Business and Economics
countryaah, Malta's most important industries are tourism and
industry. The manufacturing industry consists mainly of
shipyards and lighter industries, which manufacture, for
example, textile, leather, plastic and metal products. The
food industry is also significant. Industrial goods account
for almost all exports, which, however, generally cover only
slightly more than half the imports. The main trading
partners are Italy, Germany and France. Tourism provides
valuable foreign exchange income and contributes to
employment in service, agriculture and crafts. Malta is also
a major international banking and financial center.
Following pressure from the EU, the previously strict
banking secrecy has been relaxed in recent years.
In Malta, industrial minerals are mined in the form of
lime and salt for domestic use. No petroleum extraction
takes place, but the territorial waters are being
investigated to identify possible oil reserves. The energy
supply is met through the import of oil, which is largely
converted to electricity in thermal power plants. The
proportion of renewable energy is vanishingly small and
consists of solar power plants.
Of the area, 41 percent is cultivated. Poor soils and
small units make agriculture quite undeveloped. The industry
covers about one fifth of the country's food needs. Mainly
grown cereals, potatoes, vegetables and citrus fruits.
Fishing has ancient origins, but is surprisingly
undeveloped and seasonal. Primarily, tuna is caught and
exported to Italy and Japan, among others.
Tourism and gastronomy
Tourism is very important for Malta's economy. The
country is visited annually by about 1.4 million tourists,
75 per cent of whom come from the UK.
The climate is pleasant, and there are many attractions
for those who are interested in archeology, art and
architecture. Many tourists live on the flat north coast,
eg. in the large holiday resorts in the Gulf of Saint Paul,
but also in the traditional environment of the capital
The cities of Valletta, Sliema and Vittoriosa are
enclosed by fortifications and houses stately palaces and
churches from the time of the Johannite Order on the island.
Particularly noteworthy are the Cathedral of Saint John and
the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta. The oldest order
capital Mdina is located inland and has an unbroken
environment of the Renaissance and Baroque.
Unique to Malta are the huge megalithic stone temples, of
which Ħaġar Qim on the main island and Ġgntija on Gozo are
the most remarkable.
The south side of the main island is steep and rocky and
offers few but nice bathing places.
From the northwest tip, you can take a ferry across the
strait past the small hotel island of Comino to Gozo, with
the picturesque capital of Victoria. Museums there and in
Valletta illustrate the history of the islands through finds
from ancient sites, as well as arts and crafts from the time
of the Order.
Maltese cuisine reflects the lack of arable land, the
limited pastures and proximity to the sea. Influences from
North Africa and Sicily and also a British flavor are
available. In addition to the Mediterranean flavor with
olives, capers and garlic, the spice has an Arabic element
with cumin, cinnamon and to a certain extent chicken or
pigeon. Alongside pasta, rice, beans and bread, seafood has
been the staple food through the centuries. The selection is
large with eg. golden mackerel, grouper, stinkfish, tuna and
swordfish as well as sea drills and crawfish. Capris sauce
or aioli are standard accessories. The desserts carry an
Arabic, sweet feature with plenty of almonds, pine nuts and
citrus peel, often in combination with cream cheese. British
bread pudding has been enriched in Maltese vintage
with candied fruit, raisins, cinnamon and chocolate.