• About Malta
  • History
  • excursions
  • Visa
  • cuisine
  • air transportation
  • Thalasso
  • Diving

Geographical location: The Maltese archipelago consists of the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, only  90km south of Sicily and 230km from the North African coast.

Size:  Malta, the largest of the islands is 246 km2, whilst Gozo is 67 km2 and Comino 2.7 km2. Malta’s length is approximately 27km from the southeast to the northwest point , whilst the greatest length from east to west is 14.5km.

Landscape: Malta has no rivers or mountains  but it characterised by low sloping hills, plowed terraces are separated from each other by stone walls . Malta’s feature is its deeply indented and sculpted coastline, consisting of numerous harbours, coves, sandy and rocky beaches.

Population: Approx. 400,000

Capital City: Valletta

Port: Grand Harbour, Valletta

Airport: 6 km from Valletta

Transport: Vehicles drive on the right in Malta the same as in the UK. There is a national speed limit of 80km/h on the highway and 50 km/h in urban areas. The island has a regular bus service between all the towns, villages and the capital city of Valletta.

Language: The official languages ​​of Malta are Maltese and English.

Time Zone: Malta is 2 hours behind Moscow time – Central European Time.

Climate: In Malta, there are no cold winds, snow and frost . In winter (November to April) there are spells of wind and rain with a relatively mild air.  The hottest period is from mid-July to mid-September. All throughout the year the islands experience a pleasant sea breeze even during the highest summer temperatures.

Visa: Malta is part of the Schengen area, so a Schengen visa is required to enter the country.

Currency: The local currency of Malta is the Euro.

Importation of animals: The importation of dogs and cats in Malta is strictly prohibited.

Electricity: AC voltage 240V. Use rectangular outlet (13A) for the triple fork - you can buy an adapter in Malta.

Shops: Usually shops are open from 9am to 1pm and again from 4pm to 7pm and on Saturdays until 8pm. In touristic areas and shopping centres shops may remain open until 10pm. Shops and banks close on Sundays.

Religion: In Malta, the majority of the population of Roman Catholic

Swimming: There are very little tides in Malta - so you can swim safely anywhere. Between May and October, the sea temperature averages 23C. Public beaches do not permit nudity or topless bathing at any time.

Sports & Outdoors: Malta hosts annual yacht regattas, international and national triathlons, bowling and other championships. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy sailing and yachting all year round.

Surfboards can be rented from most beaches, and Malta offers numerous diving centres offering all courses from basic training to advanced instructor courses. All diving schools are fully licensed, and certificates and international registration are given by qualified instructors.

Outdoor enthusiasts attracted by the opportunity to play golf (especially in the winter when the pleasant weather conditions) can enjoy numerous mini golf greens. There are also several tennis courts and horse riding schools.

Security: Malta does not have an active military base and experiences virtually no crime.

Malta stands on an underwater ridge that extends from North Africa to Sicily. At some time in the distant past Malta was submerged, as shown by marine fossils embedded in rock in the highest points of Malta. As the ridge was pushed up and the Strait of Gibraltar closed through tectonic activity, the sea level was lower, and Malta was on a bridge of dry land that extended between the two continents, surrounded by large lakes. Some caverns in Malta have revealed bones of elephants, hippopotami, and other large animals now found in Africa, while others have revealed animals native to Europe.

People first arrived in Malta around 5200 BC. These first Neolithic people probably arrived from Sicily (about 100 kilometres or 62 miles north), and were mainly farming and fishing communities, with some evidence of hunting activities. They apparently lived in caves and open dwellings. During the centuries that followed there is evidence of further contacts with other cultures, which left their influence on the local communities, evidenced by their pottery designs and colours.

One of the most notable periods of Malta's history is the temple period, starting around 3600 BC. The Ggantija Prehistoric Temple in Gozo is the oldest free-standing building in the world. The name of the complex stems from the Maltese word ġgant, which reflects the magnitude of the temple's size. Many of the temples are in the form of five semicircular rooms connected at the centre. It has been suggested that these might have represented the head, arms and legs of a deity, since one of the commonest kinds of statue found in these temples is a fat woman — a symbol of fertility. The Temple period lasted until about 2500 BC, at which point the civilization that raised these huge monoliths seems to have disappeared. There is much speculation about what might have happened and whether they were completely wiped out or assimilated.

After the Temple period came the Bronze Age. From this period there are remains of a number of settlements and villages, as well asdolmens — altar-like structures made out of very large slabs of stone. They are claimed to belong to a population certainly different from that which built the previous megalithic temples. It is presumed the population arrived from Sicily because of the similarity to the constructions found in the largest island of the Mediterranean sea.[2] One surviving menhir, which was used to build temples, still stands atKirkop; it is one of the few still in good condition. Among the most interesting and mysterious remnants of this era are the so-called cart ruts as they can be seen at a place on Malta called Clapham Junction. These are pairs of parallel channels cut into the surface of the rock, and extending for considerable distances, often in an exactly straight line. Their exact use is unknown. One suggestion is that beasts of burden used to pull carts along, and these channels would guide the carts and prevent the animals from straying. The society that built these structures eventually died out or at any rate disappeared.

Phoenicians

Phoenicians possibly from Tyre colonized the islands approximately in the 7th century BC as an outpost from which they expanded sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean. They named the island Maleth/Malat meaning "safe haven" and lived in the area now occupied by the city of Mdina and its suburb Rabat.

Carthage and Rome

The islands later came under the control of Carthage (400 BC), who left numerous settlements, such as Ras ir-Raħeb and at Żejtun, and established Punic culture on the islands. Malta then fell to the Roman Republic in 218 BC. The islands prospered under Roman rule, and were eventually distinguished as a Municipium and a Foederata Civitas. Many Roman antiquities still exist, testifying to the close link between the Maltese inhabitants and the people of Rome.

In AD 60, the New Testament records that Saint Paul was shipwrecked on an island named Melite, which many Bible scholars and Maltese conflate with Malta; there is a tradition that the shipwreck took place on the shores of the aptly named "Saint Paul's Bay".

