In the heart of the Mediterranean sea, lies the Island of Malta, which although is pretty small, has a very rich history with a great number of historic sights. Malta has a predominantly strong Roman Catholic religion and the island’s population looks surprisingly international, having been ruled by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, French and British. After 160 years of British rule, Malta obtained its independence in 1964. Malta became a member of the European Union in May 2004 - located in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Sicily, the Maltese archipelago basically consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. The total population in 2012 was approximately 418,366. The largest island of the group is Malta, from which the archipelago takes its name. In Valletta, the capital, is the cultural, administrative and commercial center of the archipelago a UNESCO world heritage site. Malta is well served with harbours, chief of which is the Valletta Grand Harbour. Malta's international airport is situated five kilometres from the capital. The second largest island, Gozo is topographically quite different from Malta. Quaintly attractive for its less industrialised way of life, Gozo can be reached from Malta by ferryboat from Cirkewwa and Pieta, near Valletta. Comino, Cominotto, Filfla and St Paul's Islet are the other major features of the archipelago. Of these, only Comino, straddled between Malta and Gozo, sustains a very tiny population. Malta’s strategic position has helped it to develop into an important trading post. The Malta Freeport is one of the Mediterranean's leading ports for container transshipments. Area of the Maltese Islands: 316 km2. The length of the shoreline round Malta is 136 km, and 43km round Gozo.
It is the climate, more than anything else that has made Malta an important tourist resort in the centre of the Mediterranean. The total annual rainfall is about 50cm (20 ins). The average winter temperature is 12o C (54o F.) There are really only two seasons in Malta: the dry summer season, and the mild winter season. The average rainfall is 578 mm (22.756 ins). Rain rarely, if ever, falls during the summer months. In the summer of 2013 Malta had the highest amount of tourists ever, adding up to over 1.5 million tourists.
Dining and Cuisine
Maltese cuisine is typically Mediterranean, based on fresh, seasonal, locally available produce and seafood, with some influence from Italian cuisine, particularly Sicily and the south. There are many unique and distinctive local dishes and the cuisine also embodies the gastronomic legacies of Malta's past, including not only Italian, but Spanish, Moorish, and more recently British influence. An abundance of top quality restaurants bless the islands and cater for a vast range of budgets and tastes.
Schools and Education
Education in Malta is compulsory up to the age of 16 and offered through three different providers - the state, the church and the private sector; however it is the duty of the state to provide for such schools and institutions where these do not exist. It is also within the duty of the state to promote education. Most schools teach in English & Maltese however there are also a number of private international schools. One will generally find that the standard of education is very high in Malta.
Many scenic dive sites can be found around Malta, Gozo and Comino – in fact it is often voted as one of the top 10 worldwide places for scuba. From beautifully coloured coral reefs, dark caves reaching deep into some of Malta’s tall cliffs and war time wrecks which over the years have become the habitat for various species of fish and other marine life. Malta is very attractive for experienced divers but also ideal for beginners. There are a number of PADI certified scuba-diving schools. In summer, the sea temperature averages 26 degrees and even in the middle of winter the sea temperature never drops below 13 degrees.
Malta's temperate climate - only 2 hours from central Europe - makes the Royal Malta Golf Club an ideal venue for off-season golfing breaks both for individuals and groups. Malta’s Golf Club is situated not far from the airport and is a private members club. The grounds have been the home of golfing in Malta since the early 1900's and are open to visitors. It is one of the oldest Clubs outside of the UK. The greens have been replanted with "TiffEagle" grass which provides slick greens all year round. Today at par 68, the course is a good test of golf without being unkind to the novice. A driving range and practice putting green are provided for those golfers who prefer to gain a little more experience prior to stepping out onto the course.
Sailing, Yachting & Boating
Being a small island with good all year round weather and located in the middle of the Mediterranean, it is no wonder that boating in Malta is extremely popular and very well catered for. Malta is the ideal stopover when cruising the Mediterranean and also offers the best tourist and yachting facilities in the Mediterranean and boasts skilled boat-builders, as well as shipyards, slipways and floating docks. An excellent natural protected harbour, Yard and Hauling out Facilities, Duty Free Bunkering, Sail Repair and Valeting, Mast Work, Rigging and Splicing, Berthing Arrangements as well as Electrical and Mechanical Works are only some of the services the island can offer. An increasing number of marinas are available to cater from smaller boats to luxury yachts. The Royal Malta Yacht Club is home of the Rolex Middle Sea Race attracting many enthusiasts year after year.