Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t pinpoint Malta on a map. Though it has the best climate in the world, this little island nation is not on everyone’s radar.
A quintet of sunny islands makes up the Republic of Malta, with its mild winters and hot summers. Malta, Gozo, and Comino are all inhabited–though with a mere handful of families, Comino only just qualifies. The remaining islands, Cominotto and Filfla, are for boat-trippers and seabirds.
These Maltese islands take the top spot in the Climate category of our 2007 Quality of Life Index. As you know, once a year, every January, we consider nearly every nation on earth in a grueling set of nine categories. This year, our survey looks at 193 countries. And Malta has the best climate in the world.
Fair weather, averaging 5.2 hours of sunshine a day–even in December. Right into November, daytime temperatures often nudge 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring comes early, around late February. Frost and snow are mostly unknown. There is winter rainfall, but it tends to come in heavy bursts for short periods. And, while the islands boast few sandy beaches, there are compensations: Summertime brings a round of colorful village festivals complete with fireworks. Diving and sailing are excellent. You can play golf, go horseback riding, and attend trotting races. The second-oldest theater in Europe is the Manoel Theatre, in the capital of Malta, Valletta. In the cooler months, October through May, you can see opera, theater, music, and ballet there.
Malta is mostly unheard of by Americans. Malta is anchored almost in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles from the Italian island of Sicily, which is linked to Malta by regular 90-minute ferry service. There is a modern airport at Luqa (on Malta) with flights to numerous other European countries. Rome is but one hour away by plane.
The next closest neighbors are in North Africa, which lies less than 200 miles away. Travel west, and you arrive in Tunisia; go south from Malta, and you reach Libya.
In other words, despite the Republic of Malta’s island status, you won’t live here like a castaway.
The government is a politically stable parliamentary democracy, so you do not have to lie awake at night worrying about army coups and crazy colonels with big ideas. A president is the titular head of state, and executive power lies in the hands of the prime minister and the cabinet, whose ministers are appointed from elected members of Parliament. Headed by an attorney general, the judiciary is independent.
Furthermore, this little island became a member of the E.U in 2004.
Apart from the near-perfect climate, on both Malta and Gozo the living is easy and affordable. Crime hardly exists, the locals are hospitable, permanent foreign residents can take advantage of a 15% tax rate, and nobody pays property taxes. The health care is excellent. And you’ll encounter no language difficulties…everybody speaks English.
Editor, IL’s Quality of Life Index
P.S. The Maltese drive on the left, like the British, but a little more recklessly.
Editor’s note: But who wins overall? In what country will your quality of life be superior to that in any other country on the planet? Subscribers to the print edition of International Living already know the answer according to this year’s Index…the rest of you can find out here.
To read more IL articles about Malta, see:
Why Malta’s Climate is the Best in the World