About Malta

Introduction

The Maltese archipelago consists of three main Islands, namely, Malta (240 Sq. kms), Gozo (67 Sq. kms) and Comino (2 Sq. kms). The population in total is around  410,000.

Malta and its sister Islands have been inhabited for the past 7,000 years. The Phoenicians were the first settlers to come to Malta in the 9th century BC and they were followed by the Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Swabian & Angevin dynasties, Aragonese, Spanish, French and finally the British who gave Malta its independence in 1964.

One will find that Malta has plenty to offer to those visiting the Islands. Besides the crystal clear waters and year-round sunshine - which are two of the main reasons why Malta is a popular vacation destination - the Islands also have various other features that would attract someone to visit or even reside in Malta. Malta's extraordinary archaeological and architectural heritage acts as an impressive backdrop and caters for all activities that one could imagine. The legacy of the various powers that ruled over the islands throughout the ages can be seen, felt and savoured.

Whether one seeks action or relaxation, tranquillity or excitement, one can find it in Malta. For lovers of Mediterranean cuisine, nightlife, music, theatre or arts, Malta boasts a variety of venues to go to for entertainment. There are restaurants situated in all areas (serving typical Maltese Cuisine and other Mediterranean dishes), central nightlife areas with live music (i.e. Maltese folklore, Latin American, Mexican, Italian etc), discotheques, bars, brassieres pubs, and an abundant calendar of cultural manifestations and events. For the sportive visitor, the islands offer golf, tennis, sky-diving, horse-riding, and unlimited possibilities for water-sports - from sailing to windsurfing and the best scuba diving in the Mediterranean.

The Maltese Islands, which is one of the most charming vacation spots in the Mediterranean, is English speaking. Malta does have its own native language, however most Maltese also speak English and Italian fluently with English considered a second language.


Coming to Malta

By Air

It takes about two or three hours to get to Malta by air from most European cities. There are frequent and direct flights to Malta from the major European cities including London, Rome, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Geneva, Athens, Amsterdam, Madrid and Vienna among others. There are also other regular flights from other destinations in Europe as well as from North Africa and the Middle East.

The scheduled flights to Malta are operated by: Air Malta, Swissair, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Transavia, Egyptair, Balkan Airlines, Aeroflot, British Airways, Tuninter, Corsair, Condorflug and LTU/LTU Sud.

By Sea

A high-speed passenger-only catamaran operates a service from Licata, Catania and Pozzallo to Malta. The service is operated daily between June and September, decreasing to three times weekly between October and May. Approximate length of journey is 3 hours to Catania and slightly less to Pozzallo.

Malta can also be reached by sea from Syracuse, Catania and Reggio Calabria three times a week and a weekly crossing from Naples by Italian ferries.

Passport & Visa Regulations

Entry visas are not required - for stays of up to three months for holidays or unpaid trips - by nationals of the European Community. Nationals of countries, which require a visa to enter Malta, should obtain this from Maltese Embassy or Consulate. Where neither is available, a written request should be made to the Commissioner of Police, Police Headquarters, Floriana. Fax: +356 2124 7777 and/or +356 21235308

Customs

Personal belongings and clothing intended for personal use are not liable to duty. The duty-free allowance for adults is 200 cigarettes or the equivalent in cigars or tobacco, one bottle of spirits and one bottle of wine and reasonable quantity of perfume and toilet water.


General Information

Vaccinations

Yellow fever and cholera vaccinations are essential if arriving from an infected country.

Currency

Malta became an EU member state on 1st May 2004 and adopted the Euro currency on 1st January 2008. The Euro (€) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents.

Banks

Usually open 8.30am to 12.30pm, Mondays through Fridays, and up to 11.30am on Saturdays. Foreign exchange facilities are available at the Airport on a 24 hour basis, year round and up to 4pm at most banks. Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) are situated in the major commercial and touristic areas.

Time

Malta follows Central European Time (CET) which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and six hours ahead of North American Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Electricity

Electricity runs on 240 volts, single phase, 50Hz cycle. The square-fitting standard three pin British-style plugs and sockets are used and visitors should obtain conversion plugs at their local hardware, electrical, or travel goods stores.

