So, you want to know about Malta? If you live anywhere in Europe, then Malta is a place you’ve probably heard of since almost 55% of European residents choose Malta as a holiday destination every year.
If you’re across the Atlantic in especially North America, chances are you’ve never heard of this secret gem. Whether it’s that spectacular vacation you’d like to have, or you intend to emigrate to a land of greener pastures and exciting opportunities, we're here to fill you in on the details. The following is some basic information you should know about Malta regardless of your intentions:
All About Malta - the fundamentals
Malta is a country that comprises three small islands namely, Gozo, Comino and Malta.
It is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and is located between the Italian city of Sicily and the North African countries of Tunisia and Libya.
The island nation has a very small population of just under 500,000. The island of Comino in Malta is mainly inhabited but makes up for the beauty and nature it portrays for Malta. If you would like to know more about this gorgeous nation, download this Factsheet about Malta.
The capital city of Malta is Valletta, which is known as the Fortress City due its rich history and being home to three UNESCO heritage sites. Other famous cities include Gozo, Mdina, Silema, St Julian (pronounced San Giljan) and Birgu (Vittoriosa).
Brief history of Malta
The first thing that is compulsory to know is the rich history of this archipelago, which makes it a unique nation. All races from across the globe share a piece of history with Malta. From Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Anglo Saxons, Europeans, Western and Northern Africans, every kind of person can relate to the several historical moments that have happened on Maltese grounds.
The official birth place of Catholicism
Malta is the Island where St. Paul was famously shipwrecked, giving it the official birthplace of Catholicism. It also served as a battleground for various wars from the Fall of Phoenicia, to the second world war where the Allied forces battled it out with Axis Forces.
Malta became a British colony back in the 1800s, and acted as a meeting naval base for European ships, but later became a passageway for African and European travelers. In 1964 it gained independence from Britain and later became part of the European Union in 2004, which makes it the smallest nation in Europe.
Weather and climate
One of the reasons why Malta is such a desired and sought-after destination is because of its glorious and endless summers. The average temperature all year round is 23º C (73 F) and the lowest temperature is 12º C (53 F). There is virtually no winter or fall, just average rainfall and sunshine. Malta is one of the few islands of the Mediterranean that is immune to severe weather disasters.
As in most EU countries, Malta has its share of political mayhem, but it is not as intrusive of modern life in Malta as in major EU countries. Meaning, it has a generally stable and safe political environment.
Migrants in Malta
Malta saw a heavy rise in migrants over the last decades who came from the Middle East, North and West Africa, as they used it as an entry point to Europe. All in all, it is a peaceful nation and has a very low rate of crime and instability.
Official language of Malta
There are two official languages in Malta which are English and Maltese. Other languages spoken there include French, Italian and Greek. This means that is would be very likely that you'll meet someone that speaks the same language as you when you get there.
Economy and Currency
Malta officially adopted the Euro as its main currency since it joined the EU in 2004. The economy of the county has improved vastly since joining the European Union, and people now have a greater spending and earning power than they did before the new alliance.
Sources of income
Tourism remains the highest GDP earner for the small Island, whereby the average family enjoys economic freedom and a richer lifestyle. Another economic contributor to the nation are investments from foreign nationals, especially EU citizens who contribute to the development of the country.
Foreign investment has been increasing
More and more people are choosing Malta as an investment haven, and the number of people emigrating to the island has been increasing over the decades. However, basic amenities such as food, housing, entertainment and medicines remain relatively low when compared to the other EU nations.
Transportation - how to get around
Before joining the EU, the most popular mode of transportation was the use of local bus companies owned by individuals. But after joining the EU, most residents opted to buy and own their own vehicles which caused a big surge in car ownership. Malta is one of the few nations that prohibit foreign cars, however, so if you want to drive in Malta, either rent a car or buy the car whilst you’re in Malta.
There are restrictions regarding importing cars
Foreigners and even residents are not allowed to import or bring cars from other countries. Only a few registered car companies are allowed to import cars internationally.
Driving in Malta
In Malta, driving is on the left and you must be 18 years old to apply for a license. As a visitor, your best mode of getting around is renting a car or hiring a taxi because the public transportation system may not be completely reliable.
Planning to move to Malta? Check out these facts first!
So, you’ve decided to emigrate to Malta? Great! Before you pack your bags, let’s prepare you for more information about Malta. Here are some additional facts that you should add to your knowledge list:
Religion is an integral part of Maltese life and culture. Pretty much everything in the country revolves around it since the whole nation was founded on Christianity. Even holidays are centered around religious occasions and sentiments.
Roman Catholic is the prevailing religion
Roman Catholics make up 98% of the population. Other minor religions include Orthodox Judaism and Islam. Mass attendance is compulsory for followers. So if you intend to move to Malta and access certain amenities, it's important to participate and follow Roman Catholic rules. As of today, there are currently 365 known registered and functional churches.
Malta has three designated educational providers which are the state, the church, and the private sector. It is compulsory for all citizens to attend school from the age of five to sixteen, afterwards, they have a choice to pursue a higher degree at their chosen university, which is highly encouraged in their society. Locals and residents do not pay for education but rather use the scholarship system for educational costs.
Healthcare is definitely a surprising topic in Malta, and it's perhaps one of the reasons why a lot of people choose Malta as their new home. Malta's healthcare systems are one of the best not only in Europe but in the world. EU citizens and residents enjoy free healthcare benefits provided by the state government.
Culture and lifestyle
If you’ve ever visited or lived in Italy, France, or Spain, then life in Malta shouldn’t shock or surprise you as it’s similar to these nations. What makes Malta unique is that it carries heavy originality of especially famous history and extraordinary architecture. Some have even described Malta as the most visible replica to the Roman Empire.
The Maltese people are generally friendly and welcoming to visitors, tourists and sojourners. Food and entertainment are influenced mainly by Italian vibes. Some of the most well-known dishes include Minestra (local soup), Lampuki pie (casserole) and Hot pastizzi (pasta)
Obtaining Malta's residency and citizenship
Since Malta is an EU nation, all EU citizens are generally granted automatic residency and citizenship, though they still need to register for an employment license. There are little to no restrictions for EU nationals as they are treated in the same way as local Maltese people. However, if you are a non-EU national then you should expect some certain restrictions.
For example, for you to qualify for permanent residency as a non-Eu national, you should spend at least two years living as a legal temporary resident. You can qualify for citizenship once you have lived there as a permanent resident for five years or longer.
Malta provides an interesting Citizenship by investment program. For a minimum investment of €690,000 + costs, you can become a Maltese citizen in 36 months. In addition, you can opt for Malta's Permanent Residence Program which enables qualifying investors to obtain Maltese residency in a year. Digital nomads can also opt to apply for Malta's digital nomad visa.