Vandals and Byzantines

In 440 the island was captured by the Vandals, which had recently occupied the Roman province of Africa. It was recovered by the Byzantine general Belisarius in 533, along with the other Vandal possessions, and remained a part of the Byzantine province of Sicily for the next 340 years.

Arab period

Malta was occupied by the Fatimids, who exerted 220 years of influence (from 870 to 1090 CE/AD) on the existing civilization. In addition to their language, Siculo-Arabic, cotton,oranges and lemons and many new techniques in irrigation were introduced. Some of these, like the noria (waterwheel), are still used, unchanged, today. Many place names in Malta date to this period. The Phoenician city of Medina was extensively modified in this period.

Norman Kingdom of Sicily rule

Between 1194 and 1530, the Kingdom of Sicily ruled the Maltese islands and a process of full latinisation started in Malta.

In 1091, count Roger I of Sicily, made an initial attempt to establish Norman rule of Malta and was greeted by the few native Christians. In 1127, his son Roger II of Sicilysucceeded. This marked the gradual change from an Arab cultural influence to a European one. In 1191, Tancred of Sicily appointed Margaritus of Brindisi the first Count of Malta. Until the 1224 AD/CE, however, there remained a strong Muslim segment of society.

After the Norman conquest, the population of the Maltese islands kept growing mainly through immigration from the north (Sicily and Italy), with the exile to Malta of the entire male population of the town of Celano (Italy) in 1223, the stationing of a Norman and Sicilian garrison on Malta in 1240 and the settlement in Malta of noble families from Sicily between 1372 and 1450. As a consequence of this, one major academic study found that "the contemporary males of Malta most likely originated from Southern Italy, including Sicily and up to Calabria."[3]

Malta was an appendage of Sicily for nearly 440 years. During this period, Malta was sold and resold to various feudal lords and barons and was dominated successively by the rulers of Swabia, Anjou, the Crown of Aragon, the Crown of Castile,[citation needed] and Spain. Eventually the Crown of Aragon, which then ruled Malta, joined with Castile in 1479, and Malta became part of the Spanish Empire. Malta's administration thus fell in the hands of local nobility who formed a governing body called the Università.

Knights of St. John

In the early 16th century, the Ottoman Empire started spreading over the region, reaching South-East Europe. The Spanish kingCharles V feared that if Rome fell to the Turks, it would be the end of Christian Europe. In 1522, Suleiman I drove the Knights Hospitaller of St. John out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe. Wanting to protect Rome from invasion from the South, in 1530, Charles V handed over the island to these Knights.

For the next 275 years, these famous "Knights of Malta" made the island their domain and made the Italian language official. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens, and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage.

The order of the Knights of St. John was originally established to set up outposts along the route to the Holy Land, to assist pilgrims going in either direction. Owing to the many confrontations that took place, one of their main tasks was to provide medical assistance, and even today the eight-pointed cross is still in wide use in ambulances and first aid organisations. In return for the many lives they saved, the Order received many newly conquered territories that had to be defended. Together with the need to defend the pilgrims in their care, this gave rise to the strong military wing of the Knights. Over time, the Order became strong and rich. From hospitallers first and military second, these priorities reversed. Since much of the territory they covered was around the Mediterranean region, they became notable seamen.

From Malta the knights resumed their seaborne attacks of Ottoman shipping, and before long the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent ordered a final attack on the Order. By this time the Knights had occupied the city of Birgu, which had excellent harbours to house their fleet. Also Birgu was one of the two major urban places at that time, the other most urban place being Mdina the old capital city of Malta. The defences around Birgu were enhanced and new fortifications built on the other point where now there is Senglea. Also a small fort was built at the tip of the peninsula where the city of Valletta now stands and was named Fort St. Elmo.

On 18 May 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. By the time the Ottoman fleet arrived the Knights were as ready as they could be. First the Ottomans attacked the newly built fort of St. Elmo and after a whole month of fighting the fort was in rubble and the soldiers kept fighting until the Turks ended their lives. After this they started attacking Birgu and the fortifications at Senglea but to no gain.

After a protracted siege ended on 8 September of the same year, which became known in history as the Great Siege, the Ottoman Empire conceded defeat as the approaching winter storms threatened to prevent them from leaving. The Ottoman empire had expected an easy victory within weeks. They had 40,000 men arrayed against the Knights' nine thousand, most of them Maltese soldiers and simple citizens bearing arms. Their loss of thousands of men was very demoralising. The Ottomans made no further significant military advances in Europe and the Sultan died a few years later.

After the War

The year after, the Order started work on a new city with fortifications like no other, on a peninsula called Gholja Sciberras which the Ottomans had used as a base during the siege. It was named Valletta after Jean Parisot de la Valette, the Grand Master who had seen the Order through its victory. Since the Ottoman Empire never attacked again, the fortifications were never put to the test, and today remain one of the best-preserved fortifications of this period.

Unlike other rulers of the island, the Order of St. John did not have a "home country" outside the island. The island became their home, so they invested in it more heavily than any other power. Besides, its members came from noble families, and had amassed considerable fortune due to their services in the route to the Holy Land. The architectural and artistic remains of this period remain among the greatest of Malta's history, especially in their "prize jewel" — the city of Valletta.

Napoleonic French conquest (1798–1800)

Over the years, the power of the Knights declined; their reign ended in 1798 when Napoleon Bonaparte's expeditionary fleet stopped off there en route to his Egyptian expedition. Napoleon asked for safe harbour to resupply his ships, and when they refused to supply him with water, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a division to scale the hills of Valletta. Grand Master Hompesch capitulated on June 11. The following day a treaty was signed by which the order handed over sovereignty of the island of Malta to the French Republic. In return the French Republic agreed to "employ all its credit at the congress of Rastatt to procure a principality for the Grand Master, equivalent to the one he gives up".[4]

During his very short stay (six days), Napoleon accomplished quite a number of reforms, notably the creation of a new administration with a Government Commission, the creation of twelve municipalities, the setting up of a public finance administration, the abolition of all feudal rights and privileges, the abolition of slavery and the granting of freedom to all Turkish slaves (2000 in all). On the judicial level, a family code was framed and twelve judges were nominated. Public education was organised along principles laid down by Bonaparte himself, providing for primary and secondary education. Fifteen primary schools were founded and the university was replaced by an ’Ecole centrale’ in which there were eight chairs, all very scientific in outlook: notably, arithmetic and stereometry, algebra and stereotomy, geometry and astronomy, mechanics and physics, navigation, chemistry, etc.

