Malta is a small but strategically important group of islands located in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast. It’s a nation known for historic sites related to a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British. It has numerous fortresses, megalithic temples, and the ĦalSaflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C.
There are three principal islands of the Maltese archipelago, the island of Malta being the largest of the chain. Its capital Valletta is a lively, bustling city with many buildings dating back to the 16th century, several cathedrals, palaces, and forts. The remarkable Grand Harbour offers a dramatic arrival. The top archaeological attraction is the UNESCO-designated Hypogeum temple ruins, a macabre, a 5400-square-foot underground necropolis, and the world’s only underground prehistoric temple.
the archipelago has through its long and turbulent history played a vital role in the struggles of a succession of powers for domination of the Mediterranean and in the interplay between emerging Europe and the older cultures of Africa and the Middle East. As a result, Maltese society has been molded by centuries of foreign rule by various powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Swabians, Aragonese, Hospitallers, French, and British.
The country comprises five islands—Malta (the largest), Gozo, Comino, and the uninhabited islets of Kemmunett (Comminotto) and Filfla—lying some 58 miles (93 km) south of Sicily, 180 miles (290 km) north of Libya, and about 180 miles (290 km) east of Tunisia, at the eastern end of the constricted portion of the Mediterranean Sea separating Italy from the African coast.
Malta’s population is composed almost entirely of ethnic Maltese, the descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians as well as of Italians and other Mediterranean peoples. Attempts to form a unifying and homogenizing Maltese ethnicity can be traced back to the late 13th century; these efforts were consolidated in the nationalistic discourses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Aside from the Maltese population, there are small communities of British nationals, Sindhis, Palestinians, and Greeks on the islands. Since the 1990s, influxes of more transient but no less significant groups have arrived from North Africa and the Balkans and, in the early 2000s, from countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Maltese and English are the official languages of Malta as well as official languages of the EU. Maltese resulted from the fusion of North African Arabic and a Sicilian dialect of Italian. It is the only Semitic language officially written in Latin script. English is a medium of instruction in schools. Italian was the language of church and government until 1934 and is still understood by a sizable portion of the population
As the largest island in the country, Island of Malta is a center for Mediterranean discovery, luxurious relaxation, historical exploration, and buzzing European nightlife. Surrounded by ancient temples and old cities, the island almost feels like an archaeological site that’s been converted into a prime vacation spot. Tourists flock here for the aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean Sea, but you don’t have to spend all your time on the beach. With a plethora of activities for any type of traveler, you may find yourself exploring a national museum, admiring the collections of boats and yachts in the bays, or people-watching in one of the many bustling squares. Island of Malta is in Malta. Make Island of Malta central to your Malta travel plans using our Malta driving holiday planner .