THE PORTAL - Malta to elect MEPs for the first time...

After being granted the right to vote in the 2013 Local Council elections, 16 year olds have now been empowered to vote in General and European Parliament elections. The legal amendments were approved unanimously by the House of Representatives on 5 March 2018. By and large, the lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16 augments the number of eligible voters by 8000.

THE PORTAL - Malta to elect MEPs for the first time...

On 12 June 2004, the Maltese and Gozitans were asked to elect their representatives in the European Parliament for the 2014-2019 term. They proved to be a tiny fraction of 342 million souls from 25 European Countries eligible to vote in the EU-wide elections held between 10 and 13 June. Malta was allotted 5 out of the 732 seats available.

THE PORTAL - The first Local Council elections...

The early 1990s witnessed another milestone in the local political scene. Each town and village became empowered to administer its local matters. As expected, this gave rise to a quantum leap in the improvement of the quality of life of the people of Malta and Gozo. Nowadays, elections are held every 5 years and are eagerly contested by the respective political parties.

THE PORTAL - New Constitution granting Universal Suffrage...

The right to participate in the election of the National Government was only granted to all men and women in 1947. Women were also empowered to contest the elections for the first time. While marking a major political development, the 1947 Constitution still limited the power of the Maltese Government to the local affairs.

THE PORTAL - Maltese to administer own internal matters...

The granting of Self Government empowered the Maltese to administer their inter affairs. All matters related to security, ports, communications and citizenship were classified as reserved matters and remained under the control of the Colonial Administration.

THE PORTAL - The canonization of Dun Gorg by Benedict XVI...

Dun Gorg Preca (1880-1962), the founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine (popularly known as MUSEUM), became the first Maltese to be declared saint of the catholic church. The eagerly awaited canonisation ceremony took place in St Peter’s Square (Vatican City) a full century after the foundation of the same Society, which has since reached four continents.

THE PORTAL - The Pope among us for the first time!..

25 May 1990 was a red letter day for the Maltese Islands. In the afternoon, Pope John Paul II landed at Luqa’s International Airport ahead of an eagerly awaited apostolic visit. The 3-day stay was packed with joyous and memorable manifestations across Malta and Gozo.

THE PORTAL - A radio message from the Pope to the Maltese...

Deemed one of Malta’s leading heroes, St Paul enjoys great devotion. He is venerated in numerous time-honoured places of worship, including the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mdina. Great celebrations were held between January and July 1960 to commemorate 1900 years from his shipwreck. One of the highlights proved to be an address by His Holiness Pope John XXIII to the huge crowd at the Floriana Granaries via Vatican radio.

THE PORTAL - The Eucharistic Congress comes to a close...

Luring to Malta the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, 5 Cardinals, some 40 Archbishops and over 2000 devotees, the 24th International Eucharistic Congress is deemed one of the most momentous happenings for the Catholic Church in Malta. The programme of events covered the greater part of Malta and Gozo, with the main events taking place in Floriana, Mosta, Valletta.

THE PORTAL - New trade school inaugurated in Santa Venera…

The Government of Malta sought to diversify the economy in anticipation of the closing down of the British military bases on the island. New industries were lured to open shop on the island, while the education system empowered local students to acquire appropriate technical skills.

THE PORTAL - UoM Gozo Campus ianugurated in Xewkija…

The need for a Gozo Campus of the University of Malta had long been felt. Repeated attempts by the Gozo Civic Council (1961-1973) failed to yield the desired fruit. The newly set up Ministry for Gozo (1987) reactivated the project and a number of degree courses were made available during the 1992/3 academic year. A dedicated campus was eventually set up at Xewkija.

THE PORTAL - New University inaugurated in Msida…

The University of Malta traces its origin to the tenure of the Knights of St John. As expected, the premises could not meet the needs of the increasing population, in particular following World War II. New premises were built during the 1960s at Tal-Qroqq, limits of Msida. The new campus was inspired by American college campuses.

THE PORTAL - Archbishop Gonzi blesses new Lyceum…

The Lyceum has a. long history. It started off in Valletta, but spilled into Hamrun to cater for the ever increasing student population. Modern, capacious and well-equipped premises that could cater for all 1500+ students were built in the outskirts of Hamrun during the 1950s. This school became to known as the Junior Lyceum from 1983 onwards, and has been integrated in the San Ġorg Preca College following the introduction of the college system.

THE PORTAL - The march towards Independence continues…

Following the suspension of the MacMichael Constitution (1947) in 1958, the British Colonial Government and Her Majesty the Queen decided to grant the Maltese a new constitution in 1961. This constitution was to recognise Malta a state, paving the way for Independence a few years later.

