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Repubblika ta' Malta
Republic of Malta
Flag of Malta Malta: Coat of Arms
( In Detail) ( Full size)
Location of Malta
Official languages Maltese and English
35°48'39" N 014°28'45" E
Largest City Birkirkara
President Edward Fenech Adami
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi
Religion 96.7% Roman Catholicism
- Total
- % water
Ranked 185th
316 km²
- Total (2005)
- Density
Ranked 165th
- Date
From the UK
September 21, 1964
Currency Maltese lira (Lm) ( MTL)
Time zone
- in summer
CET ( UTC+1)
National anthem L-Innu Malti
Internet TLD .mt
Calling Code +356
Patron Saints Saint Paul
Saint Agatha
Saint Publius
Pope Pius V
National bird Blue Rock Thrush
National plant Maltese Rock Centaury
(Widnet il-Baħar)
National tree Tetraclinis Articulata
National poet Dun Karm Psaila
The Republic of Malta (usually shortened to Malta) is a small and densely populated island nation consisting of an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Although Malta geophysically constitutes a part of North Africa — lying on the African continental plate directly south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya — the country is geopolitically located in Southern Europe. The Maltese language is the only Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family native to a geopolitically European country.These strategically located islands have been ruled and fought over by various powers over the centuries. Malta is the smallest EU country in terms of both population and area. Malta has many museums, shops, beaches, and leisure activities in a densely packed area. It is a well-known popular vacation destination among Europeans.

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History - Contents

Malta has been inhabited since around 5200 BC. A significant prehistoric civilization, that predates the Pyramids of Giza by a millennium, is believed to have existed on the islands. Phoenicians colonized the islands at around 1000 BC, using it as an outpost from which they expanded sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean. In 736 BC, they were occupied by the Greeks who called the colony "Melita".
Hagar Qim Temples, Qrendi, Malta
Hagar Qim Temples, Qrendi, Malta
These islands later came under the control of Carthage ( 400 BC) and then of Rome ( 218 BC). The islands prospered under Roman rule, during which time it was considered a Municipium and a Feodorata Civitas. Many Roman antiquities still exist, testifying to the close link between the Maltese inhabitants and the people of Rome. In AD 60, the islands were visited by Saint Paul, who is said to have been shipwrecked on the shores of the aptly named Saint Paul's Bay.After a period of Byzantine rule ( 4th to 9th century) and a probable sack by the Vandals, the islands were conquered by the Arabs in AD 870. Life in Malta during the Arab rule was completely different from contemporary Maltese life. The official language of Malta was Arabic, and the majority of the population adopted it as their mother tongue. Malta's official religion was Islam, and by the 11th century, the majority of Malta's population was Muslim. Their influence can be seen most prominently in the modern Maltese language, which is derived from Arabic. Maltese has also been heavily influenced by Romance languages and is written in a variety of the Latin alphabet.The period of Arab rule lasted until 1090, when the islands were taken by the Sicilian Normans, restoring Christianity again. Subsequent rulers included the Angevines, Hohenstaufen, and the Aragonese ( 1287). The Maltese nobility was established during this period; some of it dating back to 1090. About 32 noble titles remain in use today, of which the oldest is Barons of Djar il Bniet and Buqana.In 1530, the islands were given by Spain to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in perpetual lease ( Aragon having owned the island as part of their Mediterranean empire for some time). These Knights, a militant monastic order now known as the "Knights of Malta", had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. They withstood a full-blown siege by the Ottoman Turks in 1565, who, at that time, were considered to be the greatest non-European military power. After this they decided to increase the fortifications, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new city of Valletta, named after Jean Parisot de la Valette, was built.Their reign ended when Malta was captured by Napoleon in 1798 en route to his expedition of Egypt. As a ruse, Napoleon asked for safe harbor to resupply his ships, and then turned his guns against his hosts once safely inside Valetta. Grand Master Hompesch capitulated, and Napoleon stayed in Malta for a few days during which he systematically looted the moveable assets of the Order and established an administration controlled by his nominees. He then sailed for Egypt leaving a substantial garrison in Malta. The occupying French forces were unpopular, however, due particularly to their negative attitude towards religion. The Maltese rebelled against them, and the French were forced behind the fortifications. Great Britain, along with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, sent munitions and aid. Britain also sent her navy, which instigated a blockade of the islands. The isolated French forces, under General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois, surrendered in 1800, and the island became a British protectorate, being presented by several Maltese leaders to Sir Alexander Ball.
Fortifications of Malta harbor.
Fortifications of Malta harbor.
In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris, Malta officially became a part of the British Empire and was used as a shipping waystation and fleet headquarters. Malta's proximity to the Suez Canal proved to be its main asset during these years, and it was considered to be a most important stop on the way to India. In the 1930s, due to Malta's cultural and geographical proximity to Italy, the British Mediterranean Fleet was moved to Alexandria. Malta played an important role during World War II, owing to its vicinity to Axis shipping lanes, and its people's bravery led to the awarding of the George Cross now seen on its flag.After the war, and after a short period of political instability due to the Malta Labour Party's unsuccessful attempt at 'Integration with Britain', Malta was granted independence on September 21, 1964 ( Independence Day). Under its 1964 constitution, Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta, with a Governor-General exercising executive authority on her behalf, but on December 13, 1974 it became a republic within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of state ( Republic Day). A defence agreement signed soon after Independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on March 31, 1979 ( Freedom Day) when the British military forces were withdrawn. Malta joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Politics - Contents

