|Preface Last Updated: 10/28/2003
Malta's interesting archeological and historical sites span
thousands of years, ranging from copper and bronze age temples,
through early Christian sites, to secular and religious architecture
of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem of 16th, 17th,
and 18th centuries. Traditional folk patterns on the island
intertwine with modern lifestyles.
Modern Malta is the product of a long and turbulent history. It's a
mosaic of various Mediterranean cultures, and can make an assignment
here interesting and stimulating.
Note: The name of the country is The Republic of Malta (Repubblika
The word "Maltese" is used as a noun and as an adjective, e.g.,
"The citizens of Malta speak the Maltese language (Semitic in
origin) and English is the country's second language."
Prices included in this report are given in Maltese Liri (LM) and
their U.S. dollar equivalent. LM 1 equals about US$2.65 (June 2003),
or US$1.00 equals LM 0.36
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:03 AM
Malta is a small archipelago of six islands and islets in the
center of the Mediterranean and takes its name from the main island
in the group. Malta (95 sq. mi.) is the largest island of the group,
followed by Gozo (26 sq. mi.) and Comino (1 sq. mi.). Malta, Gozo,
and Comino are inhabited, while Cominotto, Filfla, and St. Paul's
are small, uninhabited islets. The total area of Malta is
approximately one-tenth the size of Rhode Island. The longest
distance on Malta is about 17 miles, from southeast to northwest;
the widest part is 9 miles from east to west. The same figures for
Gozo are 9 miles and 4-1/2 miles. Gozo lies northwest of Malta
across a narrow channel. Malta's shoreline is 85 miles; Gozo's is
27. The islands are formed of soft limestone which is the
characteristic construction material used in most Maltese buildings.
The terrain consists of low hills with terraced fields on slopes,
with two small seasonal lakes and a few seasonal streams. Northern
Malta is a series of ridges, valleys, bays, and promontories. The
western side of the island is dominated by 800-foot high cliffs.
Shorelines are very rocky, but a few sandy beaches exist. The soil
on the islands is generally thin and rocky, although in some valleys
it is terraced and farmed. Gozo has more arable land than Malta, and
Comino is almost completely barren. In summer, the landscape is
brown and arid, but soon after fall the rains begin, and the
countryside turns green. Malta lies near the center of the
Mediterranean Sea, 58 miles south of Sicily, 180 miles from the
North African coast. Gibraltar is 1,141 miles to the west, and
Alexandria (Egypt) 944 miles to the east.
The climate is subtropical in the summer, temperate the rest of the
year, with occasional fog and rare frosts. Temperatures range from
35° F in winter to 95° F in summer, with brief periods above 100° F
in August and early September. The driest months are May and July.
Annual rainfall averages 19-22 inches, but fluctuates to less than
10 inches. The rains are heaviest from November to January and ease
off slightly in February and March. Summer is hot and humid, with
almost cloudless skies. The "scirocco," a warm humid southeast wind,
occurs in spring and from mid-September to mid-October. The "gregale,"
a cold wind from the east and northeast in the winter, occasionally
reaches gale forces of 70 miles per hour. Winter is chilly and damp
with occasional heavy downpours, but also with many fine sunny days.
Population Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:04 AM
Malta is one of the world's most densely populated countries. The
population of the Maltese islands is approximately 394,583 (July
2001 est.). Most of Malta's population is centered in Valletta and
its nearby towns (Sliema, Floriana, St. Julian). Gozo has about
25,000 inhabitants, and Comino is inhabited by a handful of farmers.
Population density in Malta is about 3,000 per square mile compared
to 55 per square mile in the U.S.
Malta has a fascinating history, and the island is crowded with
physical and cultural reminders of the past. Neolithic settlements
date from at least 5,000 B.C.
Malta was colonized by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. It
became part of the Roman Empire around 202 B.C. (In A.D. 60 St.
Paul, a prisoner en route to Rome, was shipwrecked on the island,
and, according to tradition, he converted the islanders to
Christianity.) Later came the Arabs (870-1090), then the Normans,
(1090-1530), and in 1524 Charles V offered the Maltese islands and
the fortress at Tripoli to the Knights of the Order of St. John of
Jerusalem. On the Sceberras Peninsula, the Knights founded the city
of Valletta, named after Grand Master Jean de la Vallette. In 1798,
the Knights surrendered to Napoleon. The Maltese, with the
assistance of the British, defeated the French in 1800. From 1802
until 1964 when it achieved its independence, Malta was part of the
British Empire. Despite the fact that the present population of
Malta is derived from these diverse ethnic groups, and has had
considerable intermarriage with the people who controlled the
islands, the Maltese retained their own language and cultural
identity through the centuries. The Maltese language (Malti) is
Semitic in origin and is believed to be based on Phoenician and
Arabic, but incorporates many Italian, French and English words.
Arabic speakers can usually understand Maltese. Arabic influence is
also apparent in the islands architecture and folklore. The colorful
Maltese fishing boats "luzzu" and "dghajsa" are scarcely changed
from the Phoenician trading vessels that once traveled the
Knowledge of English is widespread among urban dwellers, and many
young educated adults also know Italian. Throughout the 19th and
early 20th centuries, Italian was the language of schools, law
courts, and Maltese society. Maltese was not a written language
until the 20th century.
Despite Malta's minute size, several variations of Maltese are
spoken. Villagers use variations in idiom and pronunciation, and
none speak the pure Maltese taught in the schools. The Maltese
alphabet is a transliteration of Semitic sounds, written in Roman
characters. In addition to English, the Maltese language has been
taught in local schools since the early 1930s.
The 1964 constitution established Roman Catholicism as the official
religion of the country but also guaranteed freedom of worship.
Religion is a required subject in all government schools. While
religious instruction in Catholicism is compulsory in all state
schools, the Constitution gives an individual the right not to
receive this instruction if the student (or guardian) objects. Malta
is 98% Roman Catholic, and over 360 Roman Catholic churches are on
the islands, nearly 1 for every 1,000 Maltese. In Malta, culture and
religion are still virtually synonymous.
In the villages, and to a lesser extent in towns, the parish
church remains the focal point of community life. Every village has
a church, the size and magnificence of which is quite out of
proportion with the simple village houses. The annual festa (or "festi"
in Maltese) of each town or village parish, honors the patron saint,
and is the most important event of the year for the inhabitants.
During the past 200 years, they have developed from simple village
feast days into extravagant spectacles. All the festas are moved to
the summer to avoid the risk of bad weather. Days in advance the
island reverberates to the sound of fireworks that announce the
forthcoming celebration. The church and streets are decorated with
banners and electric light bulbs, and stages and stalls are
erected-all essential to the local observance of a festa!
In outlook and sophistication, the urban Maltese resembles other
southern Europeans of similar educational background. In contrast, a
typical rural Maltese is a provincial person whose life centers
around the village. Many older villagers have not visited Valletta
in years, and thousands of Maltese have never left the main island,
even to visit Gozo! However, the younger generation of Maltese who
have been exposed to foreign broadcast media, movies, and travel
have a less parochial view of their world.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:04 AM
For centuries, Malta's geographical location has given it a
political and military importance out of proportion to its size and
natural resources. The islands were occupied and ruled by foreigners
from the beginning of time until its independence from the U.K. in
1964. In recent history, the two longest and most significant
periods of occupation were those by the Knights of the Order of St.
John of Jerusalem from 1530 to 1798, and by the British from 1814 to
1964 (the last British troops departed in 1979). The high point of
the Knights' rule was their victory in 1565 when they withstood a
4-month siege by 30,000 Turkish troops. The Knights surrendered to
Napoleon in 1798 but were evicted by the Maltese with the help of
the British in 1800.
The Knights and their Maltese allies resisted so impressively
that the Turkish army retreated in humiliation. Almost equally
famous was the long and intense Axis air bombardment during World
War II, when Malta was the Mediterranean Headquarters of the Royal
Navy. In 1942, there were bombing raids every day and night for 5
months and an almost total blockade, leaving 40,000 homes destroyed
and the population reduced to starvation. In April of the same year,
Malta was awarded the George Cross for "a heroism and devotion that
will long be famous in history." President Roosevelt also saluted
Maltese heroism when he visited the islands on December 8, 1943.
Malta gained independence in September 1964. In 1974 Malta became a
republic within the British Commonwealth, with the executive
authority vested in a Maltese President.
The President appoints as Prime Minister the leader of the party
with a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The
President also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the Prime
Minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government
departments. The Cabinet is selected from among the members of the
unicameral House of Representatives. This body currently consists of
65 members representing two parties, the Nationalist Party and the
Malta Labor Party, elected on the basis of proportional
representation. Elections must be held at least every 5 years. The
last election was held in April 2003.
