Settled as early as 5200BC and coveted throughout its long history by the dominant power brokers of every age, Malta’s amazing natural harbours have offered safety for some and contributed to disaster for others.
The settlers were farming people, independent and self-sufficient. However, as soon as seafaring allowed greater mobility, Malta became an important port on the developing shipping routes. This began a long tradition of control from abroad by the dominant maritime power in the Mediterranean in each successive era. The Phoenicians, the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabs visited or settled Malta, over the centuries.
Malta is the most southerly European country.
It is situated approximately halfway between the western and eastern ends of the Mediterranean. Malta is roughly equidistant from the shores of Sicily and North Africa. It is believed to have been attached to Sicily until the end of the last Ice Age. Consequently, sea levels rise and washed into part of the islands.
The tiny island of Malta sits at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Although only 316 sq km / 122 sq miles in area, its land has felt the ebb and flow of the most influential ancient cultures. Its people have witnessed pivotal moments in European history at first hand.
The archipelago of Malta is from six islands, but only two have inhabitants. Malta, the largest, is home to more than 500 000 people, while Gozo has under ten percent of this population on an island a quarter of the size.
Malta’s climate is typically the Mediterranean
It is with mild, rainy winters and hot, sunny summers. The Islands have a pleasantly sunny climate with a daily average of around 12 hours of sunshine in summer, going down to 5 to 6 hours in mid-winter.
The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English.
The Maltese language is the only Semitic language written in the Latin script. It is the only official Semitic language of the European Union. Originally an Arabic dialect, over the centuries it has picked up words from several other European languages. Many people also speak Italian. The currency used is Euro.
Roman Catholicism has been the predominant religion in the country for a long time, and today an estimated 98% of the population is Catholic.