Malta

Introduction Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004, and will begin to use the euro as currency in 2008.
History

Early settlements of Malta

Malta is home to the oldest freestanding structure in the world: the oldest of all the megalithic temples on the islands is il-Ġgantija, in Gozo (Għawdex) dating back to before 3500 BC. One of the very earliest marks of civilization on the islands is the temple of Ħaġar Qim, which dates from between 3200 and 2500 BC, stands on a hilltop on the southern edge of the island of Malta. Adjacent to Ħaġar Qim, lies another remarkable temple site, l-Imnajdra. The people who built these structures eventually died out or at any rate disappeared. Phoenicians colonized the islands around 700 BC,[7] using them as an outpost from which they expanded sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean.

After the fall of Tyre, the islands later came under the control of Carthage (400 BC), a former Phoenician colony, and then of Rome (218 BC). The islands prospered under Roman rule, during which time they were considered a Municipium and a Foederata Civitas. Many Roman antiquities still exist, testifying to the close link between the Maltese inhabitants and the people of Rome. The island was a favorite among Roman soldiers as a place to retire from active service. In 60 AD the islands were visited by Saint Paul, who is said to have been shipwrecked on the shores of the aptly-named "San Pawl il-Baħar" (Saint Paul's Bay). Studies of the currents and prevalent winds at the time however, render it more likely that the shipwreck occurred in or around Daħlet San Tumas in Marsascala.[citation needed]

After a period of Byzantine rule (fourth to ninth century) and a probable sack by the Vandals, the islands were conquered by the Arabs in 870 AD. The Arabs, who generally tolerated the population's Christianity, introduced the cultivation of citrus fruits and cotton, and irrigation systems. Arab influence can be seen most prominently in the modern Maltese language, a Semitic language which also contains significant Romance influences, and is written in a variation of the Latin alphabet.

The period of Arab rule lasted until 1091, when the islands were taken by the Siculo-Normans. A century later the last Norman king, Tancredo di Lecce, appointed Margarito di Brindisi the first Count of Malta. Subsequent rulers included the Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese, Castillians who reconstituted a County of Malta in 1283. The Maltese nobility was established during this period; some of it dating back to 1400. Around thirty-two noble titles remain in use today, of which the oldest is the Barony of Djar il-Bniet e Buqana.

Knights of Malta and Napoleon

In 1530 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain gave the islands to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in perpetual lease. The Crown of Aragon had owned the islands as part of its Mediterranean empire for some time. These knights, a military religious order now known as the "Knights of Malta", had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. They withstood a full-blown siege by the Ottoman Turks in 1565, at the time the greatest naval power in the Mediterranean sea. After this they decided to increase the fortifications, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new city of Valletta, named after Grand Master Jean de la Valette, was built.

Their reign ended when Malta was captured by Napoleon en route to his expedition of Egypt during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1798. As a ruse, Napoleon asked for safe harbour to resupply his ships, and then turned his guns against his hosts once safely inside Valletta. The Grand Master knew that he could only allow a few ships at a time to enter the harbour, due to the Treaty of Trent. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim capitulated, and Napoleon stayed in Malta for a few days, during which time he systematically looted the movable 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. Their financial and religious reforms did not go down well with the citizens. 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 to the rebels. 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 Dominion, being presented by several Maltese leaders to Sir Alexander Ball.

British rule and World War II

In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris, Malta officially became a part of the British Empire, and was used as a shipping way-station and fleet headquarters. Malta's position half-way between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal proved to be its main asset during these years, and it was considered to be an important stop on the way to India.

In the early 1930s, the British Mediterranean Fleet, which was at the time the main contributor for the commerce on the island, was moved to Alexandria as an economic measure. Malta played an important role during World War II, owing to its proximity to Axis shipping lanes. The bravery of the Maltese people in their long struggle against enemy attack moved HM King George VI to award the George Cross to Malta on a collective basis on April 15, 1942 "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". Some historians argue that the award caused Britain to incur disproportionate losses in defending Malta, as British credibility would suffer if Malta was surrendered, as Singapore had been.[8] A replica of the George Cross now appears in the upper hoist corner of the Flag of Malta. The collective award remained unique until April 1999, when the Royal Ulster Constabulary became the second – and, to date, the only other – recipient of the collective George Cross.

Independence

After the war, and after 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. On December 13, 1974 (Republic Day) it became a republic within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of state. A defence agreement signed soon after independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on March 31, 1979 (Freedom Day) when the British military forces were withdrawn. Malta adopted an official policy of neutrality in 1980 and for a brief period was a member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. In 1989 Malta was the venue of an important summit between US President Bush and Soviet leader Gorbachev, their first face-to-face encounter, which signaled the end of the Cold War.

