Malta as a Location
Located at the southern tip of Italy and just over 316 square kilometres in area, the Maltese Islands lie virtually midway between Europe and North Africa. The archipelago comprises Malta, Gozo and Comino. The main island, Malta, is 27 kilometres long and measures 14.5 kilometres at its widest point. It takes just 45 minutes to cross Malta, reducing commuting times and increasing leisure time. Malta’s sister island, Gozo, is smaller still at 67 square kilometres, and Comino covers only 3.5 square kilometres. Situated at the heart of the Mediterranean, the small island nation has become a major shipping hub with its position on the major East-West shipping lanes granting easy access to both Eastern and Western Mediterranean ports.
Lying at strategic crossroads between Europe and Africa, Malta is a meeting point of cultures and languages at the heart of the Mediterranean: the ideal cosmopolitan location for efficient international business contacts. Malta has excellent flight connections. The national carrier Air Malta operates to numerous European and a number of North African destinations, with regular flights. There are also a large number of international carriers operating to and from Malta.
A rocky island with dry and often windy weather, Malta enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with average temperatures ranging from 12 degrees Celsius in winter to 30 degrees Celsius in summer. It enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year. Surrounded by some of the clearest and cleanest waters in the Mediterranean, the island’s countryside is characterised by tiny terraced fields carved out of any available agricultural land, supported by laboriously constructed rubble walls. The capital city Valletta is both the administrative and business centre of the country. Other main towns include the popular sea-side towns of Sliema and St. Julians on the east coast, the inland towns of Mosta and Birkirkara, situated in the centre of the island, and Paola in the south. While the majority of the Maltese live in urban settings, there are numerous small villages that still evoke the traditional Mediterranean, rural way of life.
Malta’s strategic location at the commercial crossroads linking Europe, Africa and the Middle East has attracted the interest of the various dominant cultures of the last 7,000 years. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Carthaginians, the Arabs, the Ottomans, the Knights of St John, the French and the British all ruled the island at one time and contributed to the mosaic that is modern Malta. Not surprisingly, Britain’s legacy has lasted the longest as Malta was part of the British Empire for over 150 years until independence in 1964. As a result, English remains one of the national languages, with Maltese being the other.
Since the mid-80s the island has pursued a strategy of developing a financial services centre. While starting out as an offshore hub, Malta decided to move its financial services onshore. By introducing a strong supervisory framework as well as a competitive, transparent regime approved by both the EU and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Malta sought to distance itself from secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens. The country’s decision to join the EU in 2004, and later the eurozone in 2008, was integral to the expansion of its horizons and bolstered its status as a key business hub in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
With a sophisticated ICT infrastructure that is well connected to the international backbone, a high broadband penetration, and a competitive market with the latest technologies like VoIP, Malta is able to offer the right environment for business.
Malta is also a major transhipment hub with the Malta Freeport being one of the most efficient and successful Freeport operations in the Mediterranean. Almost all goods being shipped through the port or being re-packaged for onward shipment do so tax-free.
Friendly relationships exist with Mediterranean rim countries and with countries representing the major investment markets worldwide. Through the bilateral agreements between Malta and the EU with third countries, and through Malta's traditional economic links, the country strengthens its position as a business location and financial centre in the wider Mediterranean region.
High standards of living as well as comparatively low daily running costs offer a refreshing change from other busy, chaotic and high-cost, business centres. The diverse range of shopping, cultural events and leisure activities and well-equipped public and private hospitals and clinics, as well as high quality homes and apartments satisfy the most demanding requirements, and excellent office space is offered at reasonable rents.
Maltese standard time is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time (EST) so business runs smoothly with the international community.