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The Maltese Islands are situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa.
The Maltese Archipelago consists of Malta, Gozo and Comino, and its blue seas, beaches and enviously warm climate are highly praised universally. Malta is the largest of the islands and is populated by over 400,000, who live in many small towns and villages dotted around the island. This makes Malta the most densely populated country in Europe - the population is spread over an area of 316 sq km. Gozo is the second most populated island, which is followed by Comino, having only a hotel and bungalows that inhabit a small part of the land. This makes for a remote getaway where you can go to really unwind.
Malta is immersed in history and its capital city, Valletta, built in the 1500s by the Grandmaster Jean de la Valette, is a centre of culture. A huge quantity of historically significant sites, including 320 statues, is found on only 55 hectares of land. Valletta is a beautiful collection of contemporary establishments and baroque buildings. UNESCO has declared Valletta a World Heritage Property.
In fact, Malta is littered with UNESCO sites such as the Megalithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, which are the oldest freestanding structures in the world. Records show that they date back to 7000 B.C., which is before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
Malta has an extensive Christian history, and according to the Acts of the Apostles, St Paul was shipwrecked on ‘Melite’, which is said to be how Christianity came to Malta. Catholicism still remains the official religion in Malta.
Malta has two official languages: its mother tongue being Maltese and English is a second language. English is taught to children in schools from an early age and is continually used in the country’s educational curriculum. A third language that many Maltese are familiar with is Italian. This is thanks to television programs that are broadcasted on local stations.
Malta’s geographic location in the Mediterranean Sea has given it great strategic importance for centuries. Many powers have taken control of Malta, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Knights of St John, French and the British. In 1964, Malta gained its independence from Britain and also became a member of the Commonwealth, and in 1974 it became a republic. In 2004 it joined the European Union and in 2008 adopted the Euro.