He then sailed for Egypt leaving a substantial garrison in Malta. Since the Order had also been growing unpopular with the local Maltese, the latter initially viewed the French with optimism. This illusion did not last long. Within months the French were closing convents and seizing church treasures, most notably the sword of Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette which is to date still exhibited in the Louvre, in Paris. The Maltese people rebelled, and the French garrison of General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois retreated into Valletta. After several failed attempts by the locals to retake Valletta, the British were asked for their assistance. Rear Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson decided on a total blockade in 1799. The French garrison surrendered in 1800.

British Malta in the 19th century

In 1800, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the terms of the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, Britain was supposed to evacuate the island, but failed to keep this obligation – one of several mutual cases of non-adherence to the treaty, which eventually led to its collapse and the resumption of war between Britain and France.

Although initially the island was not given much importance, its excellent harbours became a prized asset for the British, especially after the opening of the Suez canal in 1869. The island became a military and naval fortress, the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet.

Home rule was refused to the Maltese until 1921 although a partly elected legislative council was created as early as 1849 (the first Council of Government under British rule had been held in 1835), and the locals sometimes suffered considerable poverty. This was due to the island being overpopulated and largely dependent on British military expenditure which varied with the demands of war. Throughout the 19th century, the British administration instituted several liberal constitutional reforms which were generally resisted by the Church and the Maltese elite who preferred to cling to their feudal privileges. Political organizations, like the Nationalist Party, were created or had as one of their aims, the protection of the Italian language in Malta.

In 1813 Malta was granted the Bathurst Constitution; in 1814 it was declared free of the plague, while the 1815 Congress of Vienna reaffirmed the British rule under the 1814Treaty of Paris. In 1819, the local Italian-speaking Università was dissolved.

The year 1828 saw the revocation of the right of sanctuary, following the Vatican Church-State proclamation. Three years later, the See of Malta was made independent of theSee of Palermo. In 1839, press censorship was abolished, and the construction of St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral began.

Following the 1846 Carnival riots, in 1849 a Council of Government with elected members under British rule was set up. In 1870 a referendum was held on ecclesiastics serving on Council of Government, and in 1881 an Executive Council under British rule was created; in 1887, the Council of Government was entrusted with "dual control" under British rule. A backlash came in 1903, with the Return to the 1849 form of Council of Government under British rule.

The last quarter of the century saw technical and financial progress in line with the Belle Epoque: the following years saw the foundation of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank (1882) and the beginning of operation of the Malta Railway (1883); the first Maltese postage stamps were issued in 1885, and in 1904 tram service began. Construction of the Royal Opera House commenced in 1888. In 1886 Surgeon Major David Bruce discovered the microbe causing the Malta Fever, and in 1905 Themistocles Zammit discovered the fever's sources. Finally, in 1912, Dun Karm wrote his first poem in Maltese.

Malta in the Interwar period

During World War I, Malta became known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean.

In 1919, the Sette Giugno (7 June) riots over the excessive price of bread led to greater autonomy for the locals during the 1920s. After Filippo Sciberras had convened a National Assembly, in 1921 self-government was granted under British rule. Malta obtained a bicameral parliament with a Senate (later abolished in 1949) and an elected Legislative Assembly. Joseph Howard was named Prime Minister. In 1923 the Innu Malti was played for the first time in public, and the same year Francisco Buhagiar became Prime Minister, followed in 1924 by Sir Ugo Pasquale Mifsud and in 1927 by Sir Gerald Strickland.

The 1930s saw a period of instability in the relations between the Maltese political elite, the Maltese church, and the British rulers; the 1921 Constitution was suspended twice. First in 1930-32, following a clash between the governing Constitutional Party Church and the latter's subsequent imposition of mortal sin on voters of the party and its allies, thus making a free and fair election impossible. Again, in 1933 the Constitution was withdrawn over the Government's budgetary vote for the teaching of Italian in elementary schools. Malta thus reverted to the Crown Colony status it held in 1813.

Before the arrival of the British, the official language since 1530 (and the one of the educated elite) had been Italian, but this was downgraded by the increased use of English. In 1934, English and Maltese were declared the sole official languages. In 1934, only about 15% of the population could speak Italian fluently.[11] This meant that out of 58,000 males qualified by age to be jurors, only 767 could qualify by language, as only Italian had until then been used in the courts.[11] This injustice carried more weight than concerns over fascism.

In 1936 the Constitution was revised to provide for the nomination of members to Executive Council under British rule, and in 1939 to provide again for an elected Council of Government under British rule.

British Malta during World War II

Before World War II, Valletta was the location of the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet's headquarters. However, despiteWinston Churchill's objections, the command was moved to Alexandria, Egypt, in April 1937 fearing it was too susceptible to air attacks from Europe. At the time of the Italian declaration of war (10 June 1940), Malta had a garrison of less than four thousand soldiers and about five weeks of food supplies for the population of about three hundred thousand. In addition, Malta's air defences consisted of about forty-two anti-aircraft guns (thirty-four "heavy" and eight "light") and four Gloster Gladiators, for which three pilots were available.

Being a British colony, situated close to Sicily and the Axis shipping lanes, Malta was bombarded by the Italian and German air forces. Malta was used by the British to launch attacks on the Italian navy and had a submarine base. It was also used as a listening post, reading German radio messages including Enigma traffic.

The first air raids against Malta occurred on 11 June 1940; there were six attacks that day. The island's biplanes were unable to defend due to the Luqa Airfield being unfinished; however, the airfield was ready by the seventh attack. Initially, the Italians would fly at about 5,500 m, then they dropped down to three thousand metres (in order to improve the accuracy of their bombs). Mabel Strickland would state, "The Italians decided they didn't like [the Gladiators and AA guns], so they dropped their bombs twenty miles off Malta and went back.". However, it was later proven that in fact, Italian bombing had been quite accurate and devastating to the island as a whole, and the words attributed to Mabel Strickland are today seen in the context of an increasingly desperate British propaganda exercise in the face of relentless Italian attacks.

