The Republic of Malta
Repubblika Ta' Malta
CAPITAL : Valletta
FLAG : The national flag consists of two equal vertical stripes, white at the hoist and red at the fly, with a representation of the Maltese Cross, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe.
ANTHEM : L'Innu Malti (The Maltese Hymn) .
MONETARY UNIT : The Maltese lira ( LM ) consists of 100 cents, with each cent divided into 10 mils. There are coins of 2, 3, and 5 mils and of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and notes of 2, 5, 10, and 20 lira. Gold and silver coins of 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, and 100 lira also are in circulation. ML 1 = $2.5 (or $1 = M 0.40; as of April 2003).
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is the legal standard, but some local measures are still in use.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; National Day, 31 March; May Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; Republic Day, 13 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday.
TIME : 1 PM = noon GMT.
The islands of Malta are a rocky formation (chiefly limestone) rising from east to northeast to a height of 240 m (786 ft), with clefts that form deep harbors, bays, creeks, and rocky coves.
The climate is typically Mediterranean, with fairly hot, dry summers and rainy, mild winters. The average winter temperature is 9° C (48° F ); the average summer temperature, 31° C (88° F ). Rainfall occurs mostly between November and January and averages about 56 cm (22 in) per year.
Most Maltese are believed to be descended from the ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians, but there are strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock.
Maltese, a Semitic language with Romance-language assimilations, is the national language and the language of the courts. Maltese and English are both official languages.
Local government was established in 1993 with the approval of the Local Councils Act, setting up 68 local councils in Malta; there are 54 on the main island of Malta, and 14 in Gozo.
The armed forces of Malta numbered 2,140 in 2002 divided into three regiments. Malta spent an estimated $60 million on defense in 2000 or 1.7% of GDP. Italy has 47 air force troops stationed in Malta.
Malta joined the UN on 1 December 1964 and participates in ECE and all the non-regional specialized agencies except IDA and IFC. A member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, and G-77, Malta also is signatory to the Law of the Sea and a member of the WTO. Malta was formally invited to join the EU in December 2002, and accession to the body is expected on 1 May 2004.
Malta's livestock population in 2001 included 19,200 head of cattle, 80,000 pigs, 17,000 sheep, 2,300 goats, and 930,000 poultry. Total meat production in 2001 was 18,000 tons, half of it pork.
Fishing is primarily for local consumption. In 2000, the total catch was 1,039 tons. Principal species included gilthead seabream, European seabass, dolphinfish, and bluefin tuna. Exports of fish products were valued at $7.9 million in 2000.
There are no forests on the islands. In 2000, $853.5 million in forest products were imported.
All customary types of insurance are available. Many foreign insurance companies have representatives in Malta. In 2001, there was $72 million in life insurance written.
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
Although traditionally a protectionist state, Malta's nationalist government is moving to dismantle its trade barriers in an effort to prepare for EU accession. Customs are collected mainly in the form of ad valorem duties; there are specific duties on petroleum, spirits, and tobacco. Preferential treatment is accorded to imports from the European Union. There is also a value-added tax (VAT) of 15% on all imports.
Free health services are administered by the government run polyclinics. British, Belgian, and other foreign medical personnel work in Malta's hospitals. Infant mortality decreased from 23.3 per 1,000 live births in 1973 to an estimated 5.72 in 2002. Average life expectancy at birth was 78.3 years. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 12.76 and 7.77 per 1,000 people.
Malta has over 111,700 dwellings; 45% of all dwellings are terraced, 20% are flats, 16% are terrans (self-contained rooms at ground level with a separate entrance accessible from the street), 11% are maisonettes, 3% are semi-detached, and 1% are farms. About 94% have cooking facilities, 98% have a refrigerator, 80% have a washing machine, and 65% have a telephone.
Malta has no territories or colonies.
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Caruana, Carmen M. Education's Role in the Socioeconomic Development of Malta . Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1992.
Clews, Hilary A. (ed.). The Year Book, 1987 . Sliema: De La Salle Brothers, 1987.
Elliott, Peter R. The Cross and the Ensign: A Naval History of Malta, 1798–1978 . Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1980.
Five Small Open Economics . New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Gregory, Desmond. Malta, Britain, and the European Powers . Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996.
Spooner, Tony. Supreme Gallantry: Malta's Role in the Allied Victory, 1939 – 1945 . London: J. Murray, 1996.