316 sq km (122 sq miles).
1,305.9 per sq km.
Head of state:
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca since 2014.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat since 2013.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are standard.
From the MTV music festival in Valletta to abseiling and climbing in Gozo, Malta rocks. Small in size but big in character, the Mediterranean island offers cool cafes, buzzing nightclubs, exhilarating activities and amazing archaeological wonders, whatever the time of year.
Situated in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, the Maltese archipelago includes Gozo, Comino, Cominotto and Filfla. It has bags of character at every turn, with secluded bays, medieval walled citadels and splendid baroque churches.
Most tourists come for the weather (there are more than 300 days of sunshine annually) and crystalline waters, which make it one of the best places to go snorkelling and diving in the Mediterranean. The water is in fact amongst the cleanest in the region.
But Malta’s distinctive appeal lies in its extraordinary 7,000 years of history. This small island has a greater concentration of historic sights than any country. Visitors can explore some of the oldest stone structures in the world here, as well as prehistoric temples, Roman catacombs and medieval villages.
The island is also famous for the Knights of St John, otherwise known as the Knights of Malta, who ruled it for 250 years and left behind plenty of remarkable architecture. Several museums explore Malta’s multi-faceted past, which saw it ruled by Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans and more.
Later came British rule, leaving behind a legacy of English as joint-official language with Maltese, as well as red letterboxes and phone booths. Despite this era, the island remains thoroughly Maltese. Summertime is greeted with lots of local festivals, and many restaurants now serve traditional Mediterranean food, which have pushed Anglo-influenced dishes off the menu.
Spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit this unique island, as temperatures are a little cooler while still suitable for sunbathing and swimming. It’s also when the tourist numbers ease from their summer peak.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime against tourists is rare although robberies, handbag snatching, pick-pocketing and theft from parked cars can occur. Safeguard passports, money and other valuables. Be vigilant when exchanging money and using ATMs, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use the hotel’s own safe if possible.
There have been instances of pick-pocketing on bus routes, especially the 12 and 13 routes between Valletta and St Julian’s. Thieves are targeting crowded afternoon buses. Be vigilant and keep sight of valuables at all times. Local police are aware of the problem and conducting investigations.
There are occasional incidents of organised crime involving firearms or explosives. These events are rare but have the potential to cause serious injury to bystanders. Report any suspicious activity to the police on 112 immediately.
Bird hunting is practised during the spring and autumn. Dates are movable and determined by the government in the lead up to the season. Local print and online news media normally carry the start and end dates, and times of when hunting is allowed.
Hunting with firearms is common and is normally allowed from 2 hours before sunrise until 2 hours after sunset. Hunting areas are rarely marked and can overlap with camping areas, country walkways and other public areas. Although not common, incidents involving members of the public have occurred previously. Be aware of your surroundings when visiting rural areas and nature spots during the hunting seasons.
British and Maltese nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating globally. The scams come in many forms (romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities) and can pose great financial risk to victims. Be very cautious about any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet.
The political situation in Libya has resulted in tensions between two offices claiming to represent the Libyan government in Malta. The two buildings are situated near bus stops on Triq L-Abate Rigord in Ta’ Xbiex and Triq L-Imdina in Attard. Take extra care and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations at these locations.
You can drive in Malta using your UK driving licence.
Take care while driving as some roads are in poor condition. Keep to the speed limit. Local standards of driving are poor.
In 2013 there were 18 road deaths in Malta (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 4.3 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2013.
See the European Commission,AA and RAC guides to driving in Malta.
During the summer, many beaches are patrolled by lifeguards and operate flag safety systems. You should make sure you understand the system and follow any warnings; red flags indicate dangerous or hazardous conditions. You should swim within designated swimming zones and take extra care if there are no life-guards, flags or signs. Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.
You can find more information and a general code of conduct for beaches in Malta on the Malta Tourism Authority website.