The MALTESE ISLANDS are Malta, Gozo, Comino, Filfla and Fungus Rock. Only the first three are inhabited, but the other two are well known for their flora and fauna. The main Islands however are MALTA and its sister island, GOZO. Malta is virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa. Population is approximately 400,000, with twice as many (and more) first and second generation Maltese having settled in several areas, notably in the UK, Australia, Canada, United States, Italy and elsewhere.
Malta is the third most densely populated country in the world. Its natural resources are nearly non existent, except for the famous golden limestone used for our buildings. We produce only 20% of our food requirements and have no domestic energy sources. The main industries of the Maltese Islands are Tourism, Construction, Agriculture and various small industries. with Information Technology and Telecommunications are becoming really active industry today. Malta remains just one of two countries in the world along with the Philipines to prohibit divorce.
Malta is a nation state, and these Islands are Members of the United Nations, European Union, the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, and several other important treaty organisations. Malta and Gozo have political, social and commercial relations with several countries and contributes people and know-how in many fields.
Malta and Gozo are famous for their ancient history, actually predating 'history due to the evidence of some colossal and well-preserved stone Temples from prehistoric times, some of these being dated older than the Pyramids of Egypt. But their fame is also due to the Two Great Sieges, one in 1565 when the Turkish Empire with all its might could not conquer little Malta, with its tall bastions, the brave Knights of St John and the local people whose support and determination were crucial; the other momentous event being the Second World war (1939 -1942) when Malta's successful stand-off against the aggressive and fearful airplane attacks of the Nazis, contributing in a massive way towards the final armistice, with Malta's people besieged, hungry but proudly helping the Allies to victory.
Malta was governed over the century by several powers including the Romans, the Byzantines, the Angevins, the Castillians, the Arabs, the Normans, the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, the Napoleonic French, the British. Independence within the British Commonwealth came on 21st September 1964. Malta was declared a Republic on 13th December 1973, but British influence is still very evident. English is registered as an official language together with its native Maltese. In May 2004 Malta joined the European Union, another important date in its long and chequered history.
As a TOURIST ATTRACTION Malta offers history, culture, the arts, beautiful beaches and water-sports activities, religion and many other attractions.
The WEATHER IN MALTA has a characteristically Mediterranean feel with long hot summers and a short mild winter, similar to that found in Southern Italy.
The weather starts to warm up in early April and the temperature increases gradually until the very hot and humid months of August and September. This is a long and dry season for Malta with very little rain if ever any. Annual rainfall is rather low with an average of 600mm and the dry season is rather long. Right in the middle of summer Malta experiences hot and humid winds from the African coast called the Sirocco. July and August are often the hottest months with temperature ranging from 30 degrees Celsius to 37 degrees Celsius. The highest ever recorded temperature was 44 degrees Celsius in August with a highly humidity this temperature can be unbearable and it is advised to keep out of the direct sun between 11 am and 4 pm. During the spring and summer months Malta experiences long days of sunlight with the sun rising round about 6am and setting at about 7.30 pm. At night the best place to be is by the seaside where one can enjoy the cooling sea breeze. Most of the winter rain falls between November and March.
Winters are mild with the rare spell of cold weather brought by North and North Eastern minds from Central Europe. In fact day time temperature rarely falls below 10 degrees Celsius and night time temperature never falls below 0 degrees Celsius, so it never snows in Malta. Being a small Island strong winds are of regular occurrence in Malta all the year round. When it gets very windy it often lasts for 3 days with strong gale force winds coming from the North West, Malta's most common wind.
Gozo is somewhat more laid back than Malta, its tranquil & quiet and this is why many Maltese tend to travel to Gozo on weekends to escape from the faster pace of Malta. Although the people from Gozo are widely perceived to be Maltese, they have stuck to their own identity and like being reffered to as Gozitans, rather than Maltese, this is also very evident in their accent.
Gozo, with an area of 14km by 7km, is full of valleys and is surrounded by cliffs from the southwest to northwest. The Island is rural and simple, with its way of life rooted in agriculture and fishing.
Gozo is definately a must if you are looking for late mornings, relaxed days and early nights. Look at our "Gozo Villas & Farmhouses" Section under the heading "Places to Stay" to find self catering accomodation with or without a swimming pool.
Comino on the other hand is the smallest island of the Maltese archipelego measuring, roughly 2.5 square km in area. Comino lies between Gozo and Malta and is home to one hotel, a few self catering bungalows and the beautiful Blue Lagoon which is visited by by large numbers of tourists and local alike, especially during the summer months. Comino has a permanent population of only 4 residents and forms part of the municiaplity of Ghajnsielem in Gozo. A visit to the Blue Lagoon on one of the many boat tours departing from Malta and Gozo, will give you enough time to stroll round this little peaceful and tranquil island.
As we have a strong sun with high UV rays it is advised to ensure that a high protection is used when out in the sun.
Popular Places To Stay In Malta & Gozo
Marsascala, is still renowned as fishing village & its excellent fish restaurants. The Maltese refer to Marsascala as "Wied Il-Ghajn". In the summer months, Marsascala is full of activity, with the various bars & restaurants usually chock a block for lunch and dinner. The long U-shaped coastline and beach, its rocky promontories and its multicoloured fishing vessels give the town a typical Maltese character. Neighbouring towns are Marsaxlokk, Zabbar & Zejtun.