By the end of August, the Gladiators were reinforced by twelve Hawker Hurricanes which had arrived via HMS Argus. During the first five months of combat, the island's aircraft destroyed or damaged about thirty-seven Italian aircraft, while suffering even greater losses than the Italians. Italian fighter pilot Francisco Cavalera observed, "Malta was really a big problem for us—very well-defended.". Nevertheless, the Italian bombing campaign was causing serious damage to the island's infrastructure and the ability of the British Navy to operate effectively in the Mediterranean.

On Malta, 330 people had been killed and 297 were seriously wounded from the war's inception until December 1941. In January 1941, the German X. Fliegerkorps arrived in Sicily as the Afrika Korps arrived in Libya. Over the next four months 820 people were killed and 915 seriously wounded.

On 15 April 1942, King George VI awarded the George Cross (the highest civilian award for gallantry) "to the island fortress of Malta — its people and defenders." Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived on 8 December 1943, and presented a United States Presidential Citation to the people of Malta on behalf of the people of United States. He presented the scroll on 8 December, but dated it 7 December for symbolic reasons. In part it read: "Under repeated fire from the skies, Malta stood alone and unafraid in the center of the sea, one tiny bright flame in the darkness – a beacon of hope for the clearer days which have come." (The complete citation now stands on a plaque on the wall of the Grand Master's Palace on Republic Street in the town square of Valletta.)

In 1942, Operation Pedestal convoy arrives in Grand Harbour, and the following year Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill visit Malta. George VI arrives in Grand Harbour for a visit.

During the Second World War, Ugo Mifsud and George Borg Olivier were the only remaining Nationalist members of parliament of Malta. Ugo Mifsud fainted after delivering a very passionate defence against the deportation to concentration camps in Uganda of Enrico Mizzi and 49 other Maltese Italians accused of pro-Italian political activities. He died a few days later.

The Allies launch their invasion of Sicily starting from Malta. The same year 1943, after the Cassibile armistice, the Italian Fleet surrenders to the Allies in Malta. In 1945, Churchill and Roosevelt meet in Malta prior to the Yalta Conference with Joseph Stalin.

The 1946 National Assembly results in the 1947 constitution under British rule, with the restoration of self-government, and Paul Boffa becoming Prime Minister.

From Home rule to independence

After World War II, the islands achieved self-rule, with the Malta Labour Party (MLP) of Dom Mintoff seeking either full integration with the UK or else "self-determination" (independence), and the Partit Nazzjonalista (PN) of George Borg Olivier favouring independence, with the same "dominion status" that Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoyed.

After the 1953 Coronation incident, in December 1955, a Round Table Conference was held in London, on the future of Malta, attended by the new Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, Borg Olivier and other Maltese politicians, along with the British Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd. The British government agreed to offer the islands their own representation in British Parliament, with three seats in the House of Commons, with the Home Office taking over responsibility for Maltese affairs from the Colonial Office. Under the proposals, the Maltese Parliament would retain responsibility over all affairs except defence, foreign policy, and taxation. The Maltese were also to have social and economic parity with the UK, to be guaranteed by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), the islands' main source of employment.

A UK integration referendum was held on 11 and 12 February 1956, in which 77.02 per cent of voters were in favour of the proposal, but owing to a boycott by the Nationalist Party, only 59.1 per cent of the electorate voted, thereby rendering the result inconclusive. There were also concerns expressed by British MPs that the representation of Malta at Westminster would set a precedent for other colonies, and influence the outcome of general elections.

In addition, the decreasing strategic importance of Malta to the Royal Navy meant that the British government was increasingly reluctant to maintain the naval dockyards. Following a decision by the Admiralty to dismiss 40 workers at the dockyard, Mintoff declared that "representatives of the Maltese people in Parliament declare that they are no longer bound by agreements and obligations toward the British government..." (the 1958 Caravaggio incident) In response, the Colonial Secretary sent a cable to Mintoff, stating that he had "recklessly hazarded" the whole integration plan.

Under protest, Dom Mintoff resigned as Prime Minister, while Georgio Borg Olivier declined to form an alternative government. This led to the islands being placed under direct colonial administration from London, with the MLP abandoning support for integration and now advocating independence. In 1959, an Interim Constitution provided for an Executive Council under British rule.

While France had implemented a similar policy in its colonies, some of which became overseas departments, the status offered to Malta from Britain constituted a unique exception. Malta was the only British colony where integration with the UK was seriously considered, and subsequent British governments have ruled out integration for remaining overseas territories, such as Gibraltar.

In 1961, the Blood Commission provided for a new constitution allowing for a measure of self-government and recognizing the "State" of Malta. Giorgio Borg Olivier became Prime Minister the following year, when the Stolper report was delivered.

Nationalist governments (1964-1971)

Following the Maltese constitutional referendum, 1964, approved by 54.5% of voters, on 21 September 1964, Malta became an independent state as a Constitutional Monarchy, with Elizabeth II as its Head of State. This is celebrated as Independence Day or Jum l-Indipendenza in Maltese. On 1 December 1964, Malta was admitted to the United Nations.

In the first two post-independence electoral rounds, in 1962 and 1966 the Nationalist Party emerged as the largest party, gaining a majority of the Parliamentary seats.

In 1965 Malta joined the Council of Europe, and in 1970, Malta signed an Association Treaty with the European Community.

Labour governments (1971-1987)

The elections of 1971 saw the Labour Party (MLP) under Dom Mintoff win by just over 4000 votes.

The Labour immediately set out to re-negotiate the post-Independence military and financial agreements with the United Kingdom. The government also undertook nationalizationprogrammes and the expansion of the public sector and the welfare state. Employment laws were updated with gender equality being introduced in salary pay. Concerning civil law, civil marriage was introduced and homosexuality and adultery were decriminalised (1973); capital punishment for murder was abolished in 1971. The following year, Malta entered into a Military Base Agreement with the United Kingdom and other NATO countries.