Dr. Edward Fenech Adami, President of Malta since 2004
Dr. Edward Fenech Adami, President of Malta since 2004
The unicameral House of Representatives, known in Maltese as Kamra tad-Deputati, is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Representatives is made up of 65 MPs. However, where a party manages an absolute majority of votes, but not of seats, that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority. The Parliamentary system (as well as public administration) is closely modeled on the Westminster system.The President of the Republic is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is highly ceremonial.The main political parties are the Nationalist Party which is Christian Democrat and the Malta Labour Party which is Social Democrat. There is also Alternattiva Demokratika (a Green Party) which has no parliamentary seats. The two other smaller parties are the Alpha Party, led by Dr. Emmy Bezzina and Dr. John Zammit and Imperium Europa. The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Dr. Lawrence Gonzi. The Malta Labour Party, under Dr. Alfred Sant, is in opposition.

Geography - Contents

Map of Malta

Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea, some 93 km south of Sicily. Only the three largest islands Malta Island (Malta), Gozo (Għawdex), and Comino (Kemmuna) are inhabited. Numerous bays along the indented coastline of the islands provide good harbours. The landscape is characterised by low hills with terraced fields. The highest point, which even many locals have no idea how to locate, is the Ta' Dmejrek on Malta Island at 253 m near Dingli.The Malta Channel to the north seperates Malta from the island of Sicily ,the largest isle in Italy.The local climate is Mediterranean temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands attractive for tourists especially during the drier months.Contrary to popular belief, the south of Malta is not Europe's most southern point: Malta is Europe's 4th southernmost country; Spain (Punta de Tarifa), Cyprus and Greece (island of Gavdos), rank 3rd, 2nd, and 1st respectively.Since 1993, Malta has been subdivided into 68 local councils or localities. These form the most basic form of local government. There are no intermediate levels between local government and national government.
Local Councils of Malta Flag of Malta
Malta Island
Attard | Balzan | Birgu | Birkirkara | Birżebbuġa | Bormla (Cospicua) | Dingli | Fgura | Floriana | Gudja | Gżira | Għargħur | Għaxaq | Ħamrun | Iklin | Isla (Senglea) | Kalkara | Kirkop | Lija | Luqa | Marsa | Marsaskala | Marsaxlokk | Mdina | Mellieħa | Mġarr | Mosta | Mqabba | Msida | Mtarfa | Naxxar | Paola | Pembroke | Pietà | Qormi | Qrendi | Rabat | Safi | St. Julian's (San Ġiljan) | Santa Luċija | St. Paul's Bay (San Pawl il-Baħar) | San Ġwann | Santa Venera | Siġġiewi | Sliema | Swieqi | Ta' Xbiex | Tarxien | Valletta | Xgħajra | Żabbar | Żebbuġ | Żejtun | Żurrieq
Gozo Island
Fontana | Għajnsielem | Għarb | Għasri | Kerċem | Munxar | Nadur | Qala | Victoria (Rabat) | Saint Lawrence (San Lawrenz) | Sannat | Xagħra | Xewkija | Żebbuġ

