Capital | Valletta
Population | 408,333 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 316 SQ KM
Official Language | Maltese, English
Holidays | Independence Day, 21 September (1964); Republic Day, 13 December (1974)
Currency | Euro (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC +1
Best Time to Visit | February to June (before the heat)
Connecting with the Culture | Wandering round the magnificent fortified capital of Valletta, built by the Knights of St John. Enjoying the view overlooking Malta from the city of Mdina. Experiencing a festa, lasting up to five days and including fireworks, the parade of the patron saint, brass bands, food, drink and general celebration. Scuba diving at the Azure Window, a giant rock arch in the cliff surrounding the Inland sea on the island of Gozo. Swimming at the Blue Lagoon, one of the best bathing spots in the Mediterranean.
Read | Francis Ebjer’s For Rozina… A Husband, based on Maltese village life and comprising a collection of short stories; The Kappilan of Malta by Nicolas Monserrat tells of a priest’s experiences during WWII.
Listen | to Charles Camilleri’s II Weghda- the first opera written in Maltese, and the Beangrowers’ Beangrowers- a pop/electro/rock/punk mix.
Watch | Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, one of the many films shot in Malta; the 1953 movie The Malta Story, which plays out events leading up to the island being awarded the George Cross in 1942; the blockbuster Troy starring Brad Pitt and Eric Bana.
Eat | timpana—oven-baked macaroni with egg, meat and tomatoes; mqaret- deep –fried pastries stuffed with chopped, spiced dates.
Drink | Kinnie- a soft drink flavoured with bitter oranges and aromatic herbs.
In a Word | Kif inti? (How are you?)
Characteristics | Churches; ancient buildings; crazy drivers; British tourists; crusading knights; the Maltese Cross; pedestrianised Valletta.
Surprises | There are no permanent water features on Malta; the country didn’t invest Maltesers; it’s one of the most densely populated countries in the world.