Malta attained independence in 1964. Under the 1964 Independence Constitution, Malta was a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary state. This constitution was amended in 1974 to make Malta a republic within the Commonwealth. Its head of state is a president appointed by the Maltese Parliament which, in its turn, is elected by Universal Suffrage for a term of five years.
Carnival in Malta dates back to at least the middle of the 15th Century. Balls and dance competitions featuring the Maltija, the national dance, the Parata, a sword dance, as well as contemporary dances and defile of floats, satirical and other, are the order of this 3-day festival.
The Easter period also gives rise to a spate of Good Friday biblical character pageants in several parts of the Islands, these being colourful and devotional at the same time. Folk festivals are also popular. The principal one is l-lmnarja, an agrarian feast held on June 29, the joint feastday of St. Peter and St. Paul, and highlighted by I-ghana, a type of folksinging peculiar to the Maltese Islands.