The Maltese islands cover an area of 316 square kilometres (Malta 246km, Gozo 67km and Comino 2.7km). The population of the islands is around 400,000. The longest distance on the island of Malta, from the south-east to the north-west is
some 37 kilometres.
Malta has neither mountains nor rivers, but is characterised by a series of low hills with fields on slopes. Malta’s coastline is well indented with harbours, bays, creeks along with quite a few sandy beaches.
The Capital city is Valletta. Gozo is smaller than its sister island Malta, the island is more rustic and certainly quieter than Malta. The countryside is greener, cleaner and more spectacular. Flat-topped hills characterise the Gozitan landscape. The Capital city is Victoria (also known as Rabat).
Malta’s climate is strongly influenced by the sea and has a typical Mediterranean flavour. Winters are mild with occasional cold weather brought by northerly and north-easterly winds from central Europe. Summers are hot, dry and very sunny. The islands have a very sunny climate with a daily average of five to six hours of sunshine in mid-winter and more than 12 hours a day in summer.
The unit of currency is the Euro.
Although Malta has a long history (some 6,000 years), the Arab occupation, from 870 to 1090, provided the basis of the Maltese language. The Order of St John, who occupied the islands from 1530 to 1798, shaped the islands artistically, commercially, socially and culturally. The British period, from 1801 to 1964, introduced the concept of British justice with a unified code of laws, democracy and administration. The British also helped launch the islands into the modern industrial world and linked them with the worldwide community of English-speaking countries.
Maltese and English are the official languages. Maltese is a Semitic language similar to Levantine Arabic and written in the Roman script. The Maltese language also includes many words of Italian, French and English origin.
The majority of Maltese are Roman Catholic. There are small Anglican, Church of Scotland, Greek Catholic and Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim communities.
Nightclubs and especially discotheques are extremely popular. One must be over 17 for admission to a discotheque or nightclub and also to be served alcoholic drinks.