Climate | Getting around | Amenities
The Maltese Islands, which consist of Malta (the largest of the Islands), Gozo, Comino and two other small uninhabited islands, are strategically situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is 93 kilometres from Sicily and 288 kilometres from North Africa due South. A series of low hills with terraced fields on the slopes characterize the Islands. The coastline of Malta is well indented with natural deep harbours, bays, creeks, sandy beaches and rocky coves. The island possess a wealth of history and culture which surpass its diminutive size. Excavations indicated the existence of an advanced culture dating from 4000 BC. Due to its strategic position and excellent natural harbours, Malta has always attracted the attention of maritime powers. The harbours provided a sheltered base for naval fleets, whilst the island itself, situated at the cross-roads of the Mediterranean, enabled its colonizing power to exercise control over shipping in this vast and turbulent sea. Control over Malta was a prerequisite to dominion over the Mediterranean and for this reason all the various powers that, at one time or other, held sway over the Mediterranean at that same time exercised control over Malta. The long list of Malta's colonizers, The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Norman's, Castilians, Knights of St. John, the French and finally, the British, is indicative to the important role Malta played in the moulding of European and Mediterranean history. The Maltese love festivities and through their religious culture one can witness colourful celebrations throughout the seasons. Their Characteristic joviality springs mainly from the agreeable, sunny, warm Mediterranean climate. Malta became a member of the European Union on 1st May 2004.