Country Profile: Malta
Official languagesMaltese, English
Area316 sq km
Population410 290 (2007 est.)
Malta is a developed microstate in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Sicily. Its location, historically, has given the country strategical significance, but now Malta is a hugely popular tourist destination with a very dense population. Malta is a Commonwealth of Nations, despite independence from England, and is also a member of the EU, UN and Eurozone.
The Maltese language is the official language of Malta, and is the first language of almost all of the island's inhabitants. However, English is also widely spoken in Malta. Maltese is a Semitic language, using the Latin alphabet. Other languages spoken in Malta are Italian and French.
After the opening of the Suez canal, Malta's economy improved drastically, due to the increased shipping to the island. Film production is an important contributor to the country's economy, with many big budget films being made there each year. The service sector employs three quarters of the population, with almost all of the rest employed in industry. Agricultural produce includes potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, cut flowers, green peppers; pork, milk, poultry, and eggs. Malta's main industries are tourism, electronics, shipbuilding and repair, construction, food and beverages, textiles, footwear, clothing, and tobacco, and its major trading partners US, UK, France, Germany and Italy.
Malta imports 100% of its energy source, which is the environmentally damaging and unsustainable oil. Plans to build a nuclear power plant were met with a widespread outcry, and abandoned. Despite this, the country has great potential for harvesting solar and wind power, and in the future the government might have to explore these ways of producing sustainable and non-harmful energy.
Art and architecture
Malta has an extremely rich and diverse cultural heritage, especially in terms of art and architecture. There is evidence of the influence of different architectural periods on the island, for example gothic and romaneseque. Art flourished under the Knights of St John, and it was during this period that the famed painter Caravaggio came to the island. following this, the Baroque period had the longest lasting and most widespread impact on the country's buildings. Valletta is a historical city, with many visiting for its wealth of fine architecture. Malta also hosts many world heritage sites, such as the Megalithic Temples, which are the oldest free-standing structures on Earth.
Football is a popular sport in Malta, and the country has its own football stadium. Rockclimbing and snooker are also popular sports to the Maltese population.
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