Malta is a group of islands located in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, around 90Km off the southern coast of Sicily and around 290Km from the North African coastline. The archipelago consists of the principal island is Malta, which is also the seat of government, together with the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino. With an area of 316 square kilometres and a population of around 400,000, Malta is the smallest EU member state.
- Capital: Valletta
- Currency: euro (EUR)
- Population: 423.3 thousand (2013)
- Electricity: 230 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363)
- Country code: +356
- Time zone: UTC+01:00
- Emergencies: 112
- Driving side: left
The island is rocky with low lying areas in the South and sheer cliffs to the North. Vegetation is sparse and characterised by a patchwork of meticulously terraced fields carved into the rock face to make the best use of the available arable land as well as to make the most of run off water.
The climate is mild with dry warm summers which tend to get rather hot particularly during August and short, damp winters with the coldest month usually being February. On average, Malta enjoys around 300 days of annual sunshine.
Malta’s prominent historical role far belies its natural size. Strategically located at the cross roads between Europe and Africa, Malta has endured occupation by the leading civilisations throughout over 7,000 years of recorded history. In fact the world’s oldest free standing buildings are to be found in Malta and Gozo with the ‘Ggantija’ temples estimated to be over 5,600 years old and predating the pyramids of Giza and Stonhenge.
As a Crown colony, the island relied heavily on the British to provide the economic growth of the island. This changed once the seeds of independence were sown and gradually the foundations for a sustainable economy were laid based primarily on tourism and industry. Over the years the island has continued to develop and refine its tourism product and arrivals exceed 1M annually. Industry has also developed well over the years with some significant names establishing factories and plants on the island. With no natural resources, the island must rely on its versatile, well educated and motivated work force in order to meet the challenges posed by emerging economies. Education standards are amongst the highest in the world and over 60% of college students take up further education at a tertiary level. State of the art training facilities have also been created, some of which are collaborative ventures between local government and local as well as foreign enterprises. Lufthansa Teknik are a prime example of this collaborative process where the Malta College for Arts, Science & Technology has introduced a number of training courses in the specialised field of aircraft maintenance. However, the jewel in the crown remains Malta’s Financial Services Industry. Earmarked to become the largest, single contributor to national GDP, the government has embarked on an extensive programme to update existing legislation and introduce new laws to cater for this dynamic and reputation driven industry. Maltese legislation is fully compliant with EU directives and the country has been on the OECD white list for a number of years. The island has concluded extensive double tax treaties with over 50 countries including America, Libya and Kuwait.
The Malta Financial Services Authority acts as the regulator for most financial services and adopts a flexible, ‘can do’ approach which has reaped dividends. Malta has reacted early to shifting economic trends and adjusted its legislation and in some cases, even introduced new laws to take advantage of such changes. Malta was in fact one of the very first nations to regulate remote gaming and enjoys a strong reputation in this field for its robust framework. ICT is also a key driver and Malta enjoys one of the highest internet usage rates in the world. The Maltese government has also entered into partnerships with leading companies such as Microsoft to make Malta one of the most highly automated public administrations.
The Maltese make the best of the mild climate and spend a large proportion of their free time outdoors in a typical, cosmopolitan Mediterranean lifestyle. A strong ‘café culture’ exists and open air caffe’s are to be found in all the principal town centres. The island is considered to be safe and mostly free from violent crime. The Maltese also have a tradition and reputation for hospitality and for welcoming visitors and longer term residents.
The island enjoys excellent connections with the leading European capitals being from 1 to at most a 3 hour flight away. There are also direct links to the Middle East with scheduled flights departing almost daily and transiting via Dubai. The island also enjoys direct sea links primarily with Sicily and mainland Italy whilst luxury cruise liners use Malta as a hub from where you may visit most ports within the Western and Eastern Mediterranean basin.
Lying in the middle of a major sea route, Malta also enjoys excellent service by some of the major shipping lines operating in the region who utilise the extensive transhipment facilities available at the Malta Freeport.
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