Background: Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Over the last 20 years, the island has become a major freight transhipment point, financial centre, and tourist destination. Malta joined the European Union in May 2004 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2008.
Location: Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy).
Economy – overview: Major resources are limestone, a favourable geographic location, and a productive labour force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies, and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles) and tourism. In 2012, over 1.44 million tourists visited the island. Malta’s financial services industry has grown in recent years and it has avoided contagion from the European financial crisis, largely because its debt is mostly held domestically and its banks have low exposure to the sovereign debt of peripheral European countries. Malta deficit is below 3 per cent of GDP.
Malta is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
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