With a population of less than half a million people, Malta is one of the smallest – and most fascinating – countries in Europe.
The Maltese archipelago, comprising Malta and sister islands Gozo and Comino as well as some smaller uninhabited islets, is located in the near centre of the Mediterranean Sea, some 96 km south of Sicily and 290 km north of Africa. Though all three main islands are fairly close to each other, each one has its own character; Malta is the most populous and the commercial hub; Gozo is quieter and its villages and shores seen as an escape from busy lifestyles; while Comino is exclusively an island for sun and sea.
Malta’s geographic, strategic location has seen the islands play a key role and be a stage for some of the most important events in European and Mediterranean history. It was party to the wars between Rome and Carthage; those between Christians and Muslims; the rise and fall of Napoleon, as well as that of the British Empire; the rise of a United Europe; and the challenges of the third millennium – to name a few.
The many and varied cultures who in turns settled and ruled the islands have left a great impact and legacy on Malta in its architecture, art and language as well as its lifestyle. These turning points and contributions throughout history have helped shape Malta into the country it is today – rich in cultural heritage with an openness to outside influences yet a state retaining a unique identity.
The cities throughout the island vary from sacred and secular and from ancient to modern, giving the country a sense of its historic place coupled with contemporary purpose. Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is the main commercial, legal and administrative centre yet it pays homage to its birth as a fortified city. Other historic locations, such as Mdina – the capital in medieval times – are a time capsule.
With crystal clear sea and marble like beaches, the island prides itself of picturesque scenes that have earned the admiration of workers and tourists worldwide.
For more information on the Maltese Island, see VisitMalta, the official tourism site.
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