10 Incredible Facts About Malta

A quick history lesson that won’t bore you to death.

Malta is a beautiful group of islands between Italy and Tunisia. In recent years, it has become European’s favorite summer getaway. For most Americans, however, it’s an up-and-coming Mediterranean hidden gem. It encompasses a sordid history which traces back to the Neolithic era, extending to the knights period under Knights Hospitalier, it fought against the French Revolution, then asked for the help from the British which eventually colonized it. For a small island-state, Malta has experienced a tremendous amount of history that dates all the way back to 5900 BC. To capture a clear picture of what makes Malta so fascinating, here are ten incredible facts.

1. Part of Spain or Italy?

Blue Lagoon, Malta
Blue Lagoon, Malta. Photo: Wendy Hung

Malta is 300 km from Tunisia and 80 km from Sicily, it’s a fusion of the two continents due to its history even dating back to Neolithic era. Malta is an island state and it has been independent for 40 years. Hence today, it’s neither Spanish nor Italian.

2. A hard day’s knight.

Armory Museum Malta
Palace Armoury, Malta. Photo: Wendy Hung

From 1530 to 1789, Malta was ruled by the Order of Saint John, aka: Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. Often, they’re referred to as “Knights Hospitalier,” which was headquartered in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, island of Rhodes, St. Petersburg, and Malta – acting as a medieval Catholic military order.

3. The Golden Age.

St. John's Cathedral Malta
St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Photo: Wendy Hung

Under the Knights Hospitalier, Valletta became Malta’s capital city. For the next 200 years, the island blossomed in art, architecture, and a reformation of the Maltese society. Many refer to this period as: The Golden Age in Malta.

4. The French occupation.

Valetta, Malta
Valetta, Malta. Photo: Wendy Hung

The rise of the French Revolution during 1770’s was also the fall of Knights Hospitalier. Once Napoleon invaded Malta in 1798, the Maltese fought against the French military by asking for British aid. In 1800, Malta officially became a British protectorate. Although Malta was meant to be given back to the Knights Hospitalier, the British continued to control the island until Malta officially became a British colony in 1814 via the Treaty of Paris.

5. British rule.

Phone booth, Valletta Malta
Mdina, Malta. Photo: Wendy Hung

While on his way to Egypt, Napoleon Bonaparte took over Malta from the Knights in 1798. During the French occupation, the Maltese asked the English for help. The English blockaded the island during the 1800’s, and ruled Malta until the island state became independent in 1964.

6. Three’s company.

Barrakka gardens, Malta
Barrakka Gardens, Malta. Photo: Wendy Hung

There are three islands in Malta: Gozo, Comino, and Malta (the largest island with 460,000 inhabitants.) There are literally three people who still live on the island of Comino, tourists do not visit there. Gozo is perfect for a day trip, take the ferry from Malta to visit archeological sites on Gozo Island.

7. Oh honey!

Malta means: the land of honey, and it also has some traditional roots in the art of bee keeping!

8. Maltese, not the dog. 

Citadel, Gozo Malta
Citadel, Gozo Island. Photo: Wendy Hung

While locals speak Maltese (which sounds like Arabic) and English, the written language is Latin.

9. 40-year independence.

During 40 years of Malta’s independence, most locals remain Catholic and more females are graduating from universities every year. Today, an average person’s salary is approximately 700€/month.

10. Same sex marriage.

Although same sex marriage has been legalized in Malta since 2017, the Maltese remain fairly traditional and many elders are uneasy regarding the idea of abortion.

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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