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In July , the Labour government admitted this and has opted to stop it as from September The two largest commercial banks are Bank of Valletta and HSBC Bank Malta , both of which can trace their origins back to the 19th century.
As of recently, digital banks such as Revolut have also increased in popularity. It was established by the Central Bank of Malta Act on 17 April The Maltese government entered ERM II on 4 May , and adopted the euro as the country's currency on 1 January FinanceMalta is the quasi-governmental organisation tasked with marketing and educating business leaders in coming to Malta and runs seminars and events around the world highlighting the emerging strength of Malta as a jurisdiction for banking and finance and insurance.
Traffic in Malta drives on the left. Car ownership in Malta is exceedingly high, considering the very small size of the islands; it is the fourth-highest in the European Union.
Buses xarabank or karozza tal-linja are the primary method of public transport, established in Malta's vintage buses operated in the Maltese islands up to and became popular tourist attractions in their own right.
The bus service underwent an extensive reform in July The management structure changed from having self-employed drivers driving their own vehicles to a service being offered by a single company through a public tender in Gozo, being considered as a small network, the service was given through direct order.
It also operated two smaller buses for an intra- Valletta route only and 61 nine-metre buses, which were used to ease congestion on high-density routes.
Overall Arriva Malta operated buses. On 1 January Arriva ceased operations in Malta due to financial difficulties, having been nationalised as Malta Public Transport by the Maltese government, with a new bus operator planned to take over their operations in the near future.
With lower fares than the walk-on rate, it can be topped up online. The card was initially not well received, as reported by several local news sites.
From to Malta had a railway line that connected Valletta to the army barracks at Mtarfa via Mdina and a number of towns and villages.
The railway fell into disuse and eventually closed altogether, following the introduction of electric trams and buses. The ferry makes numerous runs each day.
Malta International Airport Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta is the only airport serving the Maltese islands.
It is built on the land formerly occupied by the RAF Luqa air base. A heliport is also located there, but the scheduled service to Gozo ceased in The heliport in Gozo is at Xewkija.
Since June , Harbour Air Malta has operated a thrice-daily floatplane service between the sea terminal in Grand Harbour and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.
Today, Ta' Qali houses a national park, stadium , the Crafts Village visitor attraction and the Malta Aviation Museum.
This museum preserves several aircraft, including Hurricane and Spitfire fighters that defended the island in the Second World War.
The national airline is Air Malta , which is based at Malta International Airport and operates services to 36 destinations in Europe and North Africa.
The owners of Air Malta are the Government of Malta 98 percent and private investors 2 percent. Air Malta employs 1, staff. It has a 25 percent shareholding in Medavia.
Air Malta has concluded over interline ticketing agreements with other IATA airlines. It also has a codeshare agreement with Qantas covering three routes.
In September , Air Malta made two agreements with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways by which Air Malta wet-leased two Airbus aircraft to Etihad Airways for the winter period starting 1 September , and provided operational support on another Airbus A aircraft which it leased to Etihad Airways.
Telephone and cellular subscriber numbers have eight digits. There are no area codes in Malta, but after inception, the original first two numbers, and currently [ when?
Fixed line telephone numbers have the prefix 21 and 27, although businesses may have numbers starting 22 or Mobile telephone numbers have the prefix 77, 79, 98 or The number of pay-TV subscribers fell as customers switched to Internet Protocol television IPTV : the number of IPTV subscribers doubled in the six months to June Malta has produced collectors' coins with face value ranging from 10 to 50 euros.
These coins continue an existing national practice of minting of silver and gold commemorative coins. Unlike normal issues, these coins are not accepted in all the eurozone.
From its introduction in until the introduction of the Euro in , the currency was the Maltese lira , which had replaced the Maltese pound.
The pound replaced the Maltese scudo in Malta is a popular tourist destination, with 1. Tourism infrastructure has increased dramatically over the years and a number of hotels are present on the island, although overdevelopment and the destruction of traditional housing is of growing concern.
An increasing number of Maltese now travel abroad on holiday. In recent years, Malta has advertised itself as a medical tourism destination,  and a number of health tourism providers are developing the industry.
However, no Maltese hospital has undergone independent international healthcare accreditation. Malta is popular with British medical tourists,  pointing Maltese hospitals towards seeking UK-sourced accreditation, such as with the Trent Accreditation Scheme.
Malta signed a co-operation agreement with the European Space Agency ESA for more-intensive co-operation in ESA projects.
Most science students in Malta graduate from the University of Malta and are represented by S-Cubed Science Student's Society , UESA University Engineering Students Association and ICTSA University of Malta ICT Students' Association.
Malta conducts a census of population and housing every ten years. The census held in November counted an estimated 96 percent of the population.
Native Maltese people make up the majority of the island. However, there are minorities, the largest of which are Britons , many of whom are retirees.
The only census year showing a fall in population was that of , with a 1. All censuses since have shown a slight excess of females over males.
The and censuses came closest to recording a balance. The highest female-to-male ratio was reached in but since then the ratio has dropped continuously.
The census showed a female-to-male ratio. The birth rate stood at a decrease of The population's age composition is similar to the age structure prevalent in the EU.
Since there was observed a trend indicating an ageing population, and is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio rose from Malta's old-age-dependency-ratio is expected to continue rising steadily in the coming years.
Maltese legislation recognises both civil and canonical ecclesiastical marriages. Annulments by the ecclesiastical and civil courts are unrelated and are not necessarily mutually endorsed.
Malta voted in favour of divorce legislation in a referendum held on 28 May A person must be 16 to marry. There is a constant trend that females are more likely than males to marry young.
In there were 51 brides aged between 16 and 19, compared to 8 grooms. In , the population of the Maltese Islands stood at , Males make up The total fertility rate TFR as of [update] was estimated at 1.
The Maltese language Maltese : Malti is one of the two constitutional languages of Malta, having become official, however, only in , and being considered as the national language.
Previously, Sicilian was the official and cultural language of Malta from the 12th century, and the Tuscan dialect of Italian from the 16th century.
Alongside Maltese, English is also an official language of the country and hence the laws of the land are enacted both in Maltese and English.
However, article 74 of the Constitution states that " Maltese is a Semitic language descended from the now extinct Sicilian-Arabic Siculo-Arabic dialect from southern Italy that developed during the Emirate of Sicily.
Maltese is the only Semitic language with official status in the European Union. Maltese has a Semitic base with substantial borrowing from Sicilian , Italian, a little French, and more recently and increasingly, English.
The language includes different dialects that can vary greatly from one town to another or from one island to another.
Also, 88 percent of the population speak English, 66 percent speak Italian, and 17 percent speak French.
A study collecting public opinion on what language was "preferred" discovered that 86 percent of the population express a preference for Maltese, 12 percent for English, and 2 percent for Italian.
Maltese Sign Language is used by signers in Malta. Religion in Malta . The predominant religion in Malta is Catholicism.
The second article of the Constitution of Malta establishes Catholicism as the state religion and it is also reflected in various elements of Maltese culture , although entrenched provisions for the freedom of religion are made.
There are more than churches in Malta, Gozo, and Comino, or one church for every 1, residents. This civic pride manifests itself in spectacular fashion during the local village festas , which mark the day of the patron saint of each parish with marching bands, religious processions, special Masses , fireworks especially petards and other festivities.
Malta is an Apostolic See ; the Acts of the Apostles tells of how St. Paul , on his way from Jerusalem to Rome to face trial, was shipwrecked on the island of "Melite", which many Bible scholars identify with Malta, an episode dated around AD Paul spent three months on the island on his way to Rome, curing the sick including the father of Publius, the "chief man of the island".
Various traditions are associated with this account. The shipwreck is said to have occurred in the place today known as St Paul's Bay.
The Maltese saint, Saint Publius is said to have been made Malta's first bishop and a grotto in Rabat , now known as "St Paul's Grotto" and in the vicinity of which evidence of Christian burials and rituals from the 3rd century AD has been found , is among the earliest known places of Christian worship on the island.
Further evidence of Christian practices and beliefs during the period of Roman persecution appears in catacombs that lie beneath various sites around Malta, including St.
Paul's Catacombs and St. Agatha's Catacombs in Rabat, just outside the walls of Mdina. The latter, in particular, were frescoed between and , although invading Turks defaced many of them in the s.
Luke painted a picture of the Madonna. It has been a place of pilgrimage since the medieval period. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon record that in AD a certain Acacius was Bishop of Malta Melitenus Episcopus.
It is also known that in AD, a certain Constantinus, Episcopus Melitenensis , was present at the Fifth Ecumenical Council.
In AD, Pope Gregory I deposed Tucillus, Miletinae civitatis episcopus and the clergy and people of Malta elected his successor Trajan in AD.
The last recorded Bishop of Malta before the invasion of the islands was a Greek named Manas, who was subsequently incarcerated at Palermo. Maltese historian Giovanni Francesco Abela states that following their conversion to Christianity at the hand of St.
Paul , the Maltese retained their Christian religion, despite the Fatimid invasion. Since all bishops of Malta have been Maltese.
As a result of the Norman and Spanish periods, and the rule of the Knights, Malta became the devout Catholic nation that it is today. It is worth noting that the Office of the Inquisitor of Malta had a very long tenure on the island following its establishment in the last Inquisitor departed from the Islands in after the Knights capitulated to the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte.
During the period of the Republic of Venice , several Maltese families emigrated to Corfu. Their descendants account for about two-thirds of the community of some 4, Catholics that now live on that island.
The patron saints of Malta are Saint Paul , Saint Publius , and Saint Agatha. Pope Benedict XVI canonised Preca on 3 June A number of Maltese individuals are recognised as Blessed , including Maria Adeodata Pisani and Nazju Falzon , with Pope John Paul II having beatified them in Various Catholic religious orders are present in Malta, including the Jesuits , Franciscans , Dominicans , Carmelites and Little Sisters of the Poor.
Most congregants of the local Protestant churches are not Maltese; their congregations draw on the many British retirees living in the country and vacationers from many other nations.
There include St. Andrew's Scots Church in Valletta a joint Presbyterian and Methodist congregation and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral.
The members of these churches are mainly Maltese. There are also a Seventh-day Adventist church in Birkirkara , and a New Apostolic Church congregation founded in in Gwardamangia.
The Jewish population of Malta reached its peak in the Middle Ages under Norman rule. In , Malta and Sicily came under Aragonese rule and the Alhambra Decree of forced all Jews to leave the country, permitting them to take with them only a few of their belongings.
Several dozen Maltese Jews may have converted to Christianity at the time to remain in the country. Today, there is one Jewish congregation. There is one Muslim mosque, the Mariam Al-Batool Mosque.
A Muslim primary school recently opened. Of the estimated 3, Muslims in Malta , approximately 2, are foreigners, approximately are naturalised citizens, and approximately are native-born Maltese.
In a survey held by the Malta Today , the overwhelming majority of the Maltese population adheres to Christianity According to the same report, 4.
Non-religious people have a higher risk of suffering from discrimination, such as lack of trust by society and unequal treatment by institutions.
In the edition of the annual Freedom of Thought Report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union , Malta was in the category of "severe discrimination".
In , following the abolishment of blasphemy law , Malta was shifted to the category of "systematic discrimination" which is the same category as most EU countries.
Most of the foreign community in Malta, predominantly active or retired British nationals and their dependents, is centred on Sliema and surrounding modern suburbs.
Other smaller foreign groups include Italians, Libyans, and Serbians, many of whom have assimilated into the Maltese nation over the decades.
Malta is also home to a large number of foreign workers who migrated to the island to try and earn a better living.
This migration was driven pre-dominantly at a time where the Maltese economy was steadily booming yet the cost and quality of living on the island remained relatively stable.
In recent years however the local Maltese housing index has doubled  pushing property and rental prices to very high and almost unaffordable levels in the Maltese islands with the slight exception of Gozo.
Salaries in Malta have risen very slowly and very marginally over the years making life on the island much harder than it was a few years ago.
As a direct result, a significant level of uncertainty exists among expats in Malta as to whether their financial situation on the island will remain affordable in the years going forth, with many already barely living paycheck to paycheck and others re-locating to other European countries altogether.
Since the late 20th century, Malta has become a transit country for migration routes from Africa towards Europe.
As a member of the European Union and of the Schengen Agreement , Malta is bound by the Dublin Regulation to process all claims for asylum by those asylum seekers that enter EU territory for the first time in Malta.
The compulsory detention policy has been denounced by several NGOs, and in July , the European Court of Human Rights found that Malta's detention of migrants was arbitrary, lacking in adequate procedures to challenge detention, and in breach of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Concerns as to whether the Maltese citizenship scheme is allowing an influx of such individuals into the greater European Union have been raised by both the public as well as the European Council on multiple occasions.
