Malta is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, halfway between Gibraltar and Alexandria, and Sicily and North Africa. Thus it has always been at the cross-roads of the trading and warring routes of this land-locked sea. The origin of Maltese history goes back to some 4500 years BC, when some people from the neighbouring island of Sicily, who could see the island lying on the horizon, decided to cross the narrow waters to investigate.
The Order of St. John came to Malta after the loss of Rhodes in 1522. The Ottomans were the dread of the Christian powers bordering the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Malta was becoming of supreme strategic importance for the control of the Mediterranean against the alarming growth of Muslim power. In 1565, a great Turkish armada appeared off the coast of Malta, starting what is now called The Great Siege of Malta, which was to last for four long months.
The French revolution had changed the face of Europe and through the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1798 he invaded Malta and expelled the Order. Thus ending 268 years of rule by the Order of St. John. French rule in Malta lasted only two years. The Maltese rebelled within three months of their arrival, besieging them in Valletta, from where, with the help of the British, they were finally ousted in 1800.
Britain was set to be the new colonizers of the Maltese Islands. After the Second World War Britain started the process of decolonisation. On 21 September 1964, Malta became a sovereign and independent nation within the Commonwealth. Ten years later, Parliament enacted important changes to the constitution and on the 13th December 1974, Malta was declared a Republic within the Commonwealth. The next step was accession into the EU in 2004.
Economy of Malta
Malta offers brilliant services in terms of business and financial services and has excellent telecommunications and flight connections, not only to mainland Europe but also other important destinations around the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. Malta also boasts highly skilled personnel, and also competitive labour costs compared to other European countries. The Maltese Islands boast a sound, fair legal system and a low crime rate. It is interesting to note that in the beginning of 2008 the Euro currency was introduced as Malta’s new currency.
Malta’s economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing, and tourism, and was affected by the global economic downturn. Malta has low unemployment relative to other European countries, and growth has recovered since the 2009 recession. Malta’s financial services industry has grown in recent years and it has avoided contagion from the European financial crisis, largely because its debt is mostly held domestically and its banks have low exposure to the sovereign debt of peripheral European countries.
Malta’s geographical location, fiscal and other investment incentives, political stability, and modern infrastructure make it a natural hub to live and to do business in Southern Europe and North Africa.
For such a small island, Malta is packed with amazing things to see and do. From visiting historic sites to relaxing on beautiful beaches. Visitors can take their pick of activities which will suit any mood or taste.
A selection below are the top destinations that any person should see when coming to Malta. These include:
- Blue Lagoon (Comino Island);
- Gozo and
- Blue Grotto (Zurrieq)
Valletta recently voted the European Capital for Culture for 2018 is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Valletta is the hub of tourism in Malta and for good reason. It is full of historical significance, with the likes of St John’s Cathedral, forts, and museums and much more squeezed into a tiny area. As far as beautiful towns go with plenty to see, Valletta is up there with the best.
Mdina is known as the jewel in the crown of Malta and it is a fair assessment. The walled city is full of tiny alleys which you can wind your way through, stumbling across beautiful churches and museums along the way. Now effectively part of the town of Rabat, this definitely shouldn’t be left off your Maltese itinerary. The silent city has a number of entities that render it a gem under various aspects, chief among these are its architectural structures during the Baroque period. Highly characteristics of this aspect is the Cathedral ensemble formed by three contemporary buildings set in the centre of this city, namely the Cathedral, the Bishop’s palace flanking its southern side and within the same square facing the southern door of the Cathedral, the magnificent facade of the present-day Cathedral Museum. Each structure succeeded one another chronologically. The building of the present Cathedral set the ball rolling in this building enterprise. The old medieval Cathedral suffered irreparable damages with the great earthquake of 1693. Soon afterwards, the Cathedral Chapter embarked on the building of the present Baroque structure which reached its completion worth the building of its cupula in 1705.
Since parts of the site of the previous Bishop’ s palace had been needed for the new Cathedral, the same Cathedral Chapter had to provide new quarters for the local Bishop. This work was carried out during the 1710s. The third structure followed soon afterwards. The Maltese Diocese was in sore need of a building to house its seminary which had started functioning at Mdina in 1703. The then Bishop of Malta Fra Paul Alpheran de Bussan assisted by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, embarked on this enterprise. Its corner stone was blessed in 1733 and by 1742 it was ready to receive the first group of Seminarians. This building served its original purpose for about fifteen decades when its inmates were transferred to Floriana where they stayed for a short span of about twenty years. After the Apostolic Visit of Mgr Pietro La Fontaine in 1909, the Mdina Seminary started, once more, to serve its original purpose for a short duration, as Bishop Maurus Caruana’ s reform of studies brought with it the closure of this institution and from the 1920s onwards its death-knell was sounded. A Marian exhibition held within it in 1949, in preparation for the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption, sparkled the idea of a better use of these premises.
Malta has a reputation for being a destination for the older generation, but Paceville puts the lie to that. This is where the youngsters come to drink and party and you can rely on having a good evening out here. It’s not just loud music for teenagers either; there are plenty of civilised bars and restaurants if you don’t want to rave into the small hours!
