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Geography of Malta

Learn about the Mediterranean Country of Malta

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Malta Flag

The Malta flag has two equal vertical bands of white (hoist side) and red; in the upper hoist-side corner is a representation of the George Cross, edged in red.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated May 02, 2011

Population: 408,333 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Valletta
Land Area: 122 square miles (316 sq km)
Coastline: 122.3 miles (196.8 km)
Highest Point: Ta'Dmerjrek at 830 feet (253 m)

Malta, officially called the Republic of Malta, is an island nation located in southern Europe. The archipelago making up Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea about 93 km south of the island of Sicily and 288 km east of Tunisia. Malta is known as being one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries with an area of just 122 square miles (316 sq km) and a population of over 400,000, giving it a population density of about 3,347 persons per square mile or 1,292 people per square kilometer.

History of Malta

Archaeological shows that Malta's history dates back to ancient times and has one of the world's oldest civilizations. Early in its history Malta became an important trading settlement because of its central location in the Mediterranean and the Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians built forts on the island. In 218 B.C.E., Malta became a part of the Roman Empire during the second Punic War.

The island remained a part of the Roman Empire until 533 C.E. when it became a part of the Byzantine Empire. In 870 control of Malta passed to the Arabs, who remained on the island until 1090 when they were driven out by a band of Norman adventurers. This led to it becoming a part of Sicily for over 400 years, during which time it was sold to several feudal lords from lands that would eventually come to belong to Germany, France and Spain.

According to the U.S. Department of State in 1522 Suleiman II forced the Knights of St. John from Rhodes and they spread out in various locations throughout Europe. In 1530 they were granted rule over the Maltese islands by Charles V, a Roman Emperor, and for over 250 the "Knights of Malta" controlled the islands. During their time on the islands the Knights of Malta built several towns, palaces and churches. In 1565 the Ottomans attempted to siege Malta (known as the Great Siege) but the Knights were able to defeat them. By the late 1700s however, the power of the Knights began to decline and in 1798 they surrendered to Napoleon.

For two years after Napoleon took over Malta the population there attempted to resist French rule and in 1800 with the support of the British, the French were forced out of the islands. In 1814 Malta became a part of the British Empire. During British occupation of Malta, several military fortresses were built and the islands became the headquarters of the British Mediterranean Fleet.

During World War II, Malta was invaded several times by Germany and Italy but it was able to survive and on August 15, 1942 five ships broke through a Nazi blockade to deliver food and supplies to Malta. This fleet of ships became known as the Santa Marija Convoy. In addition in 1942 Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI. In September 1943 Malta was home to the surrender of the Italian fleet and as a result September 8 is recognized Victory Day in Malta (to mark the end of WWII in Malta and victory in the 1565 Great Siege).

On September 21, 1964 Malta gained its independence and it officially became the Republic of Malta on December 13, 1974.

Government of Malta

Today Malta is still governed as a republic with an executive branch made up of a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minster). Malta's legislative branch is comprised of a unicameral House of Representatives, while its judicial branch is made up of the Constitutional Court, Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal. Malta has no administrative subdivisions and the entire country is administered directly from its capital, Valletta. There are however several local councils that administer orders from Valletta.

Economics and Land Use in Malta

Malta has a relatively small economy and it is reliant on international trade because it produces only about 20% of its food needs, has little fresh water and has few energy sources (CIA World Factbook). Its main agricultural products are potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, tomatoes, citrus, flowers, green peppers, pork, milk, poultry and eggs. Tourism is also a major part of Malta's economy and other industries in the country include electronics, ship building and repair, construction, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, footwear, clothing, tobacco, as well as aviation, financial and information technology services.

Geography and Climate of Malta

Malta is an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean with two main islands - Gozo and Malta (map). Its total area is very small at only 122 square miles (316 sq km), but the overall topography of the islands varies. There are for example many rocky coastal cliffs, but the center of the islands is dominated by low, flat plains. The highest point on Malta is Ta'Dmerjrek at 830 feet (253 m). The largest city in Malta is Birkirkara.

The climate of Malta is Mediterranean and as such it has mild, rainy winters and warm to hot, dry summers. Valletta has an average January low temperature of 48˚F (9˚C) and an average July high temperature of 86˚F (30˚C).

To learn more about Malta visit the Malta Maps section of this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (26 April 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Malta. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mt.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Malta: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107763.html

United States Department of State. (23 November 2010). Malta. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5382.htm

Wikipedia.com. (30 April 2011). Malta - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta

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