In 1869 the opening of the Suez Canal gave Malta’s economy a great boost, as there was a massive increase in the shipping which entered the port. Ships stopping at Malta’s docks for refuelling helped the Entrepôt trade, which brought additional benefits to the island.
Until 1800 Malta depended on cotton, tobacco and its shipyards for exports. After the British arrived, they came to depend on the dockyard for support of the Royal Navy, especially during the Crimean War of 1854. The military base benefited craftsmen and all those who served the military.
Until World War II Maltese politics was dominated by the language question fought out by pro-Italian and pro-British parties. Post-War politics dealt with constitutional questions on the relations with Britain (first with integration then independence) and, eventually, relations with the European Union.
The President of the Republic is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is largely ceremonial. The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Labour Party, which is a social democratic
The unicameral House of Representatives, (Maltese: Kamra tad-Deputati), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister.
Malta is a republic whose parliamentary system and public administration is closely modelled on the Westminster system. Malta had the second highest voter turnout in the world (and the highest for nations without mandatory voting), based on election turnout in national lower house elections from 1960 to 1995.
In January 2007 International Living chose Malta as the country with the best climate in the world. The lowest temperature ever recorded was in January 1905, at +1.1C, and the highest temperature was +43.8C recorded in August 1999. Snow is virtually unheard of, with very few and brief snow flurries
The climate is Mediterranean (Köppen climate classification Csa), with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands attractive for tourists, especially during the drier months. However, strong winds can make Malta feel cold during the spring months.
Malta has been inhabited since 5000 BC. A vast prehistoric culture marked by Megalithic structures existed on the islands, predating the Pyramids by a millennium. The long relationship between the Islanders and the various nationalities that occupied it over the centuries has created a marriage of styles and traditions.