/mawl"teuh/, n.
1. an island in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Africa. 95 sq. mi. (246 sq. km).
2. a former British colony consisting of this island and two small adjacent islands: now an independent sovereign state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 379,365; 122 sq. mi. (316 sq. km). Cap.: Valletta.

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Introduction Malta
Background: 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. Over the last 15 years, the island has become a freight transshipment point, financial center, and tourist destination. It is an official candidate for EU membership. Geography Malta -
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 water: 0 sq km land: 316 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: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive fishing zone: 25 NM continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: Mediterranean with mild, rainy winters and 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: 65.63% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: very limited natural fresh water resources; increasing reliance on desalination Environment - international party to: Air Pollution,
agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, 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 People Malta
Population: 397,499 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19.7% (male 40,609; female 37,882) 15-64 years: 67.5% (male 135,047; female 133,207) 65 years and over: 12.8% (male 21,215; female 29,539) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.73% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 12.76 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 7.77 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/ female total population: 0.98 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 5.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.26 years female: 80.96 years (2002 est.) male: 75.78 years
Total fertility rate: 1.91 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.52% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 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 91%
Languages: Maltese (official), English (official)
Literacy: definition: age 10 and over can read and write total population: 88.76% male: 86.91% female: 89.55% (1995 census) Government Malta
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Malta conventional short form: Malta local short form: Malta local long form: Repubblika ta' Malta
Government type: republic
Capital: Valletta Administrative divisions: none (administered directly from Valletta)
Independence: 21 September 1964 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 21 September (1964)
Constitution: 1964 constitution substantially amended on 13 December 1974
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 Guido DE MARCO (since 4 April 1999) head of government: Prime Minister Eddie FENECH ADAMI (since 6 September 1998); Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence GONZI (since 4 April 1999) 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; election last held NA April 1999 (next to be held by April 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 election results: Guido DE MARCO elected president; percent of House of Representatives vote - 54%
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) elections: last held 5 September 1998 (next to be held by September 2003) election results: percent of vote by party - PN 51.8%, MLP 46.9%, AD 1.2%; seats by party - PN 35, MLP 30
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 [Edward FENECH ADAMI] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization C, CCC, CE, EBRD, ECE, EU
participation: (applicant), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador George SALIBA consulate(s): New York FAX: [1] (202) 387-5470 telephone: [1] (202) 462-3611, 3612 chancery: 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Anthony
US: H. GIOIA embassy: 3rd Floor, Development House, Saint Anne Street, Floriana, Malta VLT 01 mailing address: P. O. Box 535, Valletta, Malta, CMR 01 telephone: [356] 235960 through 235965 FAX: [356] 243229
Flag description: two equal vertical bands of white (hoist side) and red; in the upper hoist-side corner is a representation of the Saint George Cross, edged in red Economy Malta -
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 freshwater supplies, and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles), and tourism. Malta is privatizing state-controlled firms and liberalizing markets in order to prepare for membership in the European Union and is expected to complete EU accession negotiations in 2002. The island is divided politically, however, over the question of joining the EU.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $5.95 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $15,000 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.8% industry: 25.5% services: 71.7% (1999) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.8% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 147,700 (2000) Labor force - by occupation: industry 24%, services 71%, agriculture 5% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 4.5% (2000)
Budget: revenues: $1.5 billion expenditures: $1.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000)
Industries: tourism; electronics, ship building and repair, construction; food and beverages, textiles, footwear, clothing, tobacco Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 1.75 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 1.628 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, cut flowers, green peppers; pork, milk, poultry, eggs
Exports: $2.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactures
Exports - partners: US 27.3%, Germany 9.6%, France 8%, UK 7.3%, Italy 3.4% (2000)
Imports: $3.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods; food, drink, and tobacco
Imports - partners: France 19.2%, Italy 16.3%, US 10.7%, UK 8.1%, Germany 8.1% (2000)
Debt - external: $130 million (1997) Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: Maltese lira (MTL)
Currency code: MTL
Exchange rates: Maltese liri per US dollar - 0.4542 (January 2002), 0.4499 (2001), 0.4376 (2000), 0.3994 (1999), 0.3885 (1998), 0.3857 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Malta Telephones - main lines in use: 187,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 17,691 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: automatic system satisfies normal requirements domestic: submarine cable and microwave radio relay between islands international: 2 submarine cables; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 18, shortwave 6 (1999)
Radios: 255,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 6 (2000)
Televisions: 280,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .mt Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 40,000 (2000) Transportation Malta
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 1,742 km paved: 1,677 km unpaved: 65 km (1997)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Marsaxlokk, Valletta
Merchant marine: total: 1,323 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 27,208,819 GRT/ 44,617,877 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 4, Austria 6, Bangladesh 1, Belgium 3, Bulgaria 19, Canada 2, China 16, Croatia 14, Cuba 1, Cyprus 7, Denmark 3, Estonia 5, Finland 1, Germany 54, Greece 627, Hong Kong 12, Iceland 3, India 10, Iran 2, Israel 26, Italy 36, Japan 2, Latvia 24, Lebanon 6, Monaco 29, Netherlands 10, Nigeria 2, Norway 43, Poland 29, Portugal 2, Romania 15, Russia 85, Saudi Arabia 1, Slovenia 2, South Korea 5, Spain 1, Switzerland 54, Syria 4, Turkey 84, Ukraine 25, United Arab Emirates 3, United Kingdom 4, United States 10 (2002 est.) ships by type: bulk 440, cargo 334, chemical tanker 54, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 12, container 75, liquefied gas 4, livestock carrier 3, multi- functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 270, refrigerated cargo 39, roll on/roll off 45, short-sea passenger 9, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 17
Airports: 1 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047 m: 1 (2001) Military Malta
Military branches: Armed Forces (including land forces [with subordinate air squadron and maritime squadron] and the Revenue Security Corps), Maltese Police Force Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 99,107 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 78,909 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $60 million (2000 est.)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.7% (2000)
GDP: Transnational Issues Malta Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: minor transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to Western Europe

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Island country, south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea.

It consists of three inhabited islands, Malta (the largest), Gozo, and Comino, and two uninhabited islets, Comminotto and Filfla. Area: 122 sq mi (316 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 386,000. Capital: Valletta. Malta's population, nearly all native-born, has a mixture of Italian, Arab, British, and Phoenician heritage. Languages: Maltese, English (both official). Religion: Roman Catholicism (official). Currency: Maltese lira. Although two-fifths of its total land area is arable, Malta imports most of its food; tourism is its major industry. It is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the president, and its head of government is the prime minister. Inhabited as early as 3800 BC, it was ruled by the Carthaginians с 8th–7th century BC. It came under Roman control in 218 BC. In AD 60 the apostle Paul was shipwrecked on the island and converted the inhabitants to Christianity. It was under Byzantine rule until the Arabs seized control in 870. In 1091 the Normans defeated the Arabs, and it was ruled by a succession of feudal lords until the early 16th century. In 1530 it came under the Knights of Malta; Napoleon seized control in 1798, and the British took it in 1800. The 1802 Treaty of Amiens returned the islands to the Knights. The Maltese protested and acknowledged the British as sovereign; this arrangement was ratified in the 1814 Treaty of Paris. It became self-governing in 1921 but reverted to a colonial regime in 1936. Malta was severely bombed by Germany and Italy during World War II, and in 1942 it received Britain's George Cross for "heroism and devotion," the first time that this medal was not conferred to an individual. In 1964 Malta gained independence within the Commonwealth, and it became a republic in 1974. When its alliance with Britain ended in 1979, Malta proclaimed its neutral status. In 2002 it was invited to join the European Union, and voters endorsed membership the following year.

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▪ 2009

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 412,000
Chief of state:
President Eddie Fenech Adami
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi

      In Malta's general election held in March 2008, the Nationalist Party remained in power after ruling for 10 consecutive years and most of the past 20 years. The victory margin between the two main parties was narrow, amounting to only 1,580 votes. On a voter turnout of 93% (versus 96% in 2003), the Nationalists polled 143,468 votes, while 141,888 ballots went to the Labour Party; this represented 49.34% and 48.79%, respectively, of the valid votes cast. The Nationalists secured only 31 seats, while the Labourites took 34 seats, but under Maltese electoral law the Nationalists (winners of the popular vote) were assigned an additional 4 seats to enable them to govern with a majority. Nationalist leader Lawrence Gonzi was again sworn in as prime minister on March 11.