On 8 September , Amnesty International criticized Malta for "illegal tactics" in the Mediterranean, against immigrants who were attempting to cross from North Africa.
The reports claimed that the government's approach might have led to avoidable deaths. In the 19th century, most emigration from Malta was to North Africa and the Middle East, although rates of return migration to Malta were high.
By , for example, British consular estimates suggest that there were 15, Maltese in Tunisia , and in it was claimed that 15, people of Maltese origin were living in Algeria.
Malta experienced significant emigration as a result of the collapse of a construction boom in and after the Second World War, when the birth rate increased significantly, but in the 20th century, most emigrants went to destinations in the New World , particularly to Australia, Canada, and the United States.
After the Second World War, Malta's Emigration Department would assist emigrants with the cost of their travel. Between and , 30 percent of the population emigrated.
Emigration dropped dramatically after the mids and has since ceased to be a social phenomenon of significance. However, since Malta joined the EU in expatriate communities emerged in a number of European countries particularly in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Primary schooling has been compulsory since ; secondary education up to the age of sixteen was made compulsory in The state and the Church provide education free of charge, both running a number of schools in Malta and Gozo , including De La Salle College in Cospicua , St.
Aloysius' College in Birkirkara , St. Paul's Missionary College in Rabat, Malta , St. Joseph's School in Blata l-Bajda and Saint Monica Girls' School in Mosta and Saint Augustine College , with its primary sector in Marsa and its secondary in Pieta.
As of [update] , state schools are organised into networks known as Colleges and incorporate kindergarten schools, primary and secondary schools.
Martin's College in Swatar and St. Catherine's High School, Pembroke offers an International Foundation Course for students wishing to learn English before entering mainstream education.
As of [update] , there are two international schools, Verdala International School and QSI Malta. The state pays a portion of the teachers' salary in Church schools.
Education in Malta is based on the British model. Primary school lasts six years. Pupils sit for SEC O-level examinations at the age of 16, with passes obligatory in certain subjects such as Mathematics, a minimum of one science subject Physics, Biology or Chemistry , English and Maltese.
Upon obtaining these subjects, Pupils may opt to continue studying at a sixth form college such as Gan Frangisk Abela Junior College , St.
Aloysius' College , Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary, De La Salle College , St Edward's College, or else at another post-secondary institution such as MCAST.
The sixth form course lasts for two years, at the end of which students sit for the matriculation examination. Subject to their performance, students may then apply for an undergraduate degree or diploma.
The adult literacy rate is Maltese and English are both used to teach pupils at the primary and secondary school level, and both languages are also compulsory subjects.
Public schools tend to use both Maltese and English in a balanced manner. Private schools prefer to use English for teaching, as is also the case with most departments of the University of Malta ; this has a limiting effect on the capacity and development of the Maltese language.
Of the total number of pupils studying a first foreign language at secondary level, 51 per cent take Italian whilst 38 per cent take French. Other choices include German, Russian, Spanish, Latin, Chinese and Arabic.
Malta is also a popular destination to study the English language, attracting over 80, students in Malta has a long history of providing publicly funded health care.
The first hospital recorded in the country was already functioning by The Maltese Ministry of Health advises foreign residents to take out private medical insurance.
The Mater Dei Hospital , Malta's primary hospital, opened in It has one of the largest medical buildings in Europe. The University of Malta has a medical school and a Faculty of Health Sciences , the latter offering diploma, degree BSc and postgraduate degree courses in a number of health care disciplines.
The Medical Association of Malta represents practitioners of the medical profession. The Malta Medical Students' Association MMSA is a separate body representing Maltese medical students, and is a member of EMSA and IFMSA.
MIME, the Maltese Institute for Medical Education, is an institute set up recently to provide CME to physicians in Malta as well as medical students.
The Foundation Program followed in the UK has been introduced in Malta to stem the 'brain drain' of newly graduated physicians to the British Isles.
The Malta Association of Dental Students MADS is a student association set up to promote the rights of Dental Surgery Students studying within the faculty of Dental Surgery of the University of Malta.
