(Republic of Malta, Repubblika ta' Malta)
- Location: Europe
- Capital: Valletta
- Language: Maltese
- Population: 414,971
- Total Area: 316 km2
- Currency: Euro
First the French and then the British built Malta up as an important naval base, culminating in Malta serving as a hospital during WWI. Their experiences in WWII were more memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. In 1942, the whole country was close to starvation as for 154 continuous days- three times longer than the London blitz- the Germans bombed their cities. Afterwards, however, the British rewarded the entire population with the St George Cross and gave them money to build themselves back up. By 1964, they had finally won their independence and in 2002 joined the EU.
Visitors to Malta will immediately see the British influence on the island. They not only speak English and follow British traditions more closely than the British follow them, but unlike their Mediterranean neighbors, they have efficiency more typical of northern Europeans. That doesn’t mean some of the Mediterranean culture hasn’t rubbed off on them. Like the Southern Italians they tend to be strict Catholics and very family orientated.
The Maltese love horseracing and every 29th of June- a national holiday- they hold a bare back horse race on Saqquajja Hill to celebrate a religious holiday. Other than the one race course on this small island is the Marasa Racing Course, which holds races every Sunday from October to May. Most they have what the Maltese call trotting races, which much like Chariot races, the horse will pull a carriage in which the jockey sits in.
The story goes that Paul Apostle brought Christianity to Malta after he was shipwrecked around 50 AD, making Malta one of the oldest Christian nations in the world. There churches certainly back up their claims. Almost everyone is an architectural masterpiece- crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and many have statues of the saints. Most famously, St. John’s Cathedral holds two of Caravaggio’s best work- St Jerome and the beheading of John the Baptist. In total, Malta has 365 churches.
The Mediterranean is perfect for snorkeling. Clear blue water, no tide or current- you can spend all day there- and best all it has very few dangerous fish. Surprising considering the amount of varieties they have- Amberjack, Blue stingray, Blackface Blenny, Clingfish, and hundreds more- all of different sizes and colors. And the great thing is the only requirement one needs for snorkeling, beyond buying the goggles, is knowing how to swim.
Interesting Facts About Malta
-It is a predominantly Christian nation.
-The official language is Maltese which is a blend of Italian, Sicilian and English.
-All of the capital city of Valleta has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2013 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany) for story editing.
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).