Culture & Social Life
Malta has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Successive waves of traders, occupiers and colonisers have left their mark. The Maltese character is imbued with the British legacy of a strong work ethic and powerful ambition, softened by the natural southern Mediterranean temperament. Maltese are very hospitable and helpful people, exuding the traditional warmth and spontaneity of the Mediterranean region. With such an eclectic mix of culture and a diverse population, it does not take long to feel at home here. In many ways, social life also means family life in Malta, especially during the summer months, when families tend to keep children up late as they all go out for dinner or for a stroll along the seafront.
Traditions & Conventions
Malta is a southern Mediterranean Catholic country; and it is socially more conservative than its Northern European peers, though less so than even a few years ago. A series of liberal bills, including same sex marriages, have given Malta a striking new look in recent years. However, there is one tradition, no foreigner living in Malta can escape: the village festa, which in many ways captures the essence of all that is Maltese in one event. Every village has at least one patron saint, and this serves as the basis for the village feast, which comes complete with food stalls, band marches and fireworks.
Fireworks during Feast
Over 90% of Maltese are Roman Catholic, with Christianity being prevalent since 60 AD when St Paul was shipwrecked on Malta and converted the local population. The Church still plays an important role in most communities, and most Maltese attend Mass on Sundays – there are no fewer than 365 churches on the island. Other Christian denominations present include Anglican, Church of Scotland, Greek Orthodox and Methodist. Malta also hosts Jewish and Muslim communities.
Foreign Professionals & Expats
Malta’s economic growth and investment from international companies have long caught the attention of high-flying foreign professionals. Today, some 6% of Malta’s population is foreign, with many people coming from the UK, Scandinavia, Italy and Spain, but also from France and Germany. The majority of expats finds it easy to meet new people in Malta; and many count locals, as well as other expats among their friends. With English as an official language, language is no barrier, and especially in the smaller towns and villages, locals will be ready to go out of their way to help newcomers in any way they can so that they quickly feel at home.
Crime & Corruption
Few locations in the world can offer the same high standards of transparency, security and stability that Malta does. Crime is very low when compared to other major cities, and there is a general level of all-round safety.
Maltese cuisine features many of the typical ingredients of the region: aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, onions and garlic, together with freshly caught fish and seafood. Mediterranean herbs such as basil, mint, thyme, oregano and bay leaves are used in abundance, and flavours are enhanced by virgin olive oil. Typical year-round dishes include rabbit and bragioli (beef olives), and every meal is served with the renowned local bread made with sourdough and baked in a traditional wood-burning stone oven.
Gratuity is usually not included in a bill. As in most other European countries, tips in restaurants are usually around 10 to 15% of the total. Tipping at a bar is not expected, unless you are served by a waiter/waitress. Tipping is not the norm in taxis, however, you could tip up to 10 per cent of the fare.
Media & TV
Malta’s bilingual culture is also reflected in the media landscape, with half the newspapers published in English. Foreign newspapers can also be easily purchased. In addition to satellite and cable TV, the high penetration of super-fast broadband has resulted in the launch of IPTV services. The content is diverse and international, including Italian, French, British and Russian programming. Radio programmes are primarily in Maltese with a number of English-language music stations.
Photo Credits (fireworks during feast): ViewingMalta