      Alfred Sant, the Labour leader, resigned his position as the party suffered its third consecutive electoral defeat under his leadership. On June 6 Joseph Muscat, a 34-year-old member of the European Parliament, was elected Sant's successor, with 66.36% of the valid votes cast. Muscat resigned from the European Parliament, and when a Labour member gave up his seat in the Maltese parliament, Muscat took that seat. He was sworn in as leader of the opposition on October 1.

      On January 1, after three years of working to get the economy back on track, Malta joined the euro zone, replacing the Maltese lira, which had been in existence since Malta abandoned the British system in May 1972. Illegal immigration was on the increase throughout the year, as Frontex, the EU's border security agency, did not achieve the positive results anticipated.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2008

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 409,000
Chief of state:
President Eddie Fenech Adami
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi

 In 2007 the EU finally responded to Malta's pleas for help to control the illegal immigrants reaching the island. During the summer, patrols run by the EU border agency Frontex turned back more than 700 African would-be immigrants. Franco Frattini, the European justice commissioner, praised Malta's record in the fight against the flow of illegal immigrants and rejected criticisms by some members of the European Parliament. He denied charges that Maltese authorities had refused in May to accept 27 Africans who had survived by clinging to a tuna fishing pen, explaining that this happened within the search and rescue (SAR) region of Libya and not of Malta, an EU member state. Frattini also rejected accusations that Malta had refused to accept 26 migrants rescued at sea by a Spanish tugboat.

      In February Malta signed a deal with Italy on a wide-ranging cultural collaboration to take place from 2007 to 2009. In April the final agreement to set up a Smart City in Malta was signed between the government and Smart City, a joint venture between Tecom Investments and Sama Dubai. At the Gitex Technology Fair in Dubai in September, Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi unveiled the master plan and model of the project, the biggest foreign investment Malta had ever seen.

       Tourism to Malta was the best since 2001, while GDP was expected to rise 4%. Malta's request in February to join the euro zone was granted with effect from Jan. 1, 2008, as the country had achieved a high degree of sustainable economic convergence with the EU member states that used the unified currency and had fulfilled the necessary conditions to adopt the euro.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2007

315 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 405,000
Chief of state:
President Eddie Fenech Adami
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi

 Throughout 2006 the problem of illegal immigrants landing in Malta became more acute. Conditions in detention centres suffered, which triggered protests, an uprising, and two mass breakouts from the centres. The issue had been raised at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Malta in November 2005. At the conclusion of the summit, which included a state visit to Malta by the U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth II, the Commonwealth leaders issued three statements that contained strong messages on improving cooperation for development, mass migration, and the fight against terrorism. In April 2006 the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved a resolution that suggested measures to help Malta deal with its immigration crisis. In October the long-awaited border patrols against illegal immigration in the Mediterranean finally got off the ground in a two-week operation involving military units from five EU member states, including Malta. The original plans had to be heavily modified because Libya's support was withheld.

      On March 27 Malta's government and a top-level delegation from Tecom Investments of Dubai signed an agreement for the construction of SmartCity@Malta, a high-tech village modeled on Dubai Internet City, to be built at Ricasoli on the eastern side of the Grand Harbour. The project, which would cost an estimated 110 million Maltese liri (1 Maltese lira = about $3), was scheduled to open for business in 2008 and would create some 5,600 jobs by 2016. In May the government approved the sale of its 60% stake in Maltacom PLC to Tecom Investments, which agreed to invest around 30 million Maltese liri in state-of-the-art technology for Maltacom in the first three years.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2006

315 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 404,000
Chief of state:
President Eddie Fenech Adami
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi

      On July 6, 2005, the Maltese parliament unanimously ratified the European Union constitution. The opposition Labour Party, however, stated that its vote was conditioned to five reservations, one of which was meant to ensure Malta's neutrality. Meanwhile, the government announced its plan to entrench in the Maltese constitution the law prohibiting abortion. Shortly after the government decided to adopt the euro, the ministers of the euro zone member states included the Maltese lira in the Exchange Rate Mechanism II, and on May 2 the central rate of the lira was set at 1 euro to 42.93 cents.

      The dominant theme of the year was the influx of illegal immigrants from the African continent, which for Malta reached crisis proportions. In June a conference of five European and five African countries (so-called 5+5) in Malta agreed on the need to adopt a holistic approach toward tackling the problem. A high-level meeting in Rome between Malta and Italy was held in October.

      On October 3 Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi met U.S. Pres. George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. Among the matters discussed were the reinstatement of an agreement to avoid double taxation, the removal of visa requirements for Maltese citizens traveling to the U.S., the immigration problem, and international terrorism. The government and people of Malta donated €8 million (about $10.5 million) to help Asian tsunami victims, while Malta in September wrote off $8 million owed by Iraq as a show of solidarity with the Iraqi people.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2005

315 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 401,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Guido de Marco and, from April 4, Eddie Fenech Adami
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Eddie Fenech Adami and, from March 23, Lawrence Gonzi

      Following the successful referendum and general election held in Malta in 2003, the country became a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. Celebrations were organized on the eve of Malta's accession to commemorate this momentous event.

      In February, Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami gave up his leadership of the Nationalist Party (NP), and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was elected as the new party leader. On March 23 Fenech Adami handed in his resignation as prime minister, and Gonzi succeeded him. The next month the parliament elected Fenech Adami president in succession to Guido de Marco, who had ended his term of office.

      The election of Malta's five members of the European Parliament was held in June. The NP obtained two seats, while the opposition Labour Party won three. The turnout was 82%, compared with 91% for the EU referendum and 96% for the 2003 general election. Ireland, which held the EU presidency, submitted for discussion at the EU summit a proposal that Malta have a sixth seat. In August Joseph Borg, Malta's former foreign minister, was appointed EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.

      Illegal immigration from Libya, mostly of Arabs and black Africans, created a serious problem. In September the EU endorsed a proposal by Italy and Malta to lift the arms embargo on Libya. Later Gonzi led a delegation to Libya to discuss the migration issue and other matters of mutual interest.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2004

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 399,000
Chief of state:
President Guido de Marco
Head of government:
Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami

      The year 2003 decided Malta's destiny. A referendum was held on March 8 to determine whether the country should form part of the next European Union enlargement. At the same time, a third of the electorate voted in local council elections, avoiding a boycott of the referendum by the opposition Labour Party (LP). The turnout was 91% of the electorate, the highest ever recorded in Europe; 53.6% voted in favour of EU membership, while 46.4% voted against. The result was hailed by Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami as a victory for the “yes” camp. The Labour leader, former prime minister Alfred Sant, however, insisted that the issue should be decided by a general election.

      The prime minister advised Pres. Guido de Marco to dissolve the parliament, and a general election was called for April 12. On a turnout of 96% of the voters, the ruling Nationalist Party obtained an absolute majority with 51.8% of the votes and thus secured Malta's future in the EU. In Athens on April 16, Fenech Adami joined the leaders of the other candidate countries in signing the EU accession treaty.

      Sant declared that he did not intend to contest the LP leadership at the next party general conference, but he later decided otherwise. He told his supporters that the LP had a duty to accept the people's decision in favour of EU membership.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2003

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 386,000
Chief of state:
President Guido de Marco
Head of government:
Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami

      The Maltese government registered further progress in 2002 in preparing for European Union (EU) accession, and Malta was identified as one of the 10 countries eligible for the next enlargement, due in 2004. Negotiations were completed in December 2002. The political divide over EU membership, however, continued unabated. Though the government would hold a referendum on the issue in 2003, the opposition claimed that it would accept the outcome only in light of a general election, also due in 2003.

      In January in Malta 20 Mediterranean countries signed an agreement that was aimed at reducing pollution in the sea from all sources. In February, Transend Worldwide Ltd., a subsidiary of New Zealand Post, bought 35% of the shares in Maltapost, with an undertaking to manage Maltapost for two years. Later a 40% stake in Malta International Airport was sold to a consortium in which Vienna International Airport of Austria was a majority shareholder.

