The Republic of Malta lies in the center of the Mediterranean, in the south of Italy, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya. Because of its strategic location between Europe and Africa, the island nation has been an important military port for Greek, Romans, Arabs, Normans, British, and French. It is also a focal point for illegal immigration that impacted the country’s economic resources as well as its political stability.
Although a small country, Malta hasn’t been left behind by other advanced countries in Europe. Its economy relies primarily on foreign trade, manufacturing, and tourism. Its financial services industry has also improved in recent years. However, due to the international financial crisis and the inflated prices of electricity and water, the country’s real economy faced a downturn.
Being a British colony from 1814 until 1964, Maltese banknotes had a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Although the country gained its freedom from the United Kingdom on September 21, 1964, early issues of the Central Bank of Malta still carried a portrait of the queen.
Prior to adopting the Euro on January 1, 2008, the nation’s national currency was the Maltese lira from 1972 to the end of 2007. A set of banknotes was introduced in 1979 to commemorate Malta’s Freedom Day and on March 17, 1986, the bank issued another banknote series. These paper bills highlight the country’s third president Agatha Barbara. They also showcase commercial activities of the country, its architecture, and traditions. These banknotes were the first to bear a portrait of the head of the state.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the nation’s independence on September 18, 1989, the central bank released a family of banknotes that depict a statue of a woman with a rudder that stands for Malta being in charge of her own destiny. Other design elements present on these notes are doves that symbolize peace, the United Nations arms, the coat of arms of the central bank, and mosaic designs.