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509
MALTA


or recognized, by the Grand Masters, and descending by primogeniture. These “privileges ” were guaranteed, together with the rights and religion of the islanders, when they became British subjects, but no government has ever recognized papal titles in Malta. High and low, all speak among themselves the Phoenician Maltese, altogether different from the Italian language; Italian was only spoken by 13-24 % in 1901. Such Italian as is spoken by the lingering minority has marked divergences of pronunciation and inflexion from the language of Rome and Florence. In 1901, in addition to visitors and the naval and military forces, 18,922 Maltese spoke English, and the number has been rapidly increasing.

In appearance the Maltese are a handsome, well-formed race, about the middle height, and well set up; they have escaped the negroid contamination noticeable in Sicily, and their features are less dark than the southern Italians. The Women are generally smaller than the men, wit.h black eyes, fine hair and graceful carriage. They are a thrifty and industrious people, prolific and devoted to their offspring, good-humoured, quick-tempered and impressionable. The food of the working classes is principally bread, with oil, olives, cheese and fruit, sometimes fish, but seldom meat; common wine is largely imported from southern Europe. The Maltese are strict adherents to the Roman Catholic religion, and enthusiastic observers of festivals, fasts and ceremonials.

In 1906 the birth-rate was 40-68 per thousand, and the excess of births over deaths 2637. In April 1907 the estimated population was 206,690 of whom 21,911 were in Gozo. This phenomenal congestion of population gives interest to records of' its growth; in the 10th century there were 16,767 inhabitants in Malta and 4514 in Gozo; the total population in 1514 was 22,000. Estimates made at the arrival of the knights (1530) varied from 15,000 to 2 5,000: it was then necessary to import annually 10,000 quarters of grain from Sicily. The population in 1551 was, Malta 24,000, Gozo 7000. In 1582, 20,000 quarters of imported grain were required to avert famine. A census of 1590 makes the population 30,500; in that year 3000 died of want. The numbers rose in 1601 to 33,000; in 1614 to 41,084; in 1632 to 50,113; in 1667 to 55,155; In 1667 11,000 are said to have died of plague out of the total population. At the end of the rule of the knights (1798) the population was estimated at 100,000; sickness, famine and emigration during the blockade of the French in Valletta probably reduced the inhabitants to 80,000. In 1829 the population was 114,236; in 1836, 119,878 (inclusive of the garrison); in 1873, 145,605; at the census in 1901 the civil population was 184,742. Sanitation decreases the death-rate, religion keeps up the birth-rate. Nothing is done to promote emigration or to introduce manufactures. Towns and Villages.-The capital is named after its founder, the Grand Master de la Valette, but from its foundation it has been called Valletta (pop. 1901, 24,685); it contains the palace of the Grand Masters, the magnificent Auberges of the several “ Langues " of the Order, the unique cathedral of St John with the tombs of the Knights and magnificent tapestries and marble work; a fine opera house and hospital are conspicuous. Between the inner fortifications of Valletta and the outer works, across the neck of the peninsula, is the suburb of Floriana (pop. 7278). To the south-east of Valletta, at the other side of the Grand Harbour, are the cities of Senglea (pop. 8093), Vittoriosa (pop. 8993); and Cospicua (pop. 12,184); this group is often spoken of as “ The Three Cities." The old capital, near the centre of the island is variously called Notabile, (Qitta Vecchia (q.1/.), and Medina, with its suburb Rabat, its population in 1901 was 7515; here are the catacombs and the ancient cathedral of Malta. Across the Marsamuscetto Harbour of Valletta is a considerable modern town called Sliema. The villages of Malta are Mellieha, StPaul's Bay, M usta, Birchircara, Lia, Attercl, Balzan, Naxaro, Gargur, Misida, S. Julian's, S. Giuseppe, Dingli. Zebbug, Siggieui, Curmi, Luca, Tarxein, Zurrico, Crendi, Micabbiba, Circop, Zabbar, Asciak, Zeitun, Gudia and Marsa Scirocco. The chief town of Gozo is called Victoria, and there are several small villages.