      As part of a plan to restore the shipyards to viability and phase out state subsidies by 2008, about 700 workers left Malta Drydocks and Malta Shipbuilding under an early-retirement and voluntary-resignation scheme. As a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., tourist arrivals were the lowest in six years. Under a governmental scheme to register overseas currency, more than $450 million held by Maltese abroad was declared in the first half of 2002. The government allowed ENI, the Italian petroleum company, to lay a gas pipeline across Malta's continental shelf on its route from Libya to Sicily.

      On February 4 former president Agatha Barbara died in Zabbar at age 78. Barbara, a longtime Labour Party member, was Malta's first woman MP (1947–82) and third president (1982–87).

Albert Ganado

▪ 2002

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 384,000
Chief of state:
President Guido de Marco
Head of government:
Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami

      Speaking in February 2001 on Malta's application to become a member of the European Union, Günter Verheugen, the EU commissioner for enlargement, remarked that the progress Malta had made in the previous two years was surprising. Though EU accession was the top foreign-policy priority for the government, the opposition Labour Party held that it was not in Malta's interest to join the EU. Nonetheless, negotiations were expected to be concluded by the end of 2002.

      In May, after having visited Greece and Syria, Pope John Paul II arrived in Malta to beatify three persons—a nun, a priest, and a layman. They were the first-ever Maltese to be so honoured. He urged the Maltese to cherish their Christian vocation.

      During his July 1–8 visit to China, Pres. Guido de Marco invited Chinese Pres. Jiang Zemin to Malta. Jiang readily accepted the offer and arrived for a state visit on July 23. The two leaders agreed to establish in Malta a Chinese cultural centre for the Mediterranean region, to maintain cultural cooperation between the two countries during 2001–03, and to list Malta as a tourist destination for Chinese citizens.

      In April the neolithic temple at Mnajdra, a World Heritage site, was vandalized; about 60 megaliths were dislodged. The government condemned in the strongest terms the September terrorist attacks in the United States, and it pledged to cooperate fully in the effort to eradicate international terrorism.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2001

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 382,000
Chief of state:
President Guido de Marco
Head of government:
Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami

      After Malta had fulfilled the criteria to become a member of the European Union in 1999, formal membership talks were inaugurated in Brussels on Feb. 15, 2000, and continued throughout the year. On October 4 the European Parliament approved a resolution for Malta's application by an overwhelming majority. Malta also met the preconditions for inclusion in the first round of EU enlargement. The Labour Party, however, remained opposed to accession.

      Malta's economy showed signs of improvement. During the second quarter of the year, its gross domestic product grew by 3.9% compared with the same period in 1999, and the gross national product rose by 6.4%. In August the percentage of the registered unemployed went down to 4.5% from 5.5% a year earlier.

      The World Health Organization ranked Malta fifth in its evaluation of health care systems in 191 countries. The budget for health care was increased to 69.4 million Maltese liri (1 Maltese lira = about $2.30) from 63.3 million Maltese liri in 1999.

      Tax enforcement was stepped up to assuage the government's main headache—the budget deficit, which over a two-year period had been brought down by about 50 million Maltese liri. Minister of Finance John Dalli declared in October that efforts would be intensified to collect more revenue through existing taxation.

Albert Ganado

▪ 2000

316 sq km (122 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 380,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and, from April 4, Guido de Marco
Head of government:
Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami

      The reactivation of Malta's European Union membership application in September 1998 enabled the new government to start preparing for accession negotiations by embarking on the process of “screening,” whereby EU laws were compared with the Maltese counterparts and differences between the two were identified. In October 1999 the European Commission noted that Malta fulfilled the criteria to become an EU member and recommended that negotiations start in January 2000.

      The Maltese budget projected a revenue of 514.2 million Maltese liri (1 Maltese lira=$2.50) and an expenditure of 675.8 million liri. A privatization program was planned to make up for almost half the deficit. A value-added tax (VAT) was reintroduced on January 1 to replace the customs and excise tax adopted by the previous Labour government. The VAT rate was 15% on products and services and 5% on tourist accommodation. A new threshold concept was introduced that would allow small operators to opt to stay outside the system. In June London-based HSBC Holdings PLC acquired a 67% share in Mid-Med Bank from the Maltese government.

      The 900th anniversary in 1999 of the foundation of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta was celebrated in December 1998 as more than 800 knights from 23 countries assembled. The government granted the order use of Ft. St. Angelo in the Grand Harbour for 99 years for the Hospitallers' international humanitarian and cultural activities.

Albert Ganado

▪ 1999

      Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 377,000

      Capital: Valletta

      Chief of state: President Ugo Mifsud Bonnici

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Alfred Sant and, from September 6, Eddie Fenech Adami

      The highlight of 1998 in Malta was the premature, unexpected change of government. Prime Minister Alfred Sant introduced into Parliament the Cottonera waterfront development project, in which local and American investments were involved. It was criticized by the opposition Nationalist Party and some from the Malta Labour Party. The prime minister declared that approval of the project was to be considered a vote of confidence in the government. On July 7 the motion to approve was defeated 35-34 as not only the Nationalist opposition but also former prime minister Dom Mintoff voted against it. Consequently, an early election was held on September 5, less than two years after the 1996 vote.

      On a turnout of more than 95% of the eligible voters, the Nationalist Party returned to power with a five-seat majority, obtaining almost 52% of the votes, as against 47% polled by Labour. Immediately on taking office on September 6, the new prime minister, Eddie Fenech Adami, reactivated Malta's application of 1990 to join the European Union, which had been frozen by the Labour government in October 1996. The foreign ministers of the EU welcomed Malta's revived bid and ordered an assessment to establish whether the island qualified for membership and whether it would be part of the next EU enlargement.


▪ 1998

      Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi)

      Population (1997): 375,000

      Capital: Valletta

      Chief of state: President Ugo Mifsud Bonnici

      Head of government: Prime Minister Alfred Sant

      Immediately after the election of October 1996, the new Labour Party government withdrew Malta from the NATO Partnership for Peace program. Prime Minister Alfred Sant declared that Malta would use its constitutional neutrality as a basis for its efforts to promote stability and security in the Mediterranean region. The new government also froze Malta's application to join the European Union (EU) but said it would seek the gradual introduction of an industrial free-trade zone between Malta and the EU and would also work for cooperation in the commercial, technical, financial, cultural and educational sectors.

      The value-added tax (VAT), introduced in 1995 by the Nationalist Party government to supplant customs duties, was replaced on July 1, 1997, by a new taxation system, a combination of customs and excise duties. In March Minister of Finance Lino Spiteri, citing the country's weak economy, resigned and questioned publicly the wisdom of the decision to replace the VAT; previously, he had also criticized the freezing of Malta's EU application.

      The budget for 1997 estimated that a deficit of 101.2 million Maltese lira between revenue and expenditure would be reduced to 82.6 million lira by means of foreign grants and loans. In September, however, it was predicted that the actual deficit would be between 120 million lira and 130 million lira. Faced with this financial gap and increased unemployment, the government was planning an austerity budget for 1998.


▪ 1997

      The republic of Malta, a member of the Commonwealth, comprises the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 373,000. Cap.: Valletta. Monetary unit: Maltese lira, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 0.36 lira to U.S. $1 (0.57 lira = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici; prime ministers, Eddie Fenech Adami and, from October 28, Alfred Sant.

      In May 1996 the secretary-general of the Arab League, Ahmad Esmat 'Abd al-Meguid, paid an official visit to Malta. He declared that he supported and would promote the Maltese and French proposal for a stability pact for the Mediterranean region made at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

      In August the nation's drug squad made its largest drug haul ever. Approximately 7 1/2 tons of marijuana were discovered in a container that arrived from Singapore destined for Romania via Yugoslavia.

      In elections in October the Malta Labour Party won 50.7% of the vote. The Nationalist Party took 47.8%. (ALBERT GANADO)

▪ 1996

      The republic of Malta, a member of the Commonwealth, comprises the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 370,000. Cap.: Valletta. Monetary unit: Maltese lira, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 0.35 lira to U.S. $1 (0.56 lira = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici; prime minister, Eddie Fenech Adami.

      It was announced in March 1995 that according to a report of the European Commission, negotiations on Malta's application to join the European Union (EU) would start six months after the conclusion of the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference. In June a financial protocol was signed for ECU 45 million in EU funds to help Malta achieve economic reforms. Malta's House of Representatives in April approved a motion to join the Partnership for Peace movement on a NATO initiative addressed to all member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Later, in a ministerial reshuffle, four ministers were replaced.

