Official Name: Republic of Malta
Location: Malta is a group of islands, three of them inhabited, located in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Italy (Sicily). Tunisia lies across the Sea to the west and Libya lies to the south.
Land Area: 316 sq km (122 sq mi).
Coast: 140 km (87 mi) of Mediterranean coast.
Climate: Malta has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Summer temperatures reach 30°C (86°F) in the summer and average 14°C (57°F) in the winter. Malta experiences sirocco winds, desert winds laden with dust and sand from North Africa.
Population: Just over 390,000 inhabitants, of which 20% are younger than 15, and 67% are between 15 and 64 years old.
Language: Maltese and English are the official languages of Malta, with English being the most widely understood in more densely populated areas of the country. Many Maltese islanders speak Italian, and French and German are also spoken by some of the population.
Religion: The vast majority of the population is Roman Catholic and the church plays an important role in Maltese communities.
Government: Malta is a parliamentary democracy, with a constitution established when Malta won independence from Britain in 1964 and a legal system based on English common law and Roman civil law. The Executive Branch consists of a president, prime minister, and cabinet, the Legislative Branch consists of the approximately 65-member House of Representatives, and the Judicial Branch consists of the Constitutional Court and the Court of Appeal. The president is elected by the House of Representatives. The prime minister is appointed by the president and is usually the leader of the majority party of the House or a majority coalition in the House. The cabinet is appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister, as are the judges on the Constitutional Court and Court of Appeal. House members are elected by proportional representation, with additional seats given to the party that secures the majority of the popular vote.
Executive (President or King): President Guido De Marco; Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami
Currency: The Maltese currency is the Maltese lira (Lm), which is divided into 100 cents. There are 2, 5, 10 and 20 lira notes and 1 lira coins, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins. The exchange rate was approximately 0.37 Maltese lira (Lm) for every $1 in January of 1997 (the time of the BikeAbout journey).
Find out how many Maltese lira there are in your local currency!
Resources and Industry: Tourism is becoming increasingly important to the Maltese economy. Other industries include electronics, textiles, financial services and machinery and transport equipment manufacturing.
Transport: 1,742 km (1,082 mi) of road.
Electric current: 250 volts.
Time Zone: GMT +1 hour
Sources: CIA World Factbook 2000, Mediterranean Europe on a shoestring (Lonely Planet), Lonely Planet
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