The International Writers Institute has been set up in Malta to bring Robert McKee’s world-renowned scriptwriting expertise to Europe. The smallest of the European Union’s member states, Malta lies at strategic crossroads between Europe and Africa.
Malta is a meeting point of cultures and languages at the heart of the Mediterranean: the ideal cosmopolitan location for efficient international business contacts. Flight connections to Malta are also very convenient. The national carrier Air Malta operates to numerous European and a number of North African destinations, with regular flights. There are also a large number of international carriers operating to and from Malta.
With a sophisticated ICT infrastructure that is well connected to the international backbone, a high broadband penetration, and a competitive market with the latest technologies like VoIP, Malta is able to offer the right environment for business.
English, a joint official language with Maltese, is universally spoken and written and is the language of education and business. Many Maltese are also fluent in Italian, and also speak German and French. Major world languages are easily sourced. The high education and training level of the Maltese labour force is a key competitive factor. The Maltese have a very high regard for education and some 60 per cent of students remain in education to tertiary level.
The Malta University is the oldest in the Commonwealth outside Britain, and enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide.
The history of Malta is a long and colourful one dating back to the dawn of civilisation. The Maltese Islands went through a golden Neolithic period, the remains of which are the mysterious temples dedicated to the goddess of fertility. Later on, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines, all left their traces on the Islands.
In 60 A.D. St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island while on his way to Rome and brought Christianity to Malta. The Arabs conquered the islands in 870 A.D. and left an important mark on the language of the Maltese. Until 1530 Malta was an extension of Sicily: The Normans, the Aragonese and other conquerors who ruled over Sicily also governed the Maltese Islands.
It was Charles V who bequeathed Malta to the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem who ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798. The Knights took Malta through a new golden age, making it a key player in the cultural scene of 17th and 18th century Europe. The artistic and cultural lives of the Maltese Islands were injected with the presence of artists such as Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Favray who were commissioned by the Knights to embellish churches, palaces and auberges.
In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte took over Malta from the Knights on his way to Egypt. The French presence on the islands was short lived, as the English, who were requested by the Maltese to help them against the French, blockaded the islands in 1800.
British rule in Malta lasted until 1964 when Malta became independent. The Maltese adapted the British system of administration, education and legislation. Modern Malta became a Republic in 1974 and joined the European Union in May 2004.
Malta – the smallest economy in the euro zone – produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. Malta adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.
Malta’s economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing, and tourism Malta has low unemployment relative to other European countries, and growth has recovered since the 2009 recession.
Malta’s financial services industry has grown in recent years and it has avoided contagion from the European financial crisis, largely because its debt is mostly held domestically and its banks have low exposure to the sovereign debt of peripheral European countries.
Malta reduced its deficit below 3 percent of GDP, leading the EU to dismiss its official excessive deficit procedure against Malta in 2012
Currency and money in Malta Since 2008, Malta adopted the Euro as its currency. Several banks like HSBC, BOV and Banif can be found in different cities and they provide the best rates to change money, since other currencies are no longer accepted. There are ATM machines around commercial or tourist areas and all major credit cards are widely accepted.
Food is reasonably priced and transportation is cheap by European standards. It is common practice to round up a taxi fare or restaurant bill to leave a small tip but shops have fixed prices. Hotels and car rental agencies offer reduced rates in low seasons (October to May). Malta has very low rates for car rental. There’s an 18% value-added tax on most consumer items.
Malta is a Roman Catholic country (over 90% of the population). When visiting churches in Malta, dress respectfully and take off your hat and sunglasses. Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. The churches most visited by tourists provide shawls and skirts for any inappropriately-dressed visitors. If there is a service already going on inside a church, you may be refused entry.
All major forms of transportation can be found in Malta. Common buses offer a good service but you can also try open top double decker buses or the famous vintage buses for sightseeing. Taxis are available too. Renting a car in Malta is easy and cheap. It is a wonderful way to explore Malta and Gozo in your own time. There is GPS coverage of the Island by popular brands. Driving is on the left. To travel by water use the ferries to travel between the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino or water taxis and private boat hiring for more exclusive trips. For a scenic view of the archipelago, take a helicopter tour or a seaplane service.
Malta is generally safe. It is considered one of the safest places in the world and there is almost no violent crime or political disturbances, which makes the country the ideal place to take your family or enjoy the splendid, safe nightlife in Malta.
As a member of the EU Schengen Agreement, entering Malta requires only an officially approved ID card from the European Community or EFTA citizens (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland). Visitors from other countries will generally need a passport to get into Malta. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Communications in Malta Malta has three mobile phone networks: Vodafone, Go Mobile and Melita Mobile. They are all probably part of your mobile service provider roaming plan. You can also find white labelled cell plans such as the Bay Mobiles plan that can offer alternative rates. Internet cafés and Wi-Fi zones are very abundant and have fast connection rates.
In Malta, electricity has 230 Volts, 50Hz. UK-style three-pin square plugs are used Time zone in Malta GMT +1
Tap water is safe for drinking, although the locals prefer bottled water mostly because of the taste. The Maltese sun can be quite hot. Avoid long exposures (like in every other country) and the period between 11am and 4pm; use sun lotion and drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration, specially when you’re in a wonderful beach in Malta.