      In October the first-ever Mediterranean Crans-Montana Forum, organized by the Swiss-based Foundation du Forum Universale, was held in Malta. Over a four-day period, more than 500 delegates, including heads of state and prime ministers, discussed the formation of a Euro-Mediterranean area to bring about a systematic development of mechanisms of cooperation in all fields. An especially large delegation from Libya comprising government officials, financial experts, and businessmen was present to take advantage of a small chink in the international isolation imposed on that country in the wake of the Lockerbie incident. Awards were conferred on Yasir Arafat for his "exceptional contribution to peace" and Janez Drnovsek, prime minister of Slovenia, for his work in his country's smooth transition from communism to democracy. Immediately afterward, Li Peng, premier of China, led a high-level trade delegation to Malta. He voiced plans about a Malta-China air services agreement. Two ships built in Malta for China were officially named.


▪ 1995

      The republic of Malta, a member of the Commonwealth, comprises the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 368,000. Cap.: Valletta. Monetary unit: Maltese lira, with (Oct. 7, 1994) an official rate of 0.37 lira to U.S. $1 (0.58 lira = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1994, Censu Tabone and, from April 4, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici; prime minister, Eddie Fenech Adami.

      On April 4, 1994, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, minister of education since 1987, was sworn in as president of Malta. Regarding the country's application to join the European Union, the Nationalist government welcomed the declaration of the European Council that the next phase of expansion would involve Cyprus and Malta.

      The continued growth of the Maltese economy was attributable to the service sector, with tourist arrivals expected to reach 1.2 million by the end of 1994. In July the parliament introduced a value-added tax (VAT) to supplant customs duties, effective Jan. 1, 1995. The Labour Party opposed the measure. The General Workers' Union maintained that the VAT would affect the cost of living and organized a general strike for October 24; it found support from an association of retailers. Other bodies approved of the VAT as essential for the control of tax evasion.

      Under the fourth Italo-Maltese financial protocol, signed in March, Malta was to receive 60 million liri in grants between 1995 and 2000. Discussions took place with Tunisia on the issue of boundaries after an attempt to carry out a seismic survey in Maltese waters. The appointment of a U.S. ambassador to Malta after a long gap was followed by a visit of the prime minister to the U.S., where bilateral relations and international issues of mutual interest, including regional security, were discussed. (ALBERT GANADO)

▪ 1994

      The republic of Malta, a member of the Commonwealth, comprises the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 363,000. Cap.: Valletta. Monetary unit: Maltese lira, with (Oct. 4, 1993) an official rate of 0.38 lira to U.S. $1 (0.57 lira = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Censu Tabone; prime minister, Eddie Fenech Adami.

      In June 1993 the Commission of the European Community (EC) gave a positive opinion on Malta's three-year-old application to join the union. Malta had the qualifications for full membership in the EC, but various economic reforms and certain legislative measures were required. The EC proposed intensive dialogue with Malta so that the process of change would start immediately, and discussions began in July.

      Omar Muhammad Ali Rezzaq, convicted in the 1985 hijacking of an Egyptian airliner that led to some 60 deaths, completed his prison term in February and left Malta. The U.S. government strongly condemned the release, but Malta insisted that it had to act in accordance with the law. In July Rezzaq was arrested in Nigeria and taken to Washington, D.C., to stand trial.

      The Maltese lira was devalued by 10% when the budget for 1993 was announced. A capital gains tax was later introduced. In January, Shell Oil Co. and NIMIR (a Saudi Arabian firm) were granted a concession to explore for oil to the south of Malta. An agreement was signed in July with the Istituto Scientifico ed Ospedale San Raffaele to establish a hospital to complement St. Luke's, which was the only one on the island. The Council of Europe made 12 million liri available to help guarantee that the effort to establish a new medical facility would be successful.

      Italy undertook to follow up its aid to Malta with a fourth agreement to provide financial, economic, and technical assistance. The president of Malta paid state visits to Australia, New Zealand, and Italy during the year. Local councils were created by new legislation, and the first elections were held in November. (ALBERT GANADO)

* * *

Malta, flag of   island country located in the central Mediterranean Sea. A small but strategically important group of islands, the archipelago has through its long and turbulent history played a vital role in the struggles of a succession of powers for domination of the Mediterranean and in the interplay between emerging Europe and the older cultures of Africa and the Middle East. As a result, Maltese society has been molded by centuries of foreign rule by various powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Swabians, Aragonese, Hospitallers, French, and British.

      The island of Malta specifically played a vital strategic role in World War II as a base for the Allied Powers. It was heavily bombarded by German and Italian aircraft, and by the end of the war Malta was devastated. In 1942 the island of Malta was presented with the George Cross, a British award for great gallantry, in recognition of the wartime bravery of the Maltese people. After the war, the movement for self-governance became stronger. The country of Malta became independent from Britain and joined the Commonwealth in 1964 and was declared a republic on Dec. 13, 1974. It was admitted to the European Union (EU) in 2004. A European atmosphere predominates in Malta as a result of close association with the Continent, particularly with southern Europe. The Maltese are renowned for their warmth, hospitality, and generosity to strangers, a trait that was noted in the Acts of the Apostles, with respect to the experience of St. Paul, the Apostle (Paul, the Apostle, Saint), who was said to have been shipwrecked off Malta in 60 CE.

      Roman Catholicism is a major influence on Maltese culture. Various traditions have evolved around religious celebrations, notably those honouring the patron saints of towns and villages. The eight-pointed, or Maltese, cross, adopted by the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem in 1126, is commonly linked with Malta's identity and is printed on the country's euro coin. Valletta is the capital city.

Land (Malta)
 The country comprises five islands—Malta (the largest), Gozo, Comino, and the uninhabited islets of Kemmunett (Comminotto) and Filfla—lying some 58 miles (93 km) south of Sicily, 180 miles (290 km) north of Libya, and about 180 miles (290 km) east of Tunisia, at the eastern end of the constricted portion of the Mediterranean Sea separating Italy from the African coast.

      The islands of Malta are dominated by limestone formations, and much of their coastlines consist of steep or vertical limestone cliffs indented by bays, inlets, and coves. They lie on the submerged Malta-Hyblean Platform, a wide undersea shelf bridge that connects the Ragusa Platform of southern Sicily with the Tripolitana Platform of southern Libya.

      The main physical characteristic of the island of Malta is a well-defined escarpment that bisects it along the Victoria Lines Fault running along the whole breadth of the island from Point ir-Raħeb near Fomm ir-Riħ Bay to the coast northeast of Għargħur at Madliena Fort. The highest areas are coralline limestone uplands that constitute a triangular plateau; Ta' Żuta, which rises to 830 feet (253 metres) in the southwest, is the highest point. The uplands are separated from the surrounding areas by blue clay slopes, while an undercliff area is found where the coralline plateau has fallen and forms a subordinate surface between the sea and the original shore. The total shoreline of Malta is about 136 miles (219 km).

      In northern Malta the escarpment is occasionally abrupt and broken by deep embayments. To the south, however, the plateau gradually descends from about 600 to 830 feet (180 to 250 metres) into undulating areas of globigerina (derived from marine protozoa) limestone less than 300 feet (90 metres) in elevation. The western area is characterized by deeply incised valleys and undercliff areas, while to the east there are several valley systems that descend to the central plains.

 The west coast of Malta presents a high, bold, and generally harbourless face. On the east, however, a tongue of high ground known as Mount Sceberras, on which the capital city, Valletta, is built, separates Marsamxett Harbour and Grand Harbour. Because of tectonic activity, Malta has been tilted in a northerly direction, producing cliffs of up to about 800 feet (250 metres) high on the south and southwestern coasts, while slopes descend to low cliffs and rocky shores on the northern and eastern coasts.

 The landscape of the island of Gozo is characterized by broken upper coralline mesas, with the highest point being Ta' Dbiegi Hill (636 feet [194 metres]). Gozo has a gentle easterly dip, so the lower coralline limestone, which forms high cliffs on the west coast, declines to below sea level but reappears on the east coast at Qala Point. Semicircular bays have formed on coastal cliffs where sinkholes have been invaded by the sea. The rounded bays at Xlendi and Dwejra on the west coast of Gozo originated as underground caverns with roofs that have collapsed.

