20 Fun & Interesting Facts About Malta (2022 Edition)

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COVID-19: The information in this post is updated as much as possible in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Please check the status of flights, activities etc. before you depart, as entry requirements and restrictions are constantly changing at a fast pace.

Malta is a tiny, tranquil and unique island in the Mediterranean Sea that’s full of wonderful surprises. With a wealth of history and culture, great food and stunning scenery, there’s no wonder it’s oen of Europe’s hottest holiday destinations.

Did you know that the Maltese islands have been ruled by nearly every major Empire of the last two millennia? Or that Malta is in fact not one, not two, not even three, but SEVEN islands?

Below I’ve compiled a list of the most interesting, fun, amazing and historical facts about this small European nation, and reasons why you need to add Malta to your bucket list!

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, if you click through to make a purchase, I earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Your support keeps me caffeinated so I can pump out more content.*

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Table of Contents

malta-infographic

General Facts About Malta:

 

1. One of The World’s Smallest Countries

 

Out of 236 countries Malta ranks 204th in size, and the smallest in the European Union. It is the world’s tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country.

(Source: Wikipedia)

 

 

2. The First Planned Capital City in Europe

 

Malta’s capital Valletta, was the first ever planned city in Europe. During the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the city was sketched out, in 1565.

valletta, malta

 

 

3. Malta was Awarded The George Cross

 

King George VI of England awarded Malta the George Cross for its bravery during the Axis Siege in the Second World War. To this day, the George Cross appears on the national flag.

 

 

4. More Tourists than Residents

 

Yep, there are 3 times more tourists than there are residents on the Maltese islands!

Where is Malta on the map? 

If you look at a map or a globe, the Maltese islands seem invisible (unless you have a really large map). That’s because of it’s tiny size. You can see how big Malta is compared to other islands, cities and countries, here:

5. Left Hand Drive in Malta

 

Malta is one of those countries in the world where people drive on the left side of the road – one of the legacies of former British rule.

 

 

6. Three Official Languages in Malta

 

They are English, Maltese, and Maltese Sign Language. However, Italian is widely spoken by the Maltese locals. Maltese has been described as sounding like a cross between Italian and Arabic.

 

 

7. Historically a Christian Country

 

Malta has a long Christian legacy, with Catholicism the official religion.

 

 

8. Once Controlled by The Knights of St. John

 

Also known as the Knights Templars, the famous elite warriors were given control of the islands in 1530 by Charles V of Spain. They are best known for successfully defending the island against the Ottomans.

 

 

9. Malta Was Ruled by Many Empires

 

Malta was ruled by several empires throughout history, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights Templars, French, and finally the British.

malta red telephone box

Related post: 71 Interesting Facts about England

 

10. An Independent State Since 1964

 

Malta gained independence from the UK in 1964, after 160 years of British rule. You’ll find many relics of the British Empire still scattered around Malta today.

Related Post >> 71 Fun Facts About England

Here’s 10 Facts That Make Malta A Worthwhile Trip:

 

11. Submerged WW2 Ships

 

There are several sunken World War Two ships, submarines and fighter planes scattered around the coastline of Malta.

shipwreck

 

 

12. The Capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

The Capital, Valletta, is one of the most concentrated historical areas in the world, according to UNESCO.

 

 

13. Pan-Fried Rabbit: Exclusive to these Islands

 

There’s food and drink that’s exclusive to Malta – Pan-fried Rabbit is a delicious dish, and Kinnie is the national soda made from bitter oranges.

pan fried rabbit

 

 

14. One Of The World’s Top Emerging Tourist Spots

 

With its warm climate, numerous adventure areas, architectural and historical monuments – including 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 7 megalithic temples, Malta is fast becoming one of the hottest tourist spots on earth.

You might also like:

15. Popular Filming Spot for Big Movies

 

Malta is a popular filming location for big budget productions – including blockbusters like Gladiator and World War Z, and the hit TV series Game Of Thrones. Check out this overview of film productions in Malta.

azure window
The Azura Window featured in the Game Of Thrones epic. Unfortunately this arc collapsed into the sea a few years ago.

 

 

16. An Island Surrounded by Crystal Clear Waters

 

The waters surrounding Malta and Gozo are an incredible blend of crystal-clear blue and green. The Blue Lagoon, on Malta’s Comino Island, is the most popular attraction on the Maltese islands.

beach-blue-lagoon

Read my post on finding all the Best Instagram Spots in Malta

 

 

17. Easy to Explore Within Minutes

 

At just 17 miles wide, the tiny island of Malta is easy to explore and you get from one end of the island to the other within minutes!

 

 

18. The World’s Best Climate

 

Malta has also been described as the country with the best climate in the world by International Living. It was also voted the best place to retire too!

(Source: Azure.com)

 

 

19. World-Class Architecture

 

There’s World-Class architecture all over Malta – spanning dozens of centuries, from Greek Byzantine temples to Baroque cathedrals.

malta cathedral

 

20. The World’s Oldest Structures

 

The Maltese islands are home to some of the Oldest Man-made Structures in the world, with some thought to be dating back 3,600 BC, some 5,000 years ago. Its megalithic temples are older than the Pyramids of Egypt, The Great Wall of China, and even Stonehenge in England.