On March 8, 2003 a national referendum was held in which the
Maltese people voted to join the European Union. Malta is scheduled
to officially join the EU in May 2004.
Malta's judiciary is independent. The chief justice and seventeen
judges are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime
Minister. There is a civil court, a commercial court and a criminal
court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine.
The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court
and of the commercial court. The criminal court of appeals hears
appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. The
highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases
involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the
constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in
cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral
corrupt practices. There also are other courts presided over by a
Maltese law is based on Roman law, Napoleonic code, Italian
criminal codes, British commercial law, and other European models.
The Local Councils Act, 1993 (Act XV of 1993) was published on 30
June 1993 subdividing Malta into 54 local councils in Malta and 14
in Gozo. The Council is elected every three years by the inhabitants
of the locality, who are registered as voters in the Local Councils'
Electoral Register. Local councils are responsible for the general
maintenance of the locality and they perform general administrative
duties for the Central Government such as Government rents and money
Since 1934, Maltese and English have been the official languages
of the government. Government officials at all levels must have a
minimum tested level of competence in both English and Maltese.
Mdina, The Silent City
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:05 AM
The Manoel Theater, a charming 18th-century structure containing
some 600 seats, is used for local and visiting cultural attractions.
During the winter season, many orchestral, choral, and chamber music
concerts are presented by Maltese and foreign performers. The Malta
Amateur Dramatic Club and a good number of other drama companies
present plays and musicals in English at the Manoel Theater, St.
James Cavalier Center for Creativity, San Anton Gardens, the
Mediterranean Conference Center, and other locales during the winter
and spring months.
Malta has numerous architecturally interesting churches, mostly
of the Baroque and Rococo periods. Other architectural classics are
the fortifications of the "Three Cities" across Grand Harbor from
Valletta, built during the 16th century by the Order of St. John of
Jerusalem, several 17th-century forts, and the secular architecture-
principally the Auberges of Valletta. The old "Silent City" of Mdina,
previously the capital of Malta, is especially beautiful.
The principal Maltese art collections are held by St. John's
Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the Cathedral of St. Paul in Mdina, the
National Museum of Fine Arts, and the Grand Master's Palace in
Valletta. They all contain works of interest. Local branches of
Alliance Francaise, Dante Alighieri Society, German-Maltese circle,
British Council and Russian Cultural Center (each affiliated with
the embassy of its respective country) operate in Malta and
frequently sponsor concerts and other cultural events. American,
English, Italian, and other foreign movies are shown at numerous
theaters in Malta.
Education in Malta has had a long tradition of excellence, dating
from the 16th century, when the Jesuits founded an institution that
became the University of Malta. During the British colonial period,
English gradually became the primary language of instruction,
replacing Italian, and the British educational system was extended
to both primary and secondary education after World War II. It
remains essentially intact in the private schools, and English
remains the major language in the classroom. In government schools,
the system has been altered and the use of English has declined in
favor of Maltese.
The University of Malta is the country's one major university. It
has approximately 9000 students, including over 600 foreign
students, following full-time or part-time degree and diploma
courses. There are 10 faculties and a number of interdisciplinary
institutes and centers. The degree courses at the University are
designed to produce highly qualified professionals who will play key
roles in industry, commerce and public affairs. The Malta College
for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), a tertiary-level
vocational institution, was inaugurated in 2001.
Education at primary and secondary levels is available in state
schools, schools run by the Catholic Church, as well as independent,
private schools. Entrance into the Catholic Church schools is
determined by a system of ballots. English is the basic language of
instruction in most private primary and secondary schools. Maltese
is the language of instruction in state schools, at least up to the
higher secondary level. Mandatory education in Malta is from age 5
to age 16.
Among the numerous private schools is the Verdala International
School, which follows the American curriculum. Please see section on
Education for more information on Verdala.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:05 AM
The EU is Malta's major trading partner, accounting for around 65
percent of imports and about 48 percent of exports, but trade volume
with the U.S. has grown significantly in recent years. U.S. exports
to Malta in 2001 reached a total of USD 315 million. On the other
hand, Maltese exports to the U.S. amounted to USD 387 million. In
2001, the US was Malta's leading trading partner. Trade in U.S.
goods are most likely underreported, as many products are sold
through European subsidiaries of U.S. companies. Tourism accounts
for about 40 percent of GDP and is Malta's main source of foreign
exchange. Around 1.2 million tourists visited Malta in 2001.
In recent years, the government has pressured the privatization
of several government entities. It has published a comprehensive
plan outlining which government entities will be privatized during
the next five years. Malta's real GDP went up by 1.5 percent in 2001
(compared to 3.4 percent in 2000). Inflation increased marginally
from 2.4 percent in 2000 to 2.9 percent in 2001, and the
unemployment rate increased marginally from 5.0 percent in December
2000 to 5.1 percent at the end of 2001.
Public debt as a percentage of GDP has climbed sharply over the
past several years, in large part to finance major infrastructure
projects. By 2001, it stood at 61.0 percent of GDP, up from 33
percent in 1994. At an estimated USD 769 million, Malta's trade
deficit in 2001 was 20% lower than in 2000. The country's current
account deficit in 2001 was 4.6% of GDP (down from 13.4% in 2000).
Long-term prospects for the economy are closely tied to Malta's
EU membership and to the government's efforts at restructuring and
attracting foreign investment. The economy should also be given a
boost through the major infrastructure projects that are being
The government welcomes foreign investment and allows 100 percent
foreign ownership in most business activities. There are no formal
sector restrictions. The principal growth sectors are tourism,
services and manufacturing. U.S. franchises, especially food
outlets, have been very successful recently. The Malta Development
Corporation and the Malta Freeport offer incentives to attract
foreign companies. The Government of Malta is also in the process of
liberalizing its financial laws to further develop it stock exchange
and banking system.
Many U. S. companies have qualified agents and distributors in
Malta, in areas ranging from computers and software to
pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Qualified agents can be found
for almost every type of product. The most promising areas are
computers, peripherals, software, electronic components, medical
equipment, pollution control and waste disposal equipment,
telecommunications, and consumer goods.
Automobiles Last Updated: 10/28/2003 6:37 AM
In Malta, traffic moves on the left, but left-hand drive cars are
permitted, and are not unusual here. Most of the roads in Malta are
paved, but conditions vary. Road signs along the highways are
frequently defaced or entirely missing, and rarely indicate the
right-of-way at intersections. Many Maltese are aggressive drivers
who frequently fail to give the right-of-way. Driving speeds are
erratic due to the road conditions. Pedestrians, unlit horse and
donkey-drawn carts, old cars, and animals abound, both in villages
and on the highways; many unsafe vehicles are on the road. In
summer, tourists' cars add to the confusion, and minor accidents are
If you plan to arrive in Malta by ship with your car, you must
have valid license plates of some foreign country, the original
title to your car, and car insurance valid for driving in Malta.
Temporary insurance is obtainable upon arrival in Malta. You must
provide the Embassy with the following information about the car
prior to your arrival:
Make, model, year, number of cylinders, body style, color, and
copy of the title, engine and serial numbers. Special equipment
(e.g., stereo or CB radio, air-conditioner, heater, defroster),
license plate number and issuing authority.
If you plan to drive your car immediately after arrival, you must
have a valid driver's license. Persons without one must take the
Malta driving test. Embassy staff and personnel with valid U.S.,
foreign, or international driver's licenses may acquire a Maltese
(and international) license at no cost. To obtain a driver's license
upon your arrival, submit to the Embassy your valid driver's license
and two 1-3/4" x 1/2" photos. It is always to your advantage to
arrive at post with spare photos, although they can be obtained
If you arrive with your car, the vehicle must have insurance that
is valid for Malta and remains in effect until insurance is obtained
locally. The vehicle should have an international insurance green
card for Malta.
You must have third-party vehicle insurance to get Malta license
plates. Car insurance based on an average family sedan of 1,500 cc
valued at LM 3000 ($7,830) costs LM 27-LM 33 ($70.47-$86.13) per
year for third-party coverage (i.e., indemnity to third parties).
Indemnity on your vehicle in case of accidental fire or theft costs
LM 100 ($261). If you can establish that you have an accident-free
record for the past 5 years by providing a letter of "No Claim" from
your previous insurance companies, you can get a 45% discount on the
premium for third-party insurance and 60% discount on comprehensive
insurance. It is to your advantage to arrive at post with No Claim
letter(s). The first LM 25 ($65.25) of each claim is, in all cases,
paid by the insured. For this reason, many Maltese drivers prefer to
settle minor accidents directly with the other driver to preserve
their right to the no accident rebate on the next year's insurance
premium. Insurance "green cards" that are valid for travel to
neighboring countries cost extra.
