The main health risk in Malta is the fierce sun in the summer, which can scorch unsuspecting tourists. Apply sunblock liberally.
For ambulance, fire or police dial 112. The main hospitals are Mater Dei ☎ +356 2545 0000 and Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, ☎ +356 2156 1600. For a complete list of government hospital services visit (http://www.health.gov.mt/...).
The crime rate in Malta is generally considered to be low. Tourists should however take normal precautions, guarding against pickpocketing in busy areas and some overcharging scams.
In Paceville there is a small level of alcohol-fuelled violence in the evenings. This is a holiday destination and rowdiness in bars and nightclubs is to be expected, as is the case in most European cities. There is generally a low police presence.
Despite prostitution being illegal in Malta, Testaferrata Street in Gżira has operated as a small red light district. Recent construction and re-generation has reduced its notoriety and the development of this area has been intended to increase its attraction to tourists and clean up its image.
Homosexuality has been legal in Malta since 1979. Same-sex civil unions and adoption have been in place since April 2014 and there are legal protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The law does not provide for same-sex marriage, and divorce was only legalised in 2011 following a referendum. Same-sex marriages conducted abroad are recognised. While Malta is generally tolerant, overt displays of homosexuality may attract negative gestures particularly outside of the usual tourist areas.
Malta has three mobile phone networks available: Vodafone, Go Mobile, and Melita Mobile. Due to international agreements with providers across the globe, Vodafone, GO and Melita are sure to be apart of your carriers roaming plan.
Internet cafés and Wi-Fi zones are quite abundant with connection rates peaking at 30Mb/s.
The official languages are Maltese and English. Italian is widely understood and spoken. Some people have basic French, but few people can speak fluent French in Malta. By law, all official documents in Malta are in Maltese and English and many radio stations broadcast in both languages.
The vast majority of Maltese citizens speak English fluently, although this less true among the older generation. The majority of people in Malta will however speak Maltese in the home and Maltese placenames may be difficult to pronounce. People are however very willing to help. Maltese people often speak with a slightly different intonation which may sound louder than usual to other English speakers. Churches often hold separate Maltese and English services, and information on times for each will be posted at the entrance. Multilingual electronic guides are available at a number of attractions.
Maltese is a Semitic language, though it has borrowed a substantial amount of vocabulary from the Romance languages particularly Italian. The closest living relative of Maltese is Arabic, particularly the dialect spoken in North Africa known as Maghrebi Arabic spoken in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria though Maltese is written in the Latin alphabet instead of the Arabic script. Maltese is also more distantly related to Hebrew and Amharic, so if you speak any of these three languages, you'll recognise some similarities. It also has substantial English elements in it. Knowing a few phrases in Maltese may be useful. See the Maltese phrasebook for details.
While a bit reserved, Maltese people are friendly, generous, and helpful in nature.
Malta is a predominantly Roman Catholic country where faith is an important part of society. Carousing by tourists, while tolerated to some extent, is not looked on very favourably, especially outside of St. Julian's and Paceville. Some shops may be closed on Sundays. However increasingly discussions of sexuality, contraception and other issues are less taboo than they were twenty years ago.
Maltese people tend to speak more loudly than the mainlanders, so they may sound like they are shouting at you even if the volume is normal.
Dress respectfully when visiting churches and other important heritage sites. As a guide, remove any hats and sunglasses and make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Some churches, especially those on popular package tours, provide shawls and/or skirts for any inappropriately-dressed visitors.
You may be refused entry to a church if there is a service going on that has already started so make sure you arrive promptly if you wish to see them. If you must leave during a service, do so discreetly. Avoid loud or intrusive behaviour in such places.
Maltese tend to take politics seriously and they are always interested to talk about ways to improve democracy and good governorship. Many towns have Nationalist and Labour Party buildings which operate as bars and social clubs.
It is considered rude to shorten a Maltese name. If someone introduces themselves as Joseph or Mariella, don't call them Joe and Mary.
Smoking is banned indoors in bars and restaurants, although many have roof terraces or outside areas covered by a canopy where it is readily acceptable: it may be difficult to tell where the 'indoor' element of the building ends and the 'outdoor' begins. In general, ashtrays will be placed where smoking is allowed.