The tiny Mediterranean nation of Malta, taking up just 122 square miles of southern Mediterranean, is one of Europe’s smallest countries. The country, technically made up of three islands, boasts a rugged coastline, parched cliffs, and tiny coves dotted with ancient forts and quaint fishing harbors.
The islands enjoy a daily average of around 12 hours of sunshine in summer, going down to five to six hours in mid-winter.
During carnaval, giddy Maltese children in fancy dress and with painted faces funnel through the capital Valletta’s labyrinthine streets toward colorful dance performances bursting into life in the city’s open plazas. Relaxed elderly gents sip exquisite Italian-style cappuccinos outside century-old cafes while super yachts drift in and out of the nearby harbor.
Malta’s varied, dramatic history is everywhere. The islands were once a hub of Mediterranean artistic and architectural excellence, and artists such as Caravaggio, Mattia Preti, and Favray were commissioned by the legendary Knights of Malta to embellish churches, palaces, and auberges.
The Maltese are a linguistically accomplished people. Their native language, Malti, is thought to derive from the language of the ancient Phoenicians who arrived in Malta in 750 B.C. English, however, is also an official language and is widely and fluently spoken. The level of English fluency among the population is remarkable—it’s not just used in casual conversation—business, banking, and legal affairs are all conducted in English.
Malta is a member of the European Union and uses the euro. The Eurozone is the single biggest economic bloc on the planet and Malta acts as a gateway for major companies—particularly from the United States—looking to access that market via an English-speaking base.
Another big positive for anyone planning on spending time here is that Malta has a fantastic standard of medical care. It is home to a number of state of the art public and private facilities staffed by highly trained professionals who are all fluent in English. While health coverage normally comes as a residency requirement for foreigners, you can expect to pay considerably less than you would in the United States.
Get the full details on Malta from our correspondent Robert Carry in the latest issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter:
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*Video clips courtesy of visitmalta.com and viewingmalta.com