President: Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca (2014)

Prime Minister: Joseph Muscat (2013)

Total area: 124 sq mi (321 sq km)

Population (2014 est.): 412,655 (growth rate: 0.33%); birth rate: 10.24/1000; infant mortality rate: 3.59/1000; life expectancy: 80.11

Capital (2011 est.): Valletta, 198,000

Monetary unit: Euro

National name: Repubblika ta' Malta

Current government officials

Languages: Maltese (official) 90.1%, English (official) 6%, multilingual 3%, other 0.9% (2005 est.)

Ethnicity/race: Maltese (descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians, with strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock)

Religion: Roman Catholic (official) more than 90% (2011 est.)

National Holiday: Independence Day, September 21

Literacy rate: 92.4% (2005 census)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013 est.): $11.22 billion; per capita $29,200. Real growth rate: 2.4%. Inflation: 1%. Unemployment: 6.4%. Arable land: 28.12%. Agriculture: potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, cut flowers, green peppers; pork, milk, poultry, eggs. Labor force: 190,000; agriculture 1.4%, industry 22.27%, services 76.4%. Industries: tourism, electronics, shipbuilding and repair, construction, food and beverages, textiles, footwear, clothing, tobacco. Natural resources: limestone, salt, arable land. Exports: $5.105 billion (2013 est.): machinery and transport equipment, manufactures. Imports: $7.436 billion (2013 est.): machinery and transport equipment, manufactured and semimanufactured goods; food, drink, tobacco. Major trading partners: U.S., France, Singapore, UK, Germany, Italy, Libya, Russia (2013).

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 229,700 (2012); mobile cellular: 539,500 (2012). Broadcast media: 2 publicly owned TV stations, Television Malta (TVM) broadcasting nationally plus an educational channel; several privately owned national television stations, two of which are owned by political parties; Italian and British broadcast programs are available; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; publicly owned radio broadcaster operates 1 station; roughly 20 commercial radio stations (2011). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 14,754 (2012). Internet users: 240,600 (2009).

Transportation: Railways: 0 km. Roadways: total: 3,096 km; paved: 2,704 km; unpaved: 392 km (2008). Ports and harbors: Marsaxlokk, Valletta. Airports: 1 (2013).

International disputes: none.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of Malta

Geography | Government | History


The five Maltese islands—Malta, Gozo, Comino, Comminotto, and Filflawith—have a combined land area smaller than Philadelphia. Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, about 60 mi (97 km) south of the southeast tip of Sicily.




The strategic importance of Malta was recognized by the Phoenicians, who occupied it, as did, in turn, the Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans. The apostle Paul was shipwrecked there in A.D. 60. With the division of the Roman Empire in A.D. 395, Malta was assigned to the eastern portion dominated by Constantinople. Between 870 and 1090, it came under Arab rule. In 1091, the Norman noble Roger I, then ruler of Sicily, came to Malta with a small retinue and defeated the Arabs. The Knights of St. John (Malta), who obtained the three habitable Maltese islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino from Charles V in 1530, reached their highest fame when they withstood an attack by superior Turkish forces in 1565. Napoléon seized Malta in 1798, but the French forces were ousted by British troops the next year, and British rule was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1814.

Independence and EU Accession

Malta suffered heavy attacks by German and Italian aircraft during World War II, but was never invaded by the Axis powers. It became an independent nation on Sept. 21, 1964, and a republic on Dec. 13, 1974, but it remained in the British Commonwealth. In 1979, when its alliance with Great Britain ended, Malta sought to guarantee its neutrality through agreements with other countries. Although Malta applied for membership in the European Union, the Labour Party, after winning the election in Oct. 1996, froze Malta's EU application and withdrew from the NATO Partnership for Peace program in an effort to maintain its neutrality. When the Nationalist Party won the Sept. 1998 elections, however, it revived the EU accession bid, and in May 2004 Malta joined the EU. In July 2005, Malta ratified the proposed EU constitution. The ruling Nationalist Party was narrowly reelected in March 2008, ensuring Gonzi a second term as prime minister.

2013 General Election Brings Change

On March 9, 2013, Malta held its general election. The Labour Party won 39 seats in the House of Representatives, where 35 seats are needed for a majority. Therefore, the Labour Party defeated the Nationalist Party, which had been in power for the last 15 years. The Labour Party won with a 36,000 vote margin, a landslide in Malta.

On March 11, 2013, Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat took office as prime minister. Previously, from 2004 to 2008, he had been a member of the European Parliament. He was leader of the opposition from October 2008 through the 2013 election.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was nominated to succeed George Abela as Malta's ninth president on March 1, 2014. After Parliament unanimously elected her, Preca took office on April 4. At the age of 55, she became the youngest president and the second woman after former President Agatha Barbara.

See also Encyclopedia: Malta.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Malta
Central Office of Statistics .


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