On November 21, 1964 Malta, formerly a British colony, became an independent state within the Commonwealth. Head of state was the ruler of the United Kingdom, represented by a governor general. Since 13 December 1974 Malta is a republic. Head of State is the President of the Republic, elected for 5 years by the Parliament. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, accountable to the House of Representatives (50 members, elected for 5 years by universal suffrage and with the proportional system), which exercises legislative power. Malta is a member of the UN and the Council of Europe.
The population, which at the November 1967 census was 314,216 residents, Remained around this value in subsequent years (an estimate of 1974 calculated 315,000 residents). In the period 1963-72 the annual growth coefficient was negative (- 0.3%); the birth rate fluctuates between 16 and 17 ‰ while the mortality is around 8.5 ‰. The Maltese demographic trend is therefore characterized, over the last fifteen years, by a constant, albeit not high, natural increase, however thwarted by the resumption of strong emigration currents (mostly towards Australia, Great Britain and Canada) following the economic difficulties caused by the gradual separation from the United Kingdom. The density always remains very high, almost 1000 residents per km 2; of the 6 regions in which the country is administratively divided, the most densely populated is the Inner Harbor with over 8100 residents per km 2. Almost 95% of the population residing on the island of Malta is classified as urban, even if they live in centers (such as Valletta, Birkirkara, Qormi, Sliema, Hamrun) that do not exceed 20,000 residents, with the ‘exception of Sliema (21,700 residents).
Malta, independent for over a decade, still finds itself today in search of a satisfactory balance between economic production and population size, partly attenuated in the past years by the considerable financial aid from Great Britain. In reality, the Maltese economy is strongly conditioned by the massive imports to which it must resort, as well as by the failure to reorganize the island’s potential activities (industry and tourism). The decline of the British military base and, previously, the closure of the military arsenal (1961) deprived Malta of a large part of the income. The island has long since lost its traditional basic function of a thriving trade of transit and stopover for the supply of ships. At the same time, the political and economic conditions that determined its importance in the Mediterranean have fallen. The economic damage is however partially compensated by the fact that the military base is now under NATO control, with positive effects on the national economic balance.
Agriculture always remains the basis of the economy and occupies 8% of the active population. 44% (14,000 ha) of the land area is cultivated, but only 2,000 ha are irrigated; land ownership is, at the same time, very fragmented, so much so that the average size of the farm is less than 1.5 ha. Agricultural productions are always those typical of the Mediterranean environment, with a prevalence of potatoes, wheat, barley, grapes, vegetables, fruit and flowers, mostly intended for internal consumption but often insufficient. The breeding shows a strong reduction of sheep and even more of goats (respectively, in 1974, 6000 and 13,000 heads), while cattle (8000) and pigs (25,000) are increasing. Of no small importance is the fishing activity (1500 tonnes of fish landed) in the ports of Marsaxlokk and Wied iż-Zurrieq. The industrial complexes are located, almost all, with small and medium-sized plants in the capital and always operate in the textile, tobacco, wood, furniture and shipyard sectors; a complex for plastics has recently arisen. In Gozo the craftsmanship of bobbin lace still continues. The tourist activity is constantly developing (211,000 visitors in 1973), which however needs a substantial strengthening of its structures. The road network (1223 km) is satisfactorily articulated for connections between the main centers of the island of Malta, while regular air and sea services (Luqa airport and Valletta port) with Italy and others are regular. European countries. The cars amount to 58. 700. Imports (109 million pounds, average for the years 1972-75) far exceed exports (44 million pounds, average over the same period). Among the exported goods, fabrics, agricultural products (potatoes, flowers and tobacco) and scrap iron (war remnants) prevail; imports are given by vehicles and machinery, fuels, chemicals, etc. Foreign trade develops mainly with Great Britain (30%) followed by Italy (15%) and the Federal Republic of Germany.
When the constitutional conference held in London from 17 November to 21 December 1958 failed, the solution based on the integration of the island into Great Britain was definitively discarded. Waiting for the two main Maltese parties to approach their respective theses (Borg Oliver’s Nationalist Party was for a status of Dominion and Dom Mintoff’s Labor Party for independence accompanied by the neutralization of the island with the guarantee of the UN), the British House of Commons voted in February 1959 the abolition of the statute of 1947 and the establishment of a transitional period (later closed in 1961) of direct administration by the governor assisted by an Executive Council (12 members) of his choice. The eve of the entry into force of the interim regime was marked by a series of riots, acts of sabotage and strikes provoked by the dismissal notice sent to half of the port’s 12,000 workers, as a result of the conversion of Maltese arsenals into repair docks., entrusted to a private company (the Bailey company), which was decided on July 31, 1958. status of the Catholic Church on the island, of the choice between monarchy and republic, of belonging to the Commonwealth, of the electoral system and of the holding or not of new elections before independence. Unlike the nationalist one, the Labor delegation was against any Catholic privilege in the state, in favor of a republican statute and against any commitment to remain in the Commonwealth.. Finally, it was decided to have the conflict resolved by a referendum of the electoral body. This was pronounced on May 2-4, 1964 for Oliver’s theses. The proclamation of independence, on September 21, 1964, took place in a climate of unrest that reflected the unexceeded tension both in relations between political currents and with Great Britain. London undertook to pay the Maltese government 18.8 million pounds in the year 1964 and 31.2 million pounds in the following seven years, as compensation for the facilities granted in the maintenance and use of the military installations. In the same year Malta joined the UN and the following year in the Council of Europe. For Malta political system, please check computerminus.com.
The Labor Party returned to government – for the first time after independence – with the elections of June 15, 1971. While in the meantime it had largely clarified relations with the Maltese Catholic Church, its intransigence in demanding that the use of the naval bases of the island by Great Britain and NATO brought the country a substantial financial compensation, such as to help tackle the immediate serious problems of unemployment (3800 unemployed in 1960, 7900 in 1965, around 3000 in 1970) and initiate a transformation of the Maltese economy (agricultural specializations, fishing industry, tourist equipment, light industry and shipbuilding). His initiative, on December 29, 1971, to denounce the agreements on the British use of military bases, demanding the payment of a large immediate sum, otherwise the British contingents will be withdrawn by 31 December. The Anglo-Maltese crisis was resolved, thanks in part to the mediating action of the Italian Foreign Minister Moro, on March 26, 1972, with an agreement valid for seven years, which added a contribution from the NATO member countries to the sum paid by London. With this guarantee of funds, Mintoff launched a 1973-80 development plan shortly thereafter. At the end of 1974 he implemented another of his programmatic points, transforming Malta into a republic. In the political elections of September 17, 1976, Mintoff’s Labor formation still prevailed over Oliver’s (51.2% of the votes against 48.8%).