A brief history of Malta

Malta

The Anthem of Malta.

Malta is a beautiful island state, lying in the Mediterranean Sea, 93 km from Sicily and 300 km from Tunisia. It occupies an island archipelago, consisting of three inhabited islands – Malta, Gozo and Kamino, as well as small islands and rock formations. It is the only European country where there are no permanent rivers and natural bodies of water. Malta has a small area of only 316 km², making it the 185th largest state in the world.

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Highlights

Malta is very popular with tourists. Travelers are attracted by Malta’s clean beaches, picturesque nature, colorful festivals and many architectural monuments. The archipelago has a long history, and you can see buildings of different times: the ruins of megalithic temples, medieval fortresses, ancient palaces, cathedrals and squares. Most visited sights are concentrated in the capital – the city of Valletta.

Many foreigners come to the island to be trained in schools of English. In Malta, it costs 30-40% lower than in other European countries. Language courses on the island are open to pre-schoolers, schoolchildren, students and pensioners, so anyone who wants to improve their English, gets every opportunity to do so.

Gozo’s coastline

Some come to Malta for the casinos, others for the thrill of diving. Lovers of natural attractions like visiting natural caves and natural parks. Mediterraneo Marine Park is famous far beyond the country, where you can see exotic reptiles, birds and amphibians, as well as visit spectacular shows with dolphins and sea lions.

A special category of tourists come to Malta for thalassotherapy. Mild sunny climate, warm sea, and air rich in iodine salts allows curing many diseases and relieves stress. There are many excellently equipped clinics on the islands which offer hydromassage, healing wrappings, rejuvenating masks, peelings, lymphatic drainage, and other advanced recovery procedures.

The Azure Window Rock Popeye Village in Malta

History of Malta

The island archipelago lies at the crossroads of ancient trade routes that connected Europe, Asia and Africa. The Mediterranean islands were settled by the Phoenicians and the Greeks in the 8th century BC. From antiquity to the early Middle Ages, Malta passed from one state to the next many times and was ruled by Carthage, Ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire, the Arabs, the Normans and the Spanish.

In 1530, Charles V, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, granted the main island to the Johannine Knights, who from that time came to be known as the Order of Malta. At the end of the 18th century, Napoleon’s armies on their way to Egypt invaded Malta, and the authority of the Catholic order was terminated.

In the fall of 1800 the situation changed, the British landed in the capital of the island nation. They raised the British flag over Valletta, Malta became a British colony and served as a British naval base until 1979.

In 1964 the island archipelago gained independence, and 10 years later there was formed a republic. Since 2004, the island state became a full member of the European Union.

Climate

Malta is located in the Mediterranean climate zone, and its weather is very similar to that of Sicily. From June to September the temperature is +28. +34 °С. In winter, the thermometer column stays on an average of +14. +16 °С. During the year the island receives 530-570 mm of precipitation, most of which falls in the winter months.

Warm sea breezes and northwestern winds “mistral” blow over Malta most of the time. In late summer, the Mediterranean island is influenced by a strong south and south-westerly wind, the sirocco, which comes to Malta from the North African and Arabian deserts. During the sirocco, temperatures rise to +35°C and above, and the islands experience dusty, dry weather.

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Diving in Malta Rocky coast of Malta

Beaches of Malta

It is believed that the beach season in Malta starts in May. However, in late spring the temperature of sea water is +19 ° C and for most holidaymakers the sea seems still cool. Mass swims begin in June and last until September and even October, when the islands are loved by all tourists velvet season.

Ain Tuffih beach, Malta

There are no many kilometers long beach areas here, but Malta has a lot of cozy little beaches. Most of them are surrounded by picturesque bays. Almost all Maltese beaches are free. Those who come to Malta, recommended to swim in places patrolled by lifeguards, because the sea waves and local currents are dangerous to joke with. To avoid hurting your feet, it is better to enter the sea in bathing slippers.

The most popular among tourists enjoy sandy beaches. On the Maltese islands you can find beaches with white, pink, golden and red sand. These places are almost always crowded. Rest on the sandy beaches is comfortable. The entrance to the water is gentle. Such beaches have all the necessary infrastructure – sun beds and umbrellas, toilets, showers, places for changing, as well as rental of sports equipment. Many of Malta’s beaches are Blue Flag rated. That means they are distinguished not only by the purity of sea water, but also by their respect for the natural environment.

Most of Malta’s pebble and rocky beaches are “wild” and not frequented by many tourists. Lovers of secluded recreation prefer to enjoy the silence, leaving the small islands of the Maltese Archipelago. These are rock formations in the middle of the sea, where you can spend time in complete solitude. You should know that there are no official nudist beaches in this country, besides, it is forbidden to sunbathe topless in all bathing areas.