Through a package of constitutional reforms agreed to with the Nationalist opposition, Malta became a republic on 13 December 1974, with the last Governor-General, Sir Anthony Mamo, as its first President. The Gieh ir-Repubblika Act, promulgated the following year, abolished all titles of nobility in Malta and mandated that they not be further recognized.

The Party was confirmed in office in the 1976 elections. Between 1976 and 1981 Malta went through difficult times and the Labour government demanded that the Maltese were to tighten their belts in order to overcome the difficulties Malta was facing. There were shortages of essential items; the water and electricity supplies were systematically suspended for two or three days a week. Political tensions increased, notably on Black Monday when following an attempted assassination of the Prime Minister, the premises of the Times of Malta were burned to the ground and the house of the Leader of Opposition was attacked.

On 1 April 1979 the last British forces left the island after the end of the economic pact to stabilise the Maltese economy. This is celebrated as Freedom Day (Jum Il-Ħelsien) on 31 March. Celebrations start with a ceremony in Floriana near the War Memorial. A popular event on this memorable day is the traditional regatta. The regatta is held at the Grand Harbour and the teams taking part in it give it their best shot to win the much coveted aggregate Regatta Shield. Mintoff also established close cultural and economic ties withMuammar Gaddafi's Libya.

The 1981 general elections saw the Nationalist Party (NP) gaining an absolute majority of votes, yet the Labour winning the majority of Parliamentary seats under the Single Transferable Vote and Mintoff remained Prime Minister, leading to a political crisis. The Nationalists, now led by Eddie Fenech Adami, refused to accept the electoral result and also refused to take their seats in parliament for the first years of the legislature, mounting a campaign demanding that Parliament should reflect the democratic will of the people. Despite this, the Labour government remained in power for the full five-year term. Mintoff resigned as Prime Minister and Party leader and appointed Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici as his successor in 1984.

The Mifsud Bonnici years were characterised by political tensions and violence. After a five-year debate, Fenech Adami, through the intervention of Dom Mintoff, reached an agreement with Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici to improve the constitution. Constitutional amendments were made voted and made effective in January 1987 which guaranteed that the party with an absolute majority of votes would be given a majority of parliamentary seats in order to govern. This paved the way for the return of the Nationalist Party to government later that year.

The accession process to the European Union (1987-2004)

The general elections that followed in 1987 saw the Nationalist Party achieve such a majority of votes. The new Nationalist administration ofEdward Fenech Adami sought to improve Malta's ties with Western Europe and the United States. The Nationalist Party advocated Malta's membership in the European Union presenting an application on 16 July 1990. This became a divisive issue, with Labour opposing membership.

A wide-raging programme of liberalisation and public investments meant the confirmation in office of the Nationalists with a larger majority in the 1992 elections. In 1993, local councils were re-established in Malta.

General elections were held in Malta on 26 October 1996; although the Labour received the most votes, the Nationalists won the most seats. The 1987 constitutional amendments had to be used for the second time, and the Labour Party was awarded an additional four seats to ensure they had a majority in Parliament. Malta's EU application was subsequently frozen. A split in the Labour Party in 1998, between the PM Sant and the former PM Mintoff, now a backbencher, resulted in the government losing the majority. Notwithstanding the President of the Republic's preference for a negotiated solution, all attempts proved futile, and he had no other option but to accept Sant and his government's resignation and a call for early elections.

On being returned to office in the 1998 elections with a wide 13,000 vote margin, the Nationalist Party reactivated the EU membership application. Malta was formally accepted as a candidate country at the Helsinki European Council of December 1999. In 2000, capital punishment was abolished also from the military code of Malta.

EU accession negotiations were concluded late in 2002 and a referendum on membership in 2003 saw 90.86% casting a valid vote of which 53.65% were "yes" votes. Labour stated that it would not be bound by this result were it returned to power in the following general election that year. In the circumstances, elections were called and the Nationalist Party won another mandate, electing as PM Lawrence Gonzi. The accession treaty was signed and ratified and Malta joined the EU on 1 May 2004. A consensus on membership was subsequently achieved with Labour saying it would respect this result. Joe Borg was appointed as first Maltese European commissioner in the first Barroso Commission.

Malta in the European Union 

In the context of EU membership, Malta joined the eurozone on 1 January 2008; the 2008 election confirmed Gonzi in the premiership, while in 2009George Abela became President of Malta.

On 28 May 2011, Maltese voted 'yes' in the consultative divorce referendum. At that time, Malta was one of only three countries in the world, along with the Philippines and the Vatican City, in which divorce was not permitted. As a consequence of the referendum outcome, a law allowing divorce under certain conditions was enacted in the same year. Following a corruption scandal John Dalli had to resign and was replaced by Tonio Borg as Maltese commissioner in 2012. Asnap election was called for March 2013 after the Gonzi government lost the Parliamentary majority.

MAJESTIC VALLETTA - Half Day

Our guided tour will take you to the lively streets of our capital city of Valletta. Our first stop will be the Barracca Gardens which are built atop the defensive bastions that surround this majestic city. These gardens, built by the Knights of St.John, command breathtaking views of the Grand Harbour and the fortified Three Cities. Next we go to St John`s Co-Cathedral that brimms in riches with its contrasting decorated interior and also holds an impressive display of Baroque art, including the acclaimed Caravaggio painting that is on display in the Oratory of this opulent Cathedral. We also visit the Church Museum which has on display beautiful Flemish tapestries. We then proceed with an interesting walk where we can appreciate the capital`s buildings of historical importance including the Grand Master`s Palace. Our final stop will be at the famed Malta Experience, a multivision show that gives a pictorial depiction of Malta`s history through the ages since the earliest settlements dating back to pre-historic times. 

MEDIEVAL MDINA - Half Day (Morning)

Walk the streets of this medieval town today known as the 'silent city' whilst your guide unravels its rich history. Be shown its secretive narrow winding streets to discover its dwarfed doorways, till you reach the city's bastions from where a stunning almost 360 degrees panoramic view of the island can be seen. The tour continues with a visit to the Dingli cliffs, known as the highest cliffs on the island. From here you can look out to the island of Filfla. Our final stop will be to the botanic gardens of San Anton, these originally being walled gardens for a palace which once served as a leisure residence for the Grand Master. A truly relaxing half day excursion in and around the old capital of Malta. 

