Geographic and Governmental Profile of Malta

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both world wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004 and began using the euro as currency in 2008.
Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)
Geographic coordinates
35 50 N, 14 35 E
Continent / Subcontinent
316 sq km
316 sq km
0 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
0 km
196.8 km (excludes 56 km for the island of Gozo)
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone:
25 nm
Mediterranean; mild, rainy winters; hot, dry summers
mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains; many coastal cliffs
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point:
Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)
Natural resources
limestone, salt, arable land
Land use
arable land:
permanent crops:
65.62% (2005)
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Irrigated land
32 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
0.07 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
0.02 cu km/yr (74%/1%/25%)
per capita:
50 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Environment - current issues
limited natural freshwater resources; increasing reliance on desalination
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
the country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Country name
conventional long form:
Republic of Malta
conventional short form:
local long form:
Repubblika ta' Malta
local short form:
Government type
geographic coordinates:
35 53 N, 14 30 E
time difference:
UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time:
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions
68 localities (Il-lokalita); Attard, Balzan, Birgu, Birkirkara, Birzebbuga, Bormla, Dingli, Fgura, Floriana, Fontana, Ghajnsielem, Gharb, Gharghur, Ghasri Ghaxaq, Gudja, Gzira, Hamrun, Iklin, Imdina, Imgarr, Imqabba, Imsida, Imtarfa, Isla, Kalkara, Kercem, Kirkop, Lija, Luqa, Marsa, Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk, Mellieha, Mosta, Munxar, Nadur, Naxxar, Paola, Pembroke, Pieta, Qala, Qormi, Qrendi, Rabat, Rabat (Ghawdex), Safi, San Giljan/Saint Julian, San Gwann/Saint John, San Lawrenz/Saint Lawrence, Sannat, San Pawl il-Bahar/Saint Paul's Bay, Santa Lucija/Saint Lucia, Santa Venera/Saint Venera, Siggiewi, Sliema, Swieqi, Tarxien, Ta' Xbiex, Valletta, Xaghra, Xewkija, Xghajra, Zabbar, Zebbug, Zebbug (Ghawdex), Zejtun, Zurrieq
21 September 1964 (from the UK)
National holiday
Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974)
1964; amended many times
Legal system
mixed legal system of English common law and civil law (based on the Roman and Napoleonic civil codes)
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President George ABELA (since 4 April 2009)
head of government:
Prime Minister Lawrence GONZI (since 23 March 2004)
Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
president elected by a resolution of the House of Representatives for a five-year term; election last held on 12 January 2009 (next to be held by April 2014); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the president for a five-year term; the deputy prime minister appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
election results:
George ABELA elected president by the House of Representatives
Legislative branch
unicameral House of Representatives (normally 65 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation by the Single Transferrable Vote (STV) to serve five-year terms; note - the parliament elected in 2008 is composed of 69 seats; when the political party winning an absolute majority of first-count votes (or a plurality of first-count votes in an election where only two parties are represented in parliament) does not win an absolute majority of seats, the constitution provides for the winning party to be awarded additional number of seats in parliament to guarantee it an absolute majority; in the event that more than two parties are represented in parliament, with none acquiring the absolute majority of votes, the party winning the majority of seats prevails
last held on 8 March 2008 (next to be held by March 2013)
election results:
percent of vote by party - PN 49.3%, PL 48.8%, other 1.9%; seats by party - PN 35, PL 34
Judicial branch
Constitutional Court; Court of First Instance; Court of Appeal
magistrates and judges for the courts are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
Political parties and leaders
Alternativa Demokratika/Alliance for Social Justice or AD [Michael BRIGUGLIO]; Labor Party or PL [Joseph MUSCAT]; Nationalist Party or PN [Lawrence GONZI]; The Malta Communist Party [Victor DEGIOVANNI]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Alleanza Liberali-Demokratika Maltra or ALDM (for divorce, abortion, gay marriage, the rights existent in other EU member states); Alternattiva Demokratika (pro-environment); Flimkien Ghal-Ambjent Ahjar (pro-environment); Ghazda tal-Konsumaturi (consumer rights)
International organization participation
Australia Group, C, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Joseph COLE
2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
[1] (202) 462-3611 through 3612
[1] (202) 387-5470
New York
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
New Embassy
mailing address:
Ta' Qali National Park, Attard, ATD 4000
[356] 2561 4000
[356] 2124 3229
Flag description
two equal vertical bands of white (hoist side) and red; in the upper hoist-side corner is a representation of the George Cross, edged in red; according to legend, the colors are taken from the red and white checkered banner of Count Roger of Sicily who removed a bi-colored corner and granted it to Malta in 1091; an uncontested explanation is that the colors are those of the Knights of Saint John who ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798; in 1942, King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the George Cross to the islanders for their exceptional bravery and gallantry in World War II; since independence in 1964, the George Cross bordered in red has appeared directly on the white field
National symbol(s)
Maltese cross
National anthem
"L-Innu Malti" (The Maltese Anthem)
adopted 1945; the anthem is written in the form of a prayer
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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