All Embassy personnel pay a renewal fee, currently LM 2 ($5.22)
to register a car and obtain duty-free license plates.
Non-diplomatic personnel may import a new car duty free up to 3
months after arrival; this arrangement also applies when buying a
new car from a Maltese-based dealer. Diplomatic personnel may import
or purchase a duty-free vehicle any time during their tour.
Diplomatic and staff personnel may sell their duty-free vehicles at
the end of their tour of duty. The employee must satisfy U.S.
Government regulations regarding sale of property, reverse
accommodation exchange, and retention of profits.
The buyer, unless he enjoys duty-free privileges, must pay duty
on the value assessed by the local customs authorities. The rate of
duty is 65% on cars imported from the EC countries and 80% on cars
imported from other countries.
Malta has no restrictions on the type of vehicles acceptable
within the meaning of 6 FAM 165.7. However, the narrow roads and
lack of parking space on the island make the larger and wider
American cars inconvenient. No special equipment is essential, but a
heater in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer are
desirable. A vehicle with heavy-duty shocks is a bonus because of
the poor road conditions.
In Malta you can buy small English, French, German, Japanese, and
Italian cars. A U.K.-manufactured right-hand drive Ford Focus
delivered in Malta costs around LM 2,500 ($6,525) duty free, while
Japanese cars like Nissan or Toyota are more expensive: LM
3,200-3,600 ($8,352-$9,396). Car repair is fair and costs far less
than in the U.S. Parts are often hard to get. Only spark plugs,
tires, batteries, and other commonly used parts are obtainable here
for American cars. Bring a supply of parts for your vehicle
regardless of make. Ordering directly from the U.S. can take 4- 6
The Embassy has arranged with the state-owned energy company to
buy gas for official vehicles and personally owned vehicles of
accredited diplomatic personnel. However, "Jostin Company" Service
Station in Floriana, is the only gasoline outlet that will sell you
duty-free gas. At the end of the month, purchases are billed at the
duty-free price per liter of gasoline:
Regular: 0.2140 cents (55 cents) per liter / unleaded: 0.35 cents
(57 cents) per liter. The prices of duty-paid gasoline are: Regular:
0.2640 cents (67 cents) per liter / Unleaded: 0.25 cents (65 cents)
Currently, less than 50% of gas stations in Malta sell unleaded
gasoline; however, more will have this capability in the near
future. Non-diplomats must pay the duty-paid price of gasoline.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:19 AM
Bus services are regular and fares low. A bus ride to most of the
destinations on the island costs between 15 cents (33 cents).
Sometimes one or more changes of buses may be needed to reach remote
areas. Most public buses are old and none is air-conditioned. They
are usually crowded during the morning and evening rush hours and in
the tourist season. Due to the infrequent evening schedule, it is
not practical to use buses for evening social engagements. Taxi
services in Malta are operated through garages. The best known and
most reliable ones are: "Wembley's," and "Jimmy's" You must call
them to arrange for a cab, since they do not look for fares. Taxis
are expensive, and you should always negotiate the fare in advance
since none is metered.
Car rentals are common in Malta. You can find Avis, Hertz,
Thrifty, Budget, and others. Car rental prices vary according to
season, model of the car, and
type of insurance. The average cost is about LM 8-9 ($20.88-$23.49)
per day. All rental cars come with unlimited mileage; you will get
at most a quarter tank of gas, enough to reach a gas station.
Luzzus at Marsasloxx Bay
Ferry to Gozo
To reach the sister island of Gozo, you take a car/passenger
ferry from Cirkkewa, Malta to Mgarr, Gozo. The Ferry departs daily
every 45 minutes; the crossing time is approximately 25 minutes.
Fees are: LM $5.50 per car, LM 1.75 for driver and 1 adult, LM 0.50
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 10/28/2003 6:40 AM
Malta is 58 miles from the nearest point in Sicily and 180 miles
from the closest point on the North African mainland. There are
direct flights to most destinations in Europe and North Africa;
daily flights to London, Frankfurt and Rome, and flights several
times a week to Amsterdam, Brussels, Cairo, Catania, Lyon, Munich,
Paris, Tunis, Berlin, Geneva and Zurich. Regular
round trip economy fare to London costs LM 228 ($595), LM 136 ($303)
to Paris, and LM 135 ($352) to Rome. Tax on airline tickets
purchased in Malta is 10% of the fare, up to a maximum of LM 20
($52). One can find a good bargain on excursion fares to most
destinations if you spend a minimum of 6 and maximum of 30 days.
Daily fares to Sicily are also available.
Airlines regularly operating from Malta are Air Malta (the national
airline), Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot, Balkan Airlines,
Lufthansa, LTU International Airways, Swissair, and Tuninter.
The Grimaldi Ferry sails round trips from Malta to Salerno,
Italy, continuing to Valencia, Spain and back. The ship serving this
route carries passengers and cars. The price for an inside cabin is
LM 47.00 ($119.85) per person; children are half. The price for an
outside cabin is LM 58.00 ($147.90).
There are other ferry possibilities form Naples, Genoa, etc. For
more details, visit the Grimaldi lines website:
The Virtu Rapid Catamaran sails from Malta to Catania and
Pozzallo (Sicily), and back. The trip to Catania is 3 hours; to
Pozzallo it is 90 minutes. A round trip fare costs LM 36.00
($91.80); Round trip for a private vehicle is LM 54.
The Catamaran schedule changes during the winter months due to
the rough seas. Visit their website for more details at:
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/30/1994 6:00
Worldwide direct dial is possible from Malta to most countries in
the world. AT&T's calling card can be used here for calls only to
Internet Last Updated: 6/23/2005 3:07 AM
Internet service is readily available with several local ISPs to
choose from. Options range from pay-per-use dial up to ADSL and
cable. Costs vary depending on the service you use and some service
options incur local telephone line usage charges in addition to the
ISP charge. Generally, internet costs are higher than in the United
States although not prohibitively so.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/10/2005 3:52 AM
Valletta's pouch address is:
5800 Valletta Place
Dulles, VA 20189-5800
For official pouch mail, the address is:
5800 Valletta Place
Washington, DC 20521-5800
All personal mail, including packages, should be sent with the
ZIP Code 20189-5800. All pouches are sent by air. Incoming packages
may not exceed 40 pounds in weight, and 62 inches in length and
girth combined. Except for returning merchandise, employees may not
send packages through the diplomatic pouch facilities. Transit time
for incoming and outgoing letters is 7-10 days. The Embassy's
international mailing address is:
P.O. Box 535
An airmail letter to the U.S. is LM 0.22 cents for the first 20
grams and 15 cents for each additional 20 grams. International mail
is slightly inconvenient for large outgoing packages because of
customs and postal formalities. However, the system is safe and
quick. A letter or a small package sent via international mail will
reach the West Coast in 5-7 days. It is suitable for incoming
packages, but packages addressed to non-diplomatic personnel are
assessed duty according to the value of the merchandise after the
initial 90-day duty-free period expires.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 5/17/2005 7:16 AM
The VHF/UHF PAL BG system is used for TV broadcasting in Malta.
There are six local television stations in Malta. The state-owned TV
station TV Malta uses 625 lines per inch scanning; unmodified U.S.
sets cannot receive V Malta. Approximately 50% of TVM's programming
is produced locally and is broadcast in Maltese. The remainder is
imported, mainly from the U.S. and the U.K., and is in English. Many
Italian stations, which also use the PAL system, can be received in
Malta depending on the location of your home.
State-owned TVM relays Euronews from midnight until 7.00 a.m. the
next morning. Melita Cable, a private cable TV company broadcasts
CNN as well as a selection of BBC, Italian, French, and German TV
network programming 24 hours daily via the PAL system. Cable TV
charges LM 11.37 ($28.85 approx.) monthly for its full service and
an extra LM 4.00 ($10.15 approx.) monthly for the Movie Channel and
LM 5.66 ($14.37 approx.) for the Sports Channel. The use of
satellite dishes was also introduced a number of years ago.
Depending on the locality, a permit to install an antenna may be
required from the Malta Environmental and Planning Authority.
It is possible for direct-hire employees to purchase Armed Forces
Network (AFN) satellite receivers. Interested employees should
contact the OPSCO in the DAO section.
