The Maltese islands offer a typical Mediterranean temperate climate distinguished by short, rather wet winters and long, dry summers with cooling sea breezes. For the greater part of summer, there is an average of around 12 hours of daily sunshine with the temperatures hovering around the low thirties. The colder months are also mild, with the average low temperature dropping to around ten degrees centigrade, meaning outdoor activities are possible practically throughout the year. Regular weather reports are issued by the meteorological office.
Strategically located at the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta has excellent air and sea connections with the region and beyond for both passengers and cargo. Flights to European, North African and Middle-Eastern business hubs depart from the Malta International Airport on a daily basis and only take a few hours to arrive at their destination. The Malta Freeport is the third largest transhipment hub in the Mediterranean and deals with an excess of 3 million units per annum, while roro and fast ferry services connecting Malta to mainland Europe are provided from the Grand Harbour by Valletta Gateway Terminals.
Healthcare services are provided by a number of hospitals and clinics spread across the Maltese islands. All public healthcare is free for European nationals, although private healthcare services are also available for those wishing to go down that route. The quality of healthcare services is excellent and foreign residents can put their mind at rest that local healthcare workers are fluent in English, thereby ensuring that all communication between service provider and patient is clear and straightforward.
Malta offers a plethora of leisure activities and, considering its mild climate and short travel distances, it is easy to experience many of these activities in a single day. From swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing and various other outdoor activities for the more daring, to a wide range of cultural events such as concerts, theatre productions and outdoor festivals spread throughout the year, there is no risk of finding oneself at a loose end on this vibrant island.
Malta is one of the safest countries in the world, with a recent study ranking the Maltese islands as the seventh safest small country globally. Violent, random crime is a rarity and consequently tension levels over crime in Malta are visibly less than in other countries. Locals feel safe to allow their children roam around and play in the streets on their own, especially in those areas with less traffic, as well as to walk alone in the streets late after dark.
Malta’s educational system has a mixture of both public and private schools across all levels. It is based on the British model as a result of Malta having been a British colony, with English as the language of tuition especially at the higher levels of education. One can acquire qualifications up to post-graduate level (EQF level 8) that are internationally recognised, with students thus having no issues presenting their certificates abroad.
With a rich history going back 7,000 years to the Megalithic Era and having been colonized by a multitude of civilizations all of whom left their mark on the country, Malta is one of the most historically and culturally rich countries in Europe. As a result, there are numerous museums, exhibits and heritage sites scattered across all the islands. Cultural events are also very popular with an eclectic mix that is certain to keep everyone entertained, especially as the country gears up to host the European Capital of Culture – Valletta 2018.
Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. The former is the only language in the world that has semitic roots but is written in the Roman alphabet, having strong influences from those cultures with which Malta was exposed throughout its history. Also widely spoken, English is the language of business and education. Most people in Malta also speak a third language, particularly Italian, French and German; although with a growing expat community the variety of languages spoken on the islands is increasing at a remarkable rate.
Malta offers a varied cuisine sure to tickle all taste buds with its unique blend of ingredients. While the traditional Maltese food is a fusion of Mediterranean flavours, Malta also hosts a number of restaurants serving various international cuisines. Different price ranges are catered for, with many restaurants having tables al fresco, by the sea or with scenic views. Malta is also known for its locally produced wine, particularly its endemic Gellewza and Ghirgentina varieties.
Cost of Living
According to data published by Eurostat which takes into account factors such as food and beverages, clothing, transportation, communication, electricity and so on, the cost of living in Malta is about 20% less than the European average. In terms of accommodation, the value of properties is on the rise but generally speaking it is still cheaper than what is found in most European cities. Central areas may be pricier than northern or southern extremities, but this is rarely an issue given that the very compact size of the islands requires only short commutes.
Malta offers an extensive road network covering all parts of the island. Getting from one side of the island to another with a private car only takes a short amount of time. Alternatively, Malta also offers a reliable public transport system that services all localities in Malta and Gozo with frequent trips throughout the day, while various private companies provide taxi services. Getting across to Malta’s sister island, Gozo, can be done easily via the Gozo ferry which operates with frequency on a daily basis.
Malta is a member of the European Union and of the Schengen Area and as such allows free movement for EU nationals into the country. Third-country nationals may require a visa in order to be allowed entry into Malta. The Central Visa Unit within Identity Malta oversees the application process, while further information and assistance may also be obtained from Malta’s diplomatic representations overseas.