Perhaps Malta is not the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about English speaking countries, but in my personal opinion it is one of the most beautiful places where you can communicate in English and enjoy breathtaking views.
Malta is the smallest member of the European Union situated in the centre of the Mediterranean sea. It lies south of Italy and the distance to Sicily is only 93 km. It is an archipelago which consists of three islands: the main island Malta, Gozo and Comino. Its capital city is Valetta. Malta has a population of only about 460 000 people and its size is 316 sq.km. The longest distance in Malta from North to South is about 27 km, and only 14.5 km from East to West. This means that you can visit any point on the island in one day, in fact in a few hours. But have in mind that the traffic in Malta can be terrible especially during rush hours, which means that sometimes you may need an hour or more to travel a distance of 15 km.
Malta has two official languages – English and Maltese. Although almost all people can speak English, it is very common to hear the Maltese language and the chances to understand something are close to zero. It is considered an Arabic dialect with some Italian influence and is a result of the long history of Malta and its many conquerors. English, on the other hand, is also an official language because Malta is a former British colony. It gained its independence in 1964. The biggest higher education institution is the University of Malta and it is free. However, renting an apartment in Malta can be expensive with prices having gone up in the recent years.
Here are some interesting facts about Malta:
- There are no rivers or lakes on the island. This means that surprisingly huge amounts of water should be provided to cater for the never-stopping tourist stream which continues for most of the year. No water means nor agriculture. All the food supplies are imported from different parts of the world and you can find a huge variety in the shops and markets. Obviously, tourism is the main alternative for the Maltese economy.
- The climate on the island is subtropical with hot dry summer and short wet winter. Malta has no forests but you can see cacti, small bushes and grass. Although the climate does not contribute to lush greenery, the weather is great for a beach vacation throughout the year ( with the exception of 2-3 winter months). There are about 300 sunny days a year, making it one of the sunniest countries in Europe.
- Stunning scenery, unspoiled nature and crystal clear sea. No wonder that many film productions including The Count of Monte Cristo, Gladiator and Game of Thrones were shot there.
- The Maltese drive on the left and they drive like crazy. The roads are narrow and many streets are steep which makes parking a car a daunting experience. They also like beeping a lot either to show you that you did something wrong or just to warn you that they won’t be able to stop at the crossroad. So, be careful both with walking and driving.
- Malta is one of the most popular beach destinations in Europe. Although it lacks the wide sandy beaches that we all imagine when we think of a beach holiday, it attracts about 2.5 million tourists from around the world every year. Moreover, it is quite cheap in there compared to the other European resorts. So, if you have the chance, pack your suitcase and head for Malta. It is highly probable that you won’t regret it!