Malta and Gozo
A Glimpse of Malta
The Republic of Malta consists of Malta, Gozo, Comino and two small uninhabited islands, and is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is 93km away from Sicily and 290km from North Africa.
Malta has an area of 246 sq.km and is made up of a low plateau which descends gradually to the plain in the south-eastern part of the Island. Gozo, Malta’s sister island (67 sq.km), lies just 6.4km to the north-west. The longest distance across Malta is 27km, and the widest is 14km. The corresponding figures for Gozo are 14km and 7km respectively. Malta has no mountains – a series of terraced fields on hilly slopes characterizes the Islands. Malta’s coastline is well indented with natural harbours, sandy beaches and flat rock coves.
The People and Language
Throughout Malta’s long and chequered history, Malta’s people came into contact with the many nations that dominated the Mediterranean. These relationships with people of so many different cultures made the Maltese amongst the most cosmopolitan people in the world. The people of Malta have developed and maintained characteristics which distinguish them as a peace-loving nation with a strong sense of hospitality. Another characteristic is their joviality which springs mainly from the agreeable, warm climate with sunshine throughout the year. For the same reason, the Maltese enjoy very high standards of health.
Today the Maltese population stands at 404,000.
The national language is the Maltese language, however, both Maltese and English are official languages, and English is also spoken and understood by most. Malta became a full member of the European Union on 1st May 2004 and joined the Schengen zone in 2007.
Malta’s natural scenic wealth, its colourful culture and heritage, high standards of health, a most agreeable climate, political stability and the friendliness of its people have turned it into an all year round holiday destination. The tourist sector is one of the most important sectors of the Maltese economy with approximately 1,200,000 tourists visiting the islands every year. The British market represents 41% of this figure. This is followed by tourists from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and other countries, mostly European.
For more information see www.visitmalta.com
The climate is warm and healthy with mild, moist winters and dry, hot summers. Frost and snow are unknown. Rain falls only for very short periods, averaging 580mm in a whole year. Temperatures for November – April average 14°C , and 23°C for the May – October period. Average daily sunshine hours for winter are 6.5 hours, and for summer 10.5 hours. The hottest period is from mid-July to mid-September. Malta’s perennial sunshine and unpolluted sea make it a holiday destination to which tourists like to return year after year.
Medical services in Malta are very good and facilities are easily accessible, with a major general hospital (and a smaller one in Gozo) equipped with modern facilities. Specialists for the various disciplines in the hospital have obtained their higher post-graduate qualifications mainly from UK. There are also a number of peripheral health centres, which are open day and night. Private medical care is also available, and apart from general practitioner services, there are three private hospitals and a number of small private clinics where minor surgery can be carried out.
EU citizens, resident in Malta, are entitled to Free Public Health care services in accordance with entitlements, as determined from time to time by the Ministry of Health. Their entitlement has to be confirmed with and certified by the Entitlement Unit with the Ministry of Health. Applicant must be in possession of the appropriate E form signifying their entitlement to health care under the Social Security registration in their country of origin. This official certification, together with a personal identification document, will be sufficient to receive health care in public health care services.
Temporary visitors (under 1 year stay) from EU member states and EEA states have direct access to the health care from publicly funded health care services upon presentation of The European Health Insurance Card together with an identification document.
The Government of Malta is not responsible in any way for any treatment or care given to EU citizens in private hospital or health centres or by practitioners of any sort in their private capacity. There are, however, a number of private medical insurance companies operating in Malta, which cater for such cases.
Cost of living
As compared to other countries, Malta is considered to be a country having one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. Foodstuffs, clothing and furniture are very reasonably priced. Services like water, electricity, telephone and gas are also very reasonable. No rates or council taxes are charged in Malta.
It is worth noting that the cost of labour in Malta is considerably lower than in the UK and many European countries, and this has a beneficial effect on foreign residents in such matters as maintenance of property, vehicles, domestic appliances, etc., Tradesmen such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers are competent and not expensive.
Laundry and hairdressing bills are also reasonable.
Proximity to other countries (Flying Times)
Maltese domestic staff are known for reliability and diligence. The average hourly rates for a maid or gardener are reasonable.
Malta – London 3.05hrs
Malta – Amsterdam 3.05hrs
Malta – Frankfurt 2.35hrs
Malta – Paris 2.35hrs
Malta – Rome 1.15hrs
Malta – Cairo 2.25hrs
Sicily (Catania) is 3 to 6 hours sailing time from Malta depending on the type of craft used.
The national airline, Airmalta, operates regular flights to and from all major airports in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf States. Other international carriers including low cost carriers operate regular scheduled flights to and from Malta.
There is a regular ferry service, which carries passengers and cars between Malta & Gozo, as well as a helicopter service from Malta International Airport. The ferry crossing takes about 30 minutes.
Malta is on Western Europe time which puts the Islands one hour ahead of GMT. Between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October the clock goes forward to local Summer Time by an additional hour (bringing us 2 hours ahead of GMT).
Driving and Licenses
All current licences and international driving licences are recognized. Driving is on the left. Speed limit is 40mph (65kph).
Malta has a free state school system with optional private education. Both day and boarding facilities exist and school fees are very reasonable. Lessons in private schools are taught in English, and the curriculum is very closely aligned to the British system with students sitting for Ordinary and Advanced level examinations to qualify for entrance into the Malta University and Universities overseas.