It is affiliated with IADS, the International Association of Dental Students. The culture of Malta reflects the various cultures, from the Phoenicians to the British, that have come into contact with the Maltese Islands throughout the centuries, including neighbouring Mediterranean cultures, and the cultures of the nations that ruled Malta for long periods of time prior to its independence in This consists of background folk guitar music, while a few people, generally men, take it in turns to argue a point in a sing-song voice.
The aim of the lyrics, which are improvised, is to create a friendly yet challenging atmosphere, and it takes a number of years of practice to be able to combine the required artistic qualities with the ability to debate effectively.
Documented Maltese literature is over years old. However, a recently unearthed love ballad testifies to literary activity in the local tongue from the Medieval period.
Malta followed a Romantic literary tradition, culminating in the works of Dun Karm Psaila , Malta's National Poet. Subsequent writers like Ruzar Briffa and Karmenu Vassallo tried to estrange themselves from the rigidity of formal themes and versification.
The next generation of writers, including Karl Schembri and Immanuel Mifsud , widened the tracks further, especially in prose and poetry.
Maltese architecture has been influenced by many different Mediterranean cultures and British architecture over its history.
The Neolithic temple builders — BC endowed the numerous temples of Malta and Gozo with intricate bas relief designs, including spirals evocative of the tree of life and animal portraits, designs painted in red ochre, ceramics and a vast collection of human form sculptures, particularly the Venus of Malta.
These can be viewed at the temples themselves most notably, the Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples , and at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.
Malta's temples such as Imnajdra are full of history and have a story behind them. The Roman period introduced highly decorative mosaic floors, marble colonnades, and classical statuary, remnants of which are beautifully preserved and presented in the Roman Domus, a country villa just outside the walls of Mdina.
The early Christian frescoes that decorate the catacombs beneath Malta reveal a propensity for eastern, Byzantine tastes. These tastes continued to inform the endeavours of medieval Maltese artists, but they were increasingly influenced by the Romanesque and Southern Gothic movements.
Towards the end of the 15th century, Maltese artists, like their counterparts in neighbouring Sicily, came under the influence of the School of Antonello da Messina , which introduced Renaissance ideals and concepts to the decorative arts in Malta.
The artistic heritage of Malta blossomed under the Knights of St. John , who brought Italian and Flemish Mannerist painters to decorate their palaces and the churches of these islands, most notably, Matteo Perez d'Aleccio , whose works appear in the Magisterial Palace and in the Conventual Church of St.
John in Valletta, and Filippo Paladini, who was active in Malta from to For many years, Mannerism continued to inform the tastes and ideals of local Maltese artists.
The arrival in Malta of Caravaggio , who painted at least seven works during his month stay on these islands, further revolutionised local art.
Two of Caravaggio's most notable works, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Jerome Writing , are on display in the Oratory of the Conventual Church of St.
His legacy is evident in the works of local artists Giulio Cassarino — and Stefano Erardi — However, the Baroque movement that followed was destined to have the most enduring impact on Maltese art and architecture.
The glorious vault paintings of the celebrated Calabrese artist, Mattia Preti transformed the severe, Mannerist interior of the Conventual Church St.
John into a Baroque masterpiece. Preti spent the last 40 years of his life in Malta, where he created many of his finest works, now on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.
During the 17th and 18th century, Neapolitan and Rococo influences emerged in the works of the Italian painters Luca Giordano — and Francesco Solimena — , and these developments can be seen in the work of their Maltese contemporaries such as Gio Nicola Buhagiar — and Francesco Zahra — The Rococo movement was greatly enhanced by the relocation to Malta of Antoine de Favray — , who assumed the position of court painter to Grand Master Pinto in Parliament established the National School of Art in the s.
During the reconstruction period that followed the Second World War, the emergence of the "Modern Art Group", whose members included Josef Kalleya — , George Preca — , Anton Inglott — , Emvin Cremona — , Frank Portelli — , Antoine Camilleri — , Gabriel Caruana and Esprit Barthet — greatly enhanced the local art scene.
This group of forward-looking artists came together forming an influential pressure group known as the Modern Art Group.
Together they forced the Maltese public to take seriously modern aesthetics and succeeded in playing a leading role in the renewal of Maltese art.
Most of Malta's modern artists have in fact studied in Art institutions in England, or on the continent, leading to the explosive development of a wide spectrum of views and to a diversity of artistic expression that has remained characteristic of contemporary Maltese art.