Renting a color TV is possible, but not very cost-effective over
the long term. Installation fees, including antennas, are extra.
Home video-cassette players and DVD players have become popular, and
a large number of video/DVD stores rent tapes ranging in quality
from good to poor. The Maltese employ the PAL system, but you should
get a player that can handle both PAL and NTSC tapes. Rental fees
are reasonable and selection is good. (Pirated tapes abound in
Malta, although legislation has made them illegal.)
State-owned Radio Malta operates 18 hours daily on FM
frequencies, with some news bulletins in English. The 1991
Broadcasting Act ended the state monopoly in broadcasting.
Twenty-six FM radio stations have since begun broadcasting. Some of
these stations relay BBC World News, and one station, Island Sound
Radio, relays VOA Europe news and programs from midnight till 7:00
a.m. the following day. Only two of the stations broadcast in
English ("Island Sound" and "Calypso FM," the latter only during
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
5/17/2005 7:19 AM
A wide variety of publications are available in Malta. In
addition, the embassy's information resource center (IRC) subscribes
to a large number of periodicals and makes these publications
available to the general embassy community. Most sections receive
daily copies of the leading local newspaper in order to follow
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 8/10/2005 3:50 AM
The embassy has an occupational health unit which is staffed
part-time by a locally hired, American-trained nurse. The health
unit is able to meet the basic needs of the embassy community in
accordance with Office of Medical Services guidelines. Our local
medical advisor visits the embassy once per week. The health unit is
augmented by regional support from a Cairo-based RMO and Tunis-based
FSHP, and we also receive regional laboratory and psychiatric
Malta's health care system has a long history of high standards,
but it has undergone drastic changes caused by successive
governments' efforts to reorganize the national health service.
Presently, 1200 doctors work in Malta.
Every 2 years, 50 doctors graduate from the local Medical School
with an undergraduate degree. Maltese doctors who want to specialize
in any branch of medicine go abroad especially to the U.K. for their
graduate degree. Like many other countries, Malta lacks nursing
staff. Twenty-five nurses graduate every year from the Health
Institute (attached to St. Luke's hospital). Due to very low
salaries, many of them do not stay in Malta, but seek work
St. Luke's Hospital, built in the 1930s, is Malta's only
government general hospital with 934 beds. The new hospital, Matar
Dei, which would reduce the pressure on St. Luke's, is under
construction and is scheduled to open in 2007. There are also
private hospitals, notably St. James and St. Phillips Hospital, and
a handful of privately owned clinics throughout the country, but the
latter usually have no residential facilities.
St. Luke's Hospital is staffed with 400 doctors, of whom 100 are
consultants (senior doctors and heads of departments). All the
consultants are Maltese, while foreign doctors work mostly as
radiologists and anesthesiologists. St. Luke's Emergency Room has
been recently renovated and modernized. The hospital also has a
modern Intensive Care Unit and an Intensive coronary care unit with
18 beds in total, 16 operating theaters, a neurosurgical department,
maternity ward with 60 beds, and modern orthopedics and pediatrics
departments. Non-Maltese patients are expected to pay all fees upon
release from the hospital and will have to claim reimbursement from
their own health insurance. It also has facilities for kidney
transplants and dialysis. Open-heart surgeries and cardiac
procedures are performed daily by local cardiac surgeons and
cardiologists. Maltese still choose to travel to the U.K. or Italy
for such serious operations.
Sir Paul Boffa hospital in Floriana is an 85 bed cancer, skin and
convalescence facility. It has a radiotherapy, oncology, and
dermatology department and also has a genitourinary clinic. It is
the only hospital in Malta to provide radiotherapy treatment,
although the equipment is not state-of-the-art.
Many good general practitioners and specialists are available to
the American community.
For complicated health problems, personnel are medically
evacuated to the U.K., the U.S. or to Sigonella Air Force Base
situated in Sicily. Approval is given by the FSNP in Tunis, or RMO
Prenatal care is available and satisfactory, but the Department
of State Medical Offices recommends that all pregnant women return
to the U.S. for delivery and will pay per diem starting at 34 weeks.
Routine dental care is generally good, and several dentists have
British or American training. Prices are usually below those in the
Many common over-the-counter medications, particularly of British
origin, are usually available from local pharmacies, but one may
wish to bring a 6-month supply to post to avoid any difficulty at
the beginning of an assignment. It is strongly recommended that all
prescription medicines be brought with the employee, particularly
for high blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal medications, etc. This
is especially important if the medicines required are specialty
items for which a substitute is unacceptable. The RMO and FSNP write
prescriptions for American drugs that can be filled by pharmacies in
the U.S. through the pouch.
Community Health Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:25 AM
Although no serious health hazards exist in Malta, incoming
personnel should be aware of some conditions. Tap water is
chlorinated but has a high saline content. It is drinkable, it just
doesn't always taste good; it's fine for cooking and ice cubes.
Various filters for tap water are available locally. Inexpensive
charcoal filters can be purchased in the U.S. (H2OK and other
lightweight brands). These filters, however, will not remove
biological contaminants from the water, nor eliminate the high
saline content. Embassy personnel use bottled water.
Fluoride content is low in the city water so fluoride
tablets/drops are recommended for all children under 16 years.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:26 AM
Malta requires preventive measures and immunizations similar to
U.S. schools. Recent changes in the US recommendations have
increased the number and type of vaccines that are different than
Maltese schools have mandatory immunizations against polio,
diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and measles. TB tests are done
on a regular basis too. Health records should be brought to post.
During summer, non-refrigerated foods are a source of bacterial
contamination that can cause food poisoning. There is also an
inordinate amount of dust in Malta that can cause allergies, sinus
pains, and respiratory problems. Illnesses contracted here are those
familiar in the U.S., i.e., virus infections or the common cold.
Common sense care and attention to good health practices are highly
advised. Winters tend to produce more allergies secondary to
dampness and molds in homes.
Swimming, scuba diving, and other water sports are major forms of
recreation in Malta, and safety consciousness is essential,
especially since no lifeguards are on duty at Maltese beaches.
Precautions should be taken against Malta's strong summer sun and
occasionally violent offshore ocean currents.
In winter, heating is necessary, but Maltese homes do not have
central heating. Take precautions when using electric, bottled gas,
or kerosene space heaters during Maltese damp and windy winters.
Mosquitoes are very common and occasionally fleas are troublesome
during summer months. Mosquitoes do not carry malaria but their
stings can be bothersome. Insect repellants and ointments for insect
bites are available locally. Mosquito coils and electric "Vape Mat"
devices are effective and available. There is no government spraying
or insect control program. Sand flies can cause problems.
Flies are a constant irritation during late summer, and window
screens are a real bonus. Sanitation is good, and wastewater is
usually treated before being pumped into the sea. In summer when
tourists increase the population by 30%, there is sometimes sewage
spillage into the sea and this temporarily renders some beaches
unfit for swimming. In most areas though, the sea water is clean and
safe for swimming.
Trash collection occurs daily, except Sundays and public
holidays. Due to
the absence of heavy industry, air and water pollution are not major
problems, except for car exhaust and the open burning of refuse.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 6/23/2005
The Government of Malta and the U.S. Government signed a
reciprocal agreement in 1990, allowing the dependents of U.S.
Government employees to accept employment within Malta. However,
working conditions (non air-conditioned/non-heated offices), low
wages, and a required knowledge of the Maltese language for many
jobs, could present a problem. The Embassy does offer some
employment opportunities for spouses, including FMA positions. The
embassy must request permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
via diplomatic note before you may engage in local employment.
Visit the FLO website for a look at the FAMER report on
dependents employment, or contact the CLO Coordinator at email@example.com
American Embassy - Valletta
Post City Last Updated: 11/30/1994 6:00 PM
Valletta is located on a peninsula with deep water harbors on two
sides and the open sea on the third. The city is 1 mile long and
several hundred yards wide. Valletta's narrow streets are lined with
buildings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, which are a main
attraction for the tourists. Parking inside the city is limited. The
Embassy is located in an office building in Floriana, 5 minutes from
the city gate of Valletta.
