Malta - A General Overview
Megaliths, medieval dungeons and Calypso's Cave – The Maltese Islands are positively mythic. The narrow meandering streets of their towns and villages are crowded with Renaissance cathedrals and Baroque palaces. As the countryside is dotted with the oldest known human structures in the world, the Islands have rightly been described as an open-air museum.
The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, with Malta 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino with a total population of 400,000 inhabitants over an area of 316sq km and a coastline of 196.8km (not including 56.01 km for the island of Gozo).
Malta is the largest island and the cultural, commercial and administrative centre. Gozo is the second largest island and is more rural, characterised by fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture while Comino is largely uninhabited.
With superbly sunny weather, expansive beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do. With a little help from any guidebook, captivating places of interest are immediately identified – the world famous Hypogeum selected as a place of World Heritage by UNESCO, prehistoric temples and grand palaces are but a few.
The long relationship between the Islanders and the various nationalities that occupied Malta over the centuries has created a marriage of styles and traditions, giving the Islands a fascinating eclectic culture.
Malta acquired its Independence in 1964, became a Republic in 1974 and joined the European Union in 2004.
Valletta, Malta’s capital and a World Heritage site, is nothing short of an open-air museum. It is a living experience of Baroque architecture, a monument donated by the Knights of St John nearly five centuries ago. Throughout the years, Valletta has welcomed emperors, heads of state, artists and poets and is now the permanent seat of the Maltese government.
Dotted with quaint cafés and wine bars, the city is today one of Malta’s main tourist attractions, hosting among others, the majestic St John’s Co- Cathedral, the imposing bastions and a treasure of priceless paintings. It also provides a stunning snapshot of Malta’s Grand Harbour, often described as the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.
The city’s unique setting nowadays plays host to a series of cultural events, from theatre in English, to concerts by leading opera singers.
A hive of business activity during the day, the city switches to a slower gear for the night. Use it to your advantage to get away from the noise and take a stroll to admire the magic of the fortified capital amplified by the gentle lighting. Admire the bastion walls, the dense clusters of worn limestone buildings, the timber balconies, and imposing Churches.
Malta International Airport Gudja (6km from the capital Valletta), Tel:(+356) 21 249600
Banks & Bureaux de Change
Generally open from 8.30am to 4pm during the week, and up to 11.30 am on Saturdays. Some banks work longer hours. Summer and winter opening hours may differ. Exchange Bureaux at Malta International Airport are open 24 hours a day. International bankcards are accepted and foreign currency is easily exchanged. Banks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and exchange bureaux can be found all over the Islands. Many hotels and larger shops and restaurants can exchange currency. The exchange slip is required to change local currency back to foreign denominations on departure.
Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa credit cards.
Malta’s currency is the EURO
Electricity supply is 240 volts, single phase, 50 cycle. The square-fitting standard three-pin British plugs and sockets are used. Adapters are very easy to find.
The official languages are Maltese and English. Almost all the Maltese speak English. Maltese is a Semitic language written in the Roman script comprising a vast element of words of Latin origin. Italian is also widely spoken.
Malta has a total of 14 5-star hotels and 41 4-star hotels, totaling to 29,700 beds. The Grand Hotel Excelsior and the Phoenicia Hotel are located 5 minutes away from the MCC. Other hotels are situated in the St. Julian’s area, 15 minutes away from the MCC.
Malta enjoys a high standard of medical care. The general hospital is 'Mater Dei' but there are government health clinics in various towns as well as several private hospitals.
The Maltese Archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, with Malta 93kms south of Sicily and 288kms north of Africa. Its position is as follows:
Northern latitude - 36 degrees
Southern latitude - 35 degrees 48’
Eastern longitude - 14 degrees 35’
Western longitude - 14 degrees 11’
New Year’s Day - 1st January
St Paul’s Shipwreck - 10th February
St Joseph - 19th March
Freedom Day - 31st March
Good Friday - variable
Worker’s Day - 1st May
Sette Giugno - 7th June
St Peter & St Paul - 29th June
The Assumption - 15th August
Our Lady of Victories - 8th September
Independence Day - 21st September
Immaculate Conception - 8th December
Republic Day - 13th December
Christmas Day - 25th December
Telecommunications and Internet
Local and international telephone calls can be made from hotel rooms, and credit and charge cards are normally accepted. Most hotels also offer Internet access, fax and telex services. The Islands are wellwired
(there are around 8 Internet Service Providers), and many internet cafes are found around the islands. The international dialling code for Malta is +356. A full mobile range is available in Malta. Local mobile phone companies have agreements with the major international operators.
Malta is on Central European Time (CET), that is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The islands are six hours ahead of Eastern Seaboard Time (EST) and nine hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST).
It is advisable to check about visa and entry requirements before making travel arrangements. For the latest information, visit the Malta Government Website or contact an official Malta diplomatic representative in your area.