Malta is an archipelago located in Mediterranean Sea approx. 93 kms south of Sicily and about 300 kms North of Libya.
The archipelago consists of 18 uninhabited islands and three inhabited: Malta, Gozo (Għawdex) and Comino (Kemmuna). There are also Manoel Island, Filfla and the Fungus Rock, which appear historically and ecologically very significant. The others are mere large rocks. It is believed that Maltese islands were formed from the higher points of the land bridge connecting Sicily and North Africa.
The landscape of Malta and the other islands is characterized by terraced fields, dry vegetation, rock and limestone. This is due to the permanent sunshine throughout the year and to the absence of rivers or lakes. Maltese woods were cut down centuries ago and the main surviving plantation today consists of olive trees, fichus, citrus, pine, tamarind and carob trees. In Malta and Gozo, hills are cultivated only for grapes and vegetables.
As to the most of Mediterranean islands, the coastline of Malta, Gozo and Comino is primarily rocky. Sandy beaches can be found mostly on the North side of the islands s.a. Golden Bay and Mellieha Bay (in Malta) and Ramla Bay (in Gozo). in against to North the South side is consisted of remarkably high cliffs. The eastern side of the island houses three large bays and the West a concentration of natural harbours.
The Maltese Islands were inhabited since 5200 BC. in the age of stones, by nomadic hunters who most probably came from Sicily. Since its prehistory, Malta has been formed by many civilizations throughout the ages: it has been colonized by Greeks, who then fell under the control of Carthage and then of Rome. Among the populations that most affected Malta with their culture, it is certainly the Arabs and Normans who ruled the archipelago respectively for 220 and 440 years.
Malta is known worldwide for the Order of the Knights of St. John, originally founded to cure the wounded soldiers in the crusades, they were given the island of Malta by Charles V. They introduced the Italian language on the island, built the city of Valletta and many fortifications and developed the cultural heritage. They reversed the Great Siege of the Ottoman Empire, but surrendered to Napoleon's French conquest on his way to Egypt.
Malta became voluntarily part of the British Empire in 1800 and its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea increased its importance, especially after the launch of the Suez Canal. Malta was under British protection during the Second World War but was heavily bombarded by the Italian and German aviation.
Maltese culture is the result of many different societies that have been in touch with the Maltese islands throughout history, including the cultures of neighboring countries, the cultures of the nations that ruled Malta for centuries and other influences from tourism and the media.
The culture of modern Malta is rich and consists of traditions, beliefs and practices that have emerged from a long process of adaptation and assimilation of various societies over time. Obliged by these historical processes, Malta's culture has also incorporated the linguistic and ethnic involvement that determines who the people of Malta are.
The current culture of Malta can be effectively defined as a Latin European with influences from the British period of history quite apparent. Arabic influences are very evident in the Maltese language and perhaps a little in the Mediterranean diet, but they do not appear anywhere else. Latin American influences continue to dominate mainly because of the leaders of the island over the last eight centuries, as well as the fact that Malta shares religious beliefs and many traditions with neighbors in Sicily and southern Europe.
A few basics of the Maltese culture:
The Maltese culture is a combination that comes alive by different societies that interacted with the Maltese people over time.
The Maltese are a very devout Catholic nation, and religion still has an important place in the modern Maltese society.
Maltese people spend a lot of time and energy discussing politics.
The Maltese language is the only Semitic language written in Latin alphabet.
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