Introduction

Europe :: Malta

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. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004 and began using the euro as currency in 2008.

Geography

Location:
Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)

Geographic coordinates:
35 50 N, 14 35 E

Map references:
Europe

Area:
Total: 316 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 208
Land: 316 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
0 km

Coastline:
196.8 km (excludes 56 km for the island of Gozo)

Maritime claims:
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Exclusive fishing zone: 25 nm

Climate:
Mediterranean; mild, rainy winters; hot, dry summers

Terrain:
mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains; many coastal cliffs

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)

Natural resources:
limestone, salt, arable land

Land use:
Arable land: 28.12%
Permanent crops: 4.06%
Other: 67.81% (2011)

Irrigated land:
32 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources:
0.05 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
Total: 0.05 cu km/yr (64%/1%/35%)
Per capita: 134.1 cu m/yr (2009)

Natural hazards:
NA

Environment - current issues:
limited natural freshwater resources; increasing reliance on desalination

Environment - international agreements:
Party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:
the country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration

People and Society

Nationality:
Noun: Maltese (singular and plural)
Adjective: Maltese

Ethnic groups:
Maltese (descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians with strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock)

Languages:
Maltese (official) 90.2%, English (official) 6%, multilingual 3%, other 0.8% (2005 census)

Religions:
Roman Catholic (official) 98%

Population:
411,277 (July 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 175

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.3% (male 32,126/female 30,603)
15-24 years: 12.9% (male 27,284/female 25,771)
25-54 years: 40.5% (male 85,066/female 81,672)
55-64 years: 14.1% (male 28,853/female 29,104)
65 years and over: 17.2% (male 31,397/female 39,401) (2013 est.)

Dependency ratios:
Total dependency ratio: 44.9 %
Youth dependency ratio: 21.3 %
Elderly dependency ratio: 23.6 %
Potential support ratio: 4.2 (2013)

Median age:
Total: 40.5 years
Male: 39.3 years
Female: 41.8 years (2013 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.34% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 162

Birth rate:
10.27 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 190

Death rate:
8.84 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 72

Net migration rate:
1.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 43

Urbanization:
Urban population: 95% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population:
VALLETTA (capital) 199,000 (2009)

Sex ratio:
At birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2013 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:
26.5 (2008 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
8 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Country comparison to the world: 162

Infant mortality rate:
Total: 3.62 deaths/1,000 live births
Country comparison to the world: 208
Male: 4.04 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 3.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
Total population: 79.98 years
Country comparison to the world: 34
Male: 77.69 years
Female: 82.41 years (2013 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.53 children born/woman (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 186

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
85.8%
note: percent of women aged 20-45 (1993)

Health expenditures:
8.7% of GDP (2010)
Country comparison to the world: 50

Physicians density:
3.07 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density:
4.5 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source:
Improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2010 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
Improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2010 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 153

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 132

Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
28.8% (2008)
Country comparison to the world: 32

Education expenditures:
5.4% of GDP (2009)
Country comparison to the world: 59

Literacy:
Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 92.4%
Male: 91.2%
Female: 93.5% (2005 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
Total: 15 years
Male: 15 years
Female: 15 years (2010)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
Total: 13.9%
Country comparison to the world: 93
Male: 13.8%
Female: 14% (2011)

Government

Country name:
Conventional long form: Republic of Malta
Conventional short form: Malta
Local long form: Repubblika ta' Malta
Local short form: Malta