THE PORTAL - Electoral Act amended unanimously…

The 1981 elections resulted in the National Party gaining the most votes whilst the Malta Labour Party getting the majority of seats in Parliament. This created a conundrum, with both parties stating that it was their right to govern. To solve this impasse, the constitution was amended.

THE PORTAL - The Gozo Civic Council is dissolved…

Today we have local councils but in the late 1950s things were different on these islands. The political turmoil in Malta relegated Gozo’s problems to the back burner. It was high time that people of Gozo had a voice. To this effect, a regional administrative council was set up in 1961.

THE PORTAL - The Maltese Lira to be replaced by the Euro…

After joining the European Union in 2004, Malta was expected to adopt the Euro currency as the earliest opportunity. Four 4 years later, Malta replaced the Maltese Lira by the Euro, thereby joining 14 other European countries within the Euro currency zone.

THE PORTAL - Open Day is being held today on Ta' Pinu Ferry…

Inter island connectivity presents major challenges. Huge investments are required for the creation of all-weather berthing facilities and the provision of an efficient ferry service. The Gozo-Malta crossing received an unprecedented boost at the turn of the millennium with the commissioning of three tailor-made, capacious and brand new ferries.

THE PORTAL - Bus owners merge into one company…

The introduction of buses for mass transportation during the early years of the 20th-century changed for good the socio-economic fabric of Malta. Travelling time from every corner of the island was drastically reduced and made affordable to all. Indeed, the hitherto urban-rural dichotomy ceased to exist by the last quarter of the same century.

THE PORTAL - Integration Referendum Results are out…

After winning the 1955 elections, the Labour-led Government opened the discussions on Integration with Great Britain. A national referendum on whether Malta was to become an integral part of Great Britain or else strive for Independence took place in 1956, but its result was ambiguous.

THE PORTAL - General Workers Union calls a general strike…

The scrapping of the Integration proposal in 1956 kick started the rundown of the British military bases in Malta. Thousands of employees with the British Services, in particular the Dockyard, feared for their jobs and took it to the streets to manifest their frustration.

THE PORTAL - The Train Service comes to an end…

The well thought-out transportation plan enacted during the closing decades of the 19th century comprised a railway between the Grand Harbour and land-locked Mdina. Its introduction in 1883 slashed the duration of the 11 kilometre journey by some two and half hours.

THE PORTAL - The demise of the Grand Harbour Ferry Service…

Within less than 9 months from the inauguration of the Lift Service between the Valletta Waterfront and the Upper Barrakka Gardens, a regular and frequent ferry service between Valletta and the 3 Cities entered into operation.

THE PORTAL - Maltese lose majority in Legislative Council…

The lack of agreement in the Legislative Assembly with respect to the Language Question, resulted in the imposition of the Chamberlain Constitution in 1903. This new Constitution proved to be a big step backwards in the political aspirations of the Maltese.

THE PORTAL - Self-Government Constitution suspended…

The Language Question was in full swing when the Partito Nazzionalista won the 1932 elections . The new Government’s pronounced stance on the promotion of Italian Fascist propaganda did not go down well with the British overlords who were at loggerhead with Italy. Indeed, the Self-Government Constitution of 1921 was withdrawn by beginning November 1933.

THE PORTAL - The Valletta Lift is used for the last time…

Climbing the sheer-cut face of the lofty Valletta bastions, the Lift provided a quick and easy access between the waterfront and the Barrakka Gardens. This service complemented the Ferry Service which ran between Valletta and Cottonera.

THE PORTAL - The Tram service terminates today…

The increase in activity in the Harbour environs during the late 19th century necessitated efficient links with the rest of Island, in particular the more populous towns. Running between 1905 and 1929, the Tram connected Valletta to Cottonera, Haz-Zebbug and Birkirkara respectively.

THE PORTAL - Royal Navy Medical Services at Mtarfa (2 October 1970)

Situated at Mtarfa this hospital was built for Servicemen in the British army and later in the British Navy. From 2 October 1970 this sanatorium remained as the only military hospital in Malta until the Royal Navy departed in 1979. Later, these premises served as a school, and have since been listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.

THE PORTAL - Inauguration of a new hospital in Gozo (31 May 1975)

Completed in 1975, this spacious hospital replaced the outdated complex at St Francis Square, Victoria. It was named after Professor Alfred Craig, but has since been renamed ‘Gozo General Hospital’. Ancillary facilities, including a mental hospital and a medical school, were added along the years.

