Around 500 Russians received a Maltese passport in 2016, with that country's citizens making up 33 per cent of the 1,495 people granted citizenship by the Maltese government that year. 

The relative share of Russian citizens receiving Maltese passports eclipsed the next biggest groups, with UK citizens making up 8.4 per cent of Malta's share and Saudi Arabians 5.2 per cent. 

Malta's figure represented a 131 per cent increase from the 646 citizenships granted in 2015, though it was significantly lower than the 3,315 and 4,660 figures for fellow small EU member states Luxembourg and Cyprus. 

Data released by Eurostat on Monday revealed that European Union member states granted almost one million people citizenship that year.  

The EU's total of 995,000 citizenships in 2016 was higher than the 841,000 granted in 2015 and 889,000 in 2014. Out of the total, 88 per cent came from a non-EU country or were stateless.

One-third of all recipients of EU citizenship that year hailed from Europe, with 29.6 per cent coming from Africa, 20.9 per cent from Asia, 15.2 per cent from America and less than one per cent from Oceania. 1.3 per cent of recipients were stateless or had unknown citizenship. 

Citizens of Morocco were the largest group acquiring EU citizenship that year (101,300), with the vast majority getting a Spanish, Italian or French passport. 

67,500 Albanian citizens acquired an EU passport that year, with almost 90 per cent of those granted Italian or Greek citizenship. 

Citizens of India (41,700), Pakistan (32,900, Turkey (32,800), Romania (29,700) and Ukraine (24,000) were also among the largest groups acquiring EU citizenship. 

Russians topped the list of Maltese citizenship recipients. Table: EurostatRussians topped the list of Maltese citizenship recipients. Table: Eurostat

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