Government type:
republic

Capital:
Name: Valletta
Geographic coordinates: 35 53 N, 14 30 E
Time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:
68 localities (Il-lokalita); Attard, Balzan, Birgu, Birkirkara, Birzebbuga, Bormla, Dingli, Fgura, Floriana, Fontana, Ghajnsielem, Gharb, Gharghur, Ghasri Ghaxaq, Gudja, Gzira, Hamrun, Iklin, Imdina, Imgarr, Imqabba, Imsida, Imtarfa, Isla, Kalkara, Kercem, Kirkop, Lija, Luqa, Marsa, Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk, Mellieha, Mosta, Munxar, Nadur, Naxxar, Paola, Pembroke, Pieta, Qala, Qormi, Qrendi, Rabat, Rabat (Ghawdex), Safi, San Giljan/Saint Julian, San Gwann/Saint John, San Lawrenz/Saint Lawrence, Sannat, San Pawl il-Bahar/Saint Paul's Bay, Santa Lucija/Saint Lucia, Santa Venera/Saint Venera, Siggiewi, Sliema, Swieqi, Tarxien, Ta' Xbiex, Valletta, Xaghra, Xewkija, Xghajra, Zabbar, Zebbug, Zebbug (Ghawdex), Zejtun, Zurrieq

Independence:
21 September 1964 (from the UK)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974)

Constitution:
1964; amended many times

Legal system:
mixed legal system of English common law and civil law (based on the Roman and Napoleonic civil codes)

International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
Chief of state: President George ABELA (since 4 April 2009)
Head of government: Prime Minister Joseph MUSCAT (since 11 March 2013)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
Elections: president elected by a resolution of the House of Representatives for a five-year term; election last held on 12 January 2009 (next to be held by April 2014); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the president for a five-year term; the deputy prime minister appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
Election results: George ABELA elected president by the House of Representatives

Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Representatives (normally 65 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation by the Single Transferrable Vote (STV) to serve five-year terms; note - the parliament elected in 2013 is composed of 69 seats; when the political party winning an absolute majority of first-count votes (or a plurality of first-count votes in an election where only two parties are represented in parliament) does not win an absolute majority of seats, the constitution provides for the winning party to be awarded additional number of seats in parliament to guarantee it an absolute majority; in the event that more than two parties are represented in parliament, with none acquiring the absolute majority of votes, the party winning the majority of seats prevails
Elections: last held on 9 March 2013 (next to be held by March 2018)
Election results: percent of vote by party - PN 54.8%, PL 43.3%, other 1.9%; seats by party - PN 39, PL 30

Judicial branch:
Highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of 7 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 3 judges)
Judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president, usually upon the advice of the prime minister; judges of both courts serve until age 65
Subordinate courts: Court of Criminal Appeal; Civil Court (divided into the General Jurisdiction Section, Family Section, and Voluntary Section); Criminal Court; Court of Magistrates; Gozo Courts (for the islands of Gozo and Comino

Political parties and leaders:
Alternativa Demokratika/Alliance for Social Justice or AD (Green Party) [Michael BRIGUGLIO]
Labor Party or PL [Joseph MUSCAT]
Nationalist Party or PN [Lawrence GONZI]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Alliance of Liberal Democrats Malta (Alleanza Liberali-Demokratika Malta) of ALDM (for divorce, abortion, gay marriage, women's rights)
Together for a Better Environment (Flimkien Ghal-Ambjent Ahjar) or FAA (pro-environment)

Other: environmentalists

International organization participation:
Australia Group, C, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
Chief of mission: Ambassador Joseph COLE
Chancery: 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 462-3611 through 3612
FAX: [1] (202) 387-5470
Consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
Chief of mission: Ambassador Gina ABERCROMBIE-WINSTANLEY
Embassy: Ta' Qali National Park, Attard, ATD 4000
Mailing address: 5800 Valetta Place, Dulles, VA 20189
Telephone: [356] 2561 4000
FAX: [356] 2124 3229

National symbol(s):
Maltese cross

National anthem:
Name: "L-Innu Malti" (The Maltese Anthem)

Lyrics/music: Dun Karm PSAILA/Robert SAMMUT
note: adopted 1945; the anthem is written in the form of a prayer

