A tiny island packed with immense beauty, Malta's sunny shores and ancient architecture have lured many an expat, whether to find work in this Mediterranean paradise or to simply spend their retirement lounging on the beach.

Located south of Italy, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, Malta holds a strategic position between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As a result, the island has been sought after through the ages and has been occupied by numerous powerful nations, including Ancient Greece and the British Empire.

Lovers of history and culture will be right at home in Malta with plenty of fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, such as the city of Valletta, the island's capital, founded by the Knights Hospitaller in 1566. Another must-see is the underground chambers of the Hypogeum, which date back to 3000 BC.

The people of Malta, much like its weather, are warm and welcoming. Along with Maltese, English is the official language of Malta and is spoken by 90 percent of the population, while many locals also speak Italian. As an EU state, Malta is a great spot for EU nationals to live and work as they are free to do so without having to go through lengthy visa applications. On the other hand, non-EU citizens will find it difficult to obtain a work permit unless they have specialised skills relevant to one of the island's fast-growing industries, such as online gaming.

With so much to love about Malta, it's not uncommon for expats to end up spending far longer on the island than they initially intended. The relaxed lifestyle, rich culture and friendly locals make for a pleasant and laid-back life.

Fast facts

Population: Around 440,000

Capital city: Valletta

Neighbouring countries: Malta is an island nation and shares no physical borders with any other country, but is located south of the Italian island of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya.

Geography: Malta is an archipelago located in the Mediterranean Sea. There are three inhabited islands: the main island of Malta, and the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino. 

Political system: Unitary constitutional parliamentary republic

Major religion: Roman Catholicism

Main languages: Maltese and English

Currency: The currency of Malta is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. It is relatively easy for expats to open a bank account in Malta, though there is a fair amount of bureaucracy involved.

Tipping: Tipping is customary in Malta. Between 5 and 10 percent is common if a service charge isn't already included.

Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.

Internet domain: .mt

International dialling code: +356

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Malta has an established transport network consisting of buses.