Over half of the 361,700 residents on the island of Malta live in
the central urban Valletta-Floriana-Sliema area, where almost all
major companies and Maltese Government offices, are located. Many
British citizens have come to retire here and invest in Malta's
development, giving urban Malta a British flavor. Shops carry
British, Italian, and American goods of all types. Most tourists
here are British, but there is a large number of German, Italian,
Dutch and other European tourists.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:27 AM
The Embassy and consulate are located on the second and third
floors of Development House, an office building on St. Anne's Street
in Floriana, outside Valletta. The telephone numbers are: 2561-4000
FAX number: 2124-3229. The country code for Malta is (due to
Malta's size, there are no city codes). Visit our web site: http://usembassy.state.gov/malta/
Embassy offices are centrally heated in winter, and
air-conditioned in summer. Office dress is the same as in
The Embassy has 27 American employees including three direct-hire
Defense Department employees, one Customs Personal Services Contract
employee, three eligible Family Member positions, six Marines, and
14 State Department Direct Hires and 46 Foreign Services Nationals (FSNs).
All American employees and adult dependents (age 18 and over) must
obtain an identity card issued by the Maltese Government. Two
passport-sized photos are required.
All newcomers are met upon arrival by their sponsor, if advance
information is provided. Those arriving by boat are met at the port;
personnel arriving by air are met at the island's only civil airport
at Luqa, about a 20-minute drive from the Embassy.
The resident American community is comprised of several dozen
businessmen and their families working in Malta, and about 600
Americans (almost all of Maltese origin) who have retired in Malta.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/17/2005 7:12 AM
Post policy is the provide centrally located, short-term lease
apartments with adequate cooking facilities. The embassy will use
TQSA to pay lodging costs directly. Upon an employee's arrival the
embassy will obtain a temporary residence for an initial period,
normally four weeks, during which time the employee should be able
to locate permanent quarters (SR 122.3). This four-week period of
temporary quarters may be extended for compelling reasons beyond the
control of the employee that require continued occupancy of
temporary quarters. The employee should request this extension at
least one week before the initial period end.
If a departing employee occupies LQA housing, they should plan to
leave their quarters no more than ten days prior to their departure.
The embassy can supply a welcome kit for employees remaining in
permanent quarters after their unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) is
shipped. The welcome kit includes all basic household items.
For the employee's last ten days at post, the embassy can arrange
temporary lodging within TQSA limits if requested.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/17/2005 7:13 AM
U.S. Government-owned or leased houses are used for the
Ambassador, Marine Detachment Commander, non-State employees, and
the Marine Security Guards. Malta is a Living Quarters Allowance (LQA)
post so State employees must seek their own privately leased houses
The Ambassador's residence, Villa Apap Bologna, located in the
village of Attard, is a 15-minute drive from the Chancery. It was
built in 1894 by the parish priest of Attard. He sold it after
several years to a Maltese noble family, Apap Bologna, and the U.S.
Government bought it in 1974. The villa is built of Maltese stone,
and the style is neoclassical.
Spacious gardens surround the villa, and there is a patio shaded
by olive trees that is used for summer receptions. The villa also
has a swimming pool. The entrance to the house is through the foyer
that leads to a large reception hall floored in marble. To the rear
is a terrace overlooking the garden; beneath the terrace is the pool
house with the dressing rooms, bathrooms, and a kitchenette. To the
right of the entry foyer is a smaller living room furnished with
Maltese antique furniture. Next to it is the main living room (with
a fireplace) with high ceilings and moldings reminiscent of the
Italian Renaissance period, also furnished with Maltese antique
furniture. The dining room can easily accommodate 24 people. If
needed, the main table when extended can seat 18 people. For
informal and family dining, there is a small round table in a bay
window nook that can seat six. The kitchen off the dining room is
fully equipped. The main floor of the residence has three bedrooms,
each with an adjoining bathroom, and a family living room. The
master bedroom has a queen-sized bed, while the other bedrooms have
twin or queen-sized beds. The family living room is furnished with a
sofa, armchairs, book-shelves, desk, TV, VCR, and stereo. Two guest
bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the lower floor of the house.
In addition, the lower floor has a billiards room, a recreation room
with a ping-pong table, storerooms, laundry room, and the fully
equipped main kitchen. The residence is fully air-conditioned and
It is supplied with Embassy china, crystal, silver, and linens.
If you would like to visit some Maltese realtors websites on the
Internet, try these:
Maltese building construction aims for comfort during the summer
(although most homes are not air-conditioned), at the expense of
comfort in the chilly, damp winters. Most homes are built of native
limestone, which hardens gradually and seals after the house has
been up for 2 or 3 years. Make sure to find a house already sealed;
otherwise you might have a dampness problem. Rents in Malta are
moderate by the standards of Washington, D.C. or major European
cities, although rent does not include all conveniences of an
American home, and repairs cost extra.
Employees can sign a 1-year lease with an option to renew, or a
lease for a duration of a tour of duty. Unlike in the U.S., the
rental agent works for you and for the landlord at the same time,
and gets a commission from both.
Furnishings Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:29 AM
Most Maltese houses or apartments for lease are meant for
tourists and are thus fully furnished. The wooden furniture is
generally well made and acceptable to American taste. Beds and
upholstered furniture often leave something to be desired.
Although landlords are reluctant to take all the furniture away
(they often claim lack of storage space), there is room for
negotiation on the amount and type of the furniture to be left in
the house. This should be discussed and agreed upon before signing
the lease. Since many employees are signing a 3-year lease,
landlords are usually, although not always, willing to accommodate.
Unfurnished housing is not easy to find and in Malta, unfurnished
usually means in a nutshell condition, i.e., no draperies, no
wardrobes, no light fixtures, just bare walls. Most furnished or
partially furnished housing comes equipped with small European
appliances: a stove (gas or electric), a refrigerator, a washing
machine, and sometimes room heaters. Embassy policy is to issue
major appliances to all American personnel in privately leased
housing. The post provides (American models) a refrigerator, a
freezer, a washer, a dryer, a stove, portable air-conditioner for
each permanently occupied bedroom; an electric heater and a
dehumidifier. If you wish to bring your own U.S. appliances to
Malta, please get in touch with the administrative officer for
advice and recommendations. A considerable number of furniture
stores in Malta sell locally made furniture, mainly modern in decor.
For example, "Joinwell" furniture company in Sliema, besides
modern pieces, also makes reproductions of antique furniture. Their
prices are slightly higher than those in the U.S., and delivery time
is between 3-6 months. Antique furniture in Malta (mostly of British
origin) is sold in numerous antique stores or at public auctions.
These auctions sometimes include valuable collections of old
furnishings, paintings, and silver. Occasionally, you can find
interesting antiques at reasonable prices. In general, however,
antiques of Maltese origin are rare to find, and highly priced,
because Maltese families do not like to part with them.
The Maltese women make beautiful lace very suitable for a formal
table setting. This craft, very slow and time consuming, is dying
with the older generation, and therefore, the prices of the lace
have increased considerably in the last few years.
There are a large number of stores that sell kitchenware, light
fixtures (lampshades here do not fit U.S.-made lamps), linen, mostly
imported. The store Homemate - Home Improvement Center in the L-Merihel
area is a small version of Home Depot. In every neighborhood there
is always a well-stocked hardware store.
"British Home Stores" (BHS) are also represented here. Maltese homes
do not usually have built-in closets. If freestanding wardrobes are
not supplied by the landlord, you should negotiate to put them in.
Kitchen storage and counter space is often inadequate by American
standards. You may have to negotiate with the landlord, or buy
additional cabinets. Some houses and apartments have box rooms that
are invaluable for storage. A garage may provide additional storage
space, but extreme dampness in the winter can cause problems.
Houses here are very cold in the winter. Usually, inadequate
heating and poorly fitting windows contribute to the chill. You can
prevent this with sufficient heating and heavy draperies. Due to
varying window sizes, have any draperies made in Malta. Suitable
fabrics are sold locally but usually cost much more than similar
Most houses have shutters inside or outside the window frames. Do
not leave a furnished house unheated in winter during long periods
of time because of dampness leading to mold.
Ordinarily, houses here do not have screens to prevent flies and
Malta has a seasonal fly problem, especially in October and
November. Mosquitoes can be really bothersome at night. Negotiate
for screens in your lease, or otherwise you will have to pay for
Floors are usually made of marble, stone, or tile. Such floors
are very pleasant during the summer, but cold in winter unless
covered with rugs. At stores like "JB" in Mosta or "Big Bon" in
Birkirkara, you can find a variety of rugs.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:29 AM
Water and electricity in Malta are billed three times a year on
the same invoice. Electricity (240v, 50 cycles) is available in all
towns and villages. Supply is generally reliable, but some power
failures do occur. Water supply is very unreliable during the
summer, and there are water cuts (for a day or two) every week most
parts of the year. Find out the water situation in a particular
neighborhood before signing a lease.
