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 ten 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

country comparison to the world: 208

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC

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

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

highest point: Ta'Dmejrek on Dingli Cliffs 253 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 (2012)

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

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: 14.38% (male 33,934/female 31,823)

15-24 years: 10.33% (male 24,445/female 22,811)

25-54 years: 41.1% (male 97,685/female 90,264)

55-64 years: 12.88% (male 29,533/female 29,353)

65 years and over: 21.3% (male 44,644/female 52,775) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.5

youth dependency ratio: 22.4

elderly dependency ratio: 33.2

potential support ratio: 3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 42.3 years

male: 41.2 years

female: 43.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 35

Birth rate

9.84 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

Death rate

8.37 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73

Net migration rate

6.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 16

Population distribution

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

Urbanization

urban population: 94.7% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 0.38% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

213,000 VALLETTA (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

28.9 years (2017 est.)

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

Maternal mortality rate

6 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 161

Infant mortality rate

total: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 4.51 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 4.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 83 years

male: 80.91 years

female: 85.19 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 13

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 (2017 est.)

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 (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2016 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 94.5%

male: 93%

female: 96% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 9.1%

male: 11.2%

female: 6.8% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 133

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 George VELLA (since 4 April 2019) 

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 2 April 2019 (next to be held by April 2024); 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: George VELLA (PL) elected president; House of Representatives vote - unanimous; Joseph MUSCAT (PL) reappointed prime minister

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Representatives or Il-Kamra Tad-Deputati, a component of the Parliament of Malta (normally 65 seats but can include at-large members; members directly elected in 5 multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms); note - the parliament elected in 2013 had 69 seats; an additional two seats were added in 2016 by the Constitutional Court to correct for mistakes made in the 2013 vote-counting process

elections: last held on 3 June 2017 (next to be held in 2022); note - Prime Minister MUSCAT called for early elections amid corruption allegations

election results: percent of vote by party - PL 55%, PN 43.7%, other 1.3%; seats by party - PL 37 PN 30; note - PN was awarded two additional seats for a total of 30 in accordance with the proportionality provisions specified in the constitution; PD candidates ran under the PN list; composition - men 57, women 10, percent of women 14.9%

Judicial branch

highest courts: 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

Democratic Party (Partit Demokratiku) or PD [Godfrey FARRUGIA]
Labor Party (Partit Laburista) or PL [Joseph MUSCAT]
Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista) or PN [Adrian DELIA]

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, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Keith AZZOPARDI (since 17 September 2018)

chancery: 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 462-3611 through 3612

FAX: [1] (202) 387-5470

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Gwendolyn "Wendy" GREEN (since August 2020)

telephone: [356] 2561-4000

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

mailing address: 5800 Valletta Place, Dulles, VA 20189

FAX: [356] 2561-4183

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

Economy

Economic overview

Malta’s free market economy – the smallest economy in the euro-zone – relies heavily on trade in both goods and services, principally with Europe. Malta produces less than a quarter of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. Malta's economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing, and tourism. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.

Malta has weathered the euro-zone crisis better than most EU member states due to a low debt-to-GDP ratio and financially sound banking sector. It maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, and growth has fully recovered since the 2009 recession. In 2014 through 2016, Malta led the euro zone in growth, expanding more than 4.5% per year.

Malta’s services sector continues to grow, with sustained growth in the financial services and online gaming sectors. Advantageous tax schemes remained attractive to foreign investors, though EU discussions of anti-tax avoidance measures have raised concerns among Malta’s financial services and insurance providers, as the measures could have a significant impact on those sectors. The tourism sector also continued to grow, with 2016 showing record-breaking numbers of both air and cruise passenger arrivals.

Malta’s GDP growth remains strong and is supported by a strong labor market. The government has implemented new programs, including free childcare, to encourage increased labor participation. The high cost of borrowing and small labor market remain potential constraints to future economic growth. Increasingly, other EU and European migrants are relocating to Malta for employment, though wages have remained low compared to other European countries. Inflation remains low.

Real GDP growth rate

4.94% (2019 est.)

5.17% (2018 est.)

8.03% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.6% (2019 est.)

1.1% (2018 est.)

1.3% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: A+ (2017)

Moody's rating: A2 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: A- (2016)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$22.133 billion (2019 est.)

$21.095 billion (2018 est.)

$20.056 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 148

GDP (official exchange rate)

$14.986 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$44,032 (2019 est.)

$43,528 (2018 est.)

$42,856 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 39

Gross national saving

27.5% of GDP (2019 est.)

28.6% of GDP (2018 est.)

27.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 10.2% (2017 est.)

services: 88.7% (2017 est.)

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.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 66.1 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 88.2 (2020)

Trading score: 88.9 (2020)

Enforcement score: 67.6 (2020)

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

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.6%

industry: 20.7%

services: 77.7% (2016 est.)

Unemployment rate

0.78% (2019 est.)

0.89% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 5

Budget

revenues: 5.076 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 4.583 billion (2017 est.)

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

country comparison to the world: 99

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$1.561 billion (2019 est.)

$1.55 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Exports

$23.868 billion (2019 est.)

$22.475 billion (2018 est.)

$22.607 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Exports - partners

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

Exports - commodities

integrated circuits, refined petroleum, packaged medicines, children's toys and stuffed animals, postage stamps  (2019)

Imports

$21.94 billion (2019 est.)

$20.335 billion (2018 est.)

$20.257 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

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

$833 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$677.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 139

Debt - external

$98.179 billion (2019 est.)

$104.467 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 57

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.82771 (2020 est.)

0.90338 (2019 est.)

0.87789 (2018 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

0.7634 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 264,557

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 58.36 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 115

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 653,414

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 144.14 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 166

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: one of the most advanced telecoms in Europe, high penetration of mobile and broadband, and a way forward to expand e-commerce opportunities; stimulated by regulator measures to reduce consumer prices; extensive FttP network and investment in LTE and fiber thru 2023; launches 5G ready network (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 58 per 100  persons and mobile-cellular subscribership 144 per 100 persons; automatic system featuring submarine cable and microwave radio relay between islands (2019)

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)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

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: 365,521

percent of population: 81.4% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 161

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 191,833

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 43 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 110

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 mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

Heliports

2 (2013)

Roadways

total: 2,254 km (2001)

paved: 1,973 km (2001)

unpaved: 281 km (2001)

urban: 1,422 km (2001)

non-urban: 832 km (2001)

country comparison to the world: 169

Merchant marine

total: 2,207

by type: bulk carrier 617, container ship 315, general cargo 240, oil tanker 422, other 613 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 11

Ports and terminals

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

container port(s) (TEUs): Marsaxlokk (3,150,000) (2017)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of Malta (AFM, includes land, maritime, and air elements, plus a Volunteer Reserve Force) (2021)

Military expenditures

0.5% of GDP (2019)

0.5% of GDP (2018)

0.5% of GDP (2017)

0.5% of GDP (2016)

0.5% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 156

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Armed Forces of Malta have approximately 2,000 active duty personnel (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the small inventory of the Armed Forces of Malta consists of equipment from a mix of European countries, particularly Italy, and the US (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2021)

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 11 (2018)

note: 7,346 estimated refugee and migrant arrivals by sea (January 2015-March 2021)

Illicit drugs

minor transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to Western Europe