Malta: 300 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 19°C. That would probably be enough to describe one of the smallest countries in Europe and still one of the most fascinating at the same time. With an amazing coastline full of hidden harbours, cliffs, bays and sandy beaches, this archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean is every year an incredible attraction for thousands of young people coming here to have guaranteed fun.
The territory of Malta covers an area of just 316 km2 and with its 400000 circa inhabitants it is the eighth most densely populated state and the second most populated island in the world. This country consists actually of three islands of different sizes (Malta, Gozo and Comino) and few little desert islets. The main island Malta gives the name to the whole country and it was earlier known as Melita, meaning the island of honey, by ancient Greeks and Romans. Once a flourishing colony producing mainly agricultural and manufactured goods exported to any corner of the Mare Nostrum, today Malta is a fully developed nation where touristic activities are definitely the ones earning the daily bread. Great restaurants serving delicious food, luxury hotels, casinos and professional attitude constitute the backbone of the top quality service anyone can expect spending the holidays here.
The history of Malta is deeply linked to the order of the Knights of St. John. The island was a gift of Charles V, at that time Holy Roman Emperor, to the Knights Hospitaller, a military religious order driven out of Rhodes by the Ottomans in 1522. Throughout the Crusades, the Knights had tended pilgrims with their notorious medical skills and when they arrived in Malta they continued the service and built the Sacra Infermeria, a monumental hospital still present today on the island.
Valletta, the capital, is a tantalising city built by the Knights during the XVI century and it is definitely one of the greatest treasures of the main island. Recognised by UNESCO in 1980, it is widely considered as one of the top twenty world’s most beautiful heritage site, aside of other worldwide famous attractions such as for example Venice and its Laguna, the Acropolis of Athens, the Yellowstone National Park and the Machu Picchu. The city has been named after Jean Parisot de la Valette, once Grand Master of the Knights of St John. On the main island there are two other heritage sites: Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and the seven Megalithic Temples.