Mushroom Rock of Golden Bay.

One of the best sandy beaches is considered Golden Bay, which is located on the northwest coast of the island of Malta. Golden sand and crystal clear sea attracts many travelers here. At Golden Bay you can sunbathe, swim, do sports, and in the evening to have a picnic. Nearby, next to the small village of Manikata, stretches another popular beach – Ain Tuffikha. The sand on it is reddish, and to get to the shore, you have to overcome a staircase of 100 steps.

Malta’s longest beach, Adira Bay, is 800 meters long. It is located in the north of the main island, in the resort area of Mellieha. This sandy beach is ideal for families. The entry to the water is very gentle throughout and the shallow waters are very warm. During high season, Adira Bay offers many water activities – windsurfing, water skiing, “banana” rides and kayaking.

Golden Bay Mellieha Adira Bay

Armiere Beach is known for its noisy youth hangout, while Janeina Bay, on the other hand, is quiet and has few campers. On the beach of St. Thomas Bay, in the south of Malta, go fans of windsurfing, and the steep shores of St. Peters Pool and Ghar Lapsi are in demand among fans of jumping into the sea from height.

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On the main island has created several artificial sandy beaches: Pritty Bay in the port city Birzebudge, Paradise Bay in the north-west of the island, St George Bay in the east of Malta, as well as Budjibba, which is located near the city promenade of the resort of the same name.

Pritty Bay Paradise Bay St. George Bay Budjibba

On the island of Gozo, Vid il Isri is a popular small beach, which is located 6 km north of Victoria. In the north of the island stretches the beach of Ramla Bay. The wide coastal strip is surrounded by hills with beautiful gardens and is famous for its golden-red sand. On the outskirts of Ala, the beach of Hondok y Rumin is worth a visit. The water is said to get cooler in this part of the Gozo coast.

Valletta

Malta’s capital city is named after the head of the Johannist Knights, Jean Parisot de la Valletta. The city, which today has just over 5.7 thousand inhabitants, is spread across the northeast of the main island. It has so many architectural monuments and sights that it is one of the World Cultural Heritage cities.

Valletta Panorama The Streets of Valletta

Valletta’s main street divides the city in half, and ends near the medieval Fort St. Elmo, which was once Malta’s main fortress. Today, the old fort houses the collections of the National War Museum, and holds costume celebrations of knights.

Grand Master’s Palace Fort St. Elmo

Most travelers visit the Grand Master’s Palace, which used to be the residence of the Order of Malta and is now used by the country’s parliament and president. During a tour of the building, tourists are shown several halls and a large armory.

Another popular tourist attraction in Valletta is the medieval City Gate Putiryal. The itineraries of all tours of the Maltese capital also include visits to the three most famous churches – St. John’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral and St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church, which houses several Christian shrines.

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Sunset, Valletta, Malta

Sunset, Valletta, Malta. Written by Francesco Spadafina.

The island’s succinct motto, translated from Maltese, has a beautiful message: “By valor and constancy. We are talking, of course, about Malta – the pearl of the Mediterranean with a very, very rich history and interesting features.

Malta

Malta. The author of the photo is Neil Weeks.

“Secrets of the name”: where did the sonorous name of the island come from

In Russian, the phonetics of the name “Malta” is almost identical to the authentic pronunciation of the English original name of the state “Malta” and its Maltese counterpart. With the history of the origin of the word “Malta” is more complicated: its etymology is not authentically known.

For the first time the name “Malta”, as people of the 21st century are accustomed to, appeared in the period from 211 to 217 BC. The word was introduced in the era of Roman Emperor Caracalla’s Itynerary of Anton Augustus, an ancient reference book of numerous Roman roads.

Of the many versions offered by scholars, two are particularly interesting. According to the first, the roots of “Malta” are the ancient Greek name “Μελίτα/Μελίτη”, which the Greeks gave to the island, affectionately calling it “sweet honey”. This name was not coincidental: Malta at that time was indeed home to a great multitude of honey-bearing wild bees.

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After the Greeks, Malta was christened “Melitē” by the ancient Romans, who “adjusted” the pronunciation of the name to the Latin phonetics.

According to the second, no less plausible, version, “Malta” is a modified Phoenician noun “malet”, translated as “refuge” or “port”. The ancient numerous bays and coves of Malta were so “speaking”.

Barracca, Valletta, Malta

Barracca, Valletta, Malta. Photo by dieforice.

