GENERAL INFORMATION AND FACTS ABOUT MALTA

 

Practical Information: 

The Maltese archipelago consists of three inhabited islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. They lie in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea with Malta 93 km South of Sicily and 230 km north of Africa. The total area of the Islands is 316 square km. And the longest distance on the island of Malta is 27 km.

Geography:
The Maltese archipelago consists of three inhabited islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino and two other uninhabited islands. They lie in the middle of the Mediterranean sea with Malta 93 km south of Sicily and 230 km north of North Africa. The total area is 316 square km (Malta 246, Gozo 67, Comino 2.7).

Malta
The longest distance in Malta from south-east to north-west is about 27 km and, at its widest point in an east-west direction, measures 14.5 km. Malta has neither mountains nor rivers. The island is characterised by a series of low hills with terraced fields on the slopes. Malta's coastline has many harbours, bays, creeks, sandy beaches, and rocky coves.

The length of Malta's shoreline is 137 km.
Population: 395,000
Capital: Valletta
Main Seaport: Grand Harbour, Valletta
Airport: Luqa (6 km from Valletta)

Gozo
Gozo, the island of the nymph Calypso, is smaller than its sister island Malta and has a character quite distinct from it. The countryside is greener and more spectacular. Flat-topped hills characterise the landscape whilst the coast has rugged cliffs, penetrated by steep valleys and beautiful bays. Gozo is more rustic and quieter than Malta. It is 14.54 km long and 7.2 km at its widest point and its shoreline measures 43km.

Population: 35,000
Capital: Rabat (Victoria)
Main Seaport: Mgarr
There is no airport on Gozo.

Comino
Comino is the smallest island in the Maltese archipelago. Only a handful of farmers live there; neither cars nor other noisy activities disturb the peace of this little paradise. There is only one cosy beach hotel. If you are in your element in or beside the sea, then Comino is ideal. The many bays and rocks in Comino and the crystal-clear waters are ideal for any kind of water sports, especially snorkelling and diving. There is a regular ferry service to Malta and Gozo.


Climate & Weather:

Malta is blessed with one of the most agreeable climates in the Mediterranean. The weather is warm even in winter. Between April and September there is virtually non-stop sunshine. The hottest period is mid-July to the end of September, but the nights are tempered by cool breezes from the surrounding sea. The average summer temperature (May-October) is 23ºC whilst that of winter (November-April) averages 11ºC.

The climate is warm and healthy. There are no biting winds, fog, snow or frost. Rain falls for only very short periods averaging about 578mm (20 inches) in a whole year. The sun shines for an average 6.46 hours each day in winter and 10.11 hours in summer. The hottest period is from mid-July to mid-September. The island is seldom too hot even in the height of summer as hot summer days and nights are usually tempered by cool breezes from the sea.


Electricity:

Electricity supply is 240 volts, 50 Hertz. The square-fitting standard three-pin, 13 Amp British plugs and sockets are used.


Language:

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 Italian, French and English origin. Italian is also widely spoken.


Religion:

Malta is Roman Catholic but the Maltese Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. There are also churches belonging to various other religious denominations.


Time:

Malta is on Central European Time (CET), that is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in winter and two hours from last Sunday in March until last Sunday in October.


Currency Exchange & Credit Cards:

On 1st January 2008 Malta adopted the Euro as its official currency. From this date onwards, the Euro became legal tender in Malta and Gozo. Throughout the month of January, cash transactions can take place in both Maltese Lira and Euro, but after January 31st 2008, businesses will accept only payments in Euro. For more information, go to www.euro.gov.mt


Medical Care:

Malta enjoys a high standard of medical care. The general hospital, Mater Dei is in Msida, but there are government health clinics in various towns. Persons who are receiving medical treatment and who may need to carry medications into Malta or purchase fresh supplies locally would be well advised to arm themselves with a letter of introduction from their doctor. Malta has special clinics for diabetic sufferers and pharmacies generally stock a wide variety of diabetic products. Milk is pasteurised and available daily in cartons. All dairy products are safe for consumption.

Several Health centers are open for emergencies 24 hrs, 7 days a week. You can attend others based on you location.  It is important that anyone requiring the service has a document of Identification. During the week most pharmacies around Malta are open from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm.  On Sundays and Public Holidays, Pharmacies are open according to a schedule. 

The Pharmacies scheduled as open on Sundays and public holidays are open from 9am till noon. Pharmacıes Opening on Sundays: https://www.pharmacy.com.mt/roster/


Dress:

In summer, very light and informal clothing. In winter, some lightweight dress for the warm, sunny days, together with some warmer clothing for the cooler days and evenings.


