Malta at a glance

Location In the middle of the Mediterranean, 93km south of Sicily, 288km east of Tunisia, 355km north of Libya and 815km west of Crete.

Islands Three inhabited islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Three tiny uninhabited islands: Cominotto, Filfla and St Paul’s Island, plus the semi-derelict Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour due for redevelopment.

Size Total area 316km² with 253km of coastline. Malta 30km (SE–NW) x 11km (SW–NE), area 245.7km²; Gozo 14km x 5km, area 67.1km²; Comino 2.5km x 1.5km, area 2.8km².

Population 460,000 and rising fast (of which Gozo is about 32,000, Comino one family)

Status Independent republic. Member of the European Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

Currency Euro (for up-to-date rates, go to the XE website)

Climate Mediterranean island – hot dry summers and mild damp winters with chilly winds

Official languages Maltese and English

Capital Valletta

Religion Roman Catholic (98%)

Time GMT +2 hours in summer (from the last Sunday in March until the Saturday before the last Sunday in October), otherwise GMT +1 hour. Always UK +1 hour.

Economy 35% of GDP from tourism. Manufacturing strong in electronics and pharmaceuticals.

GDP US$26,900 per capita (an all-time high)

National airline Air Malta

Electricity 230–240V, 50Hz, with British-style 3 square-pin plugs (British visitors don’t need adapters).

Telephone codes Into Malta +356, out of Malta 00. Within Malta, no area codes, just eight digits.

Weights and measures Mostly metric

Flag Half red (right side), half white, with the George Cross in the top left-hand corner. The cross was added in the 1940s after it was awarded to Malta by George VI for gallantry in World War II.

National anthem L’Innu Malti (‘The Maltese Hymn’) Lil Din L-Art Ħelwa (‘To The Sweet Land’), music by Dr Robert Samut, words by Maltese national poet Dun Karm Psaila.

National bird Il-Merrill, the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitariu)

National tree Gharghar/sandarac gum (siġra ta’ l-għargħar) (Tetraclinis articulata) – a cypress tree

National sports Football, water polo

Public holidays 1 January (New Year’s Day), 10 February (St Paul’s Shipwreck), 19 March (St Joseph), 31 March (Freedom Day), Good Friday, 1 May (Workers’ Day), 7 June (Sette Giugno), 29 June (St Peter and St Paul), 15 August (the Assumption), 8 September (Victory Day), 21 September (Independence Day), 8 December (the Immaculate Conception), 13 December (Republic Day), 25 December (Christmas Day).

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