Introduction to Malta

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became a EU member in May of 2004.

Weather & Climate

Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy).

Malta’s weather and climate are strongly influenced by the sea and have a very characteristic Mediterranean flavour, similar to that found in southern Italy or southern Greece. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers, warm and sporadically wet autumns, and short, cool winters with adequate rainfall. Nearly three-fourths of the total annual rainfall of about 600 millimetres (24 inches) falls between October and March; June, July, and August are normally quite dry. The temperature is very stable, the annual mean being 18ºC (64ºF) and the monthly averages ranging from 12º C (54ºF) to 31ºC (88ºF). Winds are strong and frequent; the most common are the cool northwesterly (majjistral),the dry northeasterly (grigal, or gregale), and the hot humid southeasterly (xlokk, or sirocco).The relative humidity is consistently high and rarely falls below 40%.

Winters are mild with only rare occurrences of cold weather brought by north and northeast winds from central Europe. In fact, daytime winter temperatures almost never fall below 10ºC (50ºF), while night-time winter temperatures never fall below 0ºC (32ºF). Hence, snow never falls in Malta. Sometimes it gets rather windy for up to 3 days with strong gale force winds blowing either from the northwest (Malta’s most common wind) or from the northeast bringing days of miserable stormy weather. Most of Malta’s rainfall falls during autumn and winter, mostly from thunderstorms which make up most of the rainfall from September to December. It is usually mild in Malta during the winter, with plenty of sunshine, too, with daytime temperatures usually 15ºC (59ºF) or above and sometimes also around 20ºC (68ºF).

Summers are warm, dry and very sunny. The weather usually shows signs of warming up in April, heralding in a long spell of hot, dry weather. It rarely rains from April to August. July and August are Malta’s hottest months with daytime temperatures usually above 30ºC (86ºF) and quite often also above 35ºC (95ºF). The highest ever was in August 1999 when the temperature once went up to 44ºC (111ºF) in the shade at Luqa Airport. However, since humidity is rather high in Malta (due to the fact that Malta is an island) summer temperatures can feel quite irritating, thereby making it quite often unbearable to stay out in the sun. This is especially so in August and September, when a high humidity can make it quite unbearable at night. However, daytime temperatures in summer are usually mitigated by cooling sea breezes, especially along the coast, but in spring and autumn a very hot and dry wind from Africa occasionally brings unpleasantly high temperatures. This wind is called the sirocco, which also affects Italy and Greece, but in Malta it is usually rather drier because of the short sea track from the African coast.

Annual rainfall in Malta is rather low – approximately 600mm (24 inches) and the length of the dry season in summer is longer than in southern Italy. Malta has a very sunny climate with an average of five to six hours of sunshine a day in midwinter and over twelve hours a day in mid-summer.

Education (Overview)

Malta is placed strategically in the middle of the Mediterranean. As a result of this it has a long history of being governed by foreign powers. One can understand that education in Malta has been influenced by several systems. The result of this is that present in Malta are three types of schools; the private schools, the church schools and the state schools. Otherwise, the system is very similar to that in the UK as it is also divided into a number of phases. Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. Following that there is a choice of a vocational education system or a sixth form after which one can attend the University of Malta.

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