COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Malta is a small, developed, democratic Mediterranean island nation, positioned as a cultural and political stepping-stone between Europe and North Africa. Malta will accede to the European Union with 9 other new member states on May 1, 2004. Tourist facilities of all categories are widely available.
No indigenous terrorist or extremist groups are known to be active in Malta, and no foreign terrorist organization has carried out an attack against U.S. interests in Malta in recent years. Nevertheless, U.S. citizens should always exercise caution while traveling abroad.
Malta has a low rate of violent crime. Incidents of pickpocketing and purse-snatching are relatively rare. Caution is urged in the Paceville nightclub area, where excessive drinking and poor crowd control have led to instances of violent behavior.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Malta's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malta are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical care is available through public and private hospitals. The quality of medical care in Malta is excellent. Private hospitals generally offer a higher standard of service than the public hospitals, and most of the best doctors practice in private medical facilities.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions, which differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malta is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Traffic in Malta flows on the left, requiring attentiveness and caution from visitors from right-hand drive countries such as the United States. In addition, drivers may be erratic or undisciplined. Roads flood easily, and are often narrow, winding, and congested, with poor visibility around curves. Traffic arteries are prone to bottlenecks and accidents. Buses are the primary means of public transportation. Though the bus fleet is being modernized, most buses are old, cramped, and not air-conditioned. Taxis are safe but expensive. Always insist that taxi drivers engage the meter.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at
For specific information concerning Malta driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance contact the Malta national tourist organization offices in New York via the Internet at
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malta's civil aviation authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Malta's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
February 10, 2004