HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY
Southern European island state. The 92 % urban population (378,132 at the 1995 census ; 402,000 at the 2005 estimate) is made up of Maltese (93.8 %) and some minorities, including the British. The capital Valletta (7170 residents in 2004) is an integral part of an urban-port conurbation of over 200,000 residents. The economy of Malta, which in May 2004 joined the European Union, it is characterized by a downsizing of the agricultural sector, by a strengthening of the industrial apparatus and by the development of service activities. Maltese economic policy aims to attract foreign investments in the industrial sector, guaranteeing political stability, the presence of infrastructures and services for businesses, the availability of manpower and tax and financial benefits. Agriculture, often in greenhouses and irrigated, occupies only 2.5 % (2005) of the active population and contributes 2.4 % to the formation of the GDP. The secondary sector (28.6 % of assets and 23.2% of GDP) includes mainly manufacturing activities (food, textile, clothing, mechanical, plastics and wood processing sectors), recording growth in the electronic, IT, pharmaceutical and precision instrument sectors. However, the real economic strength of the island consists in tourism, which provides income in currencies which since the 1970s have been constantly growing: in 2004 the admissions were 1,127,400 and the revenues equal to 0.94. billions of dollars. In the face of the positive economic results achieved by the country (in the period 1990-2002 the GDP grew, in real terms, by 4.2% per annum) there is no shortage of negative ones; in particular, Malta records a high public deficit and an equally large trade deficit, conditioned among other things by the rise in oil prices on international markets and by imports of raw materials for industry and consumer goods.
Since 1987, the year in which the need for greater governmental stability had led to the introduction of a constitutional amendment that transformed the electoral system into a majority sense, Malta’s political life was characterized by a progressive strengthening of one of the two main political forces. of the country, the Nationalist Party ( Partit Nazzjonalista , PN), of conservative orientation. With the exception of a short period (1996-1998) in which he was replaced at the head of the government by the traditional adversary, the Labor Party ( Partit Labor , PL), under the leadership of E. Fenech-Adami the PN had governed by that same 1987 according to a line which, combining a substantially liberal approach with a decidedly pro-European choice of field, seemed to meet the expectations of a very large part of Maltese public opinion. Therefore, in February 2003 the negotiations for entry into the European Union reopened, in March the Maltese electorate expressed itself through a consultative referendum in favor of such entry with 53.6 % of the votes. The pro-European choice of the electorate found political confirmation in the legislative elections in April of the same year, which ensured the PN and Fenech-Adami, head of the government, an absolute majority (35 seats out of 65). In 2004Fenech-Adami, after having been replaced by L. Gonzi at the head of the party and the government, was elected in March to the presidency of the Republic. In May of the same year, the country became a full member of the EU. The geographical proximity of Malta to the coasts of North Africa, making it a privileged destination for illegal immigration to the EU, opened serious tensions in the country which exploded in 2005 in a series of demonstrations led by the Republican National Alliance ( Alleanza Nazzjonali Republikana , ANR), a new far-right, nationalist and xenophobic political group. For Malta public policy, please check petsinclude.com.