Mdina is the old capital city of Malta situated in the centre of the island. Known locally as the "Silent City". Mdina commands a breathtaking and magnificent view of the Island & although it is fully inhabited with no more than a couple of hundred residents, silence remains the name of the game. Mdina brings a calming atmosphere as you walk along its narrow streets & ways, passing by some of the best Norman & Baroque architecture on the island. Neighbouring towns are Rabat & Dingli.
Mellieha, is one of Malta's most picturesque tourist destinations. The town centre is perched on a hill overlooking Mellieha Bay. Fine hotels, restaurants, shops and a majestic baroque church (built in late 19th century) may be fouund in Mellieha. Mellieha is also home to Malta's longest stretch of sandy beach, better known to the Maltese as "Ghadira". Neigbouring Towns are Xemxija and Cirkewwa.
Sliema or "Tas-Sliema" in Maltese, is located on the North East coast of the Island. A major commercial & residential area, with a number of lidos, waterpolo clubs, bars & restaurants lined up on the coast. Sliema is also home to a lovely promenade which connects to its neighbouring towns on either side - St Julians & Gzira. Numerous hotels may be found on this coastline.
St Julians or "San Giljan" in Maltese, is home to Spinola Bay, one of the prettiest bays in Malta. St Julians is a stone throw away from Paceville which is the entertainment capital of the Islands offering both tourists and locals a wide array of Discos, Bars , Restaurants, a Casino and some excellent Hotels. Many now consider Paceville and St Julians as one. Neighbouring Towns are Sliema & St Andrews.
St Paul's Bay or "San Pawl il Bahar" in Maltese, is well known for the number of fish restaurants & an excellent fish shop where one can buy fresh catch of the day. Just off St Paul's Bay are St Paul's Islands where St Paul was shipwrecked in AD60. Close by to the Islands there is an underwater statue of Christ Our Lord which is often visited by diving enthusiasts. Neighbouring Towns are Bugibba & Xemxija.
Valletta is the Capital City of Malta and is often referred to by the Maltese as "Il-Belt" meaning "The City". Valletta is surrounded by Majestic Bastions & is full of Magnificent Buildings, Palaces, Catherdrals, Churches, Museums & the Teathre. Cafes, Wine Bars & Restaurants are aslo abundant. Do not miss the "City Built By Gentelemen for Gentelemen." Neighbouring Towns are Floriana, Msida & Ta' Xbiex.
Zejtun, is situated in the South East of Malta. The centre of Zejtun is on top of a hill which overlooks Marsaxlokk, Marsascala and St Thomas Bay. The name Zejtun Originated from Phoenician and Semetic Arab meaning the fruit of the olive tree. In Arabic "zaytun". In Maltese itself the word is now used only as a place name, and the word "zebbug" is now used both for the olive tree and its fruit. Neighbouring towns are Marsaxlokk and Marsascala, two villages renowned for delicous fish restaurants.
Zurrieq, is the largest village in the south of Malta. Home to the picturesque harbour of "Wied iz-Zurrieq" & the renowned Blue Grotto. Zurrieq and neighbouring towns are rich in archaeological and historic sites, including several ancient chapels, a tower, & ancient tombs. Zurrieq is a typical Maltese village where the pace of life is slow and relaxed and above all - quiet. Neighbouring towns are Qrendi; Kirkop and Safi.
Mgarr pronounced "hymn - jar" is home to Gozo's Ferry Terminal and stretches upwards to the top of the Mgarr Harbour. Mgarr enjoys panoramic views of Malta and Comino across the Gozo channel. The to and fro of the fishing boats and the incomparable vistas add a unique touch to this lovely town. Mgarr is also very popular for its hub of fish restaurants situated close to the waters edge.
Nadur is perched on the eastermost hill of Gozo with its baroque Parish Church dominating the skyline. The church is dedicated to St Peter & St Paul. The village enjoys a sizeable village square, and just off it one will find a number of restaurants and shops. With its beautiful countryside Nadur offers some of the best country walk-routes on the island. Nadur is also home to one of Malta and Gozo's most entertaining Carnival displays, which shouldn't be missed if you are around at this time.
San Lawrenz is a village situated in the west of the island of Gozo. The village is built upon a flat surface surrounded by three hills - Ta' Ghammar, Ta' Gelmus and Ta' Dbiegi. The latter is 195 metres above sea level and boasts the highest point in Gozo. San Lawrenz also has within its territory the beautiful Dwejra Bay which is renowned for its unique ecological aspects, not only recognised by all Gozitans and locals but also internationally.
Sannat is a small, typical village in southern Gozo, Sannat (pronounced sun-aat) is one of the few places where you can still see the old craft of Gozitan lace being made. In the summer elderly women seated outside their homes make shawls, table mats or lace-edged handkerchiefs. Beyond the village, the cliffs of Ta Cenc drop 180m down to the sea & walk along a country road will bring you to the pretty little inlet of Mgarr Ix Xini Bay.
Victoria is the capital town of the island of Gozo. The name Victoria, locally known as Rabat, was given to the medieval town of Gozo in 1887 in honour of the famous British Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations. The town of Victoria embraces both the Citadel, the ancient city of the Island, as well as Rabat, the old suburb of the Citadel. Rabat in Arabic and Archaic Maltese stands for suburb.
Xewkija, which is pronounced "Shokeea" is home to the Church built around a Church and is considered to be Gozo's first Village. Just off Xewkija one can enjoy a beautiful countryside walk which leads all the way to Mgarr Ix Xini Bay, which is one of the prettiest bays in Gozo.
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