Malta Fact File:

 

General Information

 

More information, statistics and general facts about Malta and Gozo, updated as of 2022:

  • Land area: 316 km2
  • Capital city: Valletta
  • Total Population: 443,329 people.
  • Life expectancy: 82.9 years.
  • Currency: Euro
  • Official languages: Maltese, English, Maltese Sign Language
  • Religion: Catholicism
  • National Holiday: 31st March (Freedom Day),  7th June (Sette Giugno), 8th September (Feast of Our Lady of Victories), 21st September (Independence Day), 13th December (Republic Day)
  • Government: Unitary Parlimentary Constitutional Republic
  • President: George Vella
  • Prime Minister: Robert Abela
  • Highest Point: Ta’ Dmejrek (253 meters above sea-level)
  • Official Website: visitmalta.com
  • Member of Nato: No
  • National anthem: “L-Innu Malti” (The Maltese Hymn)
  • Time zone: UTC+1, UTC+2 (Summer Time)
  • Driving side: left
  • Country Number/Prefix: +356
  • Country Code: MT

10 Largest Cities in Malta

 

Here’s the ten largest cities in Malta. Interestingly, the capital, Valletta, is not in this list, nor are several major tourist attraction cities (Mdina, St. Julians, Victoria, Mellieha). Moreover, the largest city has a population of less than 22,000. Source: Population Hub

Rank

City

Population

1

Birkirkara

21,775

2

Bridge

18,676

3

Feed

16,576

4

Zabbar

14,694

5

San Paul Il-Bahar

13,619

6

Sliema

12,993

7

San Juan

12,630

8

Naxxar

11,947

9

Discount

11,462

10

Zeytun

11,425

Famous People from Malta

 

Here’s a list of famous Maltese people and celebrities who trace their ancestry to Malta:

  • Meghan Markle – her great-great grandmother came from Malta
  • Miriam Gauci – operatic soprano from Malta
  • Kerry Ingram – Game of Thrones actress who’s grandfather is Maltese
  • Joseph Calleja – tenor from Malta
  • Joseph Calleia – actor from Malta, known for playing Hollywood villains
  • Edwige Fenech – actress from Malta
  • Britney Spears – her grandfather comes from Malta
  • Bryan Adams – has a Maltese grandmother

Commonly asked Questions:

Despite its small size, Malta has a long history, having being first inhabited around 5900 BC. The first settlers were farmers, and their agricultural methods degraded the soil until the islands became uninhabitable.

As well as being well-known for its stunning diving spots, prehistoric sites, and festivals, Malta is a popular movie location in its own right. The picturesque landscapes, dramatic cliffs and ancient buildings provide the perfect backdrop for many feature films and hit TV shows, especially those aiming for an antiquated vibe.

Malta is unique in that you can visit practically every spot and corner of the island within an hour’s drive, due to its small size. Add to that the combination of gorgeous weather, aqua-blue seas and stunning scenery, monolithic temples and buzzing nightlife, Malta is also famous for its local traditional cuisine, and old character houses with brightly-coloured balconies.

Why is Malta named Malta? It’s widely believed the word ‘Malta’ derived from the Greek word μέλι, (meli), meaning ‘honey’. The ancient Greeks called the island Μελίτη (Melitē), which means ‘honey-sweet’, which may be due to Malta’s unique production of honey, as an endemic subspecies of bees live on the island.

The island state of Malta is situated in the Mediterranean Sea just below Sicily (Italy). It consists of three main islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino, with Malta being the largest island. As Malta is a sovereign state, it is not part of either Spain or Italy.

Malta is considered a safe place to visit and among the safest destinations in Europe, although there was a gruesome unsolved incident involving a young German tourist who’s body was found with all his major organs removed. There has not been any terrorist incidents on the islands in the past several years, and the crime rate is low.

Malta has been dominated by 11 foreign rulers in the last two millennia. Malta has been a sovereign state since gaining independence from the British Empire in 1964. The country is still part of the British Commonwealth.

Book Your Trip to Malta: Budget Tips & Tricks

 

Flights:

As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner and Kiwi.com. They are considered the top flight search engines for the best deals.

Accommodation:

I use Booking to find fantastic cheap stays with free cancellation options. 

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance will protect you from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.

Tours:

I book all my fave activities and guided tours on Get Your Guide & Viator – they do superb deals whilst offering excellent customer support.

Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.

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Malta Facts
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I hope you find this list an interesting read, and that it inspires you to visit Malta one day!

 

Check out the following useful posts and guides on Malta and Gozo:

Thank you for reading 20 Interesting Facts About Malta. I hope you learned something interesting!
 
What’s your favourite fact about Malta? Leave a comment below!
 


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Billy

Billy

Lover of epic adventures, budget travel, and fine coffee. When not travelling, Billy teaches dance, and creates performances on commissioned projects.

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Hey there! I’m Billy, the guy behind BRB | Gone Somewhere Epic. I’ve been travelling around the world for six years, having an absolute blast going on epic adventures, without breaking the bank. Click here to read more about the art of budget travel.

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