      The island of Malta possesses favourable conditions for the percolation and underground storage of water. The impermeable blue clays provide two distinct water tables between the limestone formations—the perched and the mean sea-level aquifer. The principal source for the public supply of water has for several centuries been the main sea-level water table. The absence of permanent streams or lakes and a considerable runoff into the sea, however, have made water supply a problem, which has been addressed with an intensive reverse-osmosis desalination program. About halfof Malta's daily water needs are supplied by desalination plants throughout the islands.

      Mainly young or immature and thin, Maltese soils generally lack humus, and a high carbonate content gives them alkaline properties. Human settlement and construction developments have altered the distribution and composition of soils. The Fertile Soil (Preservation) Act of 1973 requires that, when soils are removed from construction sites, they be taken to agricultural areas, and level stretches in quarries are often covered with carted soil.

      The climate of Malta is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers, warm and sporadically wet autumns, and short, cool winters with adequate rainfall. More than three-fourths of the total annual rainfall of about 22 inches (550 mm) falls between October and March; June, July, and August are normally quite dry.

      The temperature is very stable, with the annual mean in the mid-60s F (about 19 °C) and monthly averages ranging from the mid-50s F (about 12 °C) to the mid-80s F (about 29 °C). Winds can be strong and frequent; the most prevalent are the cool northwesterly (the majjistral), the dry northeasterly (the grigal), and the hot and humid southeasterly (the xlokk, or sirocco). The relative humidity rarely falls below 40 percent.

Plant and animal life
      Malta's flora and fauna are typical of the low-lying coastal regions of the Mediterranean. Excessive exploitation of the forests for timber and the clearance of land for construction and agriculture have destroyed much of Malta's woodlands, though a few stands of holm oak remain. Aleppo pine has been successfully reintroduced. Maquis, a scrubby underbrush, is found along valleys and below escarpments and consists of lentisk, carob, olive, bay laurel, and in some places the sandarac gum tree (Malta's national tree). Garigue, a low-growing Mediterranean scrub, is the most common vegetation in Malta and covers much of the country's limestone plateau. The steppe in Malta is dominated by various grasses, thistles, and leguminous and bulbous plants. Reed beds occur wherever there is abundant freshwater, and club mosses, sedges and grasses are found in wetlands. Glassworts, rushes, and seablites are native to the salt marshlands. Sand couch, sea kale, and sea daffodils are found on Malta's few remaining coastal dunes, while golden samphire, rock samphire, and sea lavenders (several of which are endemic) are characteristic of low-lying rocky coasts. Cliffs and coastal screes support many of Malta's native species, which include monotypic genera such as the Maltese cliff-orache (Cremnophyton lanfrancoi) and the Maltese rock-centaury (Palaeocyanus crassifolius), the latter of which is the national plant.

      The native mammals in Malta include a subspecies of the Sicilian shrew and several types of bats. Most of the country's other mammals, including the Algerian hedgehog, Mediterranean chameleon, Etruscan shrew, rabbit, and weasel, have been introduced. Native reptiles include the Maltese wall lizard, the ocellated skink, the Moorish and the Turkish gecko, the western whip snake, and the leopard snake. The only amphibian in Malta is the painted frog, a species endemic to Sicily and Malta. Invertebrates, including insects, arachnids, and snails, are abundant.

      Although there are relatively few breeding birds, migrating species are plentiful. Sea birds include the storm petrel and the Mediterranean and Cory's shearwaters. Among the most notable birds are the Spanish sparrow, which is the most common bird in Malta, and the blue rock thrush, Malta's national bird.

People (Malta)

Ethnic groups
      Malta's population is composed almost entirely of ethnic Maltese, the descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians as well as of Italians and other Mediterranean peoples. Attempts to form a unifying and homogenizing Maltese ethnicity can be traced back to the late 13th century; these efforts were consolidated in the nationalistic discourses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Aside from the Maltese population, there are small communities of British nationals, Sindhis, Palestinians, and Greeks on the islands. Since the 1990s influxes of more transient but no less significant groups have arrived from North Africa, the Balkans, and, in the early 2000s, from countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

      Maltese (Maltese language) and English are the official languages of Malta as well as official languages of the EU. Maltese resulted from the fusion of North African Arabic and a Sicilian dialect of Italian. It is the only Semitic language officially written in Latin script. English is a medium of instruction in schools. Italian was the language of church and government until 1934 and is still understood by a sizable portion of the population.

 Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Malta, but there is full freedom of religious belief. More than nine-tenths of Maltese are nominally Roman Catholic; however, only about three-fifths of these practice their faith. The islands are an independent province of the church, with an archdiocese in Malta and a diocese in Gozo. Very small numbers of Maltese are adherents of other Christian denominations or of Islam. There are Roman Catholic cathedrals at Mdina and Valletta, an Anglican cathedral at Valletta, and a mosque at Corradino Heights.

Settlement patterns
 During the 16th and 17th centuries, under the rule of the Knights of Malta (Hospitallers), the country evolved as a maritime power, and, by the late 17th century, Valletta and other towns were thriving maritime centres. By the mid-19th century the Maltese lived mainly in the relative seclusion of clustered villages and hamlets; the fragmentation of farmholdings accentuated the individuality of the farming community. The zuntier, a parvis forming part of the church square, was the traditional focus of village life.

      During the British occupation of Malta (1800–1964), the growth of the dockyard complex resulted in the ongoing development of new settlements around Grand Harbour. In the 20th century the Sliema region, just north of Marsamextt Harbour, became the most fashionable part of Malta and by the early 21st century had become a commercial and tourist centre. Following the country's independence in 1964, the advent of industrial estates located near major villages somewhat increased urbanization, but higher living standards have given rise to residential developments all over Malta island; its central areas are now densely populated. Overbuilding has been a cause for serious concern, spawning legislation meant to protect the environment.

      The essentially rural character of Gozo's many hilltop settlements has been largely preserved in the new housing that has rapidly increased there since the 1990s. Victoria, in the south-central part of the island, is the administrative and commercial centre of Gozo. More rural still is Comino, which is mostly inhabited by tourists.

Demographic trends
      Malta has one of the highest population densities in the world,though the increase in the country's population has somewhat leveled off since the mid-20th century, with a considerable decline in the birth rate. At the same time, the death rate has remained fairly stable, having fallen only slightly, while the infant mortality rate has dropped significantly.

      Following World War II, mass emigration was encouraged and even financed by the government because of high unemployment on the islands. From 1945 until the mid-1970s about 150,000 people left Malta and Gozo and settled in other English-speaking countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia). By the 1990s, however, emigration had tapered off, and many Maltese expatriates began returning to their homeland.

      Until the mid-1960s the Maltese economy depended heavily on the British military presence in Malta. In the 1950s Britain began to withdraw its armed forces, which necessitated a drastic diversification of the economy. A series of development plans after 1959 were supported by government grants, loans, and other fiscal incentives to encourage private investment. Import and capital controls, which were extensive until the second half of the 1980s, were progressively dismantled during the 1990s, moving Malta toward a more market-driven economy as the Maltese government pursued a policy of gradual privatization beginning in 1999. Capital controls were fully lifted only when Malta was acceded to the European Union (EU) in 2004. The Maltese economy faces major constraints because of its small domestic market, and it depends on other countries for many imported goods.

Agriculture and fishing
      Agricultural development is hampered by land fragmentation (that is, plots of land resulting from decollectivization that are too small or too irregularly configured to be farmed efficiently), shallow soils, and lack of adequate water supplies. Most farming is carried out on small terraced strips of land that preclude the introduction of large-scale mechanization. As a result of the growth of urbanization, the agricultural labour force has become increasingly older, and more farming is done on a part-time basis; nevertheless, production has risen gradually because of improved techniques in the cultivation of some crops, especially horticultural ones. The major crops are potatoes, tomatoes, and fruit (especially citrus and drupes). Since the late 1990s there has been a substantial increase in grapevine and olive production. Malta is generally self-sufficient in food production, but beef is mostly imported. Upon the country's accession into the EU, Malta's agricultural sector became competitive.

