The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English.
Maltese, a language of Semitic origin written in the Latin script, is the national language of Malta. Over the centuries, it has incorporated many words derived from English, Italian and French. Italian is also widely spoken.
Malti – The Maltese Language
The Maltese language is a source of fascination to both visitors and linguists. The Maltese speak a unique language, Malti, the only Semitic language written in Latin characters.
Through the ages, many foreign words, particularly English and Italian, have become part of the language. English, which is also an official language, is widely and fluently spoken and is the language of international business.
What is surprising is that the islanders managed to retain a unique language in face of so many others brought by various powers over the centuries. Maltese was largely only a spoken language until the latter half of the 19th century when its grammatical rules were defined and written down.
The earliest written evidence of Maltese is a ballad by Pietro Caxaro, (d.1485). The Knights attempted to script it as well. The survival of the language is perhaps testament to the resilience of the Maltese to remain a distinct people and culture. Malti is thought to derive from the language of the ancient Phoenicians who arrived in Malta in 750 B.C.
The influence of the Arabs who made the Islands home from the 9th to 13th centuries is clear in the Maltese language whose roots are closely akin to Arabic. Place names and numbers are the most obvious examples of Arabic influence on the language.
For non-native speakers trying to learn Malti, the most awkward sound is similar to the Arabic q – an almost silent, but difficult to master, glottal stop. If you are interested in learning Maltese, several language schools on the islands run courses in Maltese for non-native speakers.
The frequency of the supply is 220-240 volts.
The three-pin rectangular plug system is used, as in Britain.
Adapters are very easy to find.
In Malta and Gozo, driving is on the left. There are speed limits of 80 km/h on the open road and 50 km/h in built-up areas, unless otherwise indicated on relevant road signs.
If you intend to rent a car or drive in Malta, it is advisable to take out comprehensive insurance. National or international driving licences are accepted.
For more information please see the Malta Highway Code
For information about Visa applications please visit the website of the Maltese Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Malta and Gozo have 14 annual Public Holidays. With the exception of Good Friday, the date of which varies from year to year, every other public holiday is celebrated on a fixed day of the year.
The dates are the following:
1st January – New Year’s Day
10th February – Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck
19th March – Feast of St. Joseph
31st March – Freedom Day
March / April (date changes) – Good Friday
1st May – Labour Day
7th June – Sette Giugno
29th June – Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul (L-Imnarja)
15th August – Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady (Santa Marija)
8th September – Feast of Our Lady of Victories
21st September – Independence Day
8th December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
13th December – Republic Day
25th December – Christmas Day
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the Maltese Islands. Local and imported bottled mineral water is available from shops, supermarkets, restaurants and bars.
For more information on getting around in Malta, click here
For more information on where to stay in the Maltese Islands, click here