Newly sworn in President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca waves to the crowd gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Valletta. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Valleta - Malta's Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was on Friday sworn in as the island state's ninth president after being named by the prime minister and approved by parliament.

Coleiro Preca, a notary by profession, was previously minister for social policy after the Labour party returned to power following March 2013 elections.

The 55-year-old is the second female president of Malta and was previously general secretary of Labour.

Her appointment brings to 21 the number of female heads of state or government in the world.

Coleiro Preca, who succeeds George Abela, will hold office in the European Union's smallest member state for five years with a largely ceremonial role.