Economy

Economy - overview:
Malta - the smallest economy in the euro zone - produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. Malta's geographic position between Europe and North Africa makes it a target for irregular migration, which has strained Malta's political and economic resources. Malta''s fertility rate is below the EU average, and population growth in recent years has largely been from immigration, putting increasing pressure on the pension system. Malta adopted the euro on 1 January 2008. Malta''s economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing, and tourism, and was hurt by the global economic downturn. Malta has low unemployment relative to other European countries, and growth has recovered since the 2009 recession. 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 reduced its deficit below 3 percent of GDP, leading the EU to dismiss its official excessive deficit procedure against Malta in 2012.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$11.45 billion (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 150
$11.35 billion (2011 est.)
$11.16 billion (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$8.689 billion (2012 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
0.8% (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 167
1.7% (2011 est.)
2.9% (2010 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$27,500 (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 58
$27,300 (2011 est.)
$26,900 (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars

Gross national saving:
12.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 115
12.8% of GDP (2011 est.)
12% of GDP (2010 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use:
Household consumption: 60.4%
Government consumption: 21.5%
Investment in fixed capital: 14.6%
Investment in inventories: -2.2%
Exports of goods and services: 101.9%
Imports of goods and services: -96.1%
(2012 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
Agriculture: 1.9%
Industry: 17.2%
Services: 80.9% (2010 est.)

Agriculture - products:
potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, cut flowers, green peppers; pork, milk, poultry, eggs

Industries:
tourism, electronics, ship building and repair, construction, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, footwear, clothing, tobacco, aviation services, financial services, information technology services

Industrial production growth rate:
NA%

Labor force:
184,500 (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 174

Labor force - by occupation:
Agriculture: 1.5%
Industry: 24.7%
Services: 73.9% (2011)

Unemployment rate:
6.4% (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 67
6.4% (2011 est.)

Population below poverty line:
15.4% (2011)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
27.4 (2011)
Country comparison to the world: 124
26 (2007)

Budget:
Revenues: $3.52 billion
Expenditures: $3.81 billion (2012 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
40.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 41

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-3.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 127

Public debt:
72.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 36
70.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
note: Malta reports public debt at nominal value outstanding at the end of the year, according to guidelines set out in the Maastricht Treaty for general government gross debt; the data include the following categories of government liabilities (as defined in ESA95): currency and deposits (AF.2), securities other than shares excluding financial derivatives (AF.3, excluding AF.34), and loans (AF.4); general government comprises the central government, state government, local government and social security funds

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.4% (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 62
2.7% (2011 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
1.75% (31 December 2011)
Country comparison to the world: 127
1.75% (31 December 2010)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
4.7% (31 December 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 161
4.76% (31 December 2011 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$5.271 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 98
$5.095 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the EMU; individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money:
$12.66 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 96
$12.53 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$13.22 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 92
$12.94 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$3.424 billion (31 December 2011)
Country comparison to the world: 96
$2.399 billion (31 December 2010)
$1.982 billion (31 December 2009)

Current account balance:
-$221.2 million (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 79
-$268.8 million (2011 est.)

Exports:
$4.044 billion (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 122
$4.139 billion (2011 est.)

Exports - commodities:
machinery and mechanical appliances; mineral fuels, oils and products; pharmaceutical products; printed books and newspapers; aircraft/spacecraft and parts; toys, games, and sports equipment

Exports - partners:
Germany 14.6%, France 9.9%, Italy 6.8%, Libya 5.5%, UK 5% (2012)

Imports:
$5.368 billion (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 126
$5.576 billion (2011 est.)

Imports - commodities:
mineral fuels, oils and products; electrical machinery; aircraft/spacecraft and parts thereof; machinery and mechanical appliances; plastic and other semi-manufactured goods; vehicles and parts thereof

Imports - partners:
Italy 39.6%, France 6.9%, UK 6.9%, Germany 5.3% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$704.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 145
$515.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)

Debt - external:
$45.77 billion (31 December 2012)
Country comparison to the world: 64
$43.16 billion (31 December 2011)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$17.25 billion (31 December 2010)
Country comparison to the world: 73
$9.019 billion (31 December 2009)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$1.213 billion (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 75

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.7778 (2012 est.)
0.7185 (2011 est.)
0.755 (2010 est.)
0.7198 (2009 est.)
0.6827 (2008 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production:
2.168 billion kWh (2011)
Country comparison to the world: 133

Electricity - consumption:
1.991 billion kWh (2010)
Country comparison to the world: 140

