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Subnational Flags (Malta)

Last modified: 2013-12-09 by rob raeside
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The Republic of Malta is composed of 68 local councils. (...) The Maltese municipal flags are usually armorial banners of the municipal coats-of-arms, all of which are available at the Local Councils page of the Maltese Government website.
Jan Zrzavy
, 26 February 2000

Eleven (numbers 1 through 11) of these municipalities have city status, symbolized on the coat of arms by the presence of a mural crown — village coats-of-arms appear to lack crowns.
António Martins
, 1 March 2000

According to the images sent to me by Thomas Borg from Mellieha and drawn from a local book, all the banners-of-arms for Maltese local councils have proportions of 3:5 and not 1:1.
Pascal Gross, 1 March 2000

Malta and Gozo, are divided into sixty eight Local Councils each of which has its own coat of arms and the flag of that Council is a banner of the arms, the dimensions of which vary, and are sometimes suspended from a cross-bar. Eleven of the local councils are cities, and the arms of these are augmented by a coronet, which do not appear in the banners, but usually manifest themselves as finials.
Adrian Strickland, 30 November 2000

Note that the mural crown on the national arms has five towers, that on Valletta's, L-Imdina's and Il-Birgu's coats-of-arms four towers —see the Maltese Government website— and those of the other eight cities have only three towers.
Santiago Dotor, 22 December 2000

I guess these flags, or rather their matching coats-of-arms, might have official English blazons granted or confirmed by the College of Arms.
Željko Heimer, 1 November 2002

Most of the local coat of arms are derived from the coat of arms of the Catholic parishes, and the date of birth of every locality dates from the ecclesiastical dismemberment of the new parish from an older parish, from which it originated. In the case of the cities, it is largely taken from the Grandmaster who gave them the urban charter. L-Imdina's coat of arms date from medieval times, but definitely, not from the time of Count Roger, which is just a myth.
Christopher Vella, 15 May 2004

It seems that the local councils were created in 1993, and this is probably the date of many of the coats-of-arms and flags. The act, as amended until 1999 is at Coats of arms are in section 74, which is mostly concerned with the procedure for adopting arms. But then Para 5 states, 'Localities may display a square flag showing their coat-of-arms or some other design approved by the Minister'. The arms are supposed to be included as Schedule 1 to the Act, but are not there. Presumably the arms on the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs site at are the ones for which official approval has been given.
Ian Sumner, 3 March 2006

There is a footnote "See Maltese text". Since that website says that the Maltese legislation is copied from the Laws of Malta website:, which indeed contains the same document here: I searched the latter for a Maltese version, which I found here: and which indeed contains the coats-of-arms approved for the local councils, including amendments due to changes and new arms (eg. Mtarfa) up to 2005.
Santiago Dotor, 3 March 2006

About the Local Councils

In 1993 the government of Malta introduced local councils. Malta Post Office edited a block of four stamps a 5c in November 1993, added by a short description of their functions. They had to take care of the upkeep of public places, cultural centres, safeguarding of children, vicinity of local schools, running of health and rehabilitation centres, Government dispensaries, crèches and kindergartens. They had consultative rights regarding infrastructure and other national schemes affecting their proper area. Elections will be held every three years and a general assembly of all citizens once every year. The local councils were granted their own coats of arms. The government worked them out and published the results in: "L-ibliet u l-irħula tal-gżejjer Maltin u l-istemmi tagħhom" (Engl.: The cities and villages of the Maltese islands and their coats-of-arms), edited by Maltese department of information; Valetta, February 1993. The book is bilingual, Maltese and English, but gives little information about the coats of arms, as far as I could see. All images however are listed at the end of the book on eight charts.

There is another source, unfortunately only in Maltese: Michael J. SCHIAVONE, Austin GATT and Winston L. ZAMMIT: “Il kunsilli lokali 1993-1994, Storja - Fatti – Ċifri”, Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza, Pietá, 1994, ISBN 99909-41-16-5.
A short description of history and development is given (so I believe at least). In the second part are photos of the very first local councils with the local coat of arms added at the top. And all coats of arms are of course depicted on the block of stamps. All these sources show the same images, i.e. the government proposals. The local councils however were allowed to make amendments and some of them obviously did. So some of the proposals probably never became official and some had been changed later. The information about flags was however disastrous. So there only remained own observations or asking people. I found out, that the flags not always have the same pattern as the coats of arms. Cities tend to show their privileges by a mural crown topping the shield. Probably they do the same with their local flags. But I could prove this only for the flags of Birgu, Mdina and Victoria (Rabat). Furthermore the capital or former capitals (Valetta, Mdina, Birgu) have a mural crown with four towers while normal cities only have three towers and the republic of Malta has five towers.
(information by Josette Ciantar, librarian in Birgu).
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 October 2008

Città Nicknames

Each of the [eleven] cities seem to have a nickname. Is-Siġġiewi is Città Ferdinand, Iż Żejtun is Città Beland, Ir-Rabat(Għawdex) is Città Vittoria, Ħaż Żebbuġ is Città Rohan —yet another Grand Master of the Order of Malta— and Ħaż Żabbar  is Città Hompesch. Il-Birgu and Bormla might also have such nicknames but the images on the Maltese Government website were scanned from a different source and lack any inscription. The nicknames given seem to be in Italian, mind it — not in Maltese, which is a very different language.
António Martins
, 1 March 2000

If my recollection of Maltese (Malti) serves me, Ir-Rabat means 'suburb', while L-Imdina means 'walled city'. The Ir-Rabat on Malta [island] is the suburb of L-Imdina.
Ole Andersen, 10 March 2000

According to the Maltese Government website the eleven cities of Malta have each, apart from the normal name, a title or nickname:

Apart from Valletta's and Rabat's, all other nicknames refer to Grand Masters of the Order of Malta.
António Martins, 23 March 2000

According to Strickland 1999 [str99], the nickname Città Umilissima was given to the city by its founder, Grand Master de Vallette in 1568. I guess the Italian name has been maintained as historical. I guess again that Italian was more or less the official language of the Order of Malta. Moreover, Strickland 1999 [str99] lists only ten cities [sic]:

The first eight cities received their charters from the Knights of Saint John and their flags are largely derived from this connection with seven of them. The two remaining cities are L-Imdina (ancient capital of Malta) and Gozo.
Ivan Sache, 23 March 2000

Ivan Sache's information is quite strange, since it does not match the information at the Maltese Government website. This source confirms city status for Birgu, Isla, Valetta, Qormi, Zebbug, Zabbar, Zejtun and Mdina, and also gives city status for Rabat-Ghawdex, Siggiewi and Bormla. And there is no city called Gozo (might be reffering to Rabat-Ghawdex or Città Vittoria, the only city on Gozo Island) and I cannot find any Cottonera (probably the Italian name for Siggiewi or Bormla).
António Martins, 26 March 2000