Industry and Trade.-The area under cultivation in 1906 was 41,534 acres. As a rule the tillers of the soil live away from their lands, in some neighbouring village. The fields are small and composed of terraces by which the soil has been walled up along the contours of the hills, with enormous labour, to save it from being washed away. Viewed from the sea, the top of one wall just appearing above the next produces a barren effect; but the aspect of the land from a hill in early spring is a beautiful contrast of luxuriant verdure. It is estimated that there are about 10,000 small holdings averaging about four acres and intensely cultivated. The grain crops are maize, wheat and barley; the two latter are frequently sown together. In 1906, 13,000 acres produced 17,97 5 quarters of wheat and 12,000 quarters of barley. The principal fodder crops are green barley and a tall clover called “ sulla ” (H edysarum coranarum), having a beautiful purple blossom. Vegetables of all sorts are easily grown, and a rotation 'of these is raised on land irrigated from wells and springs. Potatoes and (onions are grown for exportation at seasons when they are scarce in northern Europe. The rent of average land is about £2 an acre, of very good land over £3; favoured spots, irrigated from running springs, are worth up to £12 an acre. Two, and often three, crops are raised in the year; on irrigated land more than twice as many crop pings are possible. The presence of phosphates accounts for the fertility of a shallow soil. There is a considerable area under vines, but it is generally more profitable to sell the fruit as grapes than to convert it into wine. Some of the best oranges in the world are grown, and exported; but sufficient care is not taken to keep down insect pests, and to replace old trees. Figs, apricots, nectarines and peaches grow to perfection. Some cotton is raised as a rotation crop, but no care is taken to improve the quality. The caroub tree and the prickly pear are extensively cultivated. There are exceptionally fine breeds of cattle, asses and goats; cows of a large and very powerful build are used for ploughing. The supply of butchers' meat has to be kept up by constant importations. More than two-thirds of the wheat comes from abroad; fish, vegetables and fruit are also imported from Sicily in considerable quantities. Excellent honey is produced in Malta; at certain seasons tunny-fish and young dolphin (lampuca) are abundant; other varieties of fish are caught all the year round. About 5000 women and children are engaged in producing Maltese lace. The weaving of cotton by hand-looms survives as a languishing industry. Pottery is manufactured on a small scale; ornamental carvings are made in Maltese stone and exported to a limited extent. The principal resources of Malta are derived from its being an important military station and the headquarters of the Mediterranean fleet. There are great naval docks, refitting yards, magazines and stores on the south-east side of the Grand Harbour; small vessels of war have also been built here. Steamers of several lines call regularly, and there is a daily mail to Syracuse. The shipping cleared in 1905-1906 was 3524 vessels of 3,718,168 tons. Internal communications include a railway about eight miles long from Valletta to Notabile; there are electric tramways and motor omnibus services in several directions. The currency is English. Local weights and measures include the cantar, 175 lb; salm, one imperial quarter; cafiso, 4% gallons; canna, 6 ft. 10% in.; the tumolo (256 sq. ca.), about a third of an acre.

The principal exports of local produce are potatoes, cumin seed, vegetables, oranges, goats and sheep, cotton goods and stone. To keep alive, in a fair standard of comfort, the population of 206,690, food supplies have to be imported for nine and a half months in the year. The annual value of exports would be set off against imported food for about one month and a half. The Maltese have to pay for food imports by imperial wages, earned in connexion with naval and military services, by commercial services to passing Steamers and visitors, by earnings which emigrants send home from northern Africa and elsewhere, and by interest on investments of Maltese capital abroad. A long absence of the Mediterranean fleet, and withdrawals of imperial forces, produce immediate distress.

Finance.-The financial position in 1 06-1907 is indicated by the following: Public revenue £513,594 including £51,039 carried to revenue from capital); expenditure £446,849; imports (actual), £1,219,819; imports in transit, £5,876,98I; exports (actual), £123,510; exports in transit £6,127,277; imports from the United Kingdom (actual), £218,46I. In March 1907 there were 8159 depositors in the government savings bank, with £569,731 to their cre it.