The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino with a total population of just under 450,000 inhabitants occupying an area of 316 square kilometers.
It is a member of the European Union and its capital city – Valletta – is the smallest national capital in the Union by area and a UNESCO World Heritage City.Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. Maltese is the national language of the island.
Malta is a cultural, commercial and administrative centre. It is bubbling with history, dating back to 5200BC and the arrival of man. Highlights in its historical journey include the beginning of Christianity with the Shipwreck of St Paul in 60AD, the battle against the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of 1565, independence from Britain in 1964, becoming a Republic in 1974 and joining the European Union in 2004.
Its climate is typically Mediterranean with long days of sunshine.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta and and the European Capital of Culture in 2018.
The city has UNESCO World Heritage status but is also a living and vibrant city: the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. Additionally, it attracts more than two million tourists every year and houses more than 320 monuments in an area of 55 hectares, making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
These monuments encapsulate every aspect of the civil, religious, artistic and military functions of its founders. Commissioned by Fra’ Jean Parisot de Valette – a French nobleman and the 49th Grand Master of the Order of Malta – Valletta was built by the Knights of St John. It is a fortified city located on a peninsula overlooking two of the finest natural harbours in the Mediterranean.
The grid of narrow streets in the city boasts some of Europe’s finest art works, churches and palaces. Places of interest in Valletta include the Cathedral of St John, the Palace of the Grand Master, the Auberge de Castille, the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, Lascaris War Rooms, The National War Museum, the Manoel Theatre, the National War Musuem, Fort St Elmo, the National Library and Strait Street renowned for bars, restaurants and cafes.