The Mediterranean – home of the beautiful islands

Yes, in this historic, most developed region of the ancient world, located in the basin of the Mediterranean Sea of the same name, where seafaring originated long ago, there is Malta. It so happens that the geolocation of the Mediterranean, with a total area of more than 5,000,000 square kilometers, lies at the junction of two continents:

At this crossroads, in addition to Malta, many beautiful islands “lie”:

  • Cyprus;
  • Sardinia;
  • Sicily, etc.

Malta 2019 DX

Malta. Photo by Robert Rattensberger.

“A small gold piece is a dear piece”, or four facts about the territory of Malta

Firstly, it is an island state, which is located in the Maltese Archipelago, a land area of 316 square kilometers, located in the most central part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Maltese Archipelago is separated from Tunisia by 288 KM of water surface, while it is 93 KM from the south of the island of Sicily.

Secondly, the Maltese Archipelago consists of quite a few (namely 10) islands (e.g. St. Paul, Filfle, Cominotto, etc.) of which one (Comino) is less inhabited and only two are inhabited:

  • Malta (the largest of all);
  • Gozo.

Third, the area of the largest island in the archipelago is only 246 square kilometers. For comparison, out of 193 countries of the world, Malta is 185th in size, i.e. 9th from the end.

Fourth, the island is only 27 kilometers long and has absolutely no lakes and full-fledged rivers! This is the only state in Europe, which has such a feature.

Gozo Island, Malta

The island of Gozo, Malta. Photo by Ashley Deforest.

Times of great conquests and modernity in Malta

The reason why Malta has been subjected to so many assaults and successful conquests is because of the island’s distinctive location, conveniently situated at the crossroads of maritime routes linking Africa, Europe and Asia.

Colonization of Malta began with the Phoenicians, who arrived in the 18th century BC. Practically on the heels of the Phoenicians followed the Greeks who also moored their ships to the shores of the island. From the 14th century BC to the 13th century AD, Malta took a brief “breather” before a flurry of other conquests:

  • Carthaginians;
  • Byzantines;
  • Romans;
  • Arabs;
  • Normans;
  • Spanish Conquistadors.

Dolphin, Malta

Dolphin, Malta. Photo by Odd K. Hauge.

How Malta became a symbolic part of the Order of Malta

The oldest religious order of knights, belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, received Malta in 1530 by decree of King Charles V of Spain: the monarch graciously granted the island to the Order of Ioanites.

Malta View.

Malta. Photo by Sebastian Munoz.

Malta and Napoleon: The Temporary End of Maltese Power

Fourteen years before Napoleon’s overthrow, he succeeded in capturing Malta in 1798. Bonaparte was on his way to Egypt, and his army, “on the way,” so to speak, stopped by Malta and overthrew the power of the Maltese Order.

Monument to Michael Xerri killed with 33 other French defenders, Malta

Monument to Michael Xerri killed by the French with 33 other defenders, Malta. Written by Walwyn.

How Malta almost became part of Russia

The power of the French in the occupied territory was very short-lived: in the second half of that year, the Russian autocrat Paul 1, who urgently accepted the title of Grand Master of the Maltese Order, takes the island under the imperial protection.

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The Russian emperor also had “Napoleonic” plans for the island:

  • To designate Malta as a Russian province;
  • to officially incorporate Malta into the Empire;
  • to build military and naval facilities of strategic importance on Malta.

However, the ambitious plans of Paul I, who wished for the first time to ensure Russian supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea, prevented the British Queen: in 1800, September 5, British troops have raised their flag in Valletta, the capital of Malta. This ignominiously ended Russia’s claim to the island: the son of the assassinated Paul I who assumed the throne in 1801 renounced any claim to Malta.

Azzur Window, Blue Window, Dweira Bay, Malta

Azzur Window, Blue Window, Dwyer’s Bay, Malta.

Malta and Great Britain

After Louis XVIII and Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Peace in Paris in 1814, Malta became “English.” Soon the island-colony of Foggy Albion, naturally turned into a naval base.

Salt Development, Gozo Island, Malta

Development of salt, the island of Gozo, Malta. Photo by Rob M.

Malta’s World War II hero

The island has had its share of tragic fortunes: Since June 1940, it has played a pivotal role in the fight against Fascism, resisting Nazi rule until late 1942. For the heroism of the local population, the unwavering island-fortress was awarded the highest civilian award for valor, the St George’s Cross.

Sunset, Malta

Sunset, Malta. Photo by Will Abela.

The long-awaited independence from Foggy Albion.

Since September 1964, Malta finally gained independence, albeit not absolute, but from Britain: under the terms of the Commonwealth of Nations, the island has agreed with Albion Foggy Bottom for 10 years to mutually defend Malta with the British troops located there. For this purpose, the head of Malta remained the Queen of England, and on the island continued to have the force of British laws.

