Malta became a member of the European Union in 2004 and made the Euro its main currency in 2008 along with Gozo, an island in the Maltese archipelago which followed suit a month later in February 2008. Malta was proclaimed a republic in 1974. The capital of Malta is Valleta.
Malta gained its independence in 1964, after having been taken over by the French for some time. The English gained control of Malta after having been asked fro assistance to expel the French conquest. As a result of British rule, Maltese administrative, education and legal systems are based on that of the British. The constitution was adopted in 1964.
Malta has a typical Mediterranean climate while the Islands are known for fair sunshine for most of the year leading up to winder. Although summertime is relatively hot, breezes from the sea help to lower temperatures. Rainfall during the year is not plentiful and averages about 56mm per annum.
The archipelago of Maltese Islands has a total area of about 316 km² and is among the tiniest worldwide, but has more than 417,000 residents. This makes the Maltese Archipelago one of the densest groups of islands in terms of population.
Malta, Gozo and Comino are the biggest islands in this archipelago and therefore, the only inhabited. While Gozo is the second biggest in size and is popular for vast areas of vegetation, Comino is ideal for hikers and brief visits. These islands are located between Europe and Africa, just north of Libya and south of the Italian speaking island of Sicily.
Malta has both a President and a Prime Minister. The President is Head of States, while the Prime Minister is Head of Government. Members of Cabinet come from the House of Representatives and are appointed by the President of Malta upon approval by the Head of Government. The Parliament of Malta consists of the Members of Parliament, the President of Malta, the Deputy Speaker and the Speaker of the House (Mr. Speaker). Judges and magistrates make up the judiciary. Malta has six representatives in the European Parliament. Members of EU Parliament are classed according to political ties and not the country they come from.
Malta is a democratic country and government is elected by popular vote. In total, five types of elections take place in Malta, to include general elections at which members of Parliament are voted, election of Members to the EU Parliament, local council elections, community administrative committee elections and from time to time, referenda.
Religion in Malta is diverse with Adventists, Greek Catholics, Anglican, Church of Scotland, Jewish and Islamic denominations. Roman Catholicism is the main religion practiced in Malta. Besides regular holidays celebrated internationally, holidays that are unique to Malta are the Feast of St. Paul’s shipwreck (February 10th), Freedom Day (March 31st) and Sette Giugno (June 7th), Republic Day (December 13th).
Several festivals take place throughout the year, especially religious feasts since Malta is mainly Catholic. Carnival takes place in February and is followed by Lent and then Easter.