OFFICIAL NAME: Malta
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 320 Sq Km (124 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 378,900
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Malta is an archipelago of five
islands located in the central Mediterranean Sea. It consists
of the islands of Malta, Gozo, Comino, Cominotto Filfa and
St. Paul. The islands are generally low lying with no mountains
or rivers and the coastlines of Malta and Gozo are well
indented with numerous bays and rocky coves. Major Cities
(pop. est.); Birkirkara 21,800, Qormi 19,900, Hamrun 13,700,
Sliema 13,500, Valletta 9,100 (1994). Land Use; pastures
and agricultural-cultivated 41%, other 59% (1993).
CLIMATE: Malta has a typical Mediterranean climate characterized
by a dry summer season and a mild rainy winter season with occasional fog
from November to March. Average annual precipitation is 559 mm (22 inches)
and occurs almost entirely between October and April. Average temperature
ranges in Valletta are from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius (50 to 57 degrees
Fahrenheit) in January to 23 to 29 degrees Celsius (73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit)
PEOPLE: The Maltese are descendants of ancient Carthaginians
and Phoenicians with an admixture of Arab and Italian. The ethnic aliens
are largely retired British nationals.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 1,130 persons per sq km
(2,926 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 85.3% urban, 14.7% rural
(1985). Sex Distribution; 49.3% male, 50.7% female (1990). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 73.8 years male, 78.0 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 24%
under 15, 22% 15 to 29, 24% 30 to 44, 15% 45 to 59, 11% 60 to 74, 4% 75
and over (1990). Birth Rate; 15.2 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 7.7 per
1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 7.5 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate;
11.3 per 1,000 live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Roman Catholicism with 97%
of the population Roman Catholic, while 1.2% are Anglican.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Maltese and English. Maltese
is a Semitic language with some Roman language assimilations and Italian
is also widely spoken.
EDUCATION: Economically active population having attained: no
formal schooling 10.8%, primary 60.4%, lower secondary 3.4%, upper secondary
17.6%, higher 7.8% (1967). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over
250,419 or 96.0% (1985).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1942 King George VI of England
awarded the George Cross to Malta in recognition of the courage and endurance
of the Maltese people during World War II. In 1947 Malta was granted partial
self government. In 1953 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
established its Mediterranean military headquarters on Malta. In 1956 a
referendum for the complete integration with Britain was approved, however,
by 1958 an independence movement began to grow. In 1962 a constitution
was approved so that the British colony could become a state with full
internal self government, although the new legislative assembly favored
full independence. On Sept. 21, 1964 Malta became an independent constitutional
monarchy. In 1974 the constitution was amended and Malta became a republic
within the Commonwealth. In 1979 an agreement between Great Britain and
Malta, that permitted British use of military facilities based on Malta,
expired. In Mar. 1979 Britain and NATO finalized the withdrawal of their
military forces and Malta declared its neutrality and nonalignment. In
Apr. 1989 Vincent Tabone was elected President. In Dec. 1984 Dom Mintoff
retired as Prime Minister, a position he had held since 1956 and was replaced
by Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici. In May 1987 Edward Fenech Adami was elected
Prime Minister and in July 1990 Malta applied for full EU membership. In
May 1990 Pope John Paul II visited Malta which was the first ever pastoral
visit by a pontiff. In Jan. 1991 Malta's Foreign Minister, Guido de Marco,
visited Palestinian refugee camps in Israeli-occupied territories and Jordan
while a state visits by the President of Italy in Sept. 1991 resulted in
their commitment to support in Malta's complete integration into the EU.
In Oct. 1991 ten leading religious representatives met in Malta to discuss
how religion could promote peace through the new world order. Also in 1991
the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe approved a ML 13 million
loan for the hospital and housing programs while a cooperation agreement
was signed with Italy to fight organized crime and drug trafficking. In
Feb. 1992 the country's modern international airport was opened. On Feb.
22, 1992 general elections resulted in the National Party led by Prime
Minister Adami being returned to power. In May 1992 Queen Elizabeth II
visited Malta to commemorate those who had lost their lives in WWII with
the opening of the Siege Bell Monument. Also in 1992 the government continued
with its policy of liberalization with import barriers being reduced in
line with the country's aspiration to gain membership with the EU. In Jan.
1993 Shell Oil and a Saudi firm NIMIR were granted approval to conduct
exploration for oil to the south of Malta. In June 1993 the Commission
of the EU announced that Malta had all the qualifications for EU membership,
although they would have to implement certain economic reforms and legislative
measures in order to gain entry. In July 1993 an agreement was signed with
the San Rafaele Scientific Institute to establish another hospital to compliment
the country' one other hospital, St. Lukes while the Council of Europe
made another ML 12 million available to guarantee the project. Also in
1993 Italy entered in its fourth agreement with Malta to provide economic,
financial and technical aid to the country.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Lira (ML) divided into
100 Cents, which is in turn divided into 1,000 Mils.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $2,606,000,000 (1992). Public
Debt; USD $921,700,000 (1994). Imports; ML 830,920,000 (1993). Exports;
ML 518,326,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $653,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; ML -226,900,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 139,868
or 38.2% of total population (1993). Unemployed; 4.2% (1993).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Germany,
Italy, the UK and the USA.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Fruit, Limestone, Pigs, Poultry, Salt, Tobacco,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Beverages, Clothing, Electronic Equipment,
Foodstuffs, Footwear, Leather, Rubber and Plastic, Shipbuilding and Repairs,
Textiles, Tourism, Tobacco Products.
MAIN EXPORTS: Clothing, Footwear, Furniture, Machinery, Ships Instruments,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 1,405 km (873 mi) (1988).
Vehicles; cars 107,005 (1989), trucks and buses 19,653 (1989). Merchant
Marine; vessels 524 (1990), deadweight tonnage 7,756,479 (1990). Air Transport;
passenger-km 732,000,000 (454,844,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km
6,192,000 (4,241,000 short ton-mi) (1989).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 3 with a total circulation
of 68,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 90,000 (1994). Television; receivers
146,107 (1993). Telephones; units 157,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 1,850 (1995) total active duty personnel with 100%
army while military expenditure accounts for 0.9% (1992) of the Gross National
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