The population, estimated at 375,576 (1997), is of a predominantly Carthaginian and Phoenician descent and with mixed Arab-Halicu-Sicilian cultural traditions. The state of Malta comprises the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino and covers the area of 316 km2. The indigenous language, Maltese, is of Semitic origin. English and, since 1934, Maltese are the official languages of administration.

Regarding the cultural life of Maltese society, the Government pursues a policy designed to instil, safeguard and promote social awareness in the public in general and young people in particular.

With this aim in mind, a sustained effort is being made to enhance the awareness and appreciation of Malta's rich cultural heritage, to present and promote this heritage, to raise the cultural standards of the people by organising cultural activities, and to project the right image of Malta's cultural identity through all forms of art.


Although the consolidation of cultural democracy at all levels is the overriding principle, it manifests itself at the level of individual needs and capacities rather than in terms of bringing individuals within the framework of the general cultural policy.


2.1 Public and semi-public bodies

The overall responsibility for the administration of cultural affairs within the country lies with the National Government especially with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (mainly through its Cultural Division), the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, and the Ministry for Youth and the Arts. This Ministry, which is also responsible for youth, sports and broadcasting, is assisted by a number of various national committees and bodies such as the Culture Division, the Museums Department (Ministry of Education and Human Resources), the Manoel Theatre Management Committee, the National Festivities Committee, the Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, the National Council, and others. The Culture Division is closely connected with activities on the local level, providing opportunities for artists, craftsmen, folk artists, poets, writers, singers, musicians, dancers, and others to participate in pilot projects which are self-managed by these individuals/groups themselves.

2.2 Facilities and institutions



3.1 Financing of cultural activities

The culture budget is fixed by the government and administered by the culture section of the Ministry for Youth and the Arts. In 1995, the budget of the culture section amounted to approx. 1 million Maltese Pounds (£M). In addition, about £M 1 million was allotted to the museum section, and grants for public libraries amounted to £M 541,000. These funds represent about 0.4 per cent of the GDP. Allocations of the National Tourism Federation for cultural activities, which are not listed separately, probably top up this share to a realistic 0.5 per cent.

The following funding areas exist: performing and visual arts, national heritage and museums, the National Theatre, dance, and the translation of literary works. Although publishing is primarily dealt with by the private business sector, writing is supported through literature competitions or awards.

3.2 Legislation



4.1 Cultural heritage

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources has the main responsibility for planning policies concerning the preservation of cultural heritage. The Ministry is often assisted by numerous governmental and non-governmental agencies such as National Tourism Organisation, Antiquities Committee, National Commission for UNESCO, Byzantine Culture Society, Malta Historical Society, etc.

Among the museums found on the Islands of Malta and Gozo, administered by the Museums Department (under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources), two display material from prehistoric times, three others exhibit works of art and historical items from the 15th century down to the present time, two are devoted to natural history, and one is dedicated to folklore. In addition, a new Maritime Museum and five major archaeological sites are open to the public.

4.2 Cultural education and training

Training in the arts

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources is responsible for artist training: apart from state training institutions, such as the University of Malta, School of Music, School of AA, Art and Design Centre, etc., there are a number of private institutions, partly operating with private sponsorship.

4.3 Performing arts

As in the sector of music, the public promotion of performing arts in the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Ministry for Youth and the Arts. Among professional organisations, the most active are: Manoel Theatre Management Committee, Politeatru, Astra Stage Group, Folklore Society, MASK, etc.

4.4 Visual and fine arts


4.5 Literature and literary production

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources plans policies concerning the promotion of literature. Great efforts are also being made to promote Maltese literature and to translate the work of Maltese authors into English/Italian. The Ministry for Youth and the Arts coordinates with the above mentioned Ministry on several issues.

The State Library System comprises the National Library of Malta as a reference library, the National Archives, the Public Library, four full-time regional libraries, and 53 part-time Branch Libraries in Malta and Gozo.

4.6 Music

Public promotion of music is the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Ministry for Youth and the Arts. Main professional organisations are the following: Akkademija Choir, Maria Mater Gratiae Philharmonic Society, Filarmonica, The Young Peoples's Orchestra.


5.1 Book publishing


5.2 Press


5.3 Broadcasting and sound recording industry

The Public Broadcasting Services Ltd. provides both radio and television under the supervision of the statutory Malta Broadcasting Authority. In a major reform of broadcasting in May 1991, the Government permitted private organisations, for the first time, to operate radio and television stations.

Since then, a number of private commercial organisations have been licensed by the Broadcasting Authority to operate their own nationwide radio stations. A private company working under a Government contract operates a 33-channel cable TV network. There were 148,000 television receivers registered in Malta in 1995.

5.4 Cinema and film industry

Public promotion of film is also the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Ministry for Youth and the Arts. Malta also hosts, annually, the International Golden Knight Award for amateur film makers. The main professional body within this filed is the Malta Amateur Cine Circle.


Cultural activity is further geared through the Culture Division of the Ministry of Youth and the Arts, which organizes various festivals, such as the Maltafest (Malta International Arts Festival), the Malta International Jazz Festival, and the International Festival of Maltese Songs - A Song for Europe (the winning song of this Festival participates in the Eurosong Contest). These cultural activities are additionally stimulated by the National Festivities Committee.

The Ministry for Youth and the Arts also organises weekly cultural tours to various historic sites around Malta. Such tours are taken by persons from all walks of life and all age-groups. Weekly lunchtime concerts are also held in collaboration with the School of Music.

The Patrimonju Malti, having presented a major exhibition of Antique Maltese Clocks, prepared an annual monographic exhibition.

A monthly National Cultural Calendar is published in three leading daily newspapers.


Malta is a member of UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the Commonwealth. International cultural contacts are handled through bilateral cultural agreements and through the cultural institutes located in Malta. Of course, the main responsibility within this field lies with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


8.1 Ministries, authorities and academies

Gozo Cultural Council
Tel. 556125, fax 561755

The Maltese National Commission for UNESCO
Ministry of Education and Human Resources
Tel. 231375, fax 234848

Ministry of Education and Human Resources
Floriana CMR 02
Tel. 231385, fax 221634

Ministry for Youth and the Arts
Floriana CMR 02
Tel. 244041/5, fax 243758

Museums Department
Tel. 221623/233034, fax 243628

University of Malta
Tel. 333903/6, fax 336450

8.2 Central cultural institutions

Cathedral Museum
Archbishop Sq.
Tel. 454697

Malta Craft Centre
St. John Sq.

Malta Cultural Institute
44, c/2 st. Dominic Street
Tel.: 246717

Manoel Theatre
Old Mint St.
Tel. 222659/222618, fax 247451

National Library of Malta
Old Treasury St.
Tel. 236 585

8.3 Associations

The Foundation for International Studies
University Building
St. Paul St.
Tel. 224067, fax 230551

Ghaqda Biblijotekarji
Library Association
Tel. 227705

Historical Society
c/o Catholic Institute
Tel. 238429, fax 221785

Malta Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce
219 Republic St.
Tel. 244339


Cultural Policy and Cultural Administration in Europe: 42 outlines. Vienna, Österreichische Kulturdokumentation, Internationales Archiv für Kulturanalysen, 1996, p. 117.

Handbook of Cultural Affairs in Europe. Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1995, pp. 391-397.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Mahwah, New Jersey, World Almanac Books, 1997.


* The original draft, written by Tomislav Car, has been revised by the Ministry for Youth and the Arts, Malta. It has also been revised by Daniela Angelina Jelincic in 1997.