Malta is located in the heart of Mediterranean Sea, strategically located between the European Mainland and North Africa.
Its rich and diverse history, temperate climate and attractive scenery make it a tourist destination, attracting visitors of all ages and nationalities all year round. However, Malta is not just a tourist destination. Thanks to its competitive legislation, modern and sophisticated infrastructure, skilled workers, and low operating costs, Malta is now a European benchmark for international services and financial centres.
Location and geography
Located in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta has some of the richest islands in the region thanks to its diverse culture, amazing history, welcoming people and wide range of attractions.
With an area of approximately 316 km2, the Maltese archipelago is one of the smallest regions in the world. However, it is one of the most densely populated archipelagos with around 415,000 inhabitants. Only the three main islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino are inhabited.
The country is divided into 67 local councils. 53 on Malta and 14 on Gozo.
The islands are uniquely located between Africa and Europe, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Libya.
Malta is the largest of the three islands and it is the cultural, commercial and administrative centre. Gozo is the second largest island and is predominantly rural; it is famous for its rolling countryside and open spaces. Comino, although it is practically uninhabited, is very popular with day tourists and climbers.
Valletta is the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It sits on a promontory between two natural harbours.
Visitors are attracted by its typically Mediterranean climate with its hot summers and mild winters. Malta has a lot to offer its visitors, with long beaches, great night life and 7,000 years of intriguing history.
Malta has an estimated population of 415,000 inhabitants (from 2011 figures) with 94% living in towns and cities. About 95% are of Maltese origin, while the rest are British or of Italian descent, in addition to some native Italians and Spaniards. Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and the most densely populated in the EU with around 1,265 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Malta is a Republic with a president and a government. The president is elected by the House of Representatives which, in turn, is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term. The prime minister is generally the leader of the party with the largest number of MPs in the House of Representatives, which has a total of 65 parliamentary seats.
Malta has a civil law legal system with strong Anglo-Saxon influence, particularly in its administrative, financial and tax legislation. Accounting standards are also founded on the British system.
Malta has an administrative system and very efficient regulatory bodies. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) is responsible for regulating financial services, and its main duties are:
• To regulate and supervise the conduct of the financial sector in Malta
• To help protect the interests of consumers and investors
• To encourage the adoption of the best possible standards of behaviour in the financial services sector
• To provide regular information about local and global developments affecting financial services
• To stimulate and support initiatives aimed at improving levels of education and training in Malta’s financial sector
• To conduct proper, periodical inspections of authorised financial entities
• To publish guidelines and directives for financial operators and professional consultants
• To advise and support financial entities wishing to set up business in Malta and contribute to the welfare of the national economy, as appropriate
• To communicate and interact with national, international and supranational bodies involved in combating financial crime;
• To communicate with and advise national and international media to demonstrate Malta’s commitment to best global practice and improve its international reputation
• To propose improvements to current legislation or create new legislation
• To manage company registrations in Malta
Malta’s Company Register, which is integrated within the MFSA, is very well organised, making it possible for companies to be formed in a maximum of two days, as long as all the necessary paperwork is presented.
Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English. Maltese is a Semitic language (that includes other languages such as Arabic and Hebrew), but it is the only one to use the Latin alphabet. Nowadays, however, the Maltese language includes many European words (mainly Italian and English).
Practically all Maltese are bilingual. Official publications, including all laws, are published in the two languages. In practical terms, many banking and financial documents are written in English, as is a lot of correspondence.
Education in Malta is mandatory until the age of 16. The children are taught in various state and private schools. Although it is not mandatory, pre-school education is provided free of charge by the State for children attending. Most pupils completing secondary school education continue their studies either at technical or vocational schools, or go to the University of Malta.
The University of Malta was founded in 1592 and currently teaches more than 10,000 students, including some 750 students from 80 different countries. Many university students later pursue specialisation courses abroad.
Malta has a qualified, flexible, bilingual workforce with advanced knowledge in other languages. In addition to achieving high levels of education, Maltese employees are generally quick learners, adapt easily to new techniques, and have high productivity levels.
A normal working week is 40 hours, and employees are entitled to 24 days of holiday a year.