Maltese business culture
Did you know about business culture in Malta? Watch this video animation to find out some interesting facts:
Business Culture in Malta is characterised by: business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.
Learn about Malta:
- Maltese business culture
- Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Malta
- International business in Malta
- General education
- Educational standards
- Other issues
- Cultural taboos
The Maltese archipelago located in the Mediterranean Sea, is made up of three main islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino and two other uninhabited islands, Cominotto and Filfla.
The largest island is Malta of which Valletta, the capital, is the cultural, administrative and commercial centre of the archipelago.
Malta is small and densely populated; the official population is 443,861 in 2022, which is similar to the previous decade – in 2011 the population was about 419,000.
The majority of Maltese people are bilingual and fluent in both Maltese and English. Italian is also widely spoken. Official publications are written in both Maltese and English and most business and commercial documents are in English. The main religion in Malta is Roman Catholic, but freedom of religion is guaranteed as a constitutional right.
The climate is mild and temperatures vary between an average maximum of 30 °C in summer to an average minimum of 9° C in Winter.
Historically, Malta has been ruled by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Castilians, Knights of St John, the French and finally the British.
The period of British rule began in the the early nineteenth century and continued for the next 160 years. Malta became an independent state on the 21st September 1964 and 10 years later it was declared a republic. Malta is a member of the Commonwealth and of the United Nations. In 2004 Malta became an EU Member State and from January 2008 it adopted the Euro as the official currency.
The Republic of Malta is a representative democracy: the President of the Republic who is also Head of State and has a mainly representative role, is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The Parliament is composed of the House of Representatives, (il-Kamra tad-Deputati), which has 65 members elected every five years. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Republic and represents the Executive power.
The legal system is based on English common law. Judges are appointed by the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Since 1993 Malta has been divided into 68 local councils or localities which are responsible for the administration of regions or cities. Most financial, fiscal and commercial legislation is based on British law.
Malta has a diversified economy which relies mainly on tourism, financial services and manufacturing industries, such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, light engineering and healthcare.
Recent Government policy in the tourism sector has focused on diversification of the tourist offerings promoting not only the ‘sun and sea’ aspects of Malta as a destination but also emphasising the cultural and historical attractions for visitors.
The Financial Services sector has grown significantly and the Government recognises its importance – in particular insurance, investment services, call centres and e-commerce.
General information on:
Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Malta
Maltese people are friendly and courteous. Like people of other Mediterranean cultures, they are usually informal but they prefer to create an atmosphere of trust before doing business.
During conversations and business meetings your Maltese counterpart may speak in an animated and excitable way and this is just a normal manner of expression.
The Maltese have a strong sense of their own identity and yet are very Mediterranean with a typical European life style. They are proud of their tolerant traditions and customs and are very tolerant of other customs or religious beliefs. For this reason there are many mixed marriages in Malta.
Malta has a rich cultural and social life that includes musical concerts, art exhibitions and the traditional religious processions.
International business in Malta
Attitudes and values form the basis of any culture. They reflect the ways people think and behave. Knowledge of a culture’s attitudes and values can therefore be of significant importance if you wish to communicate with your Maltese counterparts effectively.
The educational system is based on the British model: and public instruction is provided free of charge. There are a large number of private schools and most of these are Catholic. Since 1987 following a Church-State agreement the instruction is also free.
Since 1974, education has been compulsory for all children between the ages of 6-10 (Primary education). On passing their entrance examinations, students enter Secondary education and after five years (aged 16 ) they obtain the “Secondary Education Certificate” (SEC).
Once secondary education ends students can go on to study in a college or, if they don’t pass their exams, they can choose to attend a HigherSecondary School or a specialised private institution.
Tertiary Education is mainly provided by the University of Malta (UoM) which uses the European ECTS credits system.
There are also several Tertiary Education Colleges which provide training in specific areas of study (Art & Design, Computer Technician and IT, Engineering).
Malta is also a popular year-round destination for students to learn English as a second language (ESL) and offers many program options.
Opportunities and high quality education in Malta have been increased during the last years. Government established many measures in order to ensure that both public and private education offered is regulated and audited. Lifelong Learning Education has become very important in Maltese Education system.
Many courses have been implemented to enable people who have studied years ago to continue developing their competencies and skills.
Smoking etiquette. Since the introduction of a smoking ban in 2005 smoking in all enclosed public places is prohibited.
Mobile etiquette. People often use their mobile phones in public places. It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, but it’s not unusual see bus drivers talk on the phone at any time
Mobile Services. Prepaid SIM cards are readily available at many retail locations and markets throughout Malta allowing you to obtain a local mobile number. In Malta there are no area codes and usually mobile numbers have eight digits. The prefix of the fixed line telephone numbers are 21 and 27 while mobile telephone numbers have the prefix 79, 77 or 99. If you want to call Malta from abroad, you should first dial the international access code, then the country code +356 and the specific mobile number.
Internet Access. Free WiFi is available at many cafes and restaurants, and some public access areas including MaltaInternationalAirport. All McDonald’s restaurants provide free WiFi as well as several WiFi hotspot providers offering WiFi services for fees ranging from €3/hour to daily and weekly options.
The Malta Communications Authority provides a list of their Free Wi-Fi hotspots here:
Sense of humour. Maltese people have a strong sense of irony and a good sense of humour.
Maltese people tend to be quite open minded but generally politics, religion and family are serious subjects for them and not ones that should necessarily be discussed at first meetings. If you do discuss one of these topics, especially during a first meeting, go with the flow because disagreeing might create a bad impression and get you off on the wrong foot.