A beautiful area of clear blue water which is fantastic for swimming and is the perfect place for a day out at the beach. Arguably the best place for swimming in the whole Mediterranean, the Blue Lagoon is located on the island of Comino.
Just a 30 minute ferry trip away from Malta, Gozo is a beautiful, rural island which gives you a glimpse into what Malta looked like a few decades ago. Sleepy villages, rugged coastline and beautiful countryside all make this a fantastic place to visit. But one of the main draws is the diving off the coast. Malta has been named as one of the best places to scuba dive in the world, and Gozo is one of the best spots to do it.
The Blue Grotto (Maltese: Taht il-Hnejja)
The Blue Grotto is actually a number of sea caverns on the southern coast of Malta, west of the Wied iz-Żurrieq harbour near the village of Żurrieq. It is located right across the small uninhabited islet of Filfla. Every day from sunrise until about 1 pm a unique sight can be observed here. The location of the cave combined with the sunlight, lead to the water mirroring showing numerous shades of blue. Several caverns mirror the brilliant phosphorescent colours of the underwater flora; other caverns show a deep dark shade of blue. The Blue Grotto is a popular destination for visitors to the island of Malta. It was also used for a scene of the 2004 film Troy, starring Brad Pitt. Boat rides through the grotto, may be organised as part of an excursion, to this southern location of the island.
In the past, Wied iz-Zurrieq was mainly considered as the place where the fishermen of the neighbouring areas could earn their livelihood. In the early 1950′s English service men and their families started frequenting Wied iz-Zurrieq for swimming and every now and then, they used to ask fishermen to take them along for a boat ride. On account of the nature of their work, this was not always possible for the fishermen to do so. Instead however, there were usually the fishermen’s sons, who used to take the English servicemen and their families for a ride to the Blue Grotto. Gradually, these boat rides started to gain popularity and at a certain point, there were about eight small boats carrying on these kind of trips. As often happens, in the absence of organisation and regulations, problems started to crop up between the boat owners. Accordingly, the 1958 Government decided to regulate the situation by imposing the requirement of having a licence on boat owners who wish to carry out the said boat trips to the Blue Grotto. Obtaining a licence was made subject to various conditions. In the first place, the applicant was required to be the owner of the boat itself. Moreover, the said boat was to be certified by a surveyor, who would confirm whether it was adequate to carry passengers. At that time, boats were licenced to carry between 3 and five passengers. On the other hand, outboards (which were usually “Seagull 4HP”) were certified by an engineer. It was also obligatory to have a pair of oars, life jackets (one for each passenger), a life buoy, a fire extinguisher, a bucket full of sand and a long rope. The boatmen (known as coxswains) were also required to sit for an exam set by the Captain of Ports in order for their ability and skill at sea to be ascertained. One observes that many of the above requirements are still applicable today, although some may have slightly modified over the years. The Blue Grotto is a popular destination for tourists on the island of Malta. It was also used for a scene of the 2004 film Troy, starring Brad Pitt.
Adventure – Discover the underwater world
The Maltese Islands where voted the third best dive destination worldwide in 2009, by the readers of ‘Diver’ magazine, U.K. The islands have more shore and dive sites within its small radius, than any other island or resort. The shore dives offer convenience and variety while the larger number of possible boat dives will satisfy even the biggest appetite for exploration. Explore some unique diving experiences with an abundance of reefs, caves and wrecks that make diving the most interesting in the Mediterranean. The calmness and clarity of the sea makes for excellent visibility whilst the risk of encountering dangerous fish is extremely low, creating the ultimate conditions for first time divers and beginners. For the more experienced divers, there are plenty of challenging dives to choose from including ship wreck dives. The islands provide ample diving companies which offer year-round courses for all levels, so you can learn to dive or enjoy guided visits to spectacular sites. The LA KROSSE team are equipped to provide you with all you require for that unique diving experience on our island.
Did you know? – Commonly found on the Islands of Malta
The church or chapel is a common feature of the landscape on the islands of Malta. Many churches in Malta dominate the skyline, and the domes and steeples can usually be seen from across the islands. One can usually find the centre of a town or village by driving towards the parish church, although many towns and village cores usually feature two or more churches and chapels. There seems to be a church at every corner in Malta – approximately 365 churches, 1 for every day of the year!
Some other interesting facts
- The University of Malta is one of the oldest universities in the world and was founded in 1592.
- The Maltese drive on the left-hand side of the road
- Malta has no natural resources, lakes or rivers
- Dwejra (Inland Sea) is a cliff-circled bay into which the sea reaches through a natural archway under the high cliffs
- The Azure Window, a natural megalithic archway over the sea in Gozo.
- The Maltese Dog – a miniature dog that is considered the aristocrat of dogs
- The Maltese Falcon – a classical movie starring Humphrey Bogart
- Popeye Village – the film Popeye starring Robert Williams was filmed at this location.
- St. Paul’s Island – the site where St. Paul and St. Luke were shipwrecked
- There’s seems to be a church at every corner in Malta
- Approximately 365 churches, 1 for every day of the year!
- Pastizzi – the best snack in the world!
- Malta’s modern economy is based on tourism, shipbuilding and light industry.
- The Maltese people love feasts and spectacular fireworks displays.
- Calypso’s Cave in Gozo – legend has it that Gozo is the Ogygia of the Odyssey