Water

Tap water is perfectly safe for drinking, however bottled water is preferred due to the desalinization process that tap water goes through.

Religion

Malta is predominantly Roman Catholic, but the Maltese Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. There are also churches belonging to various other religious denominations.

Language

The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English. Almost all Maltese residents speak English. Maltese is a Semitic language written in the Roman script compromising a vast element of words of Italian, French and English origin. Italian is also widely spoken.


Beach Facilities

There are numerous sandy beaches, especially in the northern part of the island, the best known being Mellieha Bay, Golden Sands and Armier. In the south, the best sandy beach is Pretty Bay in Birzebbugia. Ramla Bay in Gozo stands out for its beautiful red sand. Rock bathing is possible at most other beach sites.

Bathing is safe anywhere around the island as there are no tides. Sea temperatures average 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer. Beach facilities in the high season, between March and October, include bars, restaurants, changing rooms, showers and umbrellas. On some beaches, it is possible to rent speed boats, dinghies, row boats, water skis, surfboards, etc.


Medical Care

Malta enjoys a high standard of medical care. The national hospital, Mater Dei Hospital, is in Msida, but there are government health clinics in various towns.

Persons who are receiving medical treatment and who may need to carry medicines into Malta or purchase fresh supplies locally would be well advised to arm themselves with a letter of introduction from their doctor.
Malta has special clinics for diabetes sufferers and pharmacies generally stock a wide range of diabetic products.


Shopping

Shops are usually open between the hours of 9am and 1pm and between 4pm and 7pm. The three hour break is the Maltese siesta time. However, in commercial areas frequented by tourists, some shops remain open until approximately 10.00pm. Shops are not normally open on Sundays and public holidays. There are open-air markets, one day a week in most towns and villages. The largest is the Valletta market on Sunday mornings.

Major credit cards, travellers cheques and Eurocheques are accepted at most leading shops and restaurants.


Quarantine and Importation of Animals

Importation of healthy pets is allowed after approval from the competent authorities. The pets may however first be kept in quarantine for a short period.

Any dog/cat imported into Malta must have an import permit issued by the Director of Veterinary Service prior to import. It is advisable to apply 6 weeks prior to import to allow for vaccination and resting prior to import.

No Pit Bull Terriers or crosses may be imported into Malta; otherwise a cat or dog must have a certificate issued by the government veterinary service, declaring that the country of origin has been free of rabies for six months before the departure of the pet. The certificate must also declare that the country of origin has an official policy for the strict control of animal importation. Furthermore, if a cat or dog originates from a non-free rabies country, it has to be certified that it originates from an area free of rabies.

The animal must also have a veterinary health certificate issued by a recognised veterinarian, just before travelling to Malta, stating that the cat or dog is healthy and shows no evidence of clinical disease or parasitic infection, and that it has been vaccinated against rabies by an inactivated vaccine not less than 30 days and no more than six months before export. The animal has to be consigned to Malta directly from the country of origin either by air or ship securely crated as freight so that it appears on the cargo manifest.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries' Veterinary Service (Telephone: 21239968, 21225930) in Malta must be notified of the exact date of the animal's arrival at least one week before and also whether the animal will be accompanied or not. Call the Quarantine Station on 21244236 with flight or vessel details.

The importation of animals is only allowed during office hours - 7.30 am to 5.00 pm. Animals will not be accepted on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays.

Cats and dogs imported from the United Kingdom are quarantined at the Small Animal Quarantine Section at Luqa for three weeks, from other countries the quarantine period can be up to six months. An import licence, from the Department of Trade, and an entry form (Number 2) from the Customs Department must be completed before the release of the cat or dog from quarantine.

Make sure one gets all information and that correct papers and tests (blood) are prepared before arrival in Malta to avoid any disappointment.

You may call the Director of Veterinary Service for further information:
Director of Veterinary Service, Albertown, Marsa, Tel: +356 21225638/21225930, Fax: +356 21238105.

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