In Valletta, the National Museum of Fine Arts featured work from artists such as H. Craig Hanna. A number of regional variations, particularly with regards to Gozo, can be noted as well as seasonal variations associated with the seasonal availability of produce and Christian feasts such as Lent , Easter and Christmas.
Food has been important historically in the development of a national identity in particular the traditional fenkata i. Potatoes are a staple of the Maltese diet as well.
There is a strong wine industry in Malta, with significant production of wines using these native grapes, as well as locally grown grapes of other more common varietals, such as Chardonnay and Syrah.
Maltese folktales include various stories about mysterious creatures and supernatural events. This collection of material inspired subsequent researchers and academics to gather traditional tales , fables and legends from all over the Archipelago.
The traditional Maltese obsession with maintaining spiritual or ritual purity  means that many of these creatures have the role of guarding forbidden or restricted areas and attacking individuals who broke the strict codes of conduct that characterised the island's pre-industrial society.
This is a belief that Malta shares with many other Mediterranean cultures. Rural Malta shares in common with the Mediterranean society a number of superstitions regarding fertility, menstruation, and pregnancy, including the avoidance of cemeteries during the months leading up to childbirth, and avoiding the preparation of certain foods during menses.
Pregnant women are encouraged to satisfy their cravings for specific foods, out of fear that their unborn child will bear a representational birth mark Maltese: xewqa , literally "desire" or "craving".
Maltese and Sicilian women also share certain traditions that are believed to predict the sex of an unborn child, such as the cycle of the moon on the anticipated date of birth, whether the baby is carried "high" or "low" during pregnancy, and the movement of a wedding ring, dangled on a string above the abdomen sideways denoting a girl, back and forth denoting a boy.
Traditionally, Maltese newborns were baptised as promptly as possible, should the child die in infancy without receiving this vital Sacrament; and partly because according to Maltese and Sicilian folklore an unbaptised child is not yet a Christian, but "still a Turk".
These may include a hard-boiled egg, a Bible, crucifix or rosary beads , a book, and so on. Whichever object the child shows the most interest in is said to reveal the child's path and fortunes in adulthood.
Money refers to a rich future while a book expresses intelligence and a possible career as a teacher. Infants who select a pencil or pen will be writers.
Choosing Bibles or rosary beads refers to a clerical or monastic life. If the child chooses a hard-boiled egg, it will have a long life and many children.
More recent additions include calculators refers to accounting , thread fashion and wooden spoons cooking and a great appetite.
Traditional Maltese weddings featured the bridal party walking in procession beneath an ornate canopy, from the home of the bride's family to the parish church, with singers trailing behind serenading the bride and groom.
This custom along with many others has long since disappeared from the islands, in the face of modern practices. However, it is no longer worn in modern Malta.
Today's couples are married in churches or chapels in the village or town of their choice. Maltese and English are the official languages in line with the constitution of the country.
A majority of the people of Malta can speak three languages; Maltese, English and Italian. Malta had its own currency , called the Maltese Lira until The Maltese Lira was better known as the Maltese Pound because of the strong links to the United Kingdom.
One Maltese Lira consisted of cents. In Malta joined the Euro countries in adopting the Euro as the National Currency. People have lived in Malta since at least BC.
The island has some key archaeological sites dating from early times. Malta became well known as the base of the Knights Hospitaller.
They moved to Malta after being forced to leave Palestine and then Rhodes , in Greece. In they survived a great attack by the Ottoman Empire.
The history of the knights at Malta continued the strong Roman Catholic beliefs in the country that were started by the Norman and Spanish rulers.
In , Napoleon took control of Malta. The French rule was not popular and in Maltese rebels invited the British Royal Navy to come to the island.
This led to years as a British colony and independent Commonwealth member. During World War II , Malta was attacked this time by the Axis forces.
The entire island was symbolically given the George Cross for heroism. Malta became independent in and a republic in 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. Valletta is the capital city. 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 , miles km north of Libya , and about miles 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 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 miles km. In northern Malta the escarpment is occasionally abrupt and broken by deep embayments.
To the south, however, the plateau gradually descends from about to feet to metres into undulating areas of globigerina derived from marine protozoa limestone less than 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 feet metres high on the south and southwestern coasts, while slopes descend to low cliffs and rocky shores on the northern and eastern coasts.