The Maltese archipelago consists of three islands the largest being Malta, in which the commercial, administrative and cultural hub circulates. Gozo, the second largest island, is more rural. Its fishing, craft trade and agricultural levels being the most prominent, where as the smallest Island of the group – Comino, is mainly uninhabited. Malta is a typical Mediterranean island which stretches over a total area of the island is 316 square kilometres. It has a total coastline of 250 km. It takes just 45 minutes to cross Malta, which means very short time for commuting and thus more time for leisure, with a direct effect on the overall finer quality of life.
The Maltese archipelago exudes the island’s hospitable mission. Genuinely friendly and welcoming, the Maltese have established a cosmopolitan reputation throughout its rich history. Home to the Knights of Malta in the past and being conquered or governed by a wide variety of conquerors the Maltese islands have established themselves as a truly cosmopolitan archipelago.
Situated between North Africa and Europe also helped to develop the need of embodying the concept of cosmopolitanism and transcend differences to provide an important link and for reaching across the cultural and business divide between North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Since 2004, Malta is the smallest European Union member. EU membership is the cornerstone of Malta’s foreign policy.
Since becoming an EU member state, the driving force which has inspired the political agenda was that of making success of Malta’s EU membership.
Since January 2008 Malta’s official currency became the Euro. This has been introduced on the island in a successful and rigorous way. The adoption of the Euro has been welcomed as one other important factor to add to Malta’s potential as an attraction of foreign direct investment.
Euro zone membership was the latest in a series of steps which provided the necessary back-bone to have a stable financial system. Malta has an open economy with a history of trade and has always made every possible effort to attract foreign investment.
The country is rapidly gaining international recognition as a world class financial centre, with competitive advantages such as a strong and positive legislative framework and a flexible pro-business attitude. These, coupled with EU membership, are providing Malta with a winning formula for success. As an EU member state, Malta’s financial system has earned more credibility and has ensured the island’s placement on the radar of the international finance industry.
The country has five retail banks and over 20 international commercial and trade banks operating. The banking sector provides a full range of personal, commercial and trade services to its clients. The leading retail banks are HSBC and Bank of Valletta. APS, Lombard, Banif and Volksbank are three smaller banks which cater for particular niches.
Having Maltese and English as official languages many Maltese speak English, Maltese and Italian fluently. Most of the Maltese also have a working knowledge of French or German. This affinity with languages is another confirmation of the island’s vocation to be a cosmopolitan hub which transcends differences.
The strategic location of the island, coupled up with the state-of-the-art facilities, has contributed to Malta’s reputation as one of the foremost maritime and logistics centres in the region. With a history facilitating trade and commerce in the Mediterranean region and as the southern-most EU state, Malta is ideally located to take advantage of the opportunities that increase trade between Europe, Africa and the rest of the world.
The Malta International Airport is connected by direct flights to most major European regional cities with the majority of destinations being less than three hours flying time away. The airport is located 10km away from the capital city, Valletta.
The island is also equipped with a Freeport which has become an important container trans-shipment hub for many companies and individuals, who use it as a stepping stone for trading, regional storage, distributing and marketing of its international operations.