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The Maltese Islands

The People


Malta has been inhabited since around 5200 BC. The earliest inhabitants of the Maltese Islands are believed to have crossed over from nearby Sicily. The culture of modern Malta has been described as a rich pattern of traditions, beliefs and practices, which is the result of a long process of adaptation, assimilation and cross-fertilization of beliefs and usages drawn from various conflicting sources.

The Maltese are generally more formal with strangers and are accustomed to interacting with foreigners. It is customary for business acquaintances to greet and leave each other with a handshake.

As acquaintances deepen into friendships, more signs of affection such as patting the back and hugging can be expected. There is no hard and fast rule for the proper way to address new business contacts, but visitors should first use Mr. or Ms. and address Maltese hosts by their family names until invited to use a first name. The Maltese, as do the Italians, frequently gesture as they speak. Maltese and English are the official languages. English is spoken widely and is the language of business. French and Italian are also widely spoken. In business dealings, the Maltese generally adhere to North American norms for timeliness and promptness, although they are probably somewhat more forgiving of tardiness. The Mediterranean temperament is evident from politics, religion and sports.

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