the largest daily newspaper , published by Allied Newspapers Ltd., referring to the London The Times , The Times of Malta. The center-right oriented paper has been published since 1930 and is therefore the most traditional newspaper in the country and has a market share of 27% with a circulation of 37,000. The Times of Malta was published weekly until 1935 , then daily. The Sunday Times edition has a market share of 51.6%. Another important daily newspaper is The Malta Independent. Since 1999, the liberal Malta Today has been published in tabloid format on Wednesdays and Sundays . The popular newspaper with the highest circulation is The People . The Malta Star is the only online newspaper in Malta.

The fact that Malta is bilingual is responsible for the fact that around half of the newspapers appear in English and half in Maltese. The Sunday newspaper It-Torċa (“The Torch”) has the greatest reach of the Maltese-language print media . There are also numerous Maltese-language weekly newspapers and party, church and trade union newspapers. The most important in this segment is In-Nazzjon ("The Nation"), which is related to the Partit Nazzjonalista (Nationalist Party).

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

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

With TV Malta (TVM), the PBS, which have been a member of the European Broadcasting Union since 1975 , are also the largest national television broadcaster. Seven other channels can be received across the country: One Television, NET Television, Smash Television, Favorite Channel, ITV, Education22 and Family TV. The majority of the broadcasters are financed by the state. One Television, produced by One Productions Ltd., serves as the mouthpiece of the Partit Laburista (Labor Party), while that of Media Link Communications Ltd. broadcasted NET Television is attributed to the Partit Nazzjonalista. Smash Communications Ltd. (Smash Television) , on the other hand, is a private company.

The state broadcasting authority monitors all television stations and, in addition to compliance with legality and license obligations, also ensures compliance with the principle of objectivity in political reporting. It also checks the local broadcasters to ensure that they broadcast public, private and municipal programs and thus offer a wide-ranging, diverse program that covers as many interests as possible. The reception of the television programs is possible via cable as well as terrestrial . In February 2006, 124,000 Maltese used the first-mentioned method, so that almost 80 percent of Maltese households have a cable connection. A still small but steadily increasing percentage of the population uses satellite dishes to other European television programs, such as the British BBC and the Italian RAI received too.

In 2019, 86 percent of Maltese used the internet . In 2017, the Maltese population was fully supplied with an Internet connection of at least 30 Mbit.

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

Economy and Infrastructure


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

Tourism plays a major role (40 percent of the gross national product) and also financial services (eleven percent). Most of the vacationers come from the UK, Germany, Italy and Russia. The number of tourists has increased about tenfold since 1965, there are over a million tourists a year, who mainly visit the beaches, the historic cities and the rocky landscape, plus another million cruise tourists. Around 70,000 tourists come to Malta each year for an English course. This area of ​​tourism is supervised and promoted by the state. Language schools in Malta generate 1.8% of GDP.

The clothing and textile industries are other important branches of the economy. In 1992 Malta established its own stock exchange .

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

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

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

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

power supply

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

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

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

In the absence of adequate waste management, Malta has had a major waste problem for years. The entire capital is an important economic factor (see there ).

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2015 of the equivalent of 3.4 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 4.0 billion US dollar against (each estimated). This results in a budget surplus of 6.6% of GDP . The national debt was around 60.6% of GDP at the end of 2015.

Share of government spending (as a percentage of GDP) in key areas:


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

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

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

Currently around 250 foreign companies, including 70 German, have settled in Malta. Lufthansa, which settled in Malta in 2003, is also one of the German companies. Around 600 people are employed, all of whom have been trained by Lufthansa. In this way, Malta should develop into a major maintenance location in the Mediterranean region. The maintenance system is one of the eight Lufthansa maintenance systems worldwide and is also the largest in Europe. Other airlines such as Easy Jet (GB) and SR Technics (CH) came after Lufthansa.

The maritime industry is represented by Malta Freeport, which due to increasing privatization belongs to the top league of transshipment centers. An expansion of the berths enables handling with the world's largest container ships and has turned the island into a main port-of-call for some of the largest shipping companies. With its central location on the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is an important warehouse and distribution center that is used by logistics companies thanks to its supply chain and efficiency advantages, as well as its geographical proximity to the African and European markets. In 2014, 6,505 ships sailed the Maltese flag, making Malta the leading sea fleet in Europe and the seventh largest in the world.

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

A smaller branch of industry in Malta that has grown in recent years, particularly due to Malta's patent laws and tax breaks, is the chemical industry. Generic manufacturers such as Actavis, Siegfried Generics, Medichem etc. have built production facilities in Malta. A generic is a finished drug that contains active ingredients that are no longer subject to patent protection, so to speak, an "imitation" of an older original preparation.

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

The advantages of Malta for foreign entrepreneurs are the low wage costs, the support in the acquisition or construction of factory buildings, as well as the good cooperation with local suppliers. In addition, Malta is a link between European companies and the Mediterranean and African markets. The disadvantages are the limited size of Malta and thus a small domestic market. Therefore, the island is particularly interesting for small and medium-sized companies, as there are tax advantages and targeted incentives for medium-sized companies on the one hand and loan and investment programs on the other. It is also interesting that the foreign companies are not interested in bringing goods to the local market, as there is no local market in Malta. All goods produced in Malta are exported.

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

Tax and finance

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

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

Due to the current developments surrounding the revelations of the Panama Papers , the pressure on countries classified as tax havens has grown and the politics of these countries is exposed to greater political pressure. In the report of the European Parliament's committee of inquiry, Malta is criticized for hindering the investigation of tax evasion and money laundering.

On the indicator for determining tax havens, which is formed by registered companies per inhabitant, Malta ranks high: Malta at 0.11. there is one company for every tenth inhabitant.

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

Tourism and ecotourism

General overview

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

Spatial distribution of tourism

The blue grotto

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

On the secondary islands of Gozo and Comino there are mostly day tourists and therefore there are only a few tourist facilities. There is only one middle-class hotel on Comino. Also on Gozo there are only a few smaller hotel complexes, restaurants or pubs. Here the few companies are spread over the whole island. Gozo stands for traditional, rural Malta and is therefore, and due to the high quality of life, developed by the residents and the government above all into a destination for green tourism .

History of tourism

Malta does not have a particular historical tradition in European tourism. Considerations to promote organized tourism did not begin until the 1950s. In 1955 a tourism authority was established in order to achieve better organization of tourism. At the time Malta was occupied by the British, so the colonial administration took care of the tourism-related projects. Among other things, St. George's Bay, Għajn Tuffieħa and Paradise Bay have been declared places of tourism. In 1964 Malta gained its independence and with it there were new development plans for the tourism sector. By 1969 the number of visitors had risen to 186,000. Over 75% were from the UK at the time.

At the beginning of the 1970s, some measures were taken due to falling visitor numbers, such as the construction of modern hotel facilities, the renovation of port facilities and the airport. Among other things, the dependence on Great Britain should be reduced by targeting tourists from other countries. As a result, there were far fewer tourists from Great Britain, which means that overall tourism figures have not increased. Due to increasing competition in the southern Mediterranean, e.g. On the part of Tunisia and Cyprus, for example, the Maltese government continued to invest in tourism. Official tourism zones have been established, beach hotels have been built, museum opening times have been liberalized and the tourist infrastructure has been brought into line with European standards. As a result, a tourism boom took place in Malta. More than 700,000 visitors came to Malta annually until 1980, with the proportion of British tourists rising again to 75 percent. With the economic crisis in Great Britain in the early 1980s, the number of visitors fell sharply, which resulted in a construction freeze and price reductions in the tourist areas. This led to a focus on increasing the quality of the hotel sector, which in the late 1980s stabilized the tourism market. The number of visitors rose to almost 900,000 per year by 1990. The share of British tourists decreased to around 50 percent. So the dependence on the UK market has been reduced, but not completely eliminated. During the 1990s, Malta developed into a very important tourist destination.


Ecotourism is a responsible form of travel to near-natural areas that helps protect the environment and the well-being of the local population., It is a small, newer form of tourism and is therefore not yet particularly developed in Malta. Ecotourism in Malta began to take off in 2002, the International Year of Ecotourism. The University of Malta , in collaboration with the Biological Conservation Research Foundation, won an award for its work in marine and nature conservation. Since then, the Ministry of Tourism has tried to promote tourism without endangering the environment. The Maltese tourist authority has introduced an “eco-certification”. The criteria that tourism businesses have to meet for this certificate are the introduction of better waste systems, the reduction of energy and water consumption, better air quality and the presence of green spaces.

Like many small islands, Malta has problems with garbage disposal. In addition, there is a high level of environmental pollution from sewage problems, noise pollution and air pollution, which is due, among other things, to mass tourism or is exacerbated by it. On the other hand, tourism also has a positive impact on the environment of Malta, as more attention is paid to the waste problem in tourist regions. Overall, Malta is very dependent on the many mass tourists and ecotourism is hardly widespread on the main island. Ecotourism offers can therefore be found for the most part on the more rural side island of Gozo, as the number of traditional tourists is significantly lower here than on the main island.

Gozo has only 31,000 inhabitants and, unlike the main island, is not as tightly sealed. The government organization EcoGozo tries to establish the aspect of sustainability in all areas of life on Gozo and an image is created that is increasingly aimed at the ecological aspect. The current way of life in western culture, which is no longer just geared towards consumption, is also changing the variety of offers in tourism. On Gozo, for example, you can visit the Xwejni Salt Plants, where salt is extracted directly from the sea water. Here tourists have the chance to experience how local families live in harmony with nature. So there is potential for the establishment of ecotourism on Gozo, while Malta is very much geared towards mass tourists due to its long tourist tradition.

Agriculture and Fisheries

View from the plane of the fields of Malta

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

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

51.2 percent of the total area of ​​Malta is used for arable farming, which corresponds to an area of ​​around 160 km². Agriculture is particularly intensive on Gozo , as there are underground water resources on the island that can be used for irrigation. While agriculture plays a subordinate role for Malta as a whole, it is of greater importance for Gozo.

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

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

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

raw materials

In relation to other countries, few raw materials can be found on the Maltese islands . There are some natural gas and oil deposits in the territorial waters of Malta, but only a small part of them are exploited. More effective funding with more potential was developed in the 2010s.

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

Since the people had already started deforestation in Malta in the Neolithic period , there are hardly any forests on the island and therefore no wood. For this reason, artificially created forest areas were created, which, however, mainly serve as recreational areas.

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

Territories and resources / fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea


As a condition for Malta's accession to the EU in 2004, a 25-mile management zone was created around the island beyond the territorial sea, which is also known as the fisheries zone / fisheries protection zone. In this, Malta has exclusive rights and sovereign powers in fishing. Fishing is restricted to fishing vessels with a total length of less than 12 m, which are not allowed to use a towing device that is moved by machine power. As a result, the use of larger fishing vessels of all nations has shifted, among other things, off the Tunisian coast.

Malta is obliged to monitor and control compliance with the provisions of the various treaties by ships flying its flag. In addition, the declaration of sovereign rights presupposes greater control by Malta with regard to the conservation of resources and the environment. Overall, Malta's sovereign powers in the Mediterranean cover around 8231 km². Of these, 21 km² are internal waters, 3020 km² coastal sea and with 5190 km² the fisheries protection zone forms the largest part.

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

Occurring marine animals

Common species of fish in Malta's waters are jacks, groupers, various species of bream, flying fish, gurnards, stingrays, cloverleaf, cod, red mullet, parrot fish and moray eels. The rocky structures of the underwater coast of Malta also provide ideal living conditions for eels. There are also octopuses and other squids. In winter, dolphins, tuna and bonitos can also be found near the coast of Malta. Mainly gold mackerel ('lampuki'), which are considered the national fish of Malta, as well as swordfish and conger eels are landed.

Culture and sport

Between 1999 and 2006 the Maltese encyclopedia Kullana Kulturali was published .

Museums, theaters and cinemas

Valletta has a total of 16 state museums, the most important of which are the National Museum of Archeology , the War Museum, the Malta Post Museum, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Grandmaster's Palace . The Malta National Aquarium and the Malta Classic Car Collection Museum are located in Qawra. Other interesting collections are Fort Rinella in Kalkara with historical military technology (including a 100-ton cannon), the Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum (in Mdina ) and the Malta Aviation Museum (in Ta 'Qali).

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

On the two inhabited islands, there are six multiplex cinemas and some cinemas in other buildings, according to a list on the Internet .

Church building (selection)

There are more than 365 churches in the small republic of Malta, including two whose domes are among the largest cantilevered domes in Europe: The rotunda dedicated to John the Baptist in Xewkija ( Gozo ) has the fourth largest cantilever church dome in Europe ( list of the largest domes of its time ) . It is surpassed by the Rotunda of Mosta on Malta itself with a diameter of 39 meters, which means second place in Europe.

Exactly 22 places of worship have been counted in Valletta, most of them are in the Street of the Republic. Other notable church buildings are St. Andrew's Scot Church in Valletta, the parish church of St. Francis of Assisi in the district of Qawra, which is more like a fortress, or the Bible Baptist Church in the village of Gzira.

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

World heritage

So far, Malta has three entries in the UNESCO World Heritage List , most of which were made in 1980: the core city of Valletta , the hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni and six megalithic temples (expanded in 1992). In addition, seven other sites were nominated in 1998 , but so far have not been considered, including the military facilities and the old capital Mdina .

Permanent festivals and events (selection)

Freedom Day is celebrated on March 31, Labor Day on May 1, Independence Day on September 21 and Republic Day on December 13. An agricultural fair also takes place once a year. In addition, there are the following cultural events:

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

Sport (selection)

Established in Malta are football (top division Maltese Premier League with twelve teams; see also football in Malta ), water polo , rugby , motor racing and snooker . As an amateur sport there is also often sport climbing , surfing , boxing and kickboxing as well as tennis and boccia (Boċċi). The Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) has its club facilities in Ta 'Xbiex and has organized large regattas such as the Rolex Middle Sea Race (around Sardinia with start and finish in Malta) since 1968.

Film and film industry

Popeye Village on Anchor Bay

A little over 100 years ago, Malta's film industry was largely influenced by its strategic position in the center of the Mediterranean and its status as part of the British Empire. Only after independence in 1964 did countries other than Great Britain recognize the advantages of using Malta as a film location. Malta is a popular film and television backdrop due to its diverse natural landscape and urban architecture.

Official support from institutions such as the Malta Film Commission or the importance of Mediterranean Film Studios is particularly important for success as a film and television set. Mediterranean Film Studios currently operate the world's two largest water basins for filming (surface basins: 122 m × 92 m with 22 million liters and deep water basins: 108 m × 49 m with 43.2 million liters) and are used for film and television productions such as Die Gustloff , Marco W. - 247 days in the Turkish prison , The sinking of the Pamir , Kon-Tiki , Asterix & Obelix - On behalf of Her Majesty , The men of Emden , Wickie and the strong men and many more responsible.

Examples of well-known film productions in Malta are U-571 , Monte Cristo , Troja , Alexander , Gladiator , 12 o'clock at night - Midnight Express , The Da Vinci Code - Da Vinci Code and Munich as well as prestigious television productions such as Game of Thrones . Ridley Scott's Gladiator in particular can be seen as important as it revitalized Malta's range of film-related services, which has further accelerated development as an attractive filming location. Malta has already doubled a number of different locations - from ancient Rome to 19th century Marseille to Beirut in the 1960s.

The film industry is important to the Maltese economy from two perspectives. On the one hand, the film industry is an important part of the rapidly growing service sector; on the other hand, the film industry contributes to the important tourism industry. This is made clear, for example, by the fact that the fishing village setting used in the film Popeye (1980) is a tourist attraction ( Popeye Village ), although the film was a flop at the time. So is the film tourism by local players recognized as a key sub-sector, to promote local development and promote Malta as a tourist destination. It should be noted, however, that in 2013 only 3.5% of tourists said they were visiting Malta due to their visibility on television, among other things.

The scope of the film industry's economic output varies greatly from year to year, depending on the order situation. 2015 was a record year, with more than 100 million euros invested in the Maltese economy by the film sector. In contrast, only 29 million euros were invested in 2014.

Malta in literature

Ships and boats

A specialty of the Maltese Islands are the Luzzus , brightly painted wooden fishing boats, the bow of which is decorated with eyes (Horus or Osiris eyes). The construction of the boats is said to go back to the Phoenicians ; Tradition has it that the eye should protect fishermen from danger. In addition, the boats mostly bear the names of Christian saints.

The colorful boats are a popular photo opportunity for tourists; therefore their maintenance is subsidized by the government. But they are used by the fishermen as work equipment. Some modern excursion boats for tourists are based on the style of the traditional luzzu.

Food specialties

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


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

Maltese literature

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

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

public holidays

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

  • February 10: In-Nawfraġju ta 'San Pawl ( English Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck, memorial day in honor of the shipwreck of St. Paul in the year 60 off Malta )
  • March 19: San Ġużepp (Feast of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph)
  • March 31: Jum il-Ħelsien (Freedom Day, withdrawal of the last British troops in 1979)
  • June 7th: Sette Giugno (Sette Giugno, National Day)
  • June 29: L-Imnarja (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, St. Peter and Paul)
  • September 8: Il-Vittorja (Our Lady of Victory, end of the great siege by the Ottomans in 1565)
  • September 21: L-Indipendenza (Independence Day, 1964)
  • December 13: Jum ir-Repubblika (Republic Day, proclamation of the Republic 1974)

Transport and traffic


Driving on the left is on the left in Malta. Despite its small size, Malta has an extensive public transport system that is used extensively by tourists and locals. This extends from bus traffic to taxi traffic to shipping and air traffic. At the beginning of the 20th century, Malta also had a rail network: a railway line from Valletta to Mdina was built in 1883, but it was discontinued in 1931 due to a lack of profitability. Even the tram in Malta, which was set up in 1905, had to file for bankruptcy after a few years in 1929. There has been no rail infrastructure in Malta since the 1930s.

Local public transport

Situation until around 2010

Nostalgic bus

Due to the fact that it has been part of the Commonwealth for many years, Malta's road traffic is left-hand drive . Overtaking is on the right, but the right-of-way rules apply right before left.

The public transport with buses was introduced 1905th Until 1994, the buses were painted uniformly green; this color scheme dates back to the early 1980s and was intended to express Malta's solidarity with Libya . From 1994 onwards, the buses were painted yellow. The buses on Gozo were traditionally gray. Until around 2010, before the introduction of new buses and the issuing of a license for all local public transport in Malta to the Arriva company , the regular buses were the property of the respective bus driver. In the end, the buses were technically out of date, a lot of them were from the colonial days, so they were a good 50 years old. Anyone wanting to get out had to pull on a cord that led to a mechanical bell mounted next to the driver. The doors of the buses were dismantled or left open during the journey. The airflow replaced the air conditioning. These buses were seen by some as a tourist attraction, by others as a useful, but uncomfortable, unsafe means of transport. Not only were the buses owned by the drivers, like taxi operators, the drivers also drove at their own financial risk. Passengers who did not have a subscription paid cash to the driver. The lines were assigned to the drivers, but instead of an exact timetable, there was only an approximate interval specification (depending on the line, intervals between ten minutes and several hours). Due to the limited transport capacity of the old buses, there was no transport guarantee, and at peak times it was often necessary to wait for one of the next buses.

Since the 1990s, a lot has been invested in the expansion of the road network that connects all Maltese places on the islands with one another.

The alcohol limit in Malta is 0.8. The maximum speed on the motorways and country roads is set at 80 km / h, in built-up areas it is 50 km / h.

Renewal on the threshold of the 21st century

Maltese public bus (painting until July 2011)
Maltese public bus (painting from July 2011)
Maltese public buses (current livery)

In order for Malta to join the EU, the local transport system also had to be renewed. A first step was taken in 1995 with the introduction of a new color system for buses, consisting of a warm yellow color and an orange ribbon. The white roof was retained. Between 1996 and the 2010s, the bus routes were gradually nationalized. The bus drivers took out loans for new buses, the costs of which were later partially borne by the government. To improve quality, a tender for new vehicles was held, in which bus manufacturers from Turkey, Poland, Greece and Macedonia participated. In addition, the Chinese bus manufacturer King Long submitted an offer for new vehicles. Although most bus drivers preferred the BMC Falcon from BMC (Turkey) due to its good performance and road holding , the administration decided to purchase King Long models. With this change, the entire local transport system was also optimized.

From July 15-17, 2008, Malta experienced a strike by bus and taxi drivers with road blockades. The reason for this was the economic worries of bus and taxi drivers that the domestic transport monopoly would overturn if EU law had to be enforced. This would also give entrepreneurs from other EU countries the right to earn money on Malta's local public transport. The Maltese bus drivers in particular, who owned buses, feared for their existence.

On July 3, 2011, local public transport was awarded to Arriva , a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG . After that, the buses of Malta were given a turquoise paintwork in accordance with the new owner's corporate color. 185 new buses were purchased and 79 modernized. The entire fleet now complied with the EU's Euro 5 emissions standard , was handicapped accessible and equipped with air conditioning and surveillance cameras. Of the total of 264 buses, 10 had a hybrid drive, 60 were articulated buses previously unknown in Malta . The central bus station at the city gate of Valletta (which was demolished during the modernization) has been renewed and signposted. Media campaigns also drew attention to the new system. An era ended with the takeover of Maltese bus transport by Arriva: new rolling stock was used, more lines were set up, which were often designed in a ring instead of a star shape, as was previously the case. The latter had greatly increased many journey times, as passengers from the outskirts usually had to travel to the city center before overland trips, in order to start their onward journey from there. Despite the enormous financial and organizational effort, timetables were often not adhered to from now on, and the significantly different tariffs for locals and tourists met with criticism. On the other hand, the Maltese tourist attraction of bus transport disappeared, and many bus drivers lost their livelihoods if they could not get on with Arriva.

The company Malta Public Transport has been operating all bus services in Malta and Gozo since January 1, 2014 , after disastrous conditions and losses of around 50 million euros forced Arriva to give up in just two years. According to the press release of Deutsche Bahn AG, “no adequate profitability could be achieved on the basis of the existing contract.” The sales price was one symbolic euro. The reasons for the failure of Arriva were varied, in part they were due to serious wrong decisions by the company: The 60 articulated buses turned out to be unusable in Malta because they could not drive through numerous narrow streets in the cities. Parked in a moat in Valletta, they were last waiting to be sold (supposedly in Sudan). There were also several fires in buses that were unsuitable for the hot Maltese climate. At least three buses were completely burned out (without personal injury). In retrospect, it turned out that these were buses that had previously been taken out of service in London as unsuitable .

The current public bus network is clearly structured: In general, the buses on the Maltese islands run daily between 5.30 a.m. and 11 p.m. 80 lines connect numerous localities with one another. Each line is served in two directions (no round trips), most lines go to and from the capital Valletta. In general, a distinction is made between these routes:

  • Mainland lines connecting most of the cities on the island of Malta with Valletta (the lines have one- or two-digit numbers).
  • Direct lines connect two cities or villages on the island of Malta without going through Valletta (three-digit line numbers).
  • Night buses run between St. Julian's or Paceville and various localities in Malta (the line number is preceded by an N).
  • Airport and Ċirkewwa Express : Four express bus routes connect the main towns on the island of Malta with the airport and Valletta with the ferry station to Gozo in Ċirkewwa (route numbers consist of the letter X and a number).
  • Bus routes on the island of Gozo (three-digit line numbers).
  • Mater Dei Lines connecting different locations with Malta's largest hospital, the Mater Dei Hospital.
  • Double-decker sightseeing buses on four routes with 44 stops. Tourists can listen to the narrated tours in 16 languages ​​and use the tickets for 24 hours.

Taxi traffic

The taxis can be recognized by their white color. All taxis have meter counters and are required to charge the rates set by the government.

Taxis at the airport operate on a different system. At the international airport, the passenger pays at the taxi ticket counter in the arrivals hall prior to departure. The ticket issued contains the destination and the fee paid.

Air traffic

Malta has an airport, Malta International Airport , and its own airline, Air Malta , based in Luqa. It started operations on April 1, 1974 and connects Malta with more than 35 cities across Europe and the Mediterranean. From Malta Airport, Air Malta primarily serves important European cities such as London, Athens and Moscow and also offers charter flights, such as seasonal flights to Salzburg. In the German-speaking region, there are flights to Berlin-Brandenburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hanover, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Leipzig, Vienna in Austria and Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland.


The Gozo Channel Line maintains connections between the main island of Malta and the sister island of Gozo .

The Grand Harbor in Valletta is considered a modern port facility in the southern Mediterranean. European and US cruise ships are often registered in Malta (→ flag of convenience ), for example the ships of TUI Cruises .

Around the year 2010 around 84% of the passengers were only on shore leave for one day in Malta.

The connection between the islands of Malta is handled by ferries : every hour there is a ferry between Malta (Ċirkewwa) and Gozo ( Mġarr ), which also transports cars, and a ferry from Mġarr on Gozo to Sa Maison (Malta). Since June 1, 2021, there has been a high-speed connection between the capital Valletta and Mġarr on the island of Gozo.

The plan to build tunnels or bridges to connect the islands was rejected in a referendum. In 2016, the government published a plan for a tunnel between the main island of Malta and Gozo .

View of the Grand Harbor from the Upper Barrakka Gardens

There are other ferry connections between Valletta and Catania in Sicily , Reggio Calabria and Salerno on the Italian mainland, Valencia in Spain and Tripoli in Libya . The ferry connection to Tripoli was particularly important during the UN embargo against Libya after the Lockerbie attack , as air traffic to Libya was also suspended; Libyans who wanted to travel abroad therefore used this connection to fly from Malta to countries in Europe or overseas. Since the lifting of the embargo against Libya, the connection has lost its importance and is only served once or twice a week.

Around 3.5 million tons of goods were handled in the Maltese ports in 2014, around 0.1 percent of the total throughput of all ports in the European Union.

Motorized private transport

Around 315,000 vehicles were registered in Malta in 2014 (excluding motorcycles). With a quota of 592 privately registered cars per 1000 inhabitants, Malta was in second place in the European Union in 2012, behind Italy (621) and ahead of Finland (560) or, for example, Germany (530). In 2016, the level of motorization (passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants) was 635. The number of road fatalities per year fluctuated between 9 and 17 between 2003 and 2010. There are no self-produced cars, but all common types of cars are imported from France, Germany and Japan . The roads outside the built-up areas are in good condition as expressways.

In the village of Qawra there is a vintage car museum, the Malta Classic Car Collection . Bicycle traffic plays a completely insignificant role, only a few streets in towns are marked accordingly.


Web links

Wiktionary: Malta  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Malta  - album containing pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Malta  - Travel Guide
Wikisource: Malta  - Sources and full texts

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Coordinates: 35 ° 54 '  N , 14 ° 24'  E