Malta: Language, Culture & Geography Questions Answered

What language do they speak in Malta? Is Malta in Europe? Who are the people of Malta? Can you see Sicily from Malta? I bet you have asked yourself one of these questions about Malta in the past. I sure have.

Before you travel to a new country, it is only natural that you want to know as much about it as possible. There is a lot of controversy and misinformation out there concerning Malta.

I have been to Malta a lot and I know the island in and out. To make it all a bit clearer for you, I have created this post with a load of useful information about the beautiful island.

Let’s get to it!

azure window in malta with people swimming in front of it

Table of Contents

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What Language Do They Speak in Malta?

In Malta, the primary languages spoken are Maltese and English. Both English and Maltese are official national languages in Malta.

Maltese is the national language of Malta. It is very culturally significant to the Maltese people, so most locals indeed use Maltese as a first language.

Maltese is a unique language that originated from Siculo-Arabic. Siculo-Arabic is a special form of Arabic spoken in Sicily. It has also been influenced by Italian and English.

But why is Maltese so fascinating? Maltese is quite interesting because it’s the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet.

English is the other official language in Malta. The Maltese speak English because of Malta’s period as a British colony from 1813 to 1964.

School children in Malta learn both languages in schools.

Statistically speaking, around 90% of the population is fluent in Maltese, while about 66% can speak English. You can easily navigate around Malta in English.

A small part of the people of Malta can also speak Italian. That only makes sense, since Italy is so close to Malta.

In history, Malta has been ruled by Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Knights of St. John, French, and British. Every ruler left their traces on the island – especially in the language.

blue ocean in malta

The People of Malta

The Maltese people have a rich and interesting heritage! Malta’s location in the middle of the Mediterranean made it a hotspot for different cultures and civilizations.

In the past, Malta has been a bit of it as a historical melting pot! It is no surprise that the people of Malta are extremely culturally diverse.

The earliest inhabitants of Malta likely came from Sicily. Fast-forward a bit, and you’ve got Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans sailing in. The Arabs left a big impact on Malta as well, especially on the language.

The Knights of St. John showed up in the 16th century and really shaped the islands culture. They constructed the capital city, Valletta, and all its grand buildings.

The French and British came along later, adding their own twists. Nowadays, you can see a mix of all these influences in Maltese culture, architecture, and even food!

The people of Malta are warm and hospitable, with strong ties to family and religion.

To sum it up, the Maltese heritage is like a rich mix of the many cultures that have been present on the island.

the author in malta standing on a platform overlooking the ocean

What Religions Do the People of Malta Have?

The people of Malta are mostly Roman Catholics. We’re talking about 82 % of the population.

Catholicism is a big part of the culture and history there. You’ll find churches everywhere; they even say there’s a church for every day of the year! This leads to a lot of celebrations – a big reason to visit Malta.

Other religions make up a really small slice of the pie. You’ll find some Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims, but each of these groups is less than 1% of the population.

There’s also a tiny groups who follow Judaism, Buddhism, and other religions.

So, to sum it up: Malta is pretty much Catholic, with just a dash of other religions.

fort st elmo drone shot of valletta

Is Malta in Europe?

Yes, Malta is in Europe.

Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea which makes it a part of Europe.

It became a full member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. Malta is part of the Eurozone, so they use the euro as their currency.

Historically, the ties between Malta and Europe go way back. The island was under Roman control from around 218 BC until the 5th century AD.

After that, Malta had a couple of different European rulers. They kind of Europeanized the island.

After brief French rule under Napoleon from 1798 to 1800, the British took over, and Malta became a British colony in 1813.

Malta gained independence on September 21, 1964. But history left its mark on the people of Malta.

As you can see, Malta has always had very strong ties to Europe. So historically, Malta is very much a part of Europe!

But is Malta geographically a part of Europe? Keep on reading to find out!

valletta waterfront with lots of shops and restaurants

What Continent is Malta in?

Geographically, Malta is situated on the African tectonic plate.

The island of Malta is south of the border between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.

As we have heard before, Malta is part of Europe. Politically and culturally, Malta is European and it is a member of the European Union.

But when it comes to the Earth’s crust, it’s located on the African plate.

So, it’s kind of like Malta has a foot in two worlds: geologically African and culturally European. Makes it an even more interesting place, doesn’t it?

This also reminds me a bit of Aruba, which is also not really a part of South America.

map showing where malta is in relation to italy and sicily and africa

Is Malta Part of Italy?

No, Malta is not a part of Italy.

Malta is its own independent country. It gained independence from the British on September 21, 1964.

Malta and Italy are practically neighbors, so it makes sense that they would have cultural ties.

Historically, Malta has had lots of Italian influence, especially from Sicily. Sicily is just 58 miles away from Malta (as you can see on the image above).

For a long time, Italian was even an official language in Malta. Plus, the Maltese architecture and kitchen remind me a lot of Italy.

Today, Malta is a member of the European Union and has its own government, currency, and laws. Italy and Malta are together in the Union, but they are not part of each other.

beautiful port in valletta with small boats on shore

Can You See Sicily from Malta?

Since I have just told you that Sicily is super close to Malta, you might wonder if you can see Sicily from Malta.

But sadly no, you can’t see Sicily from Malta even though they’re pretty close. They are only around 58 miles apart.

The Earth’s curvature and the distance between Malta and Sicily make it impossible to see one another with the naked eye.