Most American appliances (100v-120v, 60 cycles) can operate in
Malta with transformers. These include refrigerators, freezers,
radios, toasters, coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, and
hairdryers. The Embassy provides 2 transformers per household, and
you can bring your own from the U.S. Transformers can be locally
bought; they cost about LM 40.00 ($102.00) for a 1,000-watt model.
The 50-cycle current shortens the service life of motor-driven U.S.
appliances. The best solution is to bring, or purchase 220v-240v
(50-cycle) appliances. Occasionally, there are power failures and
power surges, so it is worth bringing a surge protector. American
light bulbs (110v-120v) can't be used here. Bayonet and screw-type
bulbs (220v) can be purchased locally, although prices are slightly
higher than in the U.S. Three way bulbs are rarely available in
The law requires grounded wall outlets, so a three-prong plug
must be used.
Also there are no plugs in the bathrooms. (The standard plug used in
Malta is a plug with three flat prongs, similar to those used in the
U.K.) Use of a two-prong European plug is prohibited, but you can
find adapters from European to U.K. standards at any hardware store.
Malta does not have natural gas. Many homes use bottled gas for
cooking. A big bottle of gas costs LM 2.45 ($6.40), and it will last
you about 2 months if used only for cooking. Hot water in houses is
provided by electric water heaters. Malta has some water shortage
(and consequent low water pressure), especially in the summer.
Maltese households get water through water tanks located on the
rooftops. Check the capacity and quality of the water tank before
signing the lease. If there is only one tank, you might want to
negotiate with the landlord to install another one. Talk to your
prospective neighbors and check the water situation in your future
neighborhood. Most Maltese houses have an underground cistern (here
called a well) to collect rain for garden irrigation or for
additional water supply during the summer months. Some cisterns are
closed, so discuss with your landlord if you wish to open it before
signing a lease. If you want to rent an apartment, check the water
situation in the building before making a final decision. In Malta,
trash is picked up every day, except Sundays and public holidays.
The pick-up is free. Most houses or apartments will not have
air-conditioning or central heating. Before signing the lease,
negotiate with the landlord to install air-conditioner units that
can convert into heating units. As previously mentioned, the Embassy
will loan you air-conditioning units and electric heaters for the
duration of your tour of duty. Make sure that the house or the
apartment you want to rent has an existing telephone line. The
installation of a telephone is a very lengthy and costly process in
Malta; therefore Embassy employees can't sign a lease on a house or
apartment unless the telephone has been installed.
Food Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:29 AM
Due to its thin and barren soil, Malta has to rely on imported
foods, and therefore prices are considerably higher than in the U.S.
Shops carry a great variety of fresh, canned, or frozen goods
imported from England, Italy, France, Germany, and the U.S. The
best-stocked supermarkets are: Tower Supermarket, and Park Towers
supermarket, both in Sliema; Smart in Birkirkara, Savemart in San
Gwann, and Scott's in Naxxar. In all these stores you can find a
variety of imported goods, a bakery, and a deli counter. Typical
opening hours are from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm.
Besides these modern supermarkets, Maltese buy food from the
small neighborhood stores, also popular as meeting places, and only
a short walk from their homes. Stores in Malta are usually open from
9 am to 1 pm, and then again from 4 to 7 pm. Most of the smaller
neighborhood stores open at 7 am.
Meat can be purchased from a supermarket or a neighborhood
There are several very popular butchers who gear their merchandise
for foreigners. Embassy employees like to buy their meat at
Charlie's Butcher (Naxxar)/ or Grech's Butcher (Naxxar); pork, veal,
poultry, lamb, and rabbit are available, and they will cut it to
your specifications. As an employee of Embassy Valletta, one has the
privilege of shopping at the commissary in Siganella. There, an
array of American quality USDA approved meats is available,
including veal, beef, chicken, lamb and pork.
The marines and some embassy families opt for taking a trip to
the commissary for groceries, loading their food supply for several
There is not the great variety of fish one would expect to find,
and often not the quantity. In winter, stormy weather often closes
the fish markets. With luck, one can find swordfish, lampuki
(snapper), dentici (bass), tuna, squid, and lobster depending on the
season. Shrimp is available, but the catch is usually frozen on the
Fruits and vegetables are usually bought from your neighborhood
greengrocer or a truck vendor. They vary in quality and availability
with the season. During the dry and hot summer season the selection
is limited, but as soon as the rains start and temperatures drop,
the availability and quality improve. Vendors get their fresh supply
on Monday and Thursday afternoons, when it is the best time to shop.
However, truck vendors come daily to most neighborhoods to sell
produce. Supermarkets carry a variety of fresh, canned, or frozen
fruits and vegetables.
Dairy products produced in Malta are usually pasteurized and safe
to consume. The milk is sold in cartons, but it has a short shelf
life and spoils rapidly (especially in summer). Long life milk is
available in local stores, but there is no non-fat milk. Locally
made ricotta and goat cheeses are quite good, but not always
pasteurized. Varieties of excellent cheeses, fresh cream, and yogurt
are imported from England, France, Italy, and Germany, and are
available in supermarkets. Ice cream, local or imported, is of good
quality and widely available. A variety of breads are available in
Malta. Typical Maltese breads "hobza" and "ftira" are very good.
Sliced and packaged sandwich-type breads like are commonly found,
white, whole wheat, all grain, etc. Maltese pastries are usually not
made to American taste, and are of mediocre quality. If you plan to
bake, bring a supply of chocolate chips and baking chocolate,
marshmallows, because they are unavailable here. The Embassy
community orders from www.netgrocer.com for those special products
you can't find locally. Embassy personnel regularly buy cigarettes
and liquor through several duty free shops in Malta. Duty-free
prices range from slightly to substantially below those found in
American liquor stores.
Clothing Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:30 AM
You can buy women's and men's ready-made clothing in Malta,
ranging from formal attire to casual and sportswear, summer or
winter clothes. The selection is good, but the prices are much
higher than in the U.S. Therefore, you should depend on local supply
for emergencies only. Stores like "Marks&Spencer," "BHS,"
"Benetton," "Zara," and others are represented here. Maltese have
very children-oriented families, and there is a good selection of
children's clothes on the island.
Many Maltese women make their own clothes or have them made by
local dressmakers. Stores here offer a range of fabrics, from good
Most American personnel bring a supply of clothes with them. They
supplement their wardrobe here by catalog orders to U.S. firms,
purchases during vacation trips, and occasionally buying locally.
Stores in Malta carry shoes from Italy, Great Britain, and other EEC
countries. You can find various designer shoes here, i.e., "Bally."
Unlike American, European shoes do not vary in width. It is almost
impossible to find shoes larger than women's size 8 or 9. One may
wish to bring a supply of underwear, pajamas, stockings, panty hose,
and shoes for all family members. You can always do online shopping.
Maltese women and men like to dress formally on special
occasions, and therefore, formal attire is required for certain
events. Men's formal wear (tuxedo or tails) can be rented, if
necessary. In the evening, women here dress very fashionably and
elegantly. You will find everything from short to long, low or
high-necked dresses, with or without sleeves. Short cocktail dresses
are worn to most diplomatic functions, but a long evening gown may
be needed for a formal occasion. For hot summer evenings,
lightweight cocktail wear is essential. On the other hand, in
winter, most homes in Malta are cool (or even cold), so heavy dinner
or cocktail attire is suitable.
Hostesses here are accustomed to guests who wear fur jackets,
stoles, or other cover throughout the evening. Hats and gloves are
not usually needed, but if you plan to attend an official church or
government function, a hat for women is advisable.
Certain decorum should be observed in street wear. Summer work
and street clothes should be lightweight cotton for women and the
lightest available suits for men. Women do not wear stockings in
summer, except at the most formal occasions.
If you plan on sightseeing local churches, keep in mind that you
cannot enter if you wear shorts, a sleeveless shirt or blouse,
open-toed shoes, or sandals. Maltese are very sensitive about proper
In winter, be prepared to live in a house heated below American
minimum standards. Sweaters, heavy slacks, warm slippers, and heavy
bathrobes are essential; home temperatures below 60 degrees F in
winter are not unusual, and some personnel might find thermal
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:33 AM
Toiletries, common medicines, and cosmetics sold locally are
mainly English brands, English-manufactured American products,
Italian, or German. The variety is adequate for normal needs, but
the prices are much higher than in the U.S. If you prefer a
particular cosmetic or toiletry item, or need specific medicines,
arrange in advance to order them from American suppliers. Female
personal hygiene needs are sold locally, but bring sufficient
supplies of special articles.
Supplies used for housekeeping and home repairs are sold in local
supermarkets. You might not be able to find the American brand name,
but there is an adequate variety of British or Italian products.
