Business and Economics
According to 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 percent 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 Valletta.
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.