Malta joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.[9] Following the European Council of 21 to 22 June 2007 it joined the Eurozone on January 1, 2008.

Geography Location: Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)
Geographic coordinates: 35 50 N, 14 35 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 316 sq km
land: 316 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 196.8 km (does not include 56.01 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 extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)
Natural resources: limestone, salt, arable land
Land use: arable land: 31.25%
permanent crops: 3.13%
other: 65.62% (2005)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 0.07 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.02 cu km/yr (74%/1%/25%)
per capita: 50 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources; increasing reliance on desalination
Environment - international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: the country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Politics

Malta is a republic,[11] whose parliamentary system and public administration is closely modeled on the Westminster system. The unicameral House of Representatives, (Maltese: Il-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Representatives is made up of sixty-five Members of Parliament. However, where a party wins an absolute majority of votes, but does not have a majority of seats, that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority. The Constitution of Malta provides that the President appoint as Prime Minister the member of the House who is best able to command a (governing) majority in the House.

The President of the Republic is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is largely ceremonial.

The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Malta Labour Party, which is a social democratic party.

The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Dr. Lawrence Gonzi. The Malta Labour Party is in the opposition.

There are a number of smaller political parties in Malta that presently have no parliamentary representation.

On February 4, 2008 President Dr. Eddie Fenech Adami dissolved the Parliament, acting on a request from Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi[12]. The general elections were held on the March 8, 2008, and four political parties presented candidates on all districts; namely, the two main parties, the Democratic Alternative (Alternattiva Demokratika), and the recently-formed National Action (Azzjoni Nazzjonali). The Nationalist Party won the election by a slim majority of 1580 votes, which were however enough to secure its third consecutive term[13]. The Malta Labour Party conceded the election on 10 March, and Dr. Alfred Sant resigned from the position of Party Leader later that morning.

People Population: 403,532 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.4% (male 33,954/female 32,158)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 142,338/female 138,792)
65 years and over: 13.9% (male 24,240/female 32,050) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.2 years
male: 37.9 years
female: 40.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.407% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.33 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.29 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.79 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.25 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.3 years
male: 77.08 years
female: 81.64 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.51 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: less than 500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (2003 est.)
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)
Religions: Roman Catholic 98%
Languages: Maltese (official), English (official)
Literacy: definition: age 10 and over can read and write
total population: 92.8%
male: 92%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Malta
conventional short form: Malta
local long form: Repubblika ta' Malta
local short form: Malta
Government type: 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
Administrative divisions: none (administered directly from Valletta); note - local councils carry out administrative orders
Independence: 21 September 1964 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 21 September (1964)
Constitution: 1964 constitution; amended many times
Legal system: based on English common law and Roman civil law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Edward FENECH ADAMI (since 4 April 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Lawrence GONZI (since 23 March 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
elections: president elected by the House of Representatives for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 29 March 2004 (next to be held by April 2009); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the president for a five-year term; the deputy prime minister is appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
election results: Eddie FENECH ADAMI elected president; House of Representatives vote - 33 out of 65 votes
Legislative branch: unicameral House of Representatives (usually 65 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms; note - additional seats are given to the party with the largest popular vote to ensure a legislative majority)
elections: last held 8 March 2008 (next to be held by March 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - PN 49.3%, MLP 48.8%, other 1.9%; seats by party - PN 35, MLP 34
Judicial branch: Constitutional Court; Court of Appeal; judges for both courts are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
Political parties and leaders: Alternativa Demokratika/Alliance for Social Justice or AD [Harry VASSALLO]; Malta Labor Party or MLP [Alfred SANT]; Nationalist Party or PN [Lawrence GONZI]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: Australia Group, C, CE, CPLP (associate), EBRD, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mark MICELI-FARRUGIA
chancery: 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462-3611, 3612
FAX: [1] (202) 387-5470
consulate(s): New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Molly BORDONARO
embassy: 3rd Floor, Development House, Saint Anne Street, Floriana, VLT 01
mailing address: P. O. Box 535, Valletta, CMR01
telephone: [356] 2561 4000
FAX: [356] 21 243229
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
Culture