MDINA HIGHLIGHTS - Full Day

Today`s excursion takes us to the central part of Malta that is dominated by the ancient citadel of Medina, once the Island`s capital city and steeped in history. Join us as we navigate through the narrow streets and mysterious alleyways of Mdina, also known as the `silent city`, that lead us to the awe-inspiring bastions from which we can take in an almost 360 degree panoramic view of the island. We leave Mdina through the Greek Gate and proceed to the catacombs followed by a drive to the south west of the island to Dingli cliffs which offer us breathtaking views of the open sea and the tiny island of Filfla. After a lovely lunch we then move on to the botanic gardens of San Anton, home to some of the island`s rarest plants and trees and now home of the President of the Republic. Next we visit Mosta and its impressive dome, one of the largest standing unsupported domes in Europe. Our last stop will be to the crafts centre at Ta` Qali where we can see glass blowing, pottery and filigree all at first hand and where we have ample time for shopping for souvenirs. A complete excursion capturing the central highlights of Malta.

MARINE PARK - Half Day (Morning)

Join us for a fun visit to the Marine Park, a great way for adults and children to learn more about the sea and the creatures which live in it through entertainment. Watch and enjoy an action packed performance by Mediterraneo`s stars, the Dolphins and later on to a funny and educational show by a family of Sea Lions. Finally, be sure not to miss our latest attraction, the parrot show which will have our audience in stitches of laughter throughout their array of tricks. Definately an excursion packed with entertainment for all ages that brings smiles all around and a perfect morning to experience when on holiday in Malta. 

THE WORLD OF PLAYMOBIL - Half Day (Morning)

A great half day excursion in Malta for all families that would like to enjoy a pleasant and interesting morning. On this excursion we visit the Playmobil Funpark, that is the second largest factory of its kind worldwide, where we can witness the toys of this loveable brand while they are actually being produced. After a detailed guided tour of the production area, we can then spend the rest of the morning in the Funpark where the children can enter the world of imagination and creativity with such toys like Noah's Arc, the land of the dinosaurs or enjoy the excitement of the airport and its planes, police and fire stations and many more fun loving toys in a totally safe environment. (minimum age - 5 years old) 

DISCOVER GOZO - Full Day

While enjoying your lovely holiday in Malta, one cannot miss this fantastic full day excursion to Gozo which is only a twenty minute ferry crossing away. As soon as we set foot in the pretty Gozitan port of Mgarr we will notice that although both islands are similar in history and developement, Gozo has a character entirely of its own. We can see that Gozo boasts of more greenery than Malta with its hilly landscape and picturesque countryside, making it an island full of charm waiting to be discovered. In this excursion we visit all the popular landmarks of Gozo such as the Citadel in Victoria, the famous Azur Window in Dwejra and the rocky cliffs in Xlendi Bay. Also included is a delicious three course lunch together with a spectacular cultural experience with a visit to Ggantijja Temples (except on Monday) which are known to be the oldest freestanding temples in the world. Since Gozo is well known for its woollen goods and handmade lace, honey and cheese we will also visit the market where we will have free time for shopping and to sample all these at first hand. 

TEMPLES AND LOCAL LIFESTYLE - Full Day

Don't miss this wonderful full day excursion and learn what a typical day would be like for the Maltese people in the south of the island and explore a few of the remaining unspoilt villages that through their winding roads and alleys lead us to a typical Maltese piazza where progress did not leave its mark. Our first stop brings together old and new with a visit to a modernised quarry, the Limestone Heritage that explains farmhouse building, stone decoration and quarrying which is one of the foremost trades in Malta. Next we visit the village of Qrendi where we discover the elaborated temples of Hagar Qim which is Malta's most prominent historical sight and from where we can enjoy breathtaking views of the mesmerising sea and the islet of Filfla. We proceed to Wied iz Zurrieq and down to the famous Blue Grotto and if weather permits, we are given the opportunity to take a boat ride (boat fee not included) around the various caves surrounding the area. After a lovely lunch we are taken to the pretty fishing village of Marsaxlokk whose waterfront is lined with luzzus all painted in traditional colours that make this bay so unique and where time is given to browse through the open air market held daily in this serene little village. Our excursion comes to an end with a visit to Ghar Dalam, the cave of obscurity, which was the dwelling of the first inhabitants of the Maltes Islands. 

TEMPLES AND LOCAL LIFESTYLE - Half Day (Morning)

Join us on this delightful half day excursion to learn what a typical day would be like for the Maltese people in the south of the island and explore a few of the remaining unspoilt villages that through their winding roads and alleys lead us to a typical Maltese piazza where progress did not leave its mark. Our first stop brings together old and new with a visit to a modernised quarry, the Limestone Heritage that explains farmhouse building, stone decoration and quarrying which is one of the foremost trades in Malta. Next we are off to the village of Qrendi where we visit the elaborated temples of Hagar Qim which are Malta's most prominent historical sight and from where we can enjoy breathtaking views of the mesmerising sea and the islet of Filfla. We proceed to Wied iz Zurrieq and down to the famous Blue Grotto and if weather permits, we are given the opportunity to take a boat ride (boat fee not included) around the various caves surrounding the area. A complete and interesting morning, one of the most popular excursions in Malta.

THE THREE CITIES TOUR - Half Day (Morning)

Step back with us through the mists of time as we take you to the fortress of Cottonera which is widely known as the three cities, these being Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea, built and fortified by the Knights of Malta. Our morning starts with an informative drive through Cospicua followed by a visit to Vittoriosa where we navigate the narrow streets and mysterious alleyways shaded by many historic palaces and churches. Then we proceed to the old quay where we take a harbour cruise on a fregatina, which is a traditional Maltese boat, for a tour of the famous harbour creeks, a truly unique way to view the impressive bastions and fortifications that dominate the port. Finally we drive to Senglea where we share the breathtaking view from the beautiful vedette conveniently situated in the centre of the Grand Harbour.

RE-ENACTMENT AT FORT RINELLA - Half Day (Afternoon)

Experience an action packed half day tour perfectly suited for all of us that are fascinated by war stories and its history. This excursion takes us to Fort Rinella which is home to the famous Armstrong 100 ton gun, the largest cannon in the world. We can witness how this monstrous gun worked and how this fort was defended, also how communications were maintained with nearby forts and also about the day to day lives of the soldiers and much more. All this with a lively historical re-enactment and an expert commentary offering a unique window into the past life of the late 19th century victorian garrison. As added excitement on this excursion, we will have an opportunity to actually fire a cannon, so please have cameras handy for an unforgettable experience in Malta. 

BLUE GROTTO AND MARSAXLOKK - Extended Half Day (Morning)

There is no better way to spend a Sunday morning with us on this fantastic excursion that starts off by taking us to one of Malta's jewels, the Blue Grotto, with its dazzling blue sea that will definately leave a striking impression. If weather permits, we are given the opportunity to take a boat ride (boat fee not included) around the caves and grottoes where we can see the luminescent corals and glowing water at first hand. This wonderful tour comes to an end after we visit the serene bay of Marsaxlokk, the main fishing village in Malta. One cannot miss all the luzzus, which are the typical Maltese fishing boats, lined accross the bay in their traditional colours that compliment the ever popular open air market that is held daily along the promenade. We will have time to browse through the numerous stalls and hunt for the many bargains that make this excursion one of the most pleasant mornings whilst in Malta. 

GOZO BY NIGHT - (Evening)

A unique way to see Malta's sister island, an excursion to the natural and serene island of Gozo, conveniently situated a mere 20 minute ferry crossing away. Once we set foot in Gozo one will notice that although the islands are very similar, we can feel a sense of tranquility and harmony that is hard to match anywhere else. Our day starts at the megalithic temples of Ggantijja that are known to be the oldest freestanding temples in the world, followed by the ramparts of the capital Victoria, the fortified City that dominates the island. As we approach sunset, we drive down to Dwejra where we capture the last rays of light as the sun disappears beyond the horizon and the remaining dark blues of the seas turn to an inky black. Finally we are treated to a lovely three course dinner before making our way back to Malta as we enjoy the comfortable and picturesque drive back. 

DAY TRIP TO SICILY - Full Day

This full day excursion is the ideal way to get a taste of Sicily while enjoying your holiday in Malta. Just a short 90 minute crossing in comfort and style with our catamaran we arrive in Pozzallo where on arrival we can feel the charm and beauty of this wonderful island. Our luxury coach drives us through the busy streets of Catania all the way up to Mount Etna and its Sylvester Craters. Here we can enjoy the spectacular and overwhelming views together with an opportunity to purchase souvenirs and where we will have free time for lunch. Our next stop would be in Taormina (October to April - We visit Modica and not Taormina) where we will find that this ever popular pretty town has commanding views overlooking Giardini Naxos that is a sight not to be missed. On this excursion guests are reminded to bring along passports or I.D. cards. 

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED

One (1) completed and signed visa application form duly filled in English.

Valid passport with validity of at least three (3) months after expiry of the visa and should contain at least 2 blank pages.

One (1) photocopy of passport. Optional. (Empty pages need not be photocopied).
Two (2) recent color passport-size photographs, size 3.5 x 4.5 cm, bearing a true likeness of the applicant on white background.
Hotel Confirmation/s for the whole journey within the Schengen Countries. If staying with host family, a written confirmation from the host family declaring the commitment to accommodate throughout the duration of the journey. The applicants who are going to stay in Malta in rented apartment(s) need to submit leasing certificate and leasing payment receipt.”
Confirmed travel reservations (flight, ferry, etc).
Proof of a valid travel insurance policy, either individual or group, with a minimum cover of 30,000 Euro for the Schengen area: original + copy.
A detailed itinerary for the whole journey within the Schengen Countries if traveling to more than one (1) Country.
Proof of sufficient and regular personal financial means (recent salary slips or bank statements or bank voucher for purchased currency or statement of available credit on credit card).Sponsor’s letter if the financial means are guarantied by another person.
Copy of the internal passport: pages concerning the applicant's biodata and registration in Russia.
For Minors: 
Birth certification of minor.
Authorization of both Parents or Legal Guardian (original and copy / notarized copy); in case of minor travelling with one of the parents – Authorization from the other parent (original and copy / notarized copy).
Copy of Passport Data Page of both Parents or Legal Guardian.
In case of guardianship, documentary evidence proving status.
Non-Russian Citizen: 
Russian Visa or residence permit valid for 3 months after return 

Power of attorney if not attending in person.

From 14 September 2015 all applicants applying for a Schengen visa must submit biometric data. To apply for visa to Malta applicants have to submit ten fingerprints and a live photo. 

If you have questions you can contact us on +7 495 228 00 69 / +7 495 745 3389

Maltese cuisine reflects Maltese history, it shows strong Sicilian and English influences as well as Spanish, French, Maghrebin, Provençal, and other Mediterranean cuisines. Having to import most of its foodstuffs, being positioned along important trade routes, and having to cater for the resident foreign powers who ruled the islands, opened Maltese cuisine to outside influences. The traditional Maltese stewed rabbit (fenkata) is often identified as the national dish.

Malta's history and geography had an important influence on its cuisine. Having to import most of its foodstuffs, being positioned along important trade routes, and having to cater for the resident foreign powers who ruled the islands, opened Maltese cuisine to outside influences from very early on. Foreign dishes and tastes were absorbed, transformed and adapted. Italian (specifically Sicilian), Middle Eastern and Arabic foods exerted a strong influence, but the presence in Malta of the Knights of St John and, more recently, theBritish brought elements from further afield.

The Knights hailed from many European countries; particularly, France, Italy and Spain. They brought influences from these countries. Aljotta, for example, a fish broth with plenty of garlic, herbs, and tomatoes, is the Maltese adaptation of bouillabaisse. The Knights' contacts and wealth brought also food from the New World; it has been suggested that Malta may have been one of the first countries in Europe (after Spain) where chocolate was first tasted.

The British military presence meant a market of a garrison and their families and, later, mass tourism from the UK. British food products, condiments and sauces like English mustard, Bovril, HP Sauce and Worcestershire sauce are still a subtle but pervasive presence in Maltese cooking. Other imports were only nominal. While the Maltese word "aljoli" is likely to be a loan word, the Maltese version of the sauce does not include any egg as in aioli; instead it is based on herbs, olives, anchovies and olive oil. Similarly, while the Maltese word "taġen" is related to "tajine" in Maltese the word refers exclusively to a metal pan.

There are a number of junctures in which development in Maltese cuisine related to issues of identity. The most significant example is the traditional Maltese fenkata (stewed rabbit), often identified as the national dish, quite possibly started off as a form of symbolic resistance to the hunting restrictions imposed by the Knights of St John. The dish was to become popular after the lifting of restrictions in the late 18th century (and by which time the indigenous breed had multiplied and prices dropped) and the domestication of rabbits, a technique which could have been imported from France thanks to the French Knights.

The popularity of pork and its presence in various dishes could be attributed to Malta being on the edge of the Christian world. Consuming a food which is taboo in the Muslim culinary culture could have been a way of self-identification by distinguishing oneself from the other. In addition to pork dishes (such as grilled pork cuts or stuffed flank) and the exclusive predominance of pork in indigenous Maltese sausages, adding some pork to dishes such as kawlata (a vegetable soup) and ross il-forn (baked rice) have been common practice in the Maltese vernacular cuisine for centuries.

For the Café Europe event held during the Austrian Presidency of the EU in 2006 the "representative" Maltese pastry chosen was the maqrut.

Regional

Despite Malta's small size there are some regional variations. This is especially the case with Gozo. This is evidenced in some names such as the Gozitan cheeselet (ġbejna t'Għawdex) and ftira Għawdxijaflatbread topped or filled with potatoes or ġbejniet with eggs, grated cheese, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, ricotta and Maltese sausage as other possible ingredients.

Other Gozitan variants include the use of ingredients. Gozitan cheeselets, for example, are used as filling for ravioli instead of the usualricotta.

Seasonal

The strongest seasonal variations are seen in desserts and sweets. Prinjolatakwareżimalkaramelli tal-ħarrubftira tar-Randan,figolla and qagħaq tal-għasel are all examples of sweets associated with a particular season.

Because Catholic fasting during Lent involved mostly meats and dairy products, fish such as Lampuki were a popular dish during this period as were stewed snails (Maltese: bebbux), stuffed artichokes (Maltese: qaqoċċ mimli) and fritters (Maltese: sfineġ) of ġbejna, vegetables or fish (particularly whitebait and salted cod).

During the Holy Week bakers also bake a large bagel typically studded with some almonds on top called qagħqa tal-appostli (lit. apostles' bagel). Usually coinciding with the spring, there are also seasonal variations to certain dishes at the time of Lent as in, for example, adding fresh broad beans to dishes such as kusksu (a vegetable and pasta dish).

During the month of November għadam tal-mejtin (lit. bones of the dead, in Italian: ossa dei morti) are prepared. These are similar to figolla but made in the shape of a bone.

Air Malta is the airline of the Maltese Islands. 

Air Malta proud to connect Malta with over 35 major cities across Europe and the Mediterranean.  Works together with  partner airlines,  offer convenient connections to many more destinations in North America and the Middle East. 

past of company

1974 proved to be a momentous year for our country. Air Malta commenced operations on 1 April, and Malta declared itself a republic later in the year.

The setting up of Air Malta was one of the first signs of a young nation fostering its identity and  finding a new international voice. 

By creating reliable air links to and from key European cities, Air Malta was able to support the economic and cultural development of the Islands. As standard bearer for the nation, our remit has always been that of an ambassador for the Maltese Islands. 

present of company

Modern day Malta is a cosmopolitan country which blends time-honoured Mediterranean culture with a spirited, contemporary vibe. 

Just as the country has changed, so too have we. We embarked on a major review of the airline’s strategy and operations.  

Air Malta is undergoing vital restructuring, governed by EU requirements on state aid, aimed at securing it a sustainable and profitable future. While we are still in this process of change, progress is tangible and being measured against challenging milestones. 

Our team is working towards creating lasting success, which will be achieved without any compromise in service and by offering better value for money. 

As part of this process, we have launched a fresh brand identity. Our colourful new livery can be seen across the fleet. 

Our new look is more than skin deep. It reflects accurately our more pro-active role as the destination airline of the Maltese Islands; a company dedicated 100 per cent to serving the Islands’ visitors and residents. 

Our mission is even more ambitious. We aim to become recognised as one of the world’s leading destination airlines.

Know exactly what you can take with you

The amount of baggage you can check in depends on the travel class of your ticket. 

Travel Class Weight Permitted
Club Malta 30  kg per person 
Economy 20 kg per person

Top 10 spas in Malta and Gozo

Pamper yourself at one of the top 10 spas in Malta

With many different spa and wellness centres around Malta and Gozo there is no need to feel stressed during your holiday in Malta! Have a look at these top 10 spas and choose which treatment, massage or pool you would like to visit. The spas around Malta and Gozo are here for you to relax and pamper yourself. 

Le Spa at the Maritim Antonin Hotel in Mellieha 

The Quintessence Spa within the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz in Gozo 

Spa Sante at the Fortina Spa Resort

The Athenaeum Spa in Attard, in the five star Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa

The Myoka Golden Sands Spa

Le Marquis Spa within the San Antonio Hotel 

Belle Epoque Spa is situated within the five star hotel Fortina Spa Resort

The Spa in Xlendi 

Ta' Cenc Spa in Gozo

The Elysium Spa  is located the modern four star Riviera Resort & Spa Malta

The Maltese Islands offer wide choice of dive centres with track record of some 30 years in theindustry. Professional, qualified diving staff are trained to teach all levels, from beginners to instructorcourses. Dive centres are located across the Islands, so you will always find one near your accommodation.There is no need to bring your own equipment as centres provide all you need.

Most centres run courses leading to internationally-recognised diving qualifications. The most common arethe Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) and theConfederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques (CMAS).

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