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Ms. Johnie Gieger from Alabama, Usa

"Charmaine - We have wonderful memories of Malta, thanks to you and your enthusiasm and knowledge of your country. The trip could not have been better. and I think Henry saw everything he had on his list! Thanks for taking good care of us."

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About Malta

Your Malta Guide - About Malta

The Maltese Archipelago enjoys a geographical position which proved strategic to many powers during the course of history. It is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, perched between two continents: Europe and Africa. There are other small islands scattered around this area. Malta's uniqueness lies in the fact that it is endowed with a beautiful natural harbour which could provide the required shelter to any sea-craft belonging to mercantile or belligerent nations.

Evidence of our past goes back to prehistoric times. The megalithic temples we discovered are some of the oldest standing structures in the world, important not only to our story but also to the history of mankind in general. They are so important that they have been classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The Maltese can boast of a chequered History which has moulded them into a unique nation. The arrival of the Phoenicians to Malta in c. 800 B.C. introduced a peaceful domination of the Island by these great businessmen of the time. The Maltese Islands were consequently conquered by the strongest powers in the Mediterranean: the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Angevins, the Swabians, and the Aragonese. Then in 1530 the islands were handed over to the Knights of the Order of St. John, the French conquered the island in 1798 and Malta became a British colony in 1814.

The twentieth century provided the keys by which this small nation could ultimately decide for itself. Independence from Britain in 1964 meant that the Maltese had finally succeeded in defeating the colonial belief that others could decide their future. Malta became a republic in 1974, severed all military ties with Britain in 1979, and on 1st May 2004 became a full member of the European Union.

Seven thousand years of history can be explored on our Island - providing a summary of Mediterranean and European history. The conquerors left their mark on our language, agriculture, architecture, culture, views, and identity. Walk through our streets enjoying medieval surroundings provided by siculo-Norman buildings; the lavish baroque of early modern times; the neo-classical and the neo-gothic of the nineteenth century; and the modern twentieth century plus the unique local farmhouses the features of which are again being used in modern Maltese houses. Therefore enrich your experience when visiting our Island. Visit the historical sites and discover our heritage.

Good to Know Facts

Your Malta Guide - Good to Know Facts

Situation : 93km south of Sicily and around 300 km north and east from North African Coast.

Area : Malta 320 sq km ; Gozo 67 sq km ; Comino 2.5 sq km

Capital : Valletta

Population : 400,000 Time Zone : GM + 1 hour. From 31 March till the end of October, clocks are a further hour ahead of GMT.

Electricity : 220/240 volt and 110 for shavers.

International dialling code : 00 356

Climate : The climate of Malta has been the nation's fortune. Even in winter the temperature rarely drops below 12 deg Celsius (54 deg F). Snows or frosts are unknown and rain is likely to fall only between November and February. During the summer months it can top 43 deg C (109 deg F), although 30 deg C is more than usual.

Language : Languages do resemble the people who use them and, in a way, the history of the various military occupations which the islands endured throughout the centuries is reflected in the language of the inhabitants. The Maltese language grew from Semitic roots and flourished with hundreds of words borrowed from nearby Sicily. Il-Malti is a unique Semitic tongue woven from linguistic threads of those who come in peace or in war; the Phoenicians, Arabs, Italians, Spanish, French, and latterly the English have all corrupted and influenced spoken Malti . The result is a cultural mix. Getting around the islands is not a problem. The Maltese are talented linguists. Nearly all Maltese speak English, and many speak Italian.

Religion : Religion must have played an integral part in the lives of the Maltese since prehistoric times. The vast array of temples which have been discovered in Malta and Gozo bear witness to the zeal with which the Maltese revered their deities. All this changed in 60 AD with the arrival of St Paul, shipwrecked on the rocky shores on his way to Rome, proved to be one of the most important landmarks in the history of Malta. Thereafter Christianity continued to flourish until it was interrupted during the 200 years of Arab domination. After the arrival of the Norman Count Roger the Maltese were once again free to practice their religion. Christianity continued to flourish especially during the rule of the Order of St John when most of the baroque churches were built and adorned. The official religion of Malta is Roman Catholic but one also finds Protestant and churches of other Christian denominations. A Mosque also caters for the spiritual needs of Muslims. Church Services held by various denominations : Roman Catholic - services in different languages In Italian - Valetta Santa Caterina d'Italia In German - Valletta Santa Barbara In French - Valletta Santa Barbara In Greek - Valletta Our Lady of Damascus Anglican (Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe) Valletta : St Paul's Anglican Pro Cathedral Sliema : Holy Trinity Church Gozo : Anglican service at the Seminary, Victoria Church of Scotland, Methodist and Free Churches Valletta : St Andrew's Scots Church Greek Orthodox Valletta : Church of St George Islamic Centre Paola : The Mosque Jewish Community Temporarily in different localities Protestant Church of Germany Valletta : St Andrew's Scots Church Health Malta enjoys a well-earned reputation for its health standards.