The British air and naval bases were maintained in Malta until the expiration of the Anglo-Maltese treaty: from March 31, 1979, Britain irrevocably lost the right to use Malta as a military base.

Marsamxett Harbour, Malta

Marsamxett Harbour, Malta. Photo by JMA58.

“When the fight is bigger than the dog,” or what Malta is protected from outside threats

With the victory of the Social Democrats and the proclamation of a presidential republic, neutral Malta positively decided on a foreign policy and its own armed forces. Instead of closed NATO offices and military bases removed by the British, Malta has its own military-funded national army units, consisting of:

  • Of land forces;
  • their naval formations;
  • from the air forces.

Such formations, the Maltese President believes, are sufficient to defend themselves against external and internal threats.

Guns, Valletta, Malta

Guns, Valletta, Malta. The author of the photo is Odd C. Hauge.

If there’s a heaven on earth, it’s in Malta: the island’s climatic features

Like the rest of the Mediterranean, Malta has mild, wet winters and hot, non-rainy summers. This seasonal distribution of heat and humidity is said to be most beneficial for the body and general well-being.

The coldest month is January, with daytime temperatures rarely exceeding 20 °C, and night-time temperatures can drop as low as 12 °C. August is the hottest month in Malta, with daytime temperatures hitting 34°C. On average, the temperature in Malta is +23 ° C (daytime), and +23 ° C (at night).

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The best time to visit Malta is during the so-called ‘velvet season’ which begins in August and finishes in September: visitors and locals alike enjoy plenty of sunshine and the water gets as warm as fresh milk (at least 25°C)!

Marsascala, St. Thomas Bay, Malta

Marsascala, St. Thomas Bay, Malta. Photo by muffin.

Maltese and Maltese women: the population of the island

There are almost 500,000 people in the country: such a modest number places Malta in 178th place in the list of 247 other member states. At the same time, the density of the population of the island is very tangible – almost 1,500 people per square kilometer, the fifth place in the world in terms of population density!

It may seem strange, but when looking at Malta’s population density not in comparison with all countries of the world, but only with the members of the European Union, these figures become absolutely insufficient: among the other 28 states (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc.) Malta is in last place.

St. John's Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

St. John’s Cathedral, Valletta, Malta. Photo by Milena.

Composition of the population and its characteristics

The predominant number of islanders are native Maltese, practicing almost entirely Catholicism. Alas, due to the fact that Malta is located in the middle of waterways from Africa to Europe, here more and more often began to “settle” immigrants from Morocco, Libya and Egypt.

There are two official languages spoken in Malta:

  • “native” Maltese (the national language of Malta);
  • International English.

Visitors’ ears often hear here hardly translatable mix of two languages simultaneously: a speaker may easily combine words from Maltese and English vocabularies in one sentence, unwittingly driving tourists into a linguistic stupor.

Ghar Dalam Cave, Malta

Ghar Dalam Cave, Malta. Photo by dave.

Plants and animals of Malta and the “wild” manners of the Maltese.

Only here you can see with your own eyes on the coastal hills in the wild, the rare relict flower – paleocentaurea, called “vidnet il bahar” by the Maltese, which means “ears of the sea”. This plant is incredibly old: it is believed that abalone covered the earth during the Ice Age.

The Maltese are proud of the paleotsentaurea, and have made it their flower symbol, growing freely in common flowerbeds in city parks.

But there is also an absolutely barbaric custom here: in Malta, with a frenzied excitement, more than 12,000 officially registered hunters shoot migratory birds flying for the winter from Western Europe and other cold countries.

Paleocentaurea, the National Flower, Malta

Paleocentaria, the national flower, Malta. Photo by Leslie Vella.

Seven blitz facts about Malta

First. The date of Malta’s entry into the European Union of 28 states – 2001.

Second. Malta’s climate in 2011, officially recognized by the experts of the magazine “International Living” the best on the planet!

Third. Malta has created all conditions for civil unions of sexual minorities: since July 2017 it is officially allowed same-sex marriages and joint adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Fourth. Malta is a favorite place of permanent residence for wealthy retirees from Europe, especially England.

Fifth. In Malta, a great demand for brides and grooms from Russia!

Sixth. Life expectancy of native Maltese by virtue of the “Mediterranean diet” and the excellent climate is higher than anywhere else.

Seventh. Despite the prohibitions at the legislative level, locals enjoy hunting endangered species of migratory birds and turn them into stuffed animals, which can be found in almost every home.

Memorial, Malta

Memorial, Malta. Photo by John Murphy.

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