Public Holidays:    

Malta is a small archipelago of seven islands, but it has a rich history that is extremely unique. It had long been passed back and forth by empire builders. Malta celebrates 14 public and national holidays each year. All holidays that fall under national or public holidays are non-working paid holidays.  The Labour Laws of Malta state that all employees are required to receive pay for their non-working holidays.  The government distinguishes the difference between a public holiday and a national holiday by flying the national flag on all dates it considers a national celebration. These holidays are patriotic in theme:                                                                                                                                    

Occassion   Date
New Year's Day 1st Januaray 
Fest of St. Paul Shipwreck  10th February 
Feast of St. Joseph 19th March 
Freedom Day 31st March 
Good Firday Date varies 
Workers Day1st May 
Sette Giugno 7th June 
Feast of St Peter and St. Paul 29th June 
Feast of Assumption 15th August 
Victory Day 8th September 
Independance Day 21st September 
Immaculate Conception 8th December 
Republic Day13th December 
Christmas Day 25th December 

 

 Read more about the Maltese Festive Calendar 


Traditional Maltese Food:    

Maltese cuisine is the result of a long relationship between the Islanders and the many civilisations who occupied the Maltese Islands over the centuries. This marriage of tastes has given Malta an eclectic mix of Mediterranean cooking. Not to mention that the list is never ending considering that the country is of such a small size. When you ask any Maltese what is their favourite food and what they miss most when abroad, they’ll tell you Maltese Bread. This bread with it’s hard and crunchy crust on the outside and soft and fluffy white bread from the inside is a meal on its own when combined with Local products such as tomato paste, olive oil, Capers, onions, olives tuna and a dash of Salt and pepper.

Many years before the modern-day fast foods, Malta had its own savoury snacks the Pastizzi.  This fluffy pastry filled with either ricotta or a paste of mushy peas are a delicious snack at any time of the day.  This delicacy together with the Qassatat, Sausage Rolls and Timpana can be found literally in every corner of almost all Village squares. Some food that is consumed as Antipasti are snails cooked with herbs and spices, Maltese Sausages, a very tasty locally produced type of sausage.  Bigilla, a paste made of Beans, garlic and olive oil. Kirxa, tripe boiled and cooked in spices, makes another delicious entrée. Malta is surrounded by the sea; therefore, it is obvious that Fish is common in Maltese dishes.  The most popular is the Lampuka (Mahi-mahi or Dolphin Fish) is caught seasonally and is prepared in various ways, Fried, served in pie, in batter or in Fish soup. Other popular fish are the Local Swordfish, seabream, seabass and grouper. Rabbit in Malta is one of the most popular dishes on the islands.  Be it fried with garlic or in stew and served with spaghetti, it is rich in flavour and very low in fat.  Horse meat is another very popular typical Maltese dish which needs to be slow cooked to tenderize it, but otherwise delicious when cooked in a stew. When it comes to meat, the Maltese know their food and one can never forget to mention the tasty Bragjoli (beef olives) with bacon, egg and garlic cooked in wine sauce.  Another favourite is the Majjalata (Pig Roast) usually the Pork is served with a delicious potato dish seasoned with local herbs.  This is a very popular food gathering, being with family friends or a big festa gathering.

When it come to sweets, Malta has its fair share, Imqaret (date cakes), Helwa tat-Tork and Kannoli tal-Irkotta (Cannoli) are the traditional dessert.  But these are only a few in the long list of traditional Maltese sweets.  Like many other countries, every occasion has some kind of sweet connected to it.  The Prinjolatais made for the Carnival days, this sweet takes its name from the word prinjol (pine nuts) as they are used in its filling and the topping. The Sfineg ta’ San Guzepp (similar to the zeppole) are very popular in March as they’re only made for the Feast of St. Jospeh on March 19th.   During Lent you will find the Kwarezimal(chewy biscuits).  The Figolla is the traditional Easter sweet, but this sweet which is made of soft biscuit and marzipan and is found in different shapes such as lambs, ducks, fish and baskets.  This sweet goes back millennia to pagan times celebrating Spring.  During the Summer, il-Qubbajt is found sold during the weekend on traditional stalls set up in the Village Square.  In-November to commemorate the day of the dead we find L-Ghadma (Bone) a pastry filled with almond filling similar to the Figolla.   Other sweets that are found around the year are Qaghaq tal-Ghasel (Honey Rings) Torta tal-Lewz (almond cake), Pudina tal-Hobz (Bread Pudding).