Malta is the largest island at 316 km² (122 sq. mi.) alongside the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino. The current population stands at around 420,000 making it the most densely populated country in Europe. Maltese is the official language, although English is generally spoken especially within the business community. Malta also adopted the British system of administration, education and legislation.
The weather is typically Mediterranean with hot, dry, subtropical summers. Winters are pleasantly mild but can also tend to be quite rainy through January to March. The Maltese coastal waters are generally clean and safe for swimming as there are no tides, so they are perfect for bathing, watersports, and relaxing. Sea temperatures average 22-23C with air temperatures reaching 40C during the summer months.
Roman Catholic is the main religion of the island but many other religious denominations are also represented with small but well established and active communities. The division of ethnic culture is made up of Arabic, Sicilian, Norman, Spanish, Italian and, of course, English. The Italian influence is most prevalent especially within the young, stylish cafe society.
Over the last 15 years, the island has become a major freight transhipment point, financial centre, and tourist destination. Malta's strategic position fostered its development as an important trading post and it remains a leading centre for container and freight transhipment. Financial services and manufacturing are key sectors, although being an extremely popular holiday destination, tourism remains the nation's main source of income.
Malta offers all the benefits of living on a beautiful, tranquil Mediterranean island with a rich cultural heritage, an extremely safe environment and daily connecting flights to all the major cities of Europe.
The island oozes charm and is steeped in a deep-routed history which is prevalent at every turn. A vast array of cultural events take place throughout the year and the island has a myriad of arts, theatres, and museums. Many events are perfect for the entire family to enjoy: concerts and open-air music events, arts and crafts, sports and activity, exhibitions and shows, feasts and carnivals, and so much more. Plus an array of tourist attractions to visit, theme parks and movie sets, open-top tour buses, tourist trains, and harbour cruises, horse-riding, hiking and mountain-bike tracks, the list is endless.
With an abundance of eateries from fine dining to burger outlets, coffee shops, bars and late-night clubs, the nightlife is lavish and vibrant. The Maltese diet is typically Mediterranean with an abundance of fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables: speciality dishes include Octopus Stew and Rabbit Stew. Malta also has a small but excellent wine producing industry, winning several accolades in France, Italy and further afield in recent years.
Good retail outlets and shopping centres can be found in all the major towns and villages although the concept of the Shopping Mall is a relatively new addition, it is one that has rapidly gained popularity and has seen a number of malls opening in both Malta and Gozo.
Ever since joining the EU and adopting the Euro as a currency, Malta has enjoyed strong and consistent growth in its financial services industry and is fast becoming the jurisdiction of choice for a number of multinational companies seeking to relocate their business interests or looking for an ideal market within the EU. An efficient work force, English as a business language, and a strong legal and fiscal framework have all contributed to this growth.
Malta is currently ranked among the top five emerging financial centres in the world in the City of London’s Global Financial Index and is an ideal location for multinationals seeking cost-and tax-efficient jurisdictions within the EU.
The island may be tiny in stature but with an extremely professional and qualified workforce among the legal, tax, regulatory and financial services fields, plus relatively low operating costs, it has proved to be one of today’s leading jurisdictions and an ever-popular relocation destination.
The housing market remains buoyant despite the world-wide recession. New prestigious complexes continue to be developed all over the Islands alongside numerous renovation projects. Premium resort projects such as Tigne Point and Portomaso offer a mix of luxury homes, commercial outlets and leisure amenities. These, together with the remodelling of the Valletta Waterfront are drawing fresh interest from overseas buyers. Property prices have remained competitive and around 4.5% of residential real estate is foreign-owned.
Restored properties continue to attract the expat buyer: not only are they full of character, they were purposely designed to withstand the Mediterranean climate. Since its launch in 2003, Malta’s Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) has done a rigorous job in nurturing its Special Designated Areas (SDA) regeneration initiative with high-end waterfront and marina and new projects have seen over 30% foreign-buy-in. Full property management services are almost always available.
Property purchase is a very simple process and the island boasts one of the safest and most undemanding legal systems in Europe with contracts written in English and property transfers deemed unbreakable and security of title guaranteed. It is quite easy for a non-Maltese national to purchase property in Malta and Gozo. Malta charges no capital gains tax on property sales after three years of ownership, and there is no inheritance tax.
Due to its colonial past, Malta's educational sector is based on the British system. Education is compulsory from age five till sixteen. The first two years of lower secondary have a broader general focus, while years three to five then introduce specialisation by means of elective subjects. There is one University which is recognised by major foreign Universities. A number of private schools provide unparalleled kindergarten, primary, secondary and sixth-form services. Many of these schools belong to the Catholic Church or are run by independent organisations. About 30% of all students attend the non-state sector.
A World Health Organization (WHO) survey ranked Malta 5th in the world for its standard of medical care. Hospitals are modern and supported by a regional network of excellent health centres, found mainly in the prominent and larger villages. The Mater Dei Hospital, inaugurated in November 2009, is Malta's primary hospital, and one of the largest, most modern and well equipped medical buildings in Europe.
Malta International Airport is located between the villages of Luqa and Gudja, 10kms from Valletta. The Airport is capable of handling all types of aircraft, having two runways, one of 3,544m, and the other of 2,377m, at nearly right angles to each other. With landing and parking fees amongst the cheapest in Europe, Malta is the ideal location for private business aviation and also for technical stops.
Air Malta is the Island’s main airline but with over 20 other airlines operation in and out of the Island there are numerous daily flights available from the UK, Europe, and further afield.
Malta's majestic Grand Harbour is one of the most spectacular ports in the world. A wide stretch of water separating the capital city of Valletta from the historic towns of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, the harbour has been a hive of activity for over two thousand years. With its imposing fortifications and vast panorama, Grand Harbour is Malta's principal maritime gateway and a popular port-of-call for ships that are cruising the Med.
Located at the very heart of the Mediterranean,
the Republic of Malta lies south of the Italian Island of Sicily
between Southern Europe and east of Tunisia in North Africa.