THE PORTAL - King George V Hospital to cease operating (31 January 1967)

Presently known as ‘Boffa Hospital’, this airy hospital was intentioned for the medical care of the Merchant Navy seamen and their relatives. The Government of Malta took it over in 1969, and placed it under the management of the Department of Health. Today this hospital caters for patients with dermatological condition.

THE PORTAL - New General Hospital at Gwardamangia (5 April 1930):

Planted on Gwardamanġa Hill, St Luke’s Hospital served as Malta’s General Hospital until 2008. The foundation stone was laid in 1930 but its construction lingered on for years. Indeed, it was still incomplete on the onset of World War II in 1939. St Luke’s Hospital was replaced by Mater Dei Hospital at Tal-Qroqq.


This infectious disease known as the Mediterranean fever or Malta fever, was caused by drinking unpasteurized goat’s milk. It was Sir Temi Żammit who discovered its presence in the goat’s milk. The opening of the Malta Milk Centre, later the M.M.U., played a central role in its suppression.


Although existing for thousands of years, Polio was a disease feared by many during the last century. During World War II, Malta experienced an acute outbreak when a total of 483 cases were registered…


Wiping out 5% of the world’s population, the Spanish Flu left its mark on the Maltese islands as well. Thanks to a widespread awareness campaign and rigorous quarantine, the Maltese Islands suffered a relatively small number of casualties.


This infectious disease is still around. Indeed, jabs are still being given as not all countries, especially developing ones, are free from this malady. In the beginning of the 20th century, the colonial government decided to build a sanatorium for the then populous TB patients.


Malta’s standing as a major trade hub in the central Mediterranean received a new lease of life during the concluding quarter of the past century. Sea reclamation on an unprecedented scale at Kalafrana (Marsaxlokk Bay) was undertaken over a number of years to create two expansive quays and related storage facilities and harbour works for the temporary storage and handling of containers. From the onset of its operations in 1990, the Malta Freeport evolved into a leading regional facility handling of tens of thousands of containers destined to other ports all over the Mediterranean and beyond.


Although just 8 kilometres long, the crossing between Malta and Gozo has consistently been a hard nut to crack. Apart from the channel’s exposure to the insidious west and northwest winds, the littoral along the mainland is devoid of natural havens. Mooring facilities were developed at Marfa during the late 19th and early 20th centuries but the resultant quayside proved to be unusable on most windy days. A more sheltered and spacious terminal was eventually constructed at Ċirkewwa during the mid-1970s.


Mġarr Harbour, Gozo’s gateway for centuries on end, received a major upgrade shortly after the attainment of Independence. Arguably the most voluminous infrastructural project in 20th-century Gozo, it formed part of a comprehensive and farsighted masterplan spearheaded by the then Gozo Regional Council. Besides meeting the requirements of the expanding inter-island ferry service, the resultant enclosure provided safe anchorage for fishing vessels.


The Grand Harbour, Malta’s foremost natural resource, evolved into one of the busiest maritime hubs throughout the Mediterranean with the turn of the 19th century. The Royal Navy‘s mighty Mediterranean Fleet established its base here and multiple infrastructural projects were undertaken to maximise its potential. These included the construction of two formidable breakwaters at its mouth to transform Kalkara and Rinella bays into all weather anchorages.


4 Issues (Maltese & English) – Malta during World War II

Standing at the centre of the Mediterranean and being adorned with formidable havens, Malta was often in the thick of key events that impinged dramatically on world history. Chief amongst these is World War II, when between 1940 and 1942 it became the most bombarded place on earth, receiving some 3000 air raids. Against all odds, the resilient Maltese stood still and earned the coveted George Cross for their ‘heroism and devotion’.

These four issue of ‘The Portal’ provide an overview of the salient points of this dreadful experience.


4 Issues (Maltese & English) – Maltese Language from Establishment of First Standard Alphabet to Acknowledgement as Official EU Language

This year marks the first century from the establishment of the Akkademja tal-Malti. Founded on 14 November 1920 with the aim of promoting Maltese as a written language, it has played an instrumental role in the standardisation of Maltese orthography and has spearheaded the acknowledging of Maltese as the National Language of Malta and eventually one of the official languages of the EU.

Heritage Malta and the Akkademja tal-Malti joined forces to commemorate this milestone anniversary with a string of initiatives.


4 Issues (Maltese & English) – Constitutional Achievements from Independence to EU Accession

Heritage Malta’s repertoire of didactic resources includes a series of posters highlighting landmark events in our modern history. The set downloadable here focus on four constitutional milestones, namely Independence, the establishment of the Republic, the departure of the last foreign forces and EU accession.

Produced in collaboration with the Education Department.