Again, the quality of items such as toilet paper, paper towels,
paper plates, and detergents is not up to American standards, and
the prices are much higher.
Basic Services Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:34 AM
Shoe repair in Malta is quite reasonable and inexpensive. On the
other hand, dry cleaning facilities are uneven, and both laundries
and dry cleaners are hard on clothes. Expensive garments such as
beaded or those made of several types of material should not be
cleaned here. If you send men's shirts to a dry cleaner, it will
cost you 70 cents ($1.56) per shirt, and the results are poor.
Hairdressers are generally good. Shampoo, trim, and blow drying for
women cost about LM 9 ($22.95); men's haircut costs LM 2-LM 4
Radio and TV repair services are fair, but parts for
American-made items are usually unavailable. Other types of
electrical repairs range from fair to good.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:34 AM
It is more and more difficult to find domestic help, whether full
or part-time; it is almost impossible to find someone to live-in or
who wants to work on Sundays. It usually takes patience before the
right person is available. Your neighbors, or your local grocery
store may know of someone who is willing to come and help. Domestic
jobs are usually specialized, so a housekeeper may not be willing or
know how to cook, and the cook may not be willing to clean. The
standard wage for domestic help is LM 1.75-LM 2.50 per hour, whether
full or part time. For full-time help you are generally required to
pay social security insurance. Most personnel employ part time help
two or three times a week for a few hours. Babysitters are paid LM
1.50 cents per hour, and need to be transported. Malta does not have
American-style day care centers. Although there are part-time
nursery schools for preschoolers, and various programs for
pre-school children from age 2, a nanny would have to be employed
for full-time day care. For parties, you can hire one of many
catering companies in Malta. They will provide food and necessary
help for your party.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:34 AM
There are more than 360 Roman Catholic churches in Malta, i.e.,
nearly one church for every 1,000 inhabitants. Masses are usually
held in Maltese, but some churches offer regular masses in English,
German, French, and Italian.
Two Anglican churches (St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral in Valletta and Holy
Trinity in Sliema), St. Andrew's of Scotland Church
(Presbyterian-Methodist), several Baptist churches, and various
other smaller groups
can be found here, and their services are usually in English. The
Greek Orthodox Church and Greek Catholic Church are located in
At Post Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:07 AM
Most children of U.S. Embassy personnel attend the Verdala
International School, which was founded in 1976 by an American
company to serve the children of expatriate families living in
Malta. In 1987, the school moved to its current site at Fort
Pembroke, an old British barrack facility. Since that time, the
school has grown to its current population of 225 students.
Other options are: Chiswick House School (Elementary), St.
Martin's (Middle and High School) and San Andrea School Elementary
and High School.
Away From Post Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:35 AM
The Department of State authorizes an away from post education
allowance for grades 9 to 12. Most parents prefer to have their high
school aged children attend a boarding school. The nearest boarding
schools are located in Rome. Details are available in the Italy Post
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:36 AM
Music, dance, ballet, karate, soccer, swimming and art lessons
are available and range from fair to good; also basketball and
gymnastics training for children is available at various recreation.
Due to Malta's pleasant climate water skiing, sailing, and scuba
diving classes are held at various places in spring, summer, and
early fall. Tennis and golf lessons are available year round.
At the Eden Leisure Complex in St. Julians, http://www.edenleisure.com
, you will find a bowling alley. The university swimming pool is
open year round and pools are heated in winter. You can buy an
annual membership or pay a daily entrance fee of LM 2.00.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:42 AM
The waters around Malta are beautiful and clean, with deep shades
of turquoise and green; the weather is beautiful most of the year.
Therefore, swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and scuba diving can be
enjoyed in spring, summer, and fall. The only golf course, located
in the Marsa Sports Club, is
used most of the year. Water polo is a popular spectator sport in
summer. Soccer, as in other European countries, is a favorite
Maltese sport. It is played year round, except during the hottest
Despite the surprising number of fine trotting horses on the
island, there is no public riding school. Trotting races start when
it begins to cool in fall and last until spring. Races are held on
Sundays and holidays, and betting (very popular in Malta) for small
stakes is permitted.
A Maltese version of Bocce ball is also a popular sport and every
village has a league.
You can join one of the many fitness clubs at the Hilton Hotel, the
Westin Dragonara Hotel or "Cynergy" at the Eden Leisure Complex in
St. Julians, where you will also find the bowling alley. The
university swimming pool is open year round; you can buy an annual
membership or pay a daily entrance fee of LM 2.00.
Fishing, a very popular recreation, can be undertaken from a
small boat or the shore. It is not unusual to see people fishing
from the waterfronts at Tigne or Strand in Sliema. You can buy
equipment locally for all sports practiced in Malta. Selection is
limited, and the prices are higher than in the
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:42 AM
Hiking in rural areas of Malta is pleasant and interesting. Many
picnic spots, some accessible only by foot, provide lovely sea
vistas. Walking clubs tour the island on weekends.
Malta is an especially pleasant place for families with children.
The Maltese are family oriented people, and children are welcome
everywhere and at any time. Even the urban Sliema area has parks
where children can play on swings or other available facilities. A
very popular sightseeing place for children is Popeye's Village,
where the movie "Popeye The Sailor" was filmed. The site is
preserved as a tourist attraction. The most attractive sightseeing
places are buildings from the period of the Knights of St. John of
Jerusalem and prehistoric sites with their temples. The only noble
house open for public viewing is Casa La Roca Piccola (built in the
16th century) on Republic Street in Valletta, at one point the
Italian Auberge. Although many diverse tourist sites exist, in a
week of concentrated sightseeing you can exhaust the principal
attractions, including the most important architectural monuments
Despite Malta's proximity to numerous other Mediterranean ports
(e.g., Greece), neither direct ship nor air service exists to points
other than those mentioned in this report.
Entertainment Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:43 AM
During the winter months, Malta offers many concerts, theater,
and opera presentations. Some of the performances may not be first
class, but enough fine talent can be found among composers and
performers alike to make it worth going.
The American-style Eden Century Film Centre featuring 16
theaters, shows the latest American (within 6 months of their U.S.
debuts) and foreign movies English-language movies are always shown
in the original version; foreign movies have English subtitles. The
price of tickets are LM 1.40 for children and LM 2.60 for adults.
Half price shows are Monday through Thursday, before 6:00 p.m.
Las Vegas style casinos are also another nightlife atttraction in
Malta. The Dragonara Palace, the Oracle Casino, and the Casino De
Venezia operate year round offering roulette, blackjack, slot
machines and chemin de fer (a variation of baccarat).
During the summer months, local festas are of great interest, and
it is worth visiting some of the more elaborate ones. Festas combine
religious processions and ceremonies with elaborate street lighting,
band parades, and noisy firework displays. Similar celebrations take
place during the Mardi
Until the end of World War II, it was unheard of for Maltese
families to go out and eat in restaurants. Being a very family
oriented and conservative society, entertaining was done at home. As
a result, there were no restaurants offering Maltese cuisine, only
Italian and Continental. In recent years, eating and entertaining
out has become more and more popular among Maltese. Throughout the
island, very good to excellent restaurants offer Maltese, Italian,
Continental, Chinese, and Indian cuisine. The prices are higher than
those in the U.S.; a three-course dinner for two, with a glass of
wine and cup of coffee, will cost you about LM 20 ($52).
Among Americans Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:43 AM
Because the American community is so small, there is no American
Women's Club in Malta. There is an active International Women's Club
that sponsors cultural and charitable activities, and has a bridge
playing group and literary meetings.
International Contacts Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:44 AM
Regular contact exists among members of the diplomatic corps. These
are some of the resident diplomatic representatives in Malta:
Australia, European Union (EU), Egypt, France, Germany, Holy See,
Italy, Libya, Russia, Spain, Tunisia, U.K., U.S., and the Knights of
Malta. Other countries' representatives have their seat in Rome.
Many international and British charitable and philanthropic
organizations have branches and/or active chapters in Malta. These
are: English Speaking Union, Rotary International, Lions, St.
Andrew's Society, Round Table, St. John's Ambulance Brigade, Society
for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and the Playing Fields
Several Boy Scout troops are on the island. Boy Scouts of Malta
are members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, as are
the Boy Scouts in the U.S. The Girl Guides are also active in Malta.
