As a nation, we’re very proud of our records, and stand firmly behind our “oldest freestanding temples” and “largest dome” claims to fame. But apart from historical structures, what else do the Maltese excel at? Well, here’s just some of the good, the bad and the irrelevant:
1. Obesity rates
Of course this was going to be the first on the list. Malta leads the EU in overweight and obesity rates, and it’s ranked third in the whole of Europe. And with bars that offer amazing free food and the fact that (objectively speaking) Maltese cooking is just better, who can really dare to blame us?
2. Cocaine use
Last year, Malta was ranked 7th highest in the world for cocaine use per capita. This week, the news broke that no significant progress has been made in the field, as Malta retains its place in the list maintaining its lead over Brazil.
3. Birds illegally killed per square kilometre
True, Malta’s small size helps with making these statistics seem grander than they are, but the fact of the matter is that over 300 birds are illegally shot down for every square kilometre, totalling up to an average of 108,000 birds. That might not be the highest total amount when compared to countries hundreds of times larger, but it’s still not by any means a small number for our tiny island. As far as we’re concerned, we’d much rather stick to Pokémon hunting, if anyone’s still playing that is.
4. Fireworks (size and frequency)
Every single week. Every single village. For the whole of summer. You knew this one had to be somewhere in here, and we leave it up to you to decide whether it’s a good thing or not. All Facebook arguments aside though, we can all agree that when we do break records, it looks amazing.
5. Street Art
Ever wondered why we have so many awesome murals around the island? Or why there are so many talented street artists in Malta? It’s because we actually encourage it. The Malta Arts Council teaches street art in schools and some local councils even earmark walls for graffiti. While the culmination of all of this is obviously the annual Malta Street Art Festival, the work never really stops. And earlier this month, even The New York Times noticed!
6. Churches Per Square Kilometre
Fine, Jamaica has more churches per square kilometre, and of course Vatican City is the first on this list. But who’s counting the actual home of the Pope anyway?! Malta has around 365 churches. That’s one church per every square kilometre, or one church for every day of the year.
And really now, stop us when you find another country where giving directions goes something like this:
Person A: “Ok so, you’re gonna have to go to the church first….”
Person B: “Church? Which church?!”
7. LGBTIQ Rights
Drug dealers, obese children, illegal hunting and religious fanatics aside, Malta has really tried hard as of late to be one of the most tolerant countries in the world when it comes to LGBTIQ rights. The International Lesbian-Gay Association’s ‘Rainbow Europe’ League has seen our tiny island rocket up to first place last year, overtaking Belgium and the UK.
According to the table, Malta grants 89% of the total rights due to LGBTIQ people, and that’s a pretty amazing feat. Here’s hoping the other 48 countries follow our example!