429,000 (2013); some 30,000 people on Gozo and Comino; population density among the world’s highest; 95 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 0.6 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate nine per 1,000 people (17 in 1970); life expectancy 80 years (70 in 1970).
There are no significant ethnic minorities.
Official languages are Maltese and English. Italian is widely spoken.
Virtually all Christians (Roman Catholics).
Public spending on health was six per cent of GDP in 2012. Infant mortality was five per 1,000 live births in 2013 (37 in 1960). Summer dust and sand carried on the wind from North Africa sometimes cause respiratory problems.
Public spending on education was seven per cent of GDP in 2010. There are 11 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises six years and secondary seven, with cycles of five and two years. The numerous church schools are subsidised by the government. Some 80 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2008). The school year starts in September.
Courses at the University of Malta (founded 1592 as the Jesuits’ College) include architecture, arts, diplomatic studies, education, engineering, law, medicine, sciences and theology. G. F. Abela Junior College (University of Malta) was established at Msida (greater Valletta) in 1995 to provide two-year pre-university courses. Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology offers a very wide range of vocational and professional education, with its main campus at Paola (greater Valletta). The International Maritime Law Institute is based in Malta. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.40:1 (2010). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 98 per cent (2005).
There are daily and weekly newspapers in English, including The Malta Independent, The Malta Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Malta Business Weekly and Malta Today, and daily and weekly papers in Maltese. The principal newspapers in Maltese have political affiliations, for example In-Nazzjon (daily) and Il-Mument (weekly) with the Nationalist Party, and L-Orizzont (daily) and It-Torca (weekly) with the General Workers’ Union.
Television Malta is a public channel, which began broadcasting in 1962, and Radio Malta has provided public radio since the mid- 1930s. Other TV channels and radio stations are owned by the political parties, the Roman Catholic Church or commercial broadcasters. Net TV is owned by the Nationalist Party and Super One TV by the Partit Laburista (Labour Party). Cable TV was introduced in 1992 and many households have satellite receivers. Virtually all households have at least one TV set. Digital radio broadcasting was launched in 2008. It is also possible to receive the broadcasts of Italian radio and TV in Malta.
Some 99 per cent of households have TV sets (2009). There are 689 personal computers per 1,000 people (2012).
Country code 356; internet domain ‘.mt’. Mobile phone coverage is good. Public telephone booths are widely available. Internet connection is fast and reliable. Internet cafés can be found in the main towns. There are post offices in every community.
For every 1,000 people there are 539 landlines, 1,298 mobile phone subscriptions and 689 internet users (2013).
New Year’s Day, St Paul’s Shipwreck (10 February), St Joseph’s Day (19 March), Freedom Day (31 March), Workers’ Day (1 May), Commemoration of 1919 Sette Guigno Riot (7 June), St Peter and St Paul (Harvest Festival, 29 June), Assumption (15 August), Our Lady of Victories (8 September), Independence Day (21 September), Immaculate Conception (8 December), Republic Day (13 December) and Christmas Day.
Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday.
Carnival (not an official holiday) is held Saturday–Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.