Where is Malta located and how big is the island?
Malta is lies just 93 km (58 miles) South of Sicily (Italy) in Southern Europe and roughly 300 km (186 miles) North from the North African coast.
Malta is an island nation that consists of three islands: main island Malta, Gozo and Comino. The country’s official languages are Maltese and English. Malta’s capital city is Valletta, which is centrally located on the island’s North coast and has the island’s largest harbour.
The main island of Malta is the largest and most developed island. Its sister-island of Gozo is idyllic and peaceful and mostly rural, offering breathtaking views and great opportunities for outdoor activities, such has hiking, biking and rock climbing. Comino is the smallest island of the three and is inhabited by only a few people. The island hosts a hotel renowned for its hospitality and facilities to spend relaxing holidays in Malta and is the location for one of Malta’s most beautiful bays: the Blue Lagoon.
The size of Malta’s population is roughly 400,000 whilst its geographical size is limited to around 316 square kilometres and as a result, Malta ranks highly on the list of most densely populated countries in the world. The leading religion in Malta is Roman Catholicism, followed by the vast majority of the population.
History of Malta and Birth of a Republic
Malta has a rich history, as a result of numerous foreign rulers who greatly valued the strategic geographical location the islands offered for trade and warfare. The nation is home to the oldest free-standing structure in the world: The oldest of all megalithic temples is il-Ggantija in Gozo, dating back to 3500 BC. Malta was held by several foreign rulers, including the Romans, Phoenicians, Byzantines, Arabs and more recently the French (under Napoleon) and British. Malta gained independence from the British empire in 1964, becoming an independent republic, though continuing to be part of the British Commonwealth. The country has been a member of the European Union since May 2004 and is the smallest EU state both in population and geographical size.
The Maltese are a proud people, with a unique culture which has been shaped by foreign cultures during several ages of occupancy. Many falsely believe Maltese culture as merely being a melting pot of cultures introduced by foreign empires, however, foreign influences moulded a collection of pre-existing, age-old traditions, customs and values passed on through successive generations of Maltese and Gozitans. The country has two official languages, with a large number of the population speaking both Maltese and English.
Malta is one of the latest additions to the European Union (member since May 2004) and is developing in a number of areas, improving the quality of life for its citizens as well as offering tourists a better holiday experience. The island’s economy is largely dependent on tourism, but the island’s accession to the EU has given many industrial areas an array of opportunities. Recently investments were secured by the Maltese government for the establishment of an IT hub, SmartCity, modelled after Internet City, located in Dubai. Malta is set to be developed into an IT centre that will offer various business opportunities and is expected to boost Malta’s frail economy. On 1st January, 2008 Malta adopted the Euro, which replaced the Maltese Lira as the country’s currency.