Three local clubs with memberships open to Embassy personnel provide
useful facilities and social contacts: Marsa Sports Club, Union
Club, and the Royal Malta Yacht Club. The Union Club in Sliema has a
bar and a restaurant open for lunch and dinner. This club holds
weekly dances and biweekly "tombola" (a variation of bingo), and has
an active bridge group, four tennis courts, two squash courts, and
offers tennis lessons. The Marsa Sports Club, a 10 minute ride from
the Embassy, has several athletic fields, 18 tennis courts, 3 squash
courts, a swimming pool, and Malta's only golf course. The club is
bordered by the island's race (trotting) track. Membership fees at
local clubs are low by the U.S. club standards. The Royal Malta
Yacht Club on Manoel Island operates an informal bar and restaurant,
mainly in the summer.
Official Functions Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:44 AM
Social life in Malta is very active for Embassy officers. All the
official functions require lounge dress (dark suit), and some of
them require black tie for men, and cocktail dresses or evening
gowns for women. Most official functions are well attended and are
held outdoors if weather permits; cocktails and hearty hors
d'oeuvres are served throughout the evening. Sit-down dinners are
less common, and are done in a more private environment.
Officers need a supply of business cards; 200 is a good number to
start. Calling cards and invitations can be printed at post, but for
a higher price than in the U.S.
Special Information Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:45 AM
Official visitors and other transient personnel should be aware
of the difficulty in securing hotel accommodations for visitors on
short notice during the tourist season. Please let us know of
arrival a minimum of 4 weeks in advance during the summer.
Most restaurants do not require men to wear jacket and tie,
especially in summer. Cocktail dresses for women are appropriate for
most receptions and cocktail parties.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:45 AM
Official visitors to Malta usually arrive by air. If you plan to
arrive from Europe, the best routes are daily flights from London,
Rome and Frankfurt. Most travelers arriving from the U.S. travel via
Frankfurt connecting to Malta on Lufthansa/United. If the final leg
of your trip is via Air Malta, you should confirm your reservations
in advance. The contact information for Air Malta in the U.S.:
Toll Free 1-800-756-2582. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ,
or visit their website: www.airmalta.com
All official visitors are met at the airport if advance notification
of arrival is received. If you arrive without prior notice, contact
the Embassy. If you plan to arrive in Malta by sea from Europe,
contact the agents of the Virtu Ferries, which has trips from
Catania or Pozzallo, Sicily to Malta. Summer crossings are usually
pleasant, but winter ones can be rough.
Unaccompanied airfreight to Malta does not always arrive
promptly, but it is
normally in Malta within 2 weeks of dispatch from the U.S. If you
have the opportunity, ship household effects (HHE) well in advance.
Since Malta is not serviced by U.S. vessels, it must transship via
the State Department Freight Office, ELSO, in Antwerp, which can
delay shipment by several weeks. In Malta, a contractor will
undertake receipt, temporary storage, de-livery, and unpacking.
Temporary storage lasting several months may result in some mildew
In accompanying baggage, or unaccompanied airfreight, officers
spouses should include cocktail dresses and a dark suit appropriate
for the season.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:46 AM
For information on automobiles, see Transportation.
Diplomatic personnel are granted duty-free importation of
personal packages, liquor, and tobacco purchases throughout their
stay. The Maltese Government does not place restrictions on Embassy
personnel on either importing or exporting the currency of any
country; however, special arrangements sometimes must be made if you
wish to purchase large amounts of traveler's checks.
Passage Last Updated: 10/28/2003 7:46 AM
You must possess a valid passport to enter Malta, but a visa is
not required of U.S. citizens. Address unaccompanied baggage,
privately owned cars, and HHE to:
No specific problems exist in clearing unaccompanied baggage,
private cars, or HHE through customs, except that the employee
should be in country before any effects can be cleared.
Please be aware that no shipments are to arrive to post before
Maltese customs routinely allow diplomats to enter the country
without inspecting their possessions. Only if the goods are
conspicuous (i.e., a large TV in its original box) would they insist
on the execution of customs clearance forms. If that happens, you
can simply leave the items with customs, and the Embassy will clear
the goods expeditiously.
If you arrive from any area in the world where a contagious disease
has reached epidemic proportions, you must have proof of a current
vaccination. If you arrive from any other area, evidence of shots is
Pets Last Updated: 6/23/2005 2:58 AM
Generally, the Pet Travel Scheme allows pet carnivores
originating from qualifying countries to enter Malta without
quarantine as long as certain requisites have been fulfilled. To
qualify for the scheme, the pet must: be fitted with a microchip; be
vaccinated against rabies; be blood tested; be issued with an
Official Pet Passport issued by the competent veterinary authorities
of the country of origin; be treated with praziquantel for tapeworm
and with fiprinol for ticks 24 to 48 hours before commencing the
journey to Malta. Pets cannot enter Malta until at least six
calendar months after the date the veterinarian took the required
Since the procedures invloved are very specific, please contact
the GSO section if you are planning to bring your pet to post and
you will be provided with further information.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 6/24/2005 5:40 AM
It is currently not possible for non-Maltese citizens to register
a firearm in Malta and they may not be imported into Malta. Contact
the Regional Security Office for further information.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 10/28/2003
The Maltese Lira (LM) is the currency of Malta. The Maltese Lira
(popularly called a pound) is divided into 100 cents (c) and each
cent into 10 mils (m), although mils are obsolete. Bank notes are of
five values: LM 20, LM 10, LM 5 and LM 2. Coins are of the following
values: LM 1, 50c, 25c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c. The rate of exchange
used by the Embassy on official transactions is FSC Charleston Paris
daily rate. The Embassy performs accommodation exchange for its
personnel through the Embassy cashier. It is convenient to open a
Maltese bank account to pay local bills (i.e., rent and utilities).
Shops and restaurants in Malta accept checks drawn on local banks
for payment of any bill.
The Embassy personnel use the Bank of Valletta in Floriana,
across the street from the Chancery. The minimum balance of LM 10 is
required in Maltese Lira checking accounts.
There are no American Banks in Malta. The local American Express
office does not provide the full range of services. You can purchase
U.S. dollar and pound sterling traveler's checks from the local
Malta uses the metric system. Gasoline is sold by the liter;
weights and measures are in kilograms, grams, meters, and
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/23/2005
Embassy personnel do not pay any direct taxes. Duty-free payment
on imported items terminates 3 months after the arrival at post for
A&T personnel. In exceptional circumstances, i.e., if HHE does not
arrive within the 3-month period, this ruling is waived. Any
packages or parcels received through the post office for A&T
personnel after the 3-month period are liable for examination and
any duty assessed on such items. During their tour of duty, sales of
personal property by American personnel are permitted within
Department of State regulations. It is forbidden to give duty-free
items (including liquor and tobacco) to persons not entitled to
duty-free privileges. Diplomatic personnel may import two personally
owned vehicles duty free, A&T staff one, although there is a
possibility to waive this restriction on a case-by-case basis.
All employees are eligible to claim quarterly value added tax
(VAT) refunds throughout their stay. There are various restrictions
and specific procedures concerning VAT refunds. The general rate of
VAT is 18%, although it varies according to type of product. Refunds
of duty paid on gasoline is available but restricted to purchases
made from the embassy's "designated" service station only.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 10/28/2003 8:59 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Discovery Guide on Malta; Attard, Joseph.
The Battle of Malta. William Kimber: London, 1980.
Blouet, Brian. The Story of Malta. Progress Press: Malta, 1992.
Bradford, Ernle. The Great Siege: Malta 1565. Penguin: 1974.
Bradford, Ernle. The Shield and the Sword. Hodder & Stoughton:
Clews, Hilary. The Malta Year Book. De La Salle Brothers
Publication: Malta (published annually).
Douglas Hamilton, Lord James. The Air Battle of Malta: The Diaries
of a Fighter Pilot. Mainstream: Edinburgh, 1981.
Elliot, Peter. The Cross and The Ensign: A Naval History of Malta
1798-1979. Collins: Glasgow, 1980.
Hughes, Quentin. Malta-A Guide to the Fortifications. Progress
Press: Valletta, 1992.
Montserrat, Nicholas. The Kappilan of Malta. Cassell: London, 1973.
Vella, Philip. Blitzed But Not Beaten. Progress Press: Malta, 1985.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 10/28/2003 9:00 AM
Local holidays observed at the Embassy (check Post Profiles for
St. Paul's Shipwreck - February 10
St. Joseph - March 19
Freedom Day - March 31
Good Friday -Friday before Easter Sunday
Malta Labor Day - May 1
Anniversary of 1919 Riot (Sette Giugno) - June 7
St. Peter and St. Paul - June 29
Feast of the Assumption - August 15
Our Lady of Victories - September 8
Independence Day - September 21
Immaculate Conception - December 8
Republic Day - December 13