The Maltese Archipelago
The Maltese archipelago, which consists of Malta, Gozo and Comino lies in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, 90 km to the South of Sicily and 290 km to the North of the African coast. There are also the uninhabited islands of Cominotto, Filfla and St. Paul’s Island. The Maltese Islands cover an area of 316 square kilometres (Malta 246 km2, Gozo - 67 km2, Comino - 2.7 km2) and the total population of the Islands is approximately 380,000.
Malta is the largest island in the archipelago. It is the more urban and cosmopolitan of the islands. Malta is characterized by a series of low, flat-topped hills with terraced fields on their slopes. Malta’s coastline is well indented with bays, sandy beaches, rocky coves and most importantly natural harbours. Malta’s Capital City is Valletta and the main Sea Ports are the Grand Harbour and Marsaxlokk.
Gozo is smaller than Malta and has a character of its own. The Island is more rural and much quieter than Malta. The countryside is greener and has some spectacular cliffs and inland scenery. The flat-topped hills here are more evident than in Malta. Gozo’s coastline is very picturesque. The Capital City, Victoria, is also known by its older name, Rabat.
Comino is the smallest inhabited island in the archipelago. There are no cars on Comino, nor any noise to disturb the peace and quiet. The Islands’ numerous bays and its famous crystal clear waters make it the perfect choice for most kinds of water sports, especially swimming, snorkelling and diving. A cruise to the island of Comino on a Captain Morgan Cruises vessel is a must during the summer months.
A Brief History
Malta has a long and chequered history - spanning some 7000 years - three eras played the major role in shaping the present-day Islands:-
The Arab Occupation from 870 to 1090 provided the basis of the Maltese language.
The Order of St John, which occupied the Islands from 1530 to 1798, shaped the Islands culturally, socially and artistically.
The British Period, from 1801 to 1964, introduced British justice with a unified code of laws, democracy and administration. The British also helped the Islands move towards the modern industrial world and linked the Islands with the worldwide community of English-speaking countries.
Malta’s climate is strongly influenced by the sea. The Islands have a very sunny climate with a daily average of seven hours sunshine in mid-winter and about twelve hours in summer. Winters are mild, with the occasional short chilly period.
Summers are hot and very sunny. Annual rainfall is low and the length of the dry season in summer is longer than in neighbouring Italy.