      Fishing is seasonal and, to a large extent, undertaken on an artisanal basis. The common dolphin and the bluefin tuna, however, are caught for export. Aquaculture, introduced in Malta in the late 1980s, has surpassed fishing as a source of income. The European sea bass and the gilthead sea bream are grown in floating sea cages, and the bluefin tuna from the sea are fattened on farms for four to six months before export. After Malta joined the EU, Maltese fishermen benefited from funding programs, particularly to promote the export of tuna.

Resources and power
 Malta is poorly endowed with natural resources, and its only exploited mineral resource is limestone, which is quarried and used for construction. Offshore oil exploration has been under way since the mid-1990s, but no significant oil reserves have been discovered. Fossils fuels are imported and supply all of Malta's energy. There are thermal power stations on both Malta and Gozo.

      Industrial development began in earnest in the second half of the 1960s, and by the early 21st century the manufacturing sector was contributing about one-fifth of gross domestic product (GDP). Since the 1980s the manufacture of computer parts, instruments, and electronics, as well as of a large variety of consumer products (toys, cosmetics, detergents, and foodstuffs), has been important. In the early 2000s, light manufacturing (pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and automotive and airplane parts, along with software) replaced much of the low-cost labour-intensive production that had earlier played a more important role in Maltese manufacturing. Pharmaceutical production in particular has grown rapidly as a result of the patent law advantages that Malta gained upon EU membership.

 Shipbuilding (ship construction) and repair have been the foundation of Malta's economy since the Knights of Malta (Hospitallers) transferred Malta's administrative centre from the medieval inland location of Mdina to present-day Valletta in the Grand Harbour area in 1570. Since the mid-20th century, however, the shipbuilding industry has consistently operated at a loss and had been dependent upon government subsidies. Efforts aimed at engendering financial sustainability during the late 20th century were not successful. Upon EU accession, such subsidies were no longer permissible, and the Maltese government has taken steps to reduce and privatize the industry.

      The Central Bank of Malta was founded in 1968. Malta's former currency, the lira, was adopted in 1972. On Jan. 1, 2008, the euro became the country's official currency. The banking system remains highly concentrated, with half of the local commercial banks accounting for about nine-tenths of total loans and deposits. The Malta Financial Services Authority, established in 2002, is an autonomous body and the single regulator for financial services, taking over supervisory functions that were formerly carried out by the Central Bank of Malta, the Malta Stock Exchange, and the Malta Financial Services Centre. The Maltese government encourages and facilitates direct foreign investment, which began to increase in the early 2000s. While the private sector still consists mostly of small enterprises, there are some internationally owned companies operating in Malta, mostly in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and electronics sectors.

      Malta imports machinery and transport equipment, chemical products, and mineral fuels. The country's main export products are semiconductors, but it also exports other manufactured goods and refined petroleum. Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Singapore are Malta's major trading partners.

 Services account for about half of Malta's GDP and employ about three-fifths of the labour force. Tourism is a major source of income and follows a seasonal pattern, with June through October being the peak season. Some notable tourist sites include the ancient megalithic temple Ġgantija on Gozo and the temples of Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, and Tarxien on Malta; this group of temples was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. Also on Malta are spectacular medieval castles and cathedrals, as well as the ancient inland capital of Mdina. Tourism has had a major impact on the natural environment of the Maltese islands, and the government has attempted to promote ecotourism.

Labour and taxation
      The majority of Malta's workforce is employed in the manufacturing and services sectors. Women make up about one-third of the workforce. The public sector is to a very large extent unionized (organized labour). In the private sector, most large enterprises are unionized. Malta has two chief labour unions—the General Workers' Union, Malta's largest union, and the Union of United Workers—as well as a confederation of smaller sectoral unions, each of which came into being around the mid-20th century. Although unions are independent of political parties, they have tended to occupy a central role in national issues and at times have operated on the basis of the party affiliations of their members.

      The bulk of government tax revenue comes from a progressive income tax system. There is a value-added tax on consumer goods and services. Taxes on real-estate transactions also contribute to government revenue.

Transportation and telecommunications
 The island of Malta's road system connects all towns and villages and includes a coast road and a panoramic road. Bus services radiating from Valletta provide inexpensive and frequent internal transportation. Taxis and rented vehicles are available on the island. Most families own automobiles, and the number of cars per household is one of the highest in Europe. There is no railway. Ferry services operate between Malta and Gozo, and Malta and Sicily are connected by both ferry and high-speed catamaran. The national airline, Air Malta, connects Malta with most European capitals as well as with North Africa, the Middle East, and North America. Since 2007 a number of low-cost airlines have offered services to and from Malta.

      Malta's telecommunications sector was fully liberalized in 2004, after Malta joined the EU. The mobile phone penetration rate increased substantially in the early 21st century; the majority of the inhabitants now use cellular telephones, while the number of fixed-line phone lines has remained relatively static. Internet usage increased as well. The Malta Communications Authority, established in 2001, is the regulatory body of the telecommunications sector.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
 The 1964 constitution, under which Malta became an independent monarchy and parliamentary state, was amended in 1974 to make Malta a republic within the Commonwealth. The Maltese parliament consists of a unicameral House of Representatives and is fashioned on the British model. Members of the parliament are elected by proportional representation for five-year terms. An amendment adopted in 1996 guarantees a majority of seats to a party receiving more than 50 percent of the total votes cast in the general election. The parliament appoints the president, who is head of state. The president acts on the advice of the cabinet, which is headed by the prime minister, who is the head of the government.

Local government
      Local government was established in Malta in 1993. The country is divided into 68 localities, 14 of which are in Gozo. Each locality is administered by a local council elected by the residents of the locality by proportional representation every three years. The Department for Local Government oversees the councils.

      Maltese law, which was codified mainly during the period from 1854 to 1873, is largely based on the Napoleonic Code and Napoleonic law. Criminal proceedings and fiscal and maritime legislation follow English common law, but judicial precedent is not binding. Maltese is the language of the courts. Civil and criminal jurisdiction is almost exclusively vested in the Superior Courts and the Court of Magistrates. The chief justice and other members of the judiciary are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

Political process
      Maltese citizens aged 18 and older are eligible to vote. The island is deeply polarized in its politics; since independence the two major parties, the Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista; PN) and the Malta Labour Party (Partit Laburista; MLP), have alternated in power. The Democratic Alternative (Alternattiva Demokratika; AD), also known as the Maltese Green Party, is Malta's third party but has not secured a parliamentary seat since its founding in 1989. Voter turnout in Malta has traditionally been high, with generally more than nine-tenths of eligible voters casting ballots.

      Between 1964 and 1972, Malta's main defense dispositions were those contained in a 1964 agreement with the United Kingdom guaranteeing mutual assistance. From 1972 to 1987 Malta followed a policy of nonalignment, and in 1987 a neutrality clause was included in its constitution. Malta maintains its own regular armed forces. Military service is voluntary for those of at least age 18.

Health and welfare
      The government of Malta has always played a central role in the provision of health care by offering a comprehensive array of free health services and preventive care to Maltese citizens. State hospitals and clinics are complemented by private hospitals, which have proliferated since the 1990s. Since 1988 the island of Malta has been home to the United Nations International Institute on Ageing (INIA), which has made the island a centre of geriatric care and research.

      In 1956 social insurance was introduced to cover employees, the self-employed, and unemployed persons. A comprehensive contributory insurance scheme was introduced in 1972, integrating a variety of earlier legislation. In 1979 this program was enhanced to introduce an earnings-related retirement pension. The 1994 Social Security Act consolidated earlier legislation and also incorporated noncontributory schemes. Until 1986 social security in Malta was administered through three separate laws: the Old Age Pensions Act of 1948, the National Assistance Act of 1956, and the National Insurance Act of 1956. In January 1987 these acts were consolidated into the Social Security Act.

      From the early 1970s until the mid-1980s, the government radically altered the education system, which was previously structured on British models and strongly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Compulsory education was extended to include all children ages 5 to 16. The streaming of students by age and intellectual ability and through examinations was at first discarded but later reintroduced. In 2005 Malta's government reformed the education system again and created autonomous regional colleges consisting of primary and secondary schools and junior colleges.

      At the tertiary level, a student-worker scheme was introduced in 1978, with students working for six months and studying for six months, thereby linking admission to higher educational institutions to the availability of employment. This system was largely revoked by the Education Act of 1988, and admission to institutions of higher learning is now based completely on competence.

