Malta has highest proportion of built-up area in all EU

At 33% of land area, small Malta has the highest proportion of built-up area

Staff Reporter
25 October 2013, 12:00am
Notching up that construction percentage.
Notching up that construction percentage.


Malta has the EU's largest proportion of built-up land, at 33%, as well as one of the highest proportions of shrub land, like garigue, covering the island at 15%.

Data published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, from the Land Use/Cover Area frame Survey (LUCAS), was conducted by 750 field surveyors at 270,000 points. At each of these points, the field surveyors recorded the land cover and land use and took photographs. These photographs can be found in the LUCAS photo viewer in the Statistical Atlas on the Eurostat website.

In 2012, forests and other wooded land occupied around 40% of the total area of the EU, cropland a quarter and grassland a further fifth, while artificial areas, such as buildings, road and rail networks accounted for 5%.



Built-up and other artificial areas include roofed constructions, such as buildings and greenhouses, non-built up areas, such as yards, car parks, cemeteries and linear features, such as roads and rail networks. Shrub land is an area dominated by shrubs and low woody plants capable of reaching heights up to 5m. Bare land is an area with no dominant vegetation or areas covered by lichens.

In Sweden (76% of total land area), Finland (72%), Estonia (61%), Slovenia (60%) and Latvia (56%) more than half of the country is covered by forests and other wooded areas.

The highest shares of cropland are observed in Denmark (49%), Hungary (47%), Romania (36%), the Czech Republic and Poland (both 34%), Germany (33%), Bulgaria and Italy (both 32%) and France (31%).

Ireland (67%) has more than two thirds of the country covered by natural or agricultural grasslands, followed by the United Kingdom (40%), the Netherlands (38%), Luxembourg (37%) and Belgium (32%).

Finland (16%), Sweden (12%) and the Netherlands (11%) have the largest proportions of water areas, while Cyprus (21%), Greece (19%), Malta (15%), Spain and Portugal (both 12%) had the highest proportions of shrub land.

A third of Malta is covered with built-up and other artificial areas, followed by Belgium (13%), Luxembourg and the Netherlands (both 12%).