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.
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
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
president elected by a resolution of the House of Representatives for a five-year term (eligible for a second 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
George ABELA elected president by the House of Representatives
unicameral House of Representatives (normally 65 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms; note - the Parliament elected in 2008 is composed of 69 seats; when the political party winning the plurality of votes does not win a majority of seats, the constitution provides that a sufficient number of seats will be added to Parliament to ensure that the party that won the elections has a majority in Parliament)
last held on 8 March 2008 (next to be held by March 2013)
percent of vote by party - PN 49.3%, PL 48.8%, other 1.9%; seats by party - PN 35, PL 34
Alternativa Demokratika/Alliance for Social Justice or AD [Michael BRIGUGLIO]; Azzjoni Nazzjonaili or AN [Josi MUSCAT]; Malta Labor Party or PL [Joseph MUSCAT]; Nationalist Party or PN [Lawrence GONZI]
Alleanza Liberal-Demokratika Maltra or ALDM (for divorce, abortion, gay marriage, the rights existent in other EU member states); Alleanza Nazzionali Repubblikana or ANR (for traditional values, anti-immigration); Alternattiva Demokratika (pro-environment); Azzjoni Nazzjonali or AN (freedom to participate in democratic government); Flimkien Ghal-Ambjent Ahjar (pro-environment); Ghazda tal-Konsumaturi (consumer rights)
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
Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. Malta's geographic position between the EU and Africa makes it a target for illegal immigration, which has strained Malta's political and economic resources. Malta adopted the euro on 1 January 2008. Malta's financial services industry has grown in recent years and in 2008-09 it escaped significant damage from the international financial crisis, largely because the sector is centered on the indigenous real estate market and is not highly leveraged. Locally, the restricted damage from the financial crisis has been attributed to the stability of the Maltese banking system and to its prudent risk-management practices. The global economic downturn and high electricity and water prices have hurt Malta's real economy, which is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing - especially electronics and pharmaceuticals - and tourism. Following a few years of modest growth, Malta's economy contracted by 2.2% in 2009, and the government of Malta took steps to provide direct grants to struggling local businesses.
note:this figure represents the US dollar value of Maltese liri in circulation prior to Malta joining the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the EMU; individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders
1 publicly-owned television station, Television Malta (TVM); several national television stations, two of which are owned by political parties; Italian and British broadcast programs are available; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are obtainable; publicly-owned radio broadcaster operates 2 stations; roughly 50 commercial radio stations functioning (2008)