      The University of Malta at Msida and the Malta College of Arts, Science, and Technology (MCAST) are the country's principal institutions of higher education. The former was founded as a Jesuit college in 1592, established as a state institution in 1769, and refounded in 1988. It offers courses in most disciplines and has a prestigious medical school. Its modern campus at Tal-Qroqq also houses the International Maritime Law Institute and the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies. MCAST, founded in 2000, mainly offers vocational and technical education and has institutes on Malta and Gozo.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
      The culture of Malta is reflected in a mixture of Arab and Italian traditions. The Maltese are highly literate and have a deep appreciation of the arts. The Italian painter Caravaggio and the Maltese poet Dun Karm are considered major contributors to art and literature in Malta. Malta's cultural influences stem largely from the country's history of foreign domination and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Folk traditions have evolved mainly around the festa that celebrates the patron saint of a village, which is marked by processions and fireworks.

Daily life and social customs
      As a Roman Catholic country, Malta celebrates Good Friday with colourful processions in several villages. Mnarja, the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, takes place on the weekend preceding June 29 in Buskett Gardens in Rabat. It is the country's principal folk festival and is highlighted by folksinging (għana) contests and fried-rabbit picnics. The annual carnival is celebrated in various villages in Malta, but the main events take place in Valletta, where vigorous dancing displays that include the Parata, a sword dance commemorating the Maltese victory over the Turks in 1565, and Il-Maltija, the Maltese national dance, are performed. Independence Day is celebrated on September 21, and Republic Day is commemorated on December 13.

The arts
      In addition to unique Neolithic ruins, Malta contains important examples of its flourishing architectural school of the 17th and 18th centuries, which was essentially Classical with a balanced overlay of Baroque decorations. The Italian artists Caravaggio and Mattia Preti spent several years in Malta, the latter's most important paintings embellishing many of Malta's churches.

      In the 20th century many Maltese artists and scholars enriched the country's cultural heritage in the fields of architecture, music, painting, sculpture, literature, and theatre. A vernacular architecture was developed by Richard England and others. The composer Charles Camilleri introduced folk themes into his works, while Maltese literature was enriched by the poetry of the national bard, Dun Karm. An interesting theatrical upsurge led by John Schranz paralleled the emergence of Francis Ebejer as a brilliant playwright. Alfred Chircop and Luciano Micallef have gained prominence with their abstract paintings, Gabriel Caruana has excelled in ceramics, and Anton Agius is a noted sculptor. Maltese soprano Miriam Gauci and tenor Joseph Calleja are internationally renowned.

Cultural institutions
       Valletta is the centre of many of Malta's cultural institutions, which include the National Museum of Archaeology, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the War Museum, the Manoel Theatre (one of Europe's oldest theatres still in operation), and St. James Cavalier, an old military building that was transformed into an arts centre in 2000. The National Library of Malta dates from the late 18th century and houses a large collection as well as the archives of the Hospitallers. The Maritime Museum and the Museum of Political History are located at Vittoriosa.

Sports and recreation
      As a consequence of its colonial history, Malta developed a sporting tradition much influenced by its former British rulers, with an emphasis on polo, rugby, athletics (track and field), and especially football (soccer). The national stadium at Ta' Qali is the site of important local and international football matches. A national basketball league was formed in 1960, and there are dozens of amateur teams throughout Malta and Gozo. Swimming, water polo, billiards, and tennis are also popular sports. Malta made its Olympic debut at the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam.

Media and publishing
      Until the early 1990s, Maltese radio and television stations were operated exclusively by a state-appointed body, but a change in legislation opened the way for privately operated broadcasting outlets. Radio and television in Malta are broadcast in several languages. Several daily and weekly newspapers in both Maltese and English are published. Both major political parties operate their own television channel, radio station, and newspaper, while the Roman Catholic Church has its own radio station and newspaper.


Early history
      The earliest archaeological remains in Malta date from about 5000 BCE. Neolithic farmers lived in caves such as those at Għar Dalam (near Birżebbuġa (Birzebbuga)) or villages such as Skorba (near Żebbiegħ) and produced pottery similar to that of contemporary eastern Sicily. An elaborate cult of the dead evolved sometime after 4000 BCE. Initially centring on rock-cut collective tombs such as those at Żebbuġ and Xemxija, it culminated in the unique underground burial chamber (hypogeum) at Ħal Saflieni (in Paola, known locally as Raħal Ġdid). Hundreds of thousands of human remains, as well as statues, pots, jewelry, and other artifacts, have been unearthed at Ħal Saflieni, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. This culture came to a sudden end about 2000 BCE, when it was replaced by the Tarxien Cemetery culture, a metal-using civilization that practiced a cremation burial rite. This culture in turn was supplanted by the Borġ In-Nadur people (1450–800 BCE), whose settlements were founded on naturally defensible hilltops. Between 900 and 800 BCE, people settled at Baħrija and were known for their distinct type of pottery.

      Between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE, contact was made with a Semitic culture. Evidence is scanty, however, and a few inscriptions found on Malta constitute an important indication of a Phoenician presence. For example, a prehistoric temple at Tas-Silġ (near Marsaxlokk) was converted into a Phoenician one. There is more substantial proof of the Carthaginian (Carthage) presence from the 6th century BCE; coins, inscriptions, and several rock tombs of the Punic (i.e., Phoenician (Phoenicia)) type have been found. It is certain that in 218 BCE Malta came under Roman (ancient Rome) political control, forming part of the praetorship of Sicily. During the first two centuries of Roman occupation, the islands were allowed to coin their own money, send delegations to Rome, and control domestic affairs. Subsequently they were given the status of Roman municipium. St. Paul, the Apostle (Paul, the Apostle, Saint), was shipwrecked on Malta in 60 CE, and, as it is believed, converted the inhabitants to Christianity. Numerous collective underground burial places dating from the 4th to the 8th century CE represent the first archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta.

 With the division of the Roman Empire in 395 CE, Malta was given to the eastern portion ruled from Constantinople (now Istanbul). Until the 15th century, it followed the more immediate fortunes of nearby Sicily, successively under Byzantine rule (535–870 CE) and Arab rule (870–1090); both groups left a strong mark on the language and customs. The Normans and their Swabian successors in the Kingdom of Sicily (1091–1266) had changed Malta's legal and governmental structures. A short period of Angevin rule (1266–82) was followed by Spanish rule (1282–1530), when the islands were governed by a succession of feudal lords. In 1530 the Holy Roman emperor Charles V ceded Malta to the homeless Order of the Knights of Rhodes (subsequently the Sovereign and Military Order of the Knights of Malta; see Hospitallers), a religious and military order of the Roman Catholic Church. Malta became a fortress and, under the Knights' grand master, Jean de Valette, successfully withstood the Ottoman siege of 1565. The new capital city of Valletta, founded in 1566, became a town of splendid palaces and unparalleled fortifications. Growing in power and wealth—owing mainly to their maritime adventures against the Ottomans—the Knights left the island an architectural and artistic legacy. Although there was little social contact between them and the Maltese, the Knights managed to imprint their cosmopolitan character on Malta and its inhabitants.

Modern history
      In 1798 French army officer Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon I) captured the island, but the French presence was short-lived. By the middle of 1800 British troops that had been called in to assist the Maltese had arrived. The French held out for three months before they surrendered the island to the British. The Treaty of Amiens (Amiens, Treaty of) returned the island to the Knights in 1802. The Maltese protested and acknowledged Great Britain (British Empire)'s sovereignty, subject to certain conditions incorporated in a Declaration of Rights. The constitutional change was ratified by the Treaties of Paris (Paris, Treaties of) (1814–15).

      Maltese claims for local autonomy were dismissed by Britain, but they never abated. Malta's political status under Britain underwent a series of vicissitudes in which constitutions were successively granted, suspended, and revoked. British exploitation of Malta's military facilities dominated the local economy, and the dockyard became the colony's economic mainstay.