If you take a Western Mediterranean Cruise, you might stop on both islands after one another.

valletta cruise ship

Is Malta a Third-World Country?

No, Malta is not a third-world-country. On the contrary, Malta is considered a high-income economy by the World Bank.

And there are quite a few reasons for that:

  • GDP: Malta has a healthy economy with a high GDP. It’s one of the richest countries in the Mediterranean.
  • EU Membership
  • Currency: Malta uses the euro, a strong currency
  • Healthcare: Malta offers high-quality healthcare services
  • Education: The education system is solid, and literacy rates are super high.
  • Infrastructure: Malta has modern infrastructure, from roads to public transport and internet
  • Quality of Life: Malta ranks high in terms of quality of life. It’s considered safe, and people have access to clean water, good healthcare, and education.
  • Tourism: Malta is a popular tourist destination,
  • Political Stability: Malta has a stable political environment
picture of the author in malta overlooking the ocean

Can You Drink Tap Water in Malta?

Yes, you can drink the tap water in Malta.

However, many locals and tourists prefer bottled water instead. Why? Well, tap water is safe but it’s got a different taste.

The tap water in Malta comes mostly from seawater desalination. So, it’s not as tasty as what we might be used to.

If you’re staying for a short time, just grab some bottled water. But if you’re there for a bit, the tap water is technically safe to drink.

Just a heads-up, though, some people say it has a bit of a salty or chlorinated taste. 🚰💧 I never tried it myself, since I have a sensitive stomach in the first place.

Do you need travel insurance in Malta? Yes, travel insurance in Malta is highly recommended. Unsafe roads, water sports accidents, and food poisoning are only a few examples of when travel insurance could come in handy. EKTA offers worldwide travel insurance with 24/7 service and no hidden fees or restrictions.

beautiful blue sandy beach in malta

How Much Should I Tip in Malta?

In Malta, tipping isn’t as big of a deal as it is in some other countries.

But a nice tip is always appreciated. In restaurants, a tip of 10% is a nice gesture if you’re happy with the service.

Some places add a service charge, so you might want to check your bill first. In that case, you don’t have to tip per se.

In bars or cafes, tipping isn’t super common. Rounding up the bill or leaving some loose change is what I would do.

For taxis, rounding up to the nearest euro is usually good enough.

What’s considered rude? Well, not tipping at all might raise some eyebrows if you’ve had excellent service. Especially in finer dining spots you should leave a tip.

But in general, Maltese people are pretty laid-back about it.

So, you don’t have to stress too much about tipping in Malta. Be respectful and show some love if you’ve had great service! 💸😊

Is Malta Safe?

Yeah, Malta is considered a safe place. Especially when you compare it to other countries.

Violent crime is super rare, and it’s usually a safe spot for tourists.

As in any touristy place, it’s good to keep an eye out for pickpockets. Be mindful, especially in crowded areas or touristy spots.

Driving can be a bit hectic. If you’re renting a car, be aware that the driving style might be more aggressive (and on the wrong side of the street for us Europeans).

Water safety is something to be aware of. The beaches are beautiful, but pay attention to flags and signs about currents or jellyfish.

On my trip to Malta, I felt pretty safe walking around, even at night. Catcalling was not too bad, but we did get weird vibes when wearing swimwear from time to time. This makes Malta a great Slow Travel Destination.

the author on a day trip to gozo and comino

Conclusion: Malta Facts & Info

To sum it up: Malta is a culturally diverse and interesting place. The people of Malta speak English and Maltese.

The island is a cultural melting pot and has been inhabited by many nations in the past.

Geologically, Malta is situated on the African tectonic plate. Historically and economically, Malta is a part of Europe.

We discovered that Malta had a thriving economy, and is not considered a third-world country.

You can drink the tap water and safely visit the island. Malta should be on every European Bucket List for Travelers.

Even if you only spend One Day in Malta, there is a lot to see and culture to experience.

Check out all my Destinations to learn more.

FAQ: Malta

Is Malta a European Country?

Yes, Malta is a European country. It’s an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy. Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004, so it’s officially part of the European club!

What is the ethnicity of the people in Malta?

The people in Malta are mainly of Maltese ethnicity. Their heritage is a blend of various cultures due to Malta’s history of being conquered by different civilizations. Think Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and Europeans. So, it’s a unique mix, but overwhelmingly Maltese!

What are Malta people known for?

Maltese people are known for their warm hospitality and strong sense of community. They’re big on family and religion, especially Catholicism. The Maltese are also proud of their rich history, which blends various cultures. All in all, they’re a friendly and welcoming bunch!

What language is Maltese similar to?

Maltese is most similar to Siculo-Arabic, a form of Arabic once spoken in Sicily. It’s unique because it’s the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet. It’s also got Italian and English influences, making it a cool linguistic mix!

How do you tip a waiter in Malta?

In Malta, tipping about 10% at restaurants is a nice gesture if you’re happy with the service. Some places include a service charge, so check your bill first. Rounding up to the nearest euro is also common. It’s appreciated but not mandatory.

Is Malta Safe?

Yep, Malta is generally considered safe. Violent crime is rare, and it’s a popular spot for tourists. Just be cautious of pickpocketing in busy areas. Overall, it’s a safe destination where people usually feel comfortable walking around, even at night.

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in New Mexico. She spends about half of the year traveling to various destinations together with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.