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malta

About Malta

Malta has a rich history, as a result of numerous foreign rulers who greatly valued the strategic geographical location the islands offered for trade and warfare. Including the Romans, Phoenicians, Byzantines, Arabs and more recently
the French (under Napoleon) and British. Malta gained independence from the
British empire in 1964.


The Republic of Malta is an archipelago situated centrally in the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north-east of Tunisia. Malta is one of Europe’s smallest and densely populated countries, covering approximately 300 km2 and with a population of over 400,000. The capital city of Valletta is a UNESCO world heritage site. Maltese and English are the national languages, with a majority of the population also able to speak Italian.

Climate
Malta experiences Mediterranean weather with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands attractive for tourists, especially during the drier months. However, strong winds can make Malta feel cold during the springtime.

Government & Politics
Malta is a republic whose parliamentary system and public administration is closely modelled on the Westminster system. The President of the Republic
is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is largely ceremonial. The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Labour Party, which is a social democratic party. The Nationalist Party is currently in government. There are a number of smaller political parties in Malta that rarely have any parliamentary representation. Malta is divided into 68 elected local councils, with each council responsible for the administration of cities or regions of varying sizes. Administrative responsibility is distributed between the local councils and the central government in Valletta.

EU Membership
In May, 2004, Malta became a member state of the European Union.
Joining the Eurozone and adopting the Euro as its currency in 2008, replacing
the Maltese Lira.

History
Being positioned in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta has become a melting pot of civilisations with a history stretching back thousands of years. Inhabited since around 5200 BC, Malta once had a significant prehistoric civilisation on the islands prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians who named
the main island Malat, meaning safe haven. Later the islands were for
centuries the seat of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John and then part of British Empire. It became independent in 1964.

Ports & Airport
Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island. The Grand Harbour, located at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta, has been a harbour since Roman times. It has several extensive docks and wharves, as well as
a cruise liner terminal. A terminal at the Grand Harbour serves ferries that connect Malta to Pozzallo & Catania in Sicily. Marsamxett Harbour, located on the western side of Valletta, accommodates a number of yacht marinas.

Marsaxlokk Harbour, at Marsaxlokk on the south-eastern side of Malta, is the site of the Malta Freeport, the islands' main cargo terminal. There are also
two man-made harbours that serve a passenger and car ferry service that connects Ċirkewwa Harbour on Malta and Mġarr Harbour on Gozo. The ferry makes numerous runs each day.

Malta International Airport is the only airport serving the Maltese Islands.
It is built on the land formerly occupied by the RAF Luqa air base.

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