Malta

Official name: The Republic of Malta

Area: 316 square kilometers (122 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Ta'Dmejrek (253 meters/830 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 1 P.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 45 kilometers (28 miles) from southeast to northwest; 13 kilometers (8 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 253 kilometers (157 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Malta is an island nation in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. The total land area of its five islands is 316 square kilometers (122 square miles), or nearly twice the size of Washington, D.C.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Malta has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The average winter temperature is 9°C (48°F), with January being the coldest month. The average summer temperature is 31°C (88°F), with temperatures peaking at midsummer (July to August). Most rainfall occurs between November and January, and average rainfall is approximately 56 centimeters (22 inches) per year.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Malta consists of five islands. Three of the islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) are inhabited, and two (Cominotto and Filfla) are uninhabited. The island of Malta is the largest in the country, accounting for 246 square kilometers (95 square miles) of the total area. Gozo (67 square kilometers/26 square miles) and Comino (about 3 square kilometers/1 square mile) are much smaller.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Malta is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.

Coastal Features

The rocky terrain of the islands has openings that form deep harbors, coves, and bays. There are about twenty beaches on the island of Malta, ranging from rocky to sandy. Gozo also has some popular beaches, including one at Ramla Bay on the northern shore, which is known for its reddish sand. Santa Maria Bay, on Comino Island, is famous for its clear waters and coastal lagoon, known as the Blue Lagoon.

6 INLAND LAKES

Malta has no sizable inland lakes.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Malta has no rivers. The country's reserves of fresh water are extremely limited, and it relies heavily on desalination for its water supply.

8 DESERTS

There are no deserts on Malta.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

The terrain of Malