Photos of Malta

Introduction

Background

With a civilization that dates back thousands of years, Malta boasts some of the oldest megalithic sites in the world. Situated in the center of the Mediterranean, Malta’s islands have long served as a strategic military asset, with the islands at various times having come under control of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, and the French. Most recently a British colony (since 1814), Malta gained its independence in 1964 and declared itself a republic 10 years later. While under British rule, the island staunchly supported the UK through both world wars. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination while its key industries moved toward more service-oriented activities. Malta became an EU member in May 2004 and began using the euro as currency in 2008.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)

Geographic coordinates

35 50 N, 14 35 E

Area

total: 316 sq km

land: 316 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 208

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

196.8 km (excludes 56 km for the island of Gozo)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

exclusive fishing zone: 25 nm

Climate

Mediterranean; mild, rainy winters; hot, dry summers

Terrain

mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains; many coastal cliffs

Elevation

highest point: Ta'Dmejrek on Dingli Cliffs 253 m

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

Natural resources

limestone, salt, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 32.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 28.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 3.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.9% (2018 est.)

other: 66.8% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

35 sq km (2020)

Population distribution

most of the population lives on the eastern half of Malta, the largest of the three inhabited islands

Natural hazards

occasional droughts

Geography - note

the country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing oil exploration on the continental shelf between their countries, although no commercially viable reserves have been found as of 2017

People and Society

Population

467,138 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 175

Nationality

noun: Maltese (singular and plural)

adjective: Maltese

Ethnic groups

Maltese (descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians with strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock)

Languages

Maltese (official) 90.1%, English (official) 6%, multilingual 3%, other 0.9% (2005 est.)

Religions

Roman Catholic (official) more than 90% (2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 14.53% (male 34,870/female 32,989)

15-64 years: 62.83% (male 151,927/female 141,561)

65 years and over: 22.65% (2023 est.) (male 48,830/female 56,961)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.1

youth dependency ratio: 19.3

elderly dependency ratio: 27.7

potential support ratio: 3.6 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 43.2 years (2023 est.)

male: 42.1 years

female: 44.4 years

comparison ranking: total 35

Population growth rate

0.59% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 146

Birth rate

9.6 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 193

Death rate

8.6 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 70

Net migration rate

5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 23

Population distribution

most of the population lives on the eastern half of Malta, the largest of the three inhabited islands

Urbanization

urban population: 94.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.28% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

213,000 VALLETTA (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

29.3 years (2020 est.)

note: data refers to the average of the different childbearing ages of first-order births

Maternal mortality ratio

3 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 181

Infant mortality rate

total: 4.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 4.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 4.5 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 182

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 83.4 years (2023 est.)

male: 81.3 years

female: 85.6 years

comparison ranking: total population 12

Total fertility rate

1.51 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 198

Gross reproduction rate

0.74 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

10.8% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

2.86 physicians/1,000 population (2015)

Hospital bed density

4.5 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

28.9% (2016)

comparison ranking: 29

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 8.07 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 2.8 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 2.34 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 2.51 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.42 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 43

Tobacco use

total: 24% (2020 est.)

male: 26.4% (2020 est.)

female: 21.6% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 56

Education expenditures

5.9% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 45

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 94.9%

male: 93.4%

female: 96.4% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 17 years

female: 18 years (2020)

Environment

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources; increasing reliance on desalination; deforestation; wildlife preservation

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Climate

Mediterranean; mild, rainy winters; hot, dry summers

Land use

agricultural land: 32.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 28.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 3.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.9% (2018 est.)

other: 66.8% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 94.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.28% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 192

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 112

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 12.93 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.34 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.2 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 269,000 tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 17,996 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 6.7% (2015 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 40 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 1 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

50 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Malta

conventional short form: Malta

local long form: Repubblika ta' Malta

local short form: Malta

etymology: the ancient Greeks called the island "Melite" meaning "honey-sweet" from the Greek word "meli" meaning "honey" and referring to the island's honey production

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Valletta

geographic coordinates: 35 53 N, 14 30 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: named in honor of Jean de VALETTE, the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John (crusader knights), who successfully led a defense of the island from an Ottoman invasion in 1565

Administrative divisions

68 localities (Il-lokalita); Attard, Balzan, Birgu, Birkirkara, Birzebbuga, Bormla, Dingli, Fgura, Floriana, Fontana, Ghajnsielem, Gharb, Gharghur, Ghasri, Ghaxaq, Gudja, Gzira, Hamrun, Iklin, Imdina, Imgarr, Imqabba, Imsida, Imtarfa, Isla, Kalkara, Kercem, Kirkop, Lija, Luqa, Marsa, Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk, Mellieha, Mosta, Munxar, Nadur, Naxxar, Paola, Pembroke, Pieta, Qala, Qormi, Qrendi, Rabat, Rabat (Ghawdex), Safi, San Giljan/Saint Julian, San Gwann/Saint John, San Lawrenz/Saint Lawrence, Sannat, San Pawl il-Bahar/Saint Paul's Bay, Santa Lucija/Saint Lucia, Santa Venera/Saint Venera, Siggiewi, Sliema, Swieqi, Tarxien, Ta' Xbiex, Valletta, Xaghra, Xewkija, Xghajra, Zabbar, Zebbug, Zebbug (Ghawdex), Zejtun, Zurrieq

Independence

21 September 1964 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974)

Constitution

history: many previous; latest adopted 21 September 1964

amendments: proposals (Acts of Parliament) require at least two-thirds majority vote by the House of Representatives; passage of Acts requires majority vote by referendum, followed by final majority vote by the House and assent of the president of the republic; amended many times, last in 2020

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and civil law based on the Roman and Napoleonic civil codes; subject to European Union law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Malta

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age (16 in local council elections); universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Myriam Spiteri DEBONO (since 4 April 2024)

head of government: Prime Minister Robert ABELA (13 January 2020)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the House of Representatives for a single 5-year term; election last held on 27 March 2024 (next to be held by March 2029); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the president for a 5-year term; deputy prime minister appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister

election results: 2024:  Myriam SPITERI DEBONO elected president; House of representatives vote - unanimous

2020:
Robert ABELA (PL) appointed prime minister

2019:
George VELLA (PL) elected president; House of Representatives vote - unanimous

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Representatives or Il-Kamra Tad-Deputati, a component of the Parliament of Malta (65 seats statutory, 79 for 2022-2027 term; members directly elected in 5 multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections:
last held on 26 March 2022 (next to be held in 2027)

election results:
percent of vote by party - PL 55.1%, PN 41.7%, other 3.2%; seats by party - PL 38, PN 29; composition as of February 2024 - men 57, women 22, percentage women 27.9%; note - due to underepresentation by women in the combined general on 26 March and two casual elections on 7 and 12 April (10 seats or 14.9%), an additional 12 seats were awarded because their percentage did not meet the 40% threshold required by the Malta Constitution or the General Elections Amendment Act 2021

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of either 1 or 3 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 3 judges); Court of Criminal Appeal (consists of either 1 or 3 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president, usually upon the advice of the prime minister; judges of both courts serve until age 65

subordinate courts: Civil Court (divided into the General Jurisdiction Section, Family Section, and Voluntary Section); Criminal Court; Court of Magistrates; Gozo Courts (for the islands of Gozo and Comino)

Political parties and leaders

AD+PD or ADPD [Carmel CACOPARDO] (formed from the merger of Democratic Alternative or AD and Democratic Party (Partit Demokratiku) or PD)
Labor Party (Partit Laburista) or PL [Robert ABELA]
Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista) or PN [Bernard GRECH]

International organization participation

Australia Group, C, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO (partner), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNWTO, UPU, Wassenaar Arrangement, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Godfrey C. XUEREB (since 19 April 2023)

chancery: 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; note - The Embassy of Malta has relocated until further notice to the following address due to ongoing refurbishment:

C/O WeWork Flr 2
1333 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington DC, 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 462-3611; note - The Embassy of Malta has relocated until further notice due to ongoing refurbishment and can be reached at the following number:  [1] (202) 286-4610

FAX: [1] (202) 387-5470; note - The Embassy of Malta has relocated until further notice due to ongoing refurbishment and can be reached by FAX at the following number:  [1] (202) 530-9753​

email address and website:
maltaembassy.washington@gov.mt

https://foreignandeu.gov.mt/en/Embassies/ME_United_States/Pages/ME_United_States.aspx