      The island flourished during the Crimean War (1853–56) and was favourably affected by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Self-government was granted in 1921 on a dyarchical basis whereby Britain retained control of foreign and military affairs, while a newly created Maltese legislature was responsible for local issues. This agreement was withdrawn in 1933, mostly as a result of Maltese resistance to the imposition of English in lieu of Italian as Malta's official language. As such, Malta reverted to a strictly colonial regime in which full power rested in the hands of the governor. During World War II (1939–45) the island underwent intense and prolonged bombing by the Axis Powers but did not surrender. The heroism of the Maltese people was recognized when the island as a whole was awarded the George Cross, Britain's highest civilian decoration. Self-government was granted in 1947, revoked in 1959, and then restored in 1962. Malta finally achieved independence on Sept. 21, 1964, becoming a member of the Commonwealth and subsequently a member of the Council of Europe (Europe, Council of). Malta became a republic on Dec. 13, 1974.

Salvino Busuttil
      The immediate pre- and post-independence period was marked by a hardening polarization between Malta's two major political parties. From 1962 to 1971, Malta was governed by the Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista; PN), which pursued a policy of firm alignment with the West. In 1971, however, the Malta Labour Party (Partit Laburista; MLP) came to power, embracing a policy of nonalignment and aggressively asserting Malta's sovereignty. The MLP formed a special friendship with China and Libya and negotiated an agreement that led to the total withdrawal of British forces from Malta by 1979. The closure of the British base was celebrated by the Maltese government as the arrival of “real” independence.

      The PN returned to power in 1987 and sought full membership in the European Community (now embedded in the European Union [EU]). But when the MLP took the reins again in 1996, the party froze Malta's application for membership in the EU. The MLP's time in office was short-lived, however, because Prime Minister Alfred Sant called for new elections in 1998 (three years ahead of schedule) after having lost support from his own party. The PN was returned to office in 1998; it reactivated the application for accession to the EU and ushered in major social and economic changes in pursuit of that goal. After considerable political wrangling between the PN and the MLP, Maltese voters in a 2003 referendum chose to join the EU, of which Malta became a member on May 1, 2004. Malta adopted the euro as its currency on Jan. 1, 2008. The PN was again returned to power in 2008, winning the general elections over the MLP by a small margin of votes.

Lino Briguglio

Additional Reading

General works
Henry Frendo and Oliver Friggieri (eds.), Malta: Culture and Identity (1994), is a compilation of essays on Maltese language, heritage, art, economy, migration, and more. Walter Kümmerly et al., Malta: Isles of the Middle Sea (1965); and Harry Luke, Malta: An Account and an Appreciation, 2nd ed., rev. and enlarged (1960), are illustrated descriptive works with maps. Focus on local landscape is found in Harrison Lewis, A Guide to the Remote Paths and Lanes of Ancient Malta (1974); and Douglas Lockhart and Sue Ashton, Landscapes of Malta, Gozo, and Comino (1989). Some travelers' guides, repeatedly revised in well-known publishers' series, include Paul Murphy (ed.), Malta, 4th ed. (1999), part of the Insight Guide series; and Simon Gaul, Malta, Gozo & Comino, 4th ed. (2007). Malta's physical landscape is detailed in Martyn Pedley, Limestone Isles in a Crystal Sea: The Geology of the Maltese Islands (2002); Franƈois Lerin, Leonard Mizzi, and Salvino Busuttil (eds.), “Physical Geography and Ecology of the Maltese Islands: A Brief Overview,” in Malta: Food, Agriculture, Fisheries, and the Environment (1993), pp. 27–39; and Sylvia Mary Haslam and J. Borg, The River Valleys of the Maltese Islands: Environment and Human Impact (1998).Stanley Fiorini and Victor Mallia-Milanes, Malta: A Case Study in International Cross-Currents (1991), is a compilation of case studies about Malta's history as a melting pot. Jeremy Boissevain, Ħal Kirkop: A Village in Malta (2006), offers a study of social life and customs. Maltese folklore is treated in Ġuze Cassar Pullicino and Tarcisio Zarb, Folklore of an Island (1998). The role of religion is explored in Jeremy Boissevain, Saint and Fireworks: Religion and Politics in Rural Malta (1993); and Mario Vassallo, From Lordship to Stewardship: Religion and Social Change in Malta (1979).The electoral system of Malta is overviewed and assessed in John C. Lane, “A Survey of Elections in Malta,” in Catherine Vella (ed.), The Maltese Islands on the Move: A Mosaic of Contributions Marking Malta's Entry into the 21st Century (2000), pp. 207–222. Godfrey Pirotta, Malta's Parliament: An Official History (2006), offers an extensive review of Malta's House of Representatives, and The Maltese Public Services 1800–1940: The Administrative Politics of a Micro-State (1996), reviews the development of Malta's civil service during one and a half centuries of British rule; while Edward Warrington, “‘Standing to Arms in Lilliput'—The Armed Forces, External Relations, and Domestic Politics in a Micro-State: Malta, 1965–1997,” in Public Administration and Development 18(2):185–199 (December 1998), examines the relationship between Malta's civilian government and the armed forces. Maltese constitutional reforms are considered in John J. Cremona, An Outline of the Constitutional Development of Malta Under British Rule (1963), and Malta and Britain: the Early Constitutions (1996). Anthony M. Abela, Transmitting Values in European Malta (1991), deals with changes in Maltese concepts of values in the 1980s, and Shifting Family Values in Malta: A Western European Perspective (1991), studies the contemporary Maltese family. Education and health services are overviewed and assessed in Joseph Zammit Mangion, Education in Malta (1992); and Ronald G. Sultana (ed.), Inside/Outside Schools: Towards a Sociology of Education in Malta (1997), which gives a critical view of the educational system in Malta. Paul Cassar, Medical History of Malta (1964), surveys the development of social services in Malta.The Maltese language is analyzed in Joseph Aquilina, Maltese Linguistic Surveys (1976), and The Structure of Maltese (1959). Controversy over the Maltese language in the 1930s is discussed in Geoffrey Hull, The Malta Language Question (1993). Maltese art is featured in Mario Buhagiar, The Iconography of the Maltese Islands, 1400–1900 (1988). Charles Cini (ed.), Gozo: Roots of an Island (1990), studies the history, art, architecture, and folklore of Gozo.

General surveys on the history of Malta are presented in Eric Gerada-Azzopardi, Malta: An Island Republic (1979); and Brian Blouet, The Story of Malta, 3rd rev. ed. (1981). The early period is discussed in J.D. Evans, The Prehistoric Antiquities of the Maltese Islands (1971); Anthony Bonanno, Malta: An Archaeological Paradise (1987); Carmel Cassar, Society, Culture, and Identity in Early Modern Malta (2000); David H. Trump and Daniel Cilia, Malta: Prehistory and Temples (2002); and Mario Buhagiar, Late Roman and Byzantine Catacombs and Related Burial Places in the Maltese Islands (1986).Anthony Bonanno, Malta: Phoenician, Punic, and Roman (2005), highlights the economic, social, and political achievements of those periods. Charles Dalli and Daniel Cilia, Malta: The Medieval Millennium (2006), tells the story of Malta from the end of Roman rule to the arrival of the Hospitallers. The Middle Ages are studied in Anthony T. Luttrell (ed.), Medieval Malta: Studies on Malta Before the Knights (1975); and Godfrey Wettinger, The Jews of Malta in the Late Middle Ages (1985). The period of the Knights of Malta is examined in Ernle Bradford, The Great Siege: Malta 1565 (1961, reissued 1979); and Victor Mallia-Milanes (ed.), Venice and Hospitaller Malta, 1530–1798 (1992), which covers an interesting trade aspect of this era. Malta's brief period of French rule is discussed in Carmel Testa, The French in Malta, 1798–1800 (1997). Joseph Pirotta, Fortress Colony: The Final Act, 1945–1964, 3 vol. (1987–2001), traces Malta's path to independence.Ernle Bradford, Siege: Malta to 1940–1943 (1985); George Hogan, Malta: The Triumphant Years, 1940–43 (1978); and Charles A. Jellison, Besieged: The World War II Ordeal of Malta, 1940–1942 (1984), focus on Malta's role in World War II. Malta's pursuit of independence is explored in Henry Frendo, Malta's Quest for Independence: Reflections on the Course of Maltese History (1989), and The Origins of Maltese Statehood: A Case Study of Decolonization in the Mediterranean, 2nd ed. (2000); and Edith Dobie, Malta's Road to Independence (1967). Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans: Ritual, Memory, and the Public Sphere in Malta (2002), examines Maltese national identity in the years right before Malta joined the European Union.Lino Briguglio

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