Health Care : Medical facilities, run along modern lines, are available through the regional health centres and general hospitals. Comprehensive health insurance policy for all travellers is recommended. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Milk is pasteurised and available daily in cartons. All dairy products are safe for comsumption. Chemists are to be found throughout the islands and are open during normal shopping hours.

Telecommunications : Local and international telephone calls can be made from hotel rooms, and credit and charge cards are normally accepted. Telex facilities, as well as facsimile machines, are also available at most hotels. Malta Country Code : + 356 Internet service providers are numerous. Time Malta is on central European Time (CET), that is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in winter and two hours from the last Sunday of March until the last Sunday in October.

Money Matters / Currency : Malta's currency is decimal. The EURO is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency visitors can bring into Malta. Check recent exchange rates as issued by the Central Bank of Malta. Credit Cards Access, American Express, Carte Blanche, Diners International, Master Card and Visa are accepted by most hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.

Night Life : Malta and Gozo have an extensive night life portofolio. Entertaining on the Islands can vary in price, but generally is relatively inexpensive. The entrance to most major entertainment venues is also reasonable. St Julians has the lions share of the evening events : Restaurants of all types and varieties can be found here. The 'big' clubs are also resident here. With so many hotels in the area one can also find lounge entertainment with live music, dinner and dancing. The annex to St Julians, aptly named Paceville is the mecca for youngsters who like club crawling. It is also suitable for the older, more adventurous who enjoy pubs, wine bars, restaurants, rock clubs and jazz clubs. Most establishments open to the early morning hours. Other parts of Malta are also suited for nightly entertainment, though on a smaller scale.

Dining Out : Maltese Cuisine It goes without saying that Maltese food is typically Mediterranean. Fish dominates the menus of most restaurants. Since the waters around Malta are very clean, the fish caught in these waters are among the best in the Mediterranean, and always served fresh from that day. With Malta's proximity to Italy, most dishes tend to resemble Italian ones, however there are varieties in certain preparations which have taken on their own local identity. As an example, pastry tends to be unique to Malta, although admittedly, similar to Sicilian pastry. Maltese cooking is the product of many kitchens. It has evolved as a simple culinary experience, made from produce that has been readily available. Favourites include minestra, a thick vegetable soup ; Timpana, a Sicilian dish by origin, is macaroni with minced meat baked under a topping of pastry ; Bragoli, is rolled beef stuffed with bacon, breadcrumbs and hard boiled eggs. Locally baked bread is a real treat. Hobz biz-zejt is the local bread which is rubbed with tomatoes and topped with tomatoes, capers, olive oil and seasoning. In Malta you will find restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, including speciality restaurants such as Indian and Thai. For a quick snack, the locals tend to favour the 'pastizzi'. These are little hand sized flaky crust pastries usually filled with ricotta cheese or mashed peas. They are delicious and worth a try!

Events : Festas to foreign eyes represents the zeal with which the Maltese revere their village patron saints is, to say the least, excessive. However one must remember that in a small country such as Malta it is quite natural that villages vie with each other to make their feast more beautiful. During the week prior to the actual feast day enthusiasts decorate the streets and square with bulbs and colourful banners. The magnificent façade of the parish church is lit whilst red damask adorns its interior. Various liturgical services take place to remind everybody of the virtues of the patron saint in whose honour the feast is being organised. All this activity culminates in the feast-day itself when a procession with the statue of the saint flows in the crowded streets. Petards are let off and the event ends up with the spectacular fireworks displays. This tradition is still very much alive and kicking and for the Maltese summer-time is festa-time. Festaa are made to be experienced.

Carnival : February is traditionally carnival time!! For five days, Maltese and Gozitans throw a big party with parades running through the principal streets of the capital cities of Valletta and Victoria. Usually, there are competitions for the best float and costume parties take place all over the islands. Carnival has a long and colourful history on the Islands. It usually coincides with the beginning of the solemn Christian period of Lent.