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Constance J. MILSTEIN (since October 27, 2022)

embassy: Ta' Qali National Park, Attard, ATD 4000

mailing address: 5800 Valletta Place, Washington DC  20521-5800

telephone: [356] 2561-4000

email address and website:
ACSMalta@state.gov

https://mt.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

two equal vertical bands of white (hoist side) and red; in the upper hoist-side corner is a representation of the George Cross, edged in red; according to legend, the colors are taken from the red and white checkered banner of Count Roger of Sicily who removed a bi-colored corner and granted it to Malta in 1091; an uncontested explanation is that the colors are those of the Knights of Saint John who ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798; in 1942, King George VI of the UK awarded the George Cross to the islanders for their exceptional bravery and gallantry in World War II; since independence in 1964, the George Cross bordered in red has appeared directly on the white field

National symbol(s)

Maltese eight-pointed cross; national colors: red, white

National anthem

name: "L-Innu Malti" (The Maltese Anthem)

lyrics/music: Dun Karm PSAILA/Robert SAMMUT

note: adopted 1945; written in the form of a prayer

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 3 (all cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: City of Valletta; Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum; Megalithic Temples of Malta

Economy

Economic overview

high-income, EU-member European economy; diversified portfolio; euro user; dependent on food and energy imports; strong tourism, trade, and manufacturing sectors; high North African immigration; large welfare system; educated workforce

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$25.834 billion (2022 est.)
$24.163 billion (2021 est.)
$21.517 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 147

Real GDP growth rate

6.92% (2022 est.)
12.3% (2021 est.)
-8.08% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 43

Real GDP per capita

$48,600 (2022 est.)
$46,600 (2021 est.)
$41,800 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 36

GDP (official exchange rate)

$18.126 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

6.15% (2022 est.)
1.5% (2021 est.)
0.64% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 97

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: A+ (2017)

Moody's rating: A2 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: A- (2016)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 10.2% (2017 est.)

services: 88.7% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 11; industry 204; agriculture 195

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 45.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 15.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 21.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.3% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 136.1% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -117.9% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cauliflowers, broccoli, eggplants, pork, cabbages, poultry

Industries

tourism, electronics, ship building and repair, construction, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, footwear, clothing, tobacco, aviation services, financial services, information technology services

Industrial production growth rate

4.3% (2014 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 78

Labor force

295,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 167

Unemployment rate

2.92% (2022 est.)
3.39% (2021 est.)
4.35% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 37

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 9.8% (2021 est.)

male: 13.6%

female: 5.8%

comparison ranking: total 155

Population below poverty line

16.7% (2021 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

31.4 (2020 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 138

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.1%

highest 10%: 25.1% (2020 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

1.25% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.49% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $5.661 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $5.586 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

3.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 9

Public debt

50.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
56.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: Malta reports public debt at nominal value outstanding at the end of the year, according to guidelines set out in the Maastricht Treaty for general government gross debt; the data include the following categories of government liabilities (as defined in ESA95): currency and deposits (AF.2), securities other than shares excluding financial derivatives (AF.3, excluding AF.34), and loans (AF.4); general government comprises the central, state, and local governments, and social security funds

comparison ranking: 103

Taxes and other revenues

23.77% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 59

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.02 billion (2022 est.)
$214.463 million (2021 est.)
$348.601 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 124

Exports

$25.417 billion (2022 est.)
$25.533 billion (2021 est.)
$22.735 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 84

Exports - partners

Germany 12%, France 9%, Italy 9% (2019)

Exports - commodities

integrated circuits, refined petroleum, packaged medicines, postage stamps, children's toys and stuffed animals, ships (2021)

Imports

$23.883 billion (2022 est.)
$22.958 billion (2021 est.)
$20.164 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 90

Imports - partners

Russia 22%, Italy 12%, United Kingdom 11%, Germany 6%, Turkey 5%, France 5%, China 5%, South Korea 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, recreational boats, ships, aircraft, coal tar oil (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.199 billion (2022 est.)
$1.149 billion (2021 est.)
$930.464 million (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 144

Debt - external

$98.179 billion (2019 est.)
$104.467 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 57

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
0.95 (2022 est.)
0.845 (2021 est.)
0.876 (2020 est.)
0.893 (2019 est.)
0.847 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 784,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 2,497,143,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 4 million kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 420 million kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 158 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: imports 92; exports 97; installed generating capacity 139; transmission/distribution losses 63; consumption 145

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 88.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 11.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 54,000 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 143

Refined petroleum products - exports

10,400 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 81

Refined petroleum products - imports

52,290 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 415.606 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 415.606 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

9.576 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 8.831 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 745,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 108

Energy consumption per capita

267.739 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 14

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 259,120 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 49 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 115

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 644,955 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 122 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 171

