Facts about Malta

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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 began to use the euro as currency in 2008.

Geography of Malta

Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)
35 50 N, 14 35 E
total: 316 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 316 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
196.8 km (does not include 56.01 km for the island of Gozo)
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive fishing zone: 25 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Mediterranean with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers
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
Environment current issues:
very limited natural fresh water resources; increasing reliance on desalination
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

Population of Malta

403,532 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.1% (male 35,264/female 33,368)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 139,890/female 136,767)
65 years and over: 13.7% (male 23,554/female 31,371)
Median age:
38.7 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
3.86 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.01 years
male: 76.83 years
female: 81.31 years
Fertility rate:
1.5 children born/woman
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)
Roman Catholic 98%
Maltese (official), English (official)
definition: age 10 and over can read and write
total population: 92.8%
male: 92%
female: 93.6% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Malta
local long form: Repubblika ta' Malta
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
none (administered directly from Valletta); note - Local Councils carry out administrative orders
21 September 1964 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 21 September (1964)
1964 constitution substantially amended on 13 December 1974 and again in 1987
Legal system:
based on English common law and Roman civil law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
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 on 29 March 2004; 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.
Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Representatives (usually 65 seats; note - additional seats are given to the party with the largest popular vote to ensure a legislative majority; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
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]


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.

$9.4 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 23%
services: 74%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 22%
services: 75%
revenues: $2.503 billion
expenditures: $2.703 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% 
tourism; electronics, ship building and repair, construction; food and beverages, textiles, footwear, clothing, tobacco
potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, cut flowers, green peppers; pork, milk, poultry, eggs
machinery and transport equipment, manufactures
Export partners:
France 15.4%, US 14.4%, Singapore 12.3%, UK 11.3%, Germany 11.2%, Italy 5.1%, Libya 4.2% 
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods; food, drink, and tobacco
Import partners:
Italy 32.3%, UK 11.5%, France 9.6%, Germany 8%, US 5.5%, Singapore 4.1% 
Maltese lira (MTL)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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