With a typical Mediterranean climate distinguished by short winters and long, hot summers with cooling sea breezes, Malta is an ideal spot for all those who want to enjoy the outdoors in their free time. For the greater part of summer, there is an average of around 12 hours of daily sunshine with temperatures around the low thirties. The colder months are also mild, with the average low temperature dropping to around ten degrees centigrade. Regular weather reports are issued by the meteorological office.
Malta has excellent air and sea connections with the region and beyond. Flights to European, North African and Middle-Eastern hubs depart from the Malta International Airport on a daily basis and only take a few hours to arrive at their destination. Fast ferry services connecting Malta to mainland Europe are provided from the Grand Harbour, managed by Valletta Gateway Terminals. The same harbour also hosts the Valletta cruise terminal, which is the port of call for various cruise liners throughout the year.
Healthcare services are provided by a number of hospitals and clinics well 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. Foreign residents can put their mind at rest that local healthcare workers are fluent in English, thereby ensuring that all communication between health care professional and patient is clear and straightforward.
Malta offers a wide range of leisure activities and, considering its mild climate and short travel distances, it is easy to experience several 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. Locals feel safe to allow their children roam around and play outside 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 but is in line with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). English is the language of tuition and teaching materials especially at the higher levels. 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 7,000-year history 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 with semitic roots but written in the Roman alphabet, having strong influences from those cultures to 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 remarkably.
Maltese food is sure to tickle all taste buds with its unique blend of ingredients and fusion of Mediterranean flavours. For those wanting a taste of their own home, various establishments serving international cuisines are also available. 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 Eurostat data 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 is still generally lower than 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 Gozo and Comino can be done easily, respectively via the Gozo ferry and smaller ferry boats.
Malta is a member of the European Union and of the Schengen Area and as such allows free movement for EU nationals into and out of 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.