Malta, an archipelagic nation situated in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea, consists of a number of small islands and the main island, also called Malta. Malta, which is known more formally as the Republic of Malta, covers a total area of about one hundred and twenty one square miles. Malta is a relatively small island, although it has a population exceeding four hundred and seventeen thousand residents. Malta’s two main cities are the national capital, Valletta, and the nation’s largest town, Birkirkara. The human history of Malta dates back several thousand years, including early inhabitation by the Sicani people, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Byzantine Empire. Malta was also controlled by Arabs, the French, the British Empire, and the Knights of Saint John before becoming an independent nation, a testament to the island’s strategic importance. Although there are only three main inhabited islands in the Maltese archipelago, there are also a significant number of uninhabited smaller islands and islets. The three main islands are known as Malta, Comino, and Gozo. Unlike a number of other Mediterranean and Aegean Islands, the Maltan archipelago is the remnant of an ancient land bridge that connected North Africa and Sicily.
Malta’s highest point is Ta’Dmejrek, a mountain with a population of about eight hundred and thirty feet above sea level. Malta has a generally warm and mild climate, with an average temperature hovering between sixty and seventy degrees. Malta’s large number of sunny days has made it a popular tourist destination for the continent and much of the world. The Maltese economy relies on a number of different sectors, including tourism, agriculture, film, and mining. Visitors to the island of Malta arrive in one of four ways – the ports of Grand Harbor, Marsamxett Harbor, Marsaxlokk Harbor, and Malta International Airport. Malta has a long tradition of Catholicism, and legend recounts that Saint Paul visited the island during a trip to Rome. There are hundreds of churches on the small island, and are often the architectural and social centers of any given town. Malta’s educational system includes free public institutions and a number of private schools, including De La Salle College, Saint Monica Girls’ School, and Saint Aloysius’ College.
Malta has a unique culture, the product of the influence of a number of different nations. For instance, Malta has its own brand of folk music in addition to a rich literary tradition. Malta is home to a number of different architectural styles as well, ranging from the Byzantine and the Romanesque to the Rococo, the Baroque, and even Neo-Classicism. Malta’s vibrant local culture expresses itself in a number of local festivals, such as Mnarja, Holy Week, and Carnival, which are often accompanied with elaborate celebrations. Malta has an active sports community as well, featuring a successful national soccer team, a national rugby team, and a game known as bocci. The cliffs of the island are popular among both visitors and residents, as there are more than one thousand two hundred charted routes in the archipelago. Many of these trails offer great views in addition to being outstanding exercise opportunities.