Key facts and general information:

A strategic location

Malta’s position through the ages

Malta comprises an archipelago at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea situated just 80 kilometres south of Sicily and 284 kilometres north of Africa. This strategic location has been exploited by various rulers in the past, contributing to the rich history and cultural heritage that Malta enjoys today. Perhaps more importantly in terms of international trade, this geographical location has also contributed significantly to Malta’s establishment as a maritime hub, with Malta presently having the largest maritime flag in Europe.

A lasting legacy

Throughout the course of history Malta has been colonized by the Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, the Knights of St. John, the French and the British which have all left their mark on their island. Malta’s relatively small size of 316 square kilometres permits any visitors to remain always close to the prehistoric temples (among the oldest structures in the world), the artistic masterpieces penned by various artists (including Caravaggio and Mattia Preti during the rule of the Knights of St. John) and other UNESCO world heritage sites. Malta’s historical landmarks are scattered over the archipelago and provide any tourist with a snapshot of the historical journey taken by Malta’s inhabitants over thousands of years.

Malta’s position today

Malta’s diverse array of influences over the centuries is immediately evident in the cultural mix – a Southern European relaxed and artistic lifestyle combined with a multilingual population have all contributed to Malta’s successful services industry. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1964 and becoming a republic in 1974, Malta’s industry has moved from a predominantly manufacturing-based economy to a services-based economy mainly driven by the financial services, tourism, and the ICT and gaming sectors. Malta’s beneficial tax regime, comprehensive regulatory framework and the adoption of the Euro currency in 2008 have also played a significant role in Malta’s consolidation of the various sectors of its economy.

Business in Malta

A respected domicile of choice

Malta’s economy has managed to withstand the recent financial crises and this is in no way solely attributable to the island state’s strategic position. Despite being a small country, Malta is now a respected jurisdiction of choice for various investors, fund managers and other operators in the financial services sector thanks to a combination of various factors.

A jurisdiction that is soundly regulated yet business driven

Malta benefits from a highly developed ICT infrastructure and has efficient air and sea transport links, with the financial services, ICT, aviation, gaming and pharmaceutical sectors now important pillars of the Maltese economy. Frequently updated yet fully compliant with EU legislation and regulations, Maltese legislation can be described as being one of the drivers of the financial services sector by embracing and being at the forefront of innovative legislation. Malta’s financial services sector also benefits from a single regulator for the insurance, banking and investment services, thereby aiding the regulation of this sector to be overseen in its totality yet in a flexible and reactive manner.

Malta’s sound and robust regulation of the financial services sector is in line with best practice, with Maltese banks have performed highly in recent EU-wide stress tests. The Maltese banking sector has been ranked in the 14th position out of 148 countries worldwide in the Global Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum for the years 2013-2014.

A highly efficient workforce that is committed to deliver

Malta’s business environment is supported by a pool of highly qualified practitioners and professionals in the accountancy and legal professions and other sectors of the financial services industry who have advanced academic credentials and vast experience in their work practice. Practically all the leading international firms in this sector are linked to Malta either through their direct presence or through associations with Maltese firms. The Maltese population is multilingual with Maltese and English being the official languages and Italian widely spoken. A significant part of the population has a substantial grasp of the French and German languages.

A very high standard of living

Malta also offers the best of Mediterranean life. Malta’s climate was ranked the third best climate in the world by International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014. The Maltese landscape offers pristine beaches and countryside whilst a large number of entertainment establishments and cultural, historical and archaeological sites are scattered around the islands. This is complemented by a low crime rate and a relatively stable political environment, making Malta an enjoyable place yet a safe place to live in.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

The Maltese legal framework can be described as a combination of the Civil law system (based on Roman Civil law systems prevalent in continental European jurisdictions) and the British Common law system. Whereas the main foundations of the civil and commercial laws are heavily based on the Civil law systems, taxation law, company law, administrative law and other laws regulating the financial services sector are modelled on common law principles. This interaction, coupled with the consultative approach the legislator adopts with constituted bodies and professional service providers ensures that Malta’s legislation is innovative, sophisticated and business driven yet founded on tried and tested principles.

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