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Malta’s small telecom sector is among the most advanced in Europe; this has been helped by the topography, which has made it relatively easy for operators to expand the reach of their fiber infrastructure; with high mobile and broadband penetration rates, the government and regulator have effective strategies in place to capitalize on these infrastructure developments to ensure that the population has among the fastest data rates in Europe, and is well positioned to take advantage of emerging e-commerce opportunities; the sector has also been stimulated by regulatory measures designed to reduce consumer prices; the incumbent telco is investing in a sub sea cable to connect the islands to France and Egypt; expected to be ready for service in 2022, the cable will further enhance Malta’s internet bandwidth and lead to reduced prices for end-users; there has also been some encouragement to increase market competition (2021)

domestic: fixed-line approximately 49 per 100  persons and mobile-cellular subscribership 122 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 356; landing points for the Malta-Gozo Cable, VMSCS, GO-1 Mediterranean Cable System, Malta Italy Interconnector, Melita-1, and the Italy-Malta submarine cable connections to Italy; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

2 publicly owned TV stations, Television Malta broadcasting nationally plus an educational channel; several privately owned national television stations, 2 of which are owned by political parties; Italian and British broadcast programs are available; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; publicly owned radio broadcaster operates 3 stations; roughly 20 commercial radio stations (2019)

Internet users

total: 461,100 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 87% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 168

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 213,419 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 48 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 117

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 13 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 180

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,576,898 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 5.14 million (2018) mt-km

Airports

1 (2024)

comparison ranking: 219

Heliports

2 (2024)

Roadways

total: 2,855 km (2021)

comparison ranking: total 167

Merchant marine

total: 1,957 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 490, container ship 348, general cargo 152, oil tanker 354, other 613

comparison ranking: total 14

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Marsaxlokk (Malta Freeport), Valletta

container port(s) (TEUs): Marsaxlokk (2,967,765) (2021)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Delimara

Military and Security

Military and security forces

the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) is a joint force with land, maritime, and air elements, plus a Volunteer Reserve Force (2024)

note: the Malta Police Force maintains internal security; both the Police and the AFM report to the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Security, and Law Enforcement

Military expenditures

0.8% of GDP (2023 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2022)
0.5% of GDP (2021)
0.6% of GDP (2020)
0.5% of GDP (2019)

comparison ranking: 136

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 2,000 active-duty personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military has a small inventory that consists of equipment from a mix of European countries, particularly Italy and the US (2024)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for men and women for voluntary military service; no conscription (2024)

Military - note

the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) are responsible for external security but also have some domestic security responsibilities; the AFM’s primary roles include maintaining the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, monitoring and policing its territorial waters, participating in overseas peacekeeping and stability operations, and providing search and rescue and explosive ordnance disposal capabilities; secondary missions include assisting civil authorities during emergencies, supporting the police and other security services, and providing ceremonial and other public support duties; the AFM has a joint force headquarters with five subordinate units—three land regiments, an air wing, and a maritime squadron; the air wing does not have any fighter aircraft but has both fixed and rotary wing aircraft for such tasks as maritime law enforcement and surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and transport; the maritime squadron is outfitted with both offshore patrol vessels and inshore patrol boats, and includes a small marine force element for maritime law enforcement and boarding operations, as well as a small land component tasked with defending the territorial integrity of the island of Gozo and providing military assistance to the Malta Police Force and other government departments

Malta maintains a security policy of neutrality but contributes to EU and UN military missions and joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1995 (suspended in 1996, but reactivated in 2008); it also participates in various bilateral and multinational military exercises; Malta cooperates closely with Italy on defense matters; in 1973, Italy established a military mission in Malta to provide advice, training, and search and rescue assistance (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST; established in 1988 by the Maltese Government as a public body to provide advice and coordinate on science, technology, and space-related issues) (2023)

Space program overview

the MSCT was originally established by the Maltese Government to provide advice on science and technology policy; its mission has since expanded to building relationships with foreign space agencies, the Maltese Government, industry, and the educational sector with the aim of exploring the use and sharing of space-related applications; the MCST acts for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology; it has established relationships with the European Space Agency (ESA), the French Space Agency (CNES), the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and Eurisy, a Paris-based, non-profit association that brings together space agencies, international organizations, research institutions, and private businesses involved or interested in space-related activities across Europe (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 5,890 (Ukraine) (as of 16 July 2023)

stateless persons: 11 (2022)

note: 8,556 estimated refugee and migrant arrivals by sea (January 2015-November 2022)

Illicit drugs

minor transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to Western Europe