Standards of education are high with English being the language of instruction for most subjects at all levels of the education system. As already stated, English is an official language and many Maltese are also fluent in Italian. Furthermore many take up French and German.
Malta can boast of having the oldest University in the Commonwealth outside Britain providing education for more than 10,000 students in all the major disciplines. The vocational and technical education systems offer courses in applied electronics, design, IT and others.
Freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution. Whilst the great majority of Maltese profess the Catholic Faith, other religious denominations have their place of worship in Malta.
Although a Catholic country with Masses said in English as well as Maltese, there are also services available for most other denominations. The Anglican Cathedral of St Paul’s in Valletta and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Sliema have communion, matins and evensong on Sundays. The Union of the Church of Scotland and Methodist congregations meet at St Andrews (Scots) Church, South Street, Valletta and the Jewish Synagogue is at 9, Spur Street, Valletta.
The principal sports club in Malta is the Marsa Sports Club, which is spread over a large area, offering facilities for tennis, an 18-hole golf-course, cricket, squash, swimming, general fitness and lots more. The Union Club in Sliema, on the other hand, is very much favoured by foreign residents for its pleasant club house and inexpensive restaurant. It has a bar, bridge room, barber and some excellent tennis and squash courts. In summer open-air dances are held on Saturdays. The clubs have an attractive beach concession at Tigne’, with a good restaurant, changing rooms, sea-water pools for children, deck-chairs and sun umbrellas.
There is a British Residents Association active in Malta and Gozo which organises many social and cultural events all year round. Any national is allowed membership.
The Maltese Islands are a real paradise for divers and snorklers. Even in a severe winter (which is extremely rare) the sea temperature never drops below 13 Celcius. Sea temperatures in summer are about 23 Celcius, and divers may wear a light 3mm diving suit or even dive without one.
The Islands offer a well-developed infrastructure for divers, representing a high standard and are capable of coping with the most sophisticated demands. There are a number of very well-trained staff at the many diving schools. It is not necessary to bring along your own equipment as it is possible to lease equipment at a very favourable rate.
The seas around Malta are virtually tideless, and due to the small size of our Islands, divers can shift to an alternative dive site very easily. Boat dives take the diver to sites which are not so easily accessible, and the variety of dive sites including wrecks, caves and others are abundant. Spear fishing is absolutely forbidden as is removal and non-reporting of archaeological finds.
Anyone who wants to dive within the territory of the Maltese Islands needs a local diving permit, referred to as the C-card. It is issued by the Department of Health and costs 1 Maltese Lira. A medical certificate, 2 passport photographs and the logbook of the applicant must be presented. A diver wishing to dive independently of any dive school must present a certificate equivalent to at least the CMAS/2-Star diver certificate.
All diving schools will ensure that the administrative procedures are compiled without problems, and even the very experienced would be well advised to apply through diving schools rather than on their own.
Due to the excellent underwater visibility and the variety of flora and fauna, there is no other diving destination within easy reach which offers such good conditions for underwater photography.
The Islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino provide an indented coastline of 200km with clear and clean waters, making a cruise around the islands a real delight. The sailing season stretches from April to November and even in the remaining winter months, sunny days are never far away.
Yachts from all over the world can make use of yachting facilities at the excellent marinas at Msida, Ta’Xbiex, Mgarr (Gozo), and at the beautiful historic creek of Cottonera at very reasonable rates. Amenities include:- water, telephone, electricity, weather forecasts, DF Beacon, ship-to-shore radio, chart depot, supply of bottled gas, etc.
Malta is recognized as a suitable base for wintering one’s yacht. Maintenance during the mild winter months is not a problem. Excellent repair facilities exist and charges for hauling out and storing on hard are very reasonable. Several yachting agencies, which operate from the proximity of the yachting centers, undertake to look after yachts afloat over the winter and also carry out necessary maintenance work. A yacht yard comprising of 9 modern slipways is in full operation and has facilities for slipping, repairing, converting and servicing of yachts of all sizes up to 500 tons.
Malta Maritime Authority – www.mma.gov.mt
Distance to Mediterranean Ports in Nautical Miles
Monte Carlo 600
Cable TV and Satellite
Cable Television provides over 150 channels in different languages and includes BBC, CNN, NBC, Spanish TVE, French TV5, most Italian channels, a German channel and other movie and entertainment channels.
Satellite dishes are also becoming increasingly popular, and can be bought and installed at a reasonable cost.
Nightlife, Restaurants, Leisure and Quality Cultural Events
The Islands have a vibrant calendar of theatre and concerts, classical and modern. Many are held outdoors or in historic venues. There are annual cultural events, such as the three-month summer Maltafest. Another regular is the International Jazz Festival in July. Now over ten years old, it’s seen legends and newcomers perform in a spectacular venue by floodlit Grand Harbour.
Malta is fast becoming the place for clubbing. Top international DJ’s appear for guest weekends throughout the year. Paceville and St. Julians are the centre of the scene. For excitement of a different kind, try your luck at the casino.
As a country providing locations for some Oscar winning films, Malta is naturally a film-loving society. The Islands have several state-of-the-art multiplex cinemas always with the latest releases.
Dining al fresco is one of life’s simple pleasures. Choose from romantic palazzo’s to bustling harbour restaurants and discover the range of Maltese cuisine, wine and beer. International cuisine is available everywhere.
For a lively night out, nothing beats a summer festa. Saints, fireworks, food and fun are all part of this cultural phenomenon; one not to be missed.