Malta, a tiny European country in the Mediterranean, may not impress with size, but has more than enough to offer otherwise.
Most people who don’t mistake Malta for a fruit have heard a few facts thrown around about the country. It may be the ridiculous amount of sunshine the archipelago boasts or the equally unbelievable number of churches. Perhaps you’re even aware of the unmatched love the Maltese have for their cars. Or maybe you’re best familiar with their “national sport”, the Eurovision.
All that may indeed be true, but in this article, we will attempt to translate Malta as a country into numbers. Truth, damn truth, and statistics.
The Key Values
As of the end of February 2017, Malta is home to a little over 420,000 inhabitants. This currently makes up about 0.01% of the world’s ever-growing population. The trend is on the rise; just back in 2000, it was about 387,000.
The area where all of these people need to fit in is about 320 km², which clearly is not a lot. These two factors together make Malta the most densely populated country in the European Union, at 1,311 people per km².
The magic number in 2016 was almost 2 million!
Now add the fact that there are millions of tourists visiting every year, and you see how it can get pretty crammed. Quite remarkably, the magic number last year was close to 2 million. Most of the traffic, of course, passing through during summertime.
Talking about traffic, Malta has plenty of it. Some may even say too much, and that wouldn’t be completely wrong. The most recently published WHO ranking places Malta as 7th by car owners in the world, with 0.76 vehicles per person. Within Europe, we’re 5th, preceded only by Finland, Andorra, Italy and Luxembourg.
Know Your History
On a more cultural note, Valletta has been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture for 2018. This promises a great deal of events and plenty to look forward to. Slipping into politics for a moment, Malta is currently, for the first time ever, also holding the seat of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Malta became a member of the European Union on 1st of May 2004. Previously, it had gained its political independence from Britain on 21st of September 1964.
The Maltese lira was replaced by the euro at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of 0.43 MTL per 1 EUR. However, Maltese lira banknotes and coins continued to have legal tender status and were accepted for cash payments until early 2008.
Odd Ones Out
Malta’s calling code is +356.
The annual weather averages on the islands make it a lovely sunny Mediterranean country. July is the hottest month with an average of 27°C and January is the coldest at 13°C with the most daily sunshine hours at 12 in August.
The latter may be contributing to the fairly high life expectancy of 80.3 years. Compared to the world average of 71.0 years, Malta is definitely the place to be.
The average net salary in Malta is about 1,021 EUR/month.
Head Here for the Sights
Malta is well known as a highly religious Catholic country. It proves its point by having an astonishing amount of churches. The popular phrase “a church per every day of the year” is not exactly true, but is indeed very close. The actual church density is slightly more than 1 per km², making it a total of 359.
Amongst those churches is “The Mosta Dome”, a Roman Catholic church in Mosta built in 1860. It is the 4th largest unsupported dome worldwide and the 3rd largest in Europe.
The capital, Valletta, has a total area of only 0.8 km². This means it is the smallest national capital in all of the European countries. And it is also Europe’s first planned city. It took approximately 15 years to build the city this way, which also makes it one of the most rapidly built cities in the world.
Ġgantija temples in Xaghra, Gozo have a respectable birthday of around 3700 BC. This is more than the Pyramids or Stonehenge! Although debatable, UNESCO describes Malta’s prehistoric temples as the “oldest free standing monuments on Earth”. Regardless, whether they are indeed the oldest or not, they certainly deserve much more international credit.
UNESCO has actually found Malta to be quite intriguing. There are 3 properties already inscribed on the World Heritage List and 7 more submitted to the Tentative List. The confirmed ones are City of Valletta, Megalithic Temples of Malta and Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. Those still being considered include Coastal Cliffs, Qawra/Dwejra, Cittadella, Knights’ Fortifications around the Harbours of Malta, Mdina (Citta’ Vecchia), Maltese Catacomb Complexes and Victoria Lines Fortifications.
The Maltese enjoy 14 public holidays each year. In Europe, only Cyprus has more, but even around the world that is well above the average.
The allowed Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for the drivers in Malta is 0.08. The bad news is that allegedly the risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly above BAC 0.04. However, don’t fret, there is good news! The fatal accident rate in the country is one of the lowest in the world – 5.1 in Malta compared to 17.4 in the rest of the world.
Filfla is off limits to anyone not enjoying being blown to pieces by unexploded weapons.
Filfla, the tiny island off the coast of Malta, is a nature reserve, which obviously means you can’t just take your boat and go have a barbecue there amongst all those rare birds and all. What you may not know, though, is that Filfla’s “personal space” extends out to 1.9 nautical miles around it. No fishing, no diving and no bird watching any closer than that! Truthfully, the reason is not only to protect the nature reserve, but also to not have you blown to pieces by the potentially unexploded weapons.
Believe It Or Not!
Remember the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum mentioned before? For one, it is the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world. But it is also the place where archaeologists have found the remains of more than 7,000 individuals.
There are theories that about 20 000 years ago, Malta might have been a part of Sicily. Some historians believe a 40 km wide land bridge could have been above sea level connecting the two. That convenient route, if there ever was one, is now unfortunately about 100 meters below sea level.
0 is the amount of mountains, rivers as well as forests you would find on any of the islands in the archipelago. I guess this one is a bit up for debate, considering how to define each.
There are no records in Maltese history for the period between AD 395 and AD 535.
Malta saw the second-highest voter turnout in the world in national lower house elections from 1960 to 1995.
This is by far not an exhaustive list of all the curious or important numbers related to Malta. And, of course, the exact numbers may vary depending on which source one relies on. Therefore, do let us know which important numbers you feel should definitely be included in our list!
As an attentive reader of ours pointed out, there has been a mistake in the original note about the average net salary. The initially stated “1,021 EUR/year” has been corrected to state the accurate “1,021 EUR/month”.