The Maltese Islands are strategically located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, 93 km south of Sicily. The largest island of the archipelago is Malta, followed by Gozo, the charming and tranquil sister island. Valletta, Malta’s capital city is the cultural, administrative and commercial centre of the islands.
Malta’s unique 7,000-year-old cultural and historical heritage has left a visible mark on Malta’s landscape, including megalithic temples, the medieval Silent City of Mdina and the baroque capital, Valletta, the city built by gentlemen for gentlemen. Apart from Rome, Malta has the highest concentration of heritage sites within its area of 316 square kilometres.
Maltese culture originates largely from the islands’ history of domination and colonisation by a number of foreign influences, among them Arab, Norman, European and English, as well as from the widespread prevalence of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Maltese climate is typically Mediterranean, offering warm summers and mild winters. The total annual rainfall is about 50cm (20 inches). Temperatures are stable, the annual mean being 18°C and monthly averages ranging from 12°C to 31°C.
Malta’s official languages are Maltese and English, and Italian, French and German are also widely diffused.
Malta attained independence in 1964 and in 1974 became a republic. The head of state is a President who is appointed by the Maltese Parliament which is elected for a five-year term. In 2003, the Maltese voted in favour of EU membership in a referendum and Malta became an EU member state along with another 9 countries on May 1, 2004.
On May 15th 2007, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquin Almunia, confirmed that Malta has fulfilled the necessary criteria to join the Euro Currency on the 1st January 2008.