Malta is a small island country located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. It is situated in the central part of the Mediterranean, between Europe and North Africa. Malta consists of three main islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. The country has a rich history and is known for its beautiful beaches, ancient temples, and charming towns. Despite its small size, Malta has a diverse culture and offers a mix of European and North African influences. It is a popular tourist destination and a member of the European Union.
Our planet is filled with magnificent destinations. Here at Wonderopolis, we have explored many of them. We have delved into Appalachia and Rainbow Mountain. We have read about the Grand Canyon and the Canary Islands. Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another extraordinary place on Earth—Malta!
Malta is one of the tiniest countries in the world. However, it is also one of the most densely populated locations on the globe. This archipelago is not a surprise to many. With its extensive stretches of sandy beaches, who wouldn’t want to reside in Malta? Situated approximately 58 miles south of Sicily, it also enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year.
However, Malta’s location is not only advantageous for its weather. Numerous military leaders have recognized the strategic value of the islands. For instance, Malta played a significant role in World War II. During that period, the region was a part of the British Empire. It served as a military base for Britain and its allies.
Due to this, Malta was frequently attacked by German and Italian forces. At the end of the war, the British Empire awarded the Maltese people with the George Cross. This was to acknowledge the nation’s bravery. When the islands gained independence in 1964, the new country adopted the cross as a symbol on its flag.
Throughout history, Malta has been influenced by numerous cultures and civilizations. The Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, French, British, and many others have all left their mark on Maltese culture. One of the most enduring influences is Roman Catholicism. Presently, over 90 percent of the Maltese population belongs to this religion. In fact, the country itself is home to 359 Catholic churches.
Many of these churches are remarkable architectural wonders. One example is St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. The Knights of Malta constructed this grand church in the 1570s. It was designed and adorned in the Baroque style. Over the course of two centuries, the knights left numerous gifts and valuables within the church, many of which are still present today. Each year, thousands of visitors tour this cathedral in Malta.
Of course, a significant portion of Malta’s stunning architecture predates the influence of Catholicism. The Hypogeum is a network of underground passageways. It was built approximately 6,000 years ago. Carved out of limestone, the Hypogeum includes temples, a cemetery, and even a courtyard. It is one of several structures on the islands that were constructed during the Neolithic Period.
Another integral part of Maltese culture is the festa. This is a public celebration held annually in each village. Every Maltese town has a patron saint, whom they honor during this time. Each area commemorates the festa in its unique way. The festivities often include parades and fireworks.
Maltese towns also engage in friendly competition with one another. Each town strives to host the largest and most vibrant festa. They also compete in sports such as rugby and polo. The villages love to outdo each other. Every town even has its own band. The band club plays a crucial role in organizing the annual festa. And, of course, it provides the musical accompaniment!
Have you ever visited Malta? Perhaps you are among the 440,000 people who call it home! If not, you can still join the multitude of visitors who spend time in this island nation every year. From its rich culture to its breathtaking beaches, Malta is a place unlike any other.
Give It a Try
Are you ready to continue learning? Seek assistance from an adult friend or family member for the following activities!
- Do you have a desire to visit the stunning country of Malta? Explore some of the most exquisite locations in this nation. Which sights in this Mediterranean archipelago would you choose to visit? Write a letter or email to a friend or family member explaining the specific parts of Malta you would like to explore if given the chance.
- Do you enjoy lively celebrations? Learn more about the Maltese festa. Which aspects of the festival captivate you the most? Are there any festivities in your community that can compare? What do you imagine it would be like to attend a festa? Discuss these thoughts with a friend or family member.
- Can you locate Malta on a map? Request the assistance of an adult to help you locate Malta on a globe or an online world map. Keep in mind that it is situated just south of Sicily. Based on Malta’s geography, what industries do you believe thrive there? What types of goods and services might you find on this island? Create a list.
Sources of Wonder
- https://www.britannica.com/place/Malta (accessed on Aug. 13, 2020)
- https://www.maltauncovered.com/malta-island/ (accessed on Aug. 13, 2020)
- https://roadsandkingdoms.com/2015/know-before-you-go-to-malta/ (accessed on Aug. 13, 2020)
- https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/maltas-hypogeum-one-worlds-best-preserved-prehistoric-sites-reopens-public-180963397/ (accessed on Aug. 13, 2020)
- https://www.maltauncovered.com/best-places-to-visit-attractions/st-johns-co-cathedral/ (accessed on Aug. 13, 2020)
1. Where is Malta located?
Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily and east of Tunisia. It is an archipelago made up of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. The country is situated in Southern Europe and is known for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and crystal-clear waters.
2. What is the capital city of Malta?
The capital city of Malta is Valletta. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its stunning architecture, including the impressive St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta is also the cultural and administrative hub of the country.
3. How big is Malta?
Malta has a total land area of about 316 square kilometers, making it one of the smallest countries in the world. Despite its small size, Malta is densely populated and has a vibrant economy, driven by tourism, manufacturing, and financial services.
4. What language is spoken in Malta?
The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English. Maltese is a Semitic language with influences from Italian, Arabic, and English. English is widely spoken and used for business, education, and administration.
5. What are some popular tourist attractions in Malta?
Malta has a rich cultural heritage and offers numerous tourist attractions. Some popular sites include the ancient walled city of Mdina, the Blue Grotto, the Megalithic Temples, and the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk. The country is also known for its vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and delicious cuisine.