Malta Country Facts

Capital city Valletta
Surface 316 km²
Population 475,000
Road network length 2,254 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Left
License plate code M

Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Tunisia. The country has 475,000 inhabitants and the capital is Valletta. The largest city is Birkirkara.


Malta is an island nation made up of two main islands: Malta and Gozo. The islands are just a few kilometers apart in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is located about 90 kilometers south of Sicily (Italy), to the west are also some small Italian islands. Malta is also over 300 kilometers east of the coast of Tunisia and over 300 kilometers north of the coast of Libya.

The landscape of Malta consists of low hills with sometimes steeper height differences and meadows that are built in terraces. The coastline has coves and sometimes some steep cliffs. The highest point in Malta is the 253 meter Ta’ Dmejrek. There are no lakes or rivers in Malta, although temporary rivers do form during rainfall. There is no real afforestation in Malta, just some scattered vegetation. The island of Malta is quite urbanized.

Malta has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. There is about 600 mm of rainfall per year, mainly in autumn and winter. In summer there is almost no rain. The average maximum temperature ranges from 16°C in January to 32°C in July. Valletta has the warmest winters of any European capital.


Malta was originally of strategic importance for shipping, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Malta was widely used by ships that came to bunker on the island. However, this activity declined sharply in the early 20th century. Malta is a highly developed country with a GDP of $45,000 per capita in 2018. The country produces relatively little, the main industrial activities are related to shipping. Agriculture is limited and Malta has to import most of the food. The country is a major tourist destination.


Malta has a fairly fast-growing population, from 185,000 inhabitants in 1900 to almost 400,000 in 2010 and more than 460,000 inhabitants today. See Malta population density. Of these, nearly 400,000 live in the urban area around the capital Valletta. The city of Valletta itself covers just 0.8 square kilometers and has a population of just over 6,000. Valletta has a very skewed proportion to the national population. Large villages around Valletta have merged with the city, creating one large urban area that covers the east of the island of Malta.

Malta has two constitutional languages, Maltese and English. Both Maltese and English are spoken by almost the entire population. Italian is widely spoken, partly because Sicilian was the official language of Malta for centuries.


Due to its strategic location, Malta has been an important base for shipping in the Mediterranean since ancient times, the island has been inhabited for millennia. Many great powers have ruled Malta. The most recent foreign rulers were the British from 1815, when it became a British colony. The island played an important role for the Allies during World War II, as Malta was not occupied by Italy or Germany and thus was an important springboard for the Allied invasion of Sicily.

Malta became independent from the United Kingdom in 1964, but was still a monarchy for some time, with Queen Elizabeth II as queen. Malta became a republic in 1974 and in 1979 the last British bases on the island were closed and handed over to the Maltese government. Malta became a member of the European Union in 2004 and became part of the Eurozone in 2008.

Road Network

In Malta you drive on the left. The high car ownership in Malta is special, which is one of the highest in the world, with 780 motor vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants in 2016. In 2016 there were 283,000 passenger cars on Malta. There are no real motorways in Malta, but the urban area around Valletta has some grade separated expressways with 2×2 lanes and grade separated intersections. The north-south route of the city in particular is well developed with tunnels and flyovers. Elsewhere in the urban region, there are 4-lane roads and intersections and/or roundabouts. Outside Valletta there are few high quality roads, but the road from Mellieħa to the ferry service to Gozo has 4 lanes. There are no four-lane roads on the island of Gozo.

Ferry services

Ferry service Malta – Gozo

The two main islands of Malta and Gozo are connected by ferry. The crossing goes from Cirkewwa on Malta to Mgarr on Gozo. The sailing time is 25 minutes. During the day there is a departure every 45 minutes. The ferry service is operated by Gozo Channel. Residents of Gozo receive a reduced rate.

Ferry Service Pozzallo – Valletta

It is possible to travel from Italy to Malta by ferry, this service runs between Pozzallo in Sicily and Valletta. This ferry service is operated by Virtu Ferries. The crossing takes just under 2 hours, but the ferry service only runs once or twice a day in each direction.

In the past Virtu Ferries ran between Catania and Valletta on some days, but today all connections with Sicily are to and from Pozzallo.

Congestion Charge & Parking in Valletta

With 6,000 inhabitants, Valletta is much smaller than the urban area, which has almost 400,000 inhabitants. Parking and congestion was a problem in the city, so a combined congestion & parking charge was introduced on May 1, 2007, called Controlled Vehicular Access (CVA). This system works with ANPR to automatically collect the bill for both the congestion charge and the parking tax. The CVA only covers the historic center of Valletta. In 2020, the rate was € 0.82 per hour and a maximum of € 6.52 per day. The levy only applies on working days between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.


The Maltese signage is simple. Blue signposts with white letters are used. Road numbers are signposted. The signage is poorly developed and there is a lack of portal signs as are known in countries with real motorways. There are also few advance notices. The signage and signage is in English. The signage uses the Helvetica font, which is very similar to Arial.

Road numbering

The number of digits indicates the importance of Maltese roads. Route 1 runs across the islands from northwest to southeast. Routes 2 to 9 are major arterial roads numbered sequentially from the northwest to the southeast. 2-digit roads are minor arterial roads and run from 10 in north-west Gozo to 31 in south-east Malta. These 1- and 2-digit arterial roads have their numbers in white text on blue rectangles.

Three-digit roads are local roads, with numbers in the black text on yellow rectangles. They run from 101 (in the northwest) to 143 (in the southeast). Smaller roads are not numbered.

Road safety

Year Road fatalities
2010 15
2011 17
2012 9
2013 18
2014 10
2015 11
2016 22
2017 19
2018 18
2019 16

In 2010, there were 36 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants in Malta, a decrease of 6 percent compared to 2001. This makes Malta one of the safest countries in the European Union, but at the same time has one of the smallest decreases in the number of road deaths in Malta. the EU. The number of road deaths in Malta is low due to the small size of the country and population and lack of through (international) traffic. In addition, the number of road deaths is so low that the ratio of road deaths per year can vary greatly. In 2015, there were 26 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, the lowest number in the European Union and the lowest number in Europe after Norway. In 2016, however, it amounted to almost double the number of road deaths per 1 million inhabitants.


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