Malta Country Guide
Malta is a small but populous republic located in Europe - a microstate formed from seven islands in a scenic archipelago. Malta became a member of the European Union in May 2004 and has consistently worked on improving the standard of living for its people while also enhancing the tourist infrastructure. As a holidaymaker here, you are sure to be delighted. Investments by the government include the creation of SmartCity, an IT hub on the lines of Dubai's Internet City. Membership to the EU has opened up new avenues and Malta's progress in non-tourism sectors has also picked up pace in recent years.
An idyllic holiday destination in Southern Europe, Malta has taken great care to woo the travellers that sustain its tourism-dependent economy.
Our Malta Country Guide below will tell you all the travel information you need to know for a visit to Malta. If you are more interested in events, attractions and things to do, visit our Malta Destination Guide and our local Malta Tour Ideas. Let us guide you through Malta with our local suggestions.
Malta Country Guide
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
Total Area: 316 sq km (122 sq miles).
Capital: Valletta (6,315 people)
Time Zone: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
For current time in Valletta, click on this link to TimeAndDate.com.
Food and Drink
Local water supply comes chlorinated and is usually safe to drink. However, some travellers do find it can cause mild stomach upsets, so it may be wiser to stick to drinking bottled water. If you are on a short trip, use only bottled water.
Milk and dairy products sold here are generally safe and pasteurized. The poultry, meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit are also fine for consumption.
In case you fall ill or have an accident while in Malta, you can make use of the reduced cost or free healthcare facilities available for all European nationals. Remember to carry your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - valid of course - if you intend to make use of this facility. If you are a citizen of a non EU country, comprehensive health insurance is your best bet. Australians can also make use of the reciprocal health agreement the republic has with their country. If you are Australian, and on a vacation of less than one month to Malta, you are eligible for free hospital care.
Malta's main hospital, St. Luke's is located at Guardamangia. Ambulance services are provided free of cost for any emergency situations but you will need to furnish evidence that the treatment was necessary.
Malta's history goes back thousands of years ago. Malta has been inhabited from as early as the Neolithic times and evidence of early settlements can be found even today. In 2000 B.C., as the Neolithic era civilizations went into decline, a number of external invaders arrived here. The Romans and Arabs followed the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. The Arabs invaded the island nation in the Middle Ages, during the Byzantine-Arab Wars. Later, in 1091, the Normans took control and Roman Catholicism was restored as Malta's state religion.
Until 1934, Italian was the country's official language, after which it was replaced by the new official languages, Maltese and English. Many locals still speak Italian as a second language while a few are extremely fluent in it.
Everyone living here speaks Maltese, while 88% speak English, 66% speak Italian and 17% speak French as well, but local preference is clearly skewed towards Maltese. Only 12% say English is their language of choice and 2% say Italian is the language they prefer communicating in, while a whopping 86% find Maltese the most comfortable language of communication.
Malta is located in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily. To view a map of Malta, click on this link to WorldAtlas.com.
Do remember to respect their culture and beliefs on your trip and you should be just fine. If you plan to visit a church, wear clothes that cover your shoulders and legs. Don't smoke in public buildings or on public transport or in cinema houses - it is against the law.
The country's patron saints are St. Paul, St. George and St. Agatha. St. George Preca or San Gorg Preca is much revered as Malta's first canonized saint, though he is not a patron saint. St. George Preca was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2007. Many Maltese have also been named ‘Blessed'. Nazju Falzon and Maria Adeodata Pisani were beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. A number of different orders of Roman Catholicism are found here including the Franciscans, Jesuits, Little Sisters of the Poor and Dominicans.
If you're a citizen of a European Union member country, Canada or the United States you will not need a visa to enter Malta. However, if you're not from the EU, you will still need to submit a filled landing card on arrival, which you can ask your cabin crew for in-flight before you land or pick up at the arrivals halls near the customs area. Non EU nationals will also have to hold a valid return ticket and a passport that is valid for at least three months past the proposed date of departure. European Union nationals must carry a valid national identity card.