Economy - Contents

A Maltese worker producing system components for wireless communication
A Maltese worker producing system components for wireless communication
Until 1800, Malta had very few industries except the cotton, tobacco, and shipyards industry. The dockyard was later used by the British for military purposes. At times of war, Malta's economy prospered due to its strategic location.In 1869, the opening of the Suez Canal benefited Malta's economy greatly as there was a massive increase in the shipping which entered in the port.By the end of the 19th century, the economy began declining and by the 1940s, Malta's economy was in serious crisis. This was due to invention of large ships which did not require refuelling.Nowadays, Malta’s major resources are limestone, a favourable geographic location, and a productive labour force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies, and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade (serving as a freight trans-shipment point), manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles), and tourism. Tourism Infrastructure has increased dramatically over the years and a number of quality hotels are present on the island.Malta has recently privatised some state-controlled firms and liberalised markets in order to prepare for membership in the European Union, which it joined on May 1, 2004. Malta and Tunisia are currently discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for petroleum exploration.The Maltese government is intending to adopt the euro as the country's currency on 1 January 2008, having entered ERM II in May 2005.Although Malta is now a member of the European Union, it is not a member of the Schengen Treaty yet. It is currently adopting Schengen regulations with the goal to be finished by 2007.

Demographics - Contents

The Maltese at their local fish market
The Maltese at their local fish market
According to the last demographic survey (2003) the estimated population of the Malta at the end of that year (including non-Maltese residents) was 399,867 of whom 198,099 were males and 201,768 were females.In the same year there was a net natural increase of 872 persons and a net inflow of 1,699 persons in the total population. Fertility rate has stabilised but with a crude birth rate of 10.06 Malta remains one of the "youngest" European populations (the 0-14 age group represents 18.2% of the total population).The national language of Malta is Maltese. The Maltese alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, but uses the diacritically altered letters ż, also found in Polish, as well as the letters ċ, ġ and ħ, which are unique to Maltese. The official languages are English and Maltese. Italian is also widely spoken and taught in secondary schools.

Education - Contents

Students during the Graduation Ceremony at the University of Malta
Students during the Graduation Ceremony at the University of Malta
Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 years. Whilst the state provides education free of charge, the Church and the private sector run a number of schools in Malta and Gozo. Most of the teachers' salary in Church schools is paid by the state.Education in Malta is based on the British Model. The first years of education in Malta are done in kindergarten. Attendance is up to 5 years and not compulsary. Compulsary education starts at the age of 6 with primary education. Primary education lasts for 6 years. Following public examinations, students enter secondary education. Following a five-year course preparing for the Secondary Education Certificate (SEC), equivalent to the British ordinary level General Certificate of Education (GCE), students sit for final examinations (results are used in the school-leaving certificate), and in general also sit for the SEC examinations. SEC examinations require students to be aged 16 and over, or to have a school-leaving certificate. Students who have repeated years are therefore able to apportion their SEC examinations over the last two years at school.Once compulsory secondary education ends, students may enter either in a vocational college such as MCAST or a Sixth Form. Sixth forms provide a two-year course leading to the Matriculation Certificate which is the equivalent of the UK Advanced Level Examinations and Advanced Subsidiary Examinations. For students unsuccessful in their SEC examinations, there is the option of attending a Higher Secondary school, a sort of safety net to give students the possibility to catch up, where any core subjects (mathematics, english language, maltese, and a natural science) previously failed are again taught at ordinary in preperation for SEC examinations, while also teaching intermediate and advanced level subjects. Students may also choose to attend specialised private institutions leading to diplomas and degrees of foreign examination bodies in careers such as IT ( London University), Networking ( CISCO), Accountancy ( ACCA) and Banking. Tertiary education at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate level is mainly provided by the University of Malta (UoM). Qualifications from the UoM are fully recognised internationally after its conversion to using the European ECTS credits system. Admission requires a minimum overall C grade in the Matriculation certificate and passes at ordinary level of the core subjects. Special course requirements are mostly based on single-subject results in the Matriculation certificate. Some of the qualifications obtained from private institutions are also recognised. Full-time attendance by Maltese citizens is free-of-charge, while part-time (evening) attendance is not.The Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) satisfies one of its dual roles by offering training for adults of any age and experience. The University of Malta offers similar courses and also gives the option of entering normal full-/part-time courses as a mature student - persons aged 23 and over are exempted from satisfying the University entry requirements, though these still have to satisfy any special cource requirements.The adult literacy rate is 92%.
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