The Maltese Islands lie in the heart of the Mediterranean, and are situated 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa.
The Maltese Archipelago consists of Malta, Gozo and Comino, and it’s blue seas, beaches and favourable warm climate are acclaimed worldwide. Malta, the largest of the islands, has a population of 400,000, which live in many small towns and villages scattered all over the island. This makes it ones of the most densely populated countries in Europe because this population is spread over an area of 316 sq km. Gozo is the second most populated island and is followed by Comino, which mainly houses a hotel and bungalows. This makes it a dreamy, remote getaway where you can go to truly relax.
Malta is steeped in history and its capital city, Valletta, built by Grandmaster Jean de la Valette in the 1500s, is a hub of culture. It houses a huge amount of historically significant sites, including 320 statues, on only 55 hectares. Valletta is a beautiful collage of modern establishments and baroque architecture. So much so that UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Property.
It is not just Valletta that contains world heritage sites. Malta is general is littered with UNESCO sites. The Megalithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are the oldest freestanding structures in the world. Records show that they date back to before the UK’s Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, to 7000 B.C.
Malta has a long Christian history, and according to the Acts of the Apostles, St Paul became shipwrecked on ‘Melite’, which is said to be how Christianity came to Malta. Catholicism still remains the official language in Malta.
Malta boasts two official languages. Its mother tongue is Maltese, but English is also an official language that is taught to children in schools from an early age. A third language that many Maltese are familiar with is Italian, thanks to television programs that are broadcasted on local stations.
Malta’s location in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea has given it great strategic importance for centuries. Many powers have taken control of the islands, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Knights of St John, French and the British. In 1964, Malta gained its independence from Britain and also became a member of the Commonwealth, whilst in 1974 it became a republic. In 2004 it joined the European Union and eventually adopted the Euro in 2008.