Maltese culture has both Semitic and Romance origins; however, the Romance element is more readily apparent in modern Malta for several key reasons: (i) political and cultural affinities between the Maltese and their northern Mediterranean neighbours; (ii) the fact that Romance cultures have had more recent, and virtually continuous impact on Malta over the past eight centuries; and (iii) the religious beliefs, traditions and ceremonies that Malta shares in common with its Sicilian neighbour. The ascendancy of Romance influences over the Semitic origins of Maltese culture and folklore in latter centuries may also be an innate response to frequent national calamities - including loss of property, forced labour and enslavement - suffered by the Maltese from the 9th century through to the early 16th century due to piracy and raids of their islands, primarily at the hands of the Hafsids of North Africa and Turkish corsairs. The most recent, and arguably, most devastating such incidents occurred in 1551, when the Saracens, led by Dragut Reis, raided Gozo, taking almost the entire population of that island, some 5,000 inhabitants, away into slavery,[6] and in 1565, when the Ottoman Empire again, led by Dragut, invaded and besieged Malta. Although the Knights and the Maltese were ultimately victorious against the Ottoman forces, victory came at a high cost: one third of the population of Malta is said to have perished in battle.

These dramatic incidents remain etched in the collective memory of the Maltese, and are reflected in some Maltese superstitions, beliefs, sayings and proverbs.

Economy Economy - overview: Major resources are limestone, a favorable geographic location, and a productive labor force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and pharmaceuticals), and tourism. Economic recovery of the European economy has lifted exports, tourism, and overall growth. Malta adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $9.342 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $6.45 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3.4% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $23,200 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.7%
industry: 22.3%
services: 74.9% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 164,000 (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3%
industry: 22%
services: 75% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate: 6.8% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 28 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.9% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 10.7% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $3.316 billion
expenditures: $3.368 billion (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, cut flowers, green peppers; pork, milk, poultry, eggs
Industries: tourism, electronics, ship building and repair, construction, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, footwear, clothing, tobacco
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 2.106 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 1.959 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 18,600 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 18,210 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $-411 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $3.403 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactures
Exports - partners: France 15.3%, Singapore 13.2%, US 13%, Germany 12.5%, UK 9.5%, Japan 4.9%, Hong Kong 4.2% (2006)
Imports: $4.212 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods; food, drink, tobacco
Imports - partners: Italy 28%, UK 10.5%, France 8.7%, Germany 7.6%, Singapore 6.8%, US 5.6% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $6.19 million (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $3.522 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $188.8 million (2005)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $4.097 billion (2005)
Currency (code): Maltese lira (MTL); euro (EUR) after 1 January 2008
Currency code: MTL
Exchange rates: Maltese liri per US dollar - 0.3106 (2007), 0.37 (2006), 0.34578 (2005), 0.34466 (2004), 0.37723 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 202,300 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 346,800 (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: automatic system satisfies normal requirements; fixed-line teledensity 50 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity about 90 per 100 persons
domestic: submarine cable and microwave radio relay between islands
international: country code - 356; submarine cable connects to Italy; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 18, shortwave 6 (1999)
Radios: 255,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 5 (2006)
Televisions: 280,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .mt
Internet hosts: 21,386 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (2002)
Internet users: 127,200 (2005)
Transportation Airports: 1 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways: total: 2,227 km
paved: 2,014 km
unpaved: 213 km (2004)
Merchant marine: total: 1,281 ships (1000 GRT or over) 25,213,650 GRT/41,033,203 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 439, cargo 382, chemical tanker 125, combination ore/oil 2, container 65, liquefied gas 15, livestock carrier 1, passenger 15, passenger/cargo 14, petroleum tanker 132, refrigerated cargo 41, roll on/roll off 31, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 17
foreign-owned: 1,197 (Austria 1, Azerbaijan 3, Bangladesh 3, Belgium 10, Bulgaria 15, Canada 15, China 13, Croatia 12, Cyprus 15, Denmark 10, Estonia 7, France 4, Germany 67, Greece 448, Hong Kong 1, Iceland 7, India 3, Iran 24, Israel 21, Italy 45, Japan 3, South Korea 3, Latvia 36, Lebanon 12, Libya 3, Monaco 1, Netherlands 3, Norway 71, Pakistan 2, Poland 25, Portugal 3, Romania 10, Russia 66, Slovenia 3, Spain 1, Sweden 1, Switzerland 22, Syria 4, Turkey 143, Ukraine 28, UAE 10, UK 12, US 11)
registered in other countries: 4 (Panama 2, Portugal 1, St Vincent and The Grenadines 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Marsaxlokk (Malta Freeport), Valletta
Military Military branches: Armed Forces of Malta (AFM; includes air and maritime elements) (2005)
Military service age and obligation: 17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 90,651
females age 18-49: 87,047 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 74,525
females age 18-49: 71,333 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.7% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: minor transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to Western Europe