Acts chapter 28 documents the crash landing of the Apostle Paul on the Mediterranean island of Malta. To this day, Paul is still considered a national symbol and the founder of Christianity on the island.
The Maltese people have a history that stretches back millennia and are descendants of the ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians. Throughout this long history, Malta, located between Sicily and Tunisia, has been influenced by many more peoples such as the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and British. A former colony of Great Britain, Malta received its independence in 1964 and is now a member of the European Union.
Today Malta’s economy relies heavily on trade with other European countries, manufacturing, and tourism. Malta has low unemployment in comparison to the rest of Europe and has also mostly avoided the recent European economic crisis. With the smallest economy in the eurozone, Malta only produces about 20% of its food needs and has limited domestic water and energy supplies. A great number of immigrants pour through the island as they travel from the African continent to the European mainland. These immigrants place a great strain on the Maltese economy, resulting in social tensions between themselves and the native population.
Over 96% of the Maltese people consider themselves Christians, and the great majority of this number belong to the Roman Catholic Church, with a small protestant population. The Maltese are very committed to their faith, with over 80% of the population saying their religion is important to them. The majority regularly attends mass. The first nation in Europe to become Christian, Malta has continued this legacy to modern times. Though there is a lack of Christian materials in Maltese, several Christian radio stations broadcast the Good News, and a program allows churches from around the world to adopt a Maltese village in prayer. While the Maltese have a strong Christian tradition, for many it is just that: a tradition. The non-religious segment of society is growing quickly, and nominalism is high. At the same time there has been a great impact, with Catholic charismatic groups, the Alpha Course, and the JESUS film growing and maturing the Church.