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 104

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 214

Electricity - installed generating capacity:
573,000 kW (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 131

Electricity - from fossil fuels:
99.7% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 51

Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 141

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 183

Electricity - from other renewable sources:
0.3% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 82

Crude oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 167

Crude oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 154

Crude oil - imports:
0 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 98

Crude oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 166

Refined petroleum products - production:
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 208

Refined petroleum products - consumption:
19,520 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 129

Refined petroleum products - exports:
NA (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports:
47,050 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 69

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 168

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 174

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 99

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 171

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
3.114 million Mt (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 139

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use:
232,300 (2011)
Country comparison to the world: 126

Telephones - mobile cellular:
521,700 (2011)
Country comparison to the world: 166

Telephone system:
General assessment: automatic system featuring submarine cable and microwave radio relay between islands
Domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 180 per 100 persons
International: country code - 356; submarine cable connects to Italy; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media:
2 publicly owned TV stations, Television Malta (TVM) broadcasting nationally plus an educational channel; several privately owned national television stations, two of which are owned by political parties; Italian and British broadcast programs are available; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; publicly owned radio broadcaster operates 1 station; roughly 20 commercial radio stations (2011)

Internet country code:
.mt

Internet hosts:
14,754 (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 125

Internet users:
240,600 (2009)
Country comparison to the world: 137

Transportation

Airports:
1 (2013)
Country comparison to the world: 226

Airports - with paved runways:
Total: 1
Over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Heliports:
2 (2013)

Roadways:
Total: 3,096 km
Country comparison to the world: 164
Paved: 2,710 km
Unpaved: 386 km (2005)

Merchant marine:
Total: 1,650
Country comparison to the world: 4
By type: bulk carrier 544, cargo 351, carrier 1, chemical tanker 324, container 117, liquefied gas 36, passenger 50, passenger/cargo 18, petroleum tanker 160, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 22, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 18
Foreign-owned: 1,437 (Angola 7, Azerbaijan 1, Belgium 7, Bermuda 15, Bulgaria 8, Canada 5, China 6, Croatia 6, Cyprus 32, Denmark 34, Egypt 1, Estonia 16, Finland 3, France 8, Germany 135, Greece 469, Hong Kong 4, India 3, Iran 48, Ireland 4, Israel 3, Italy 45, Japan 5, Kuwait 3, Latvia 8, Lebanon 6, Libya 5, Luxembourg 3, Malaysia 1, Monaco 3, Netherlands 3, Norway 96, Oman 5, Poland 21, Portugal 3, Romania 7, Russia 45, Saudi Arabia 2, Singapore 4, Slovenia 4, South Korea 2, Spain 8, Sweden 1, Switzerland 20, Syria 4, Turkey 233, UAE 1, UK 21, Ukraine 29, US 34)
Registered in other countries: 2 (Panama 2) (2010)

Ports and terminals:
Major seaports: Marsaxlokk (Malta Freeport), Valletta
Container ports (TEUs): Marsaxlokk (2,360,000)

Military

Military branches:
Armed Forces of Malta (AFM; includes land, maritime, and air elements) (2013)

Military service age and obligation:
17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2013)

Manpower available for military service:
Males age 16-49: 95,499
Females age 16-49: 90,919 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
Males age 16-49: 79,645
Females age 16-49: 75,684 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
Male: 2,554
Female: 2,385 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
0% of GDP (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 173

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:
none

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Refugees (country of origin): 5,041 Somalia (2012)

Illicit drugs:
minor transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to Western Europe

Flag of Malta



Flag description:
two equal vertical bands of white (hoist side) and red; in the upper hoist-side corner is a representation of the George Cross, edged in red; according to legend, the colors are taken from the red and white checkered banner of Count Roger of Sicily who removed a bi-colored corner and granted it to Malta in 1091; an uncontested explanation is that the colors are those of the Knights of Saint John who ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798; in 1942, King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the George Cross to the islanders for their exceptional bravery and gallantry in World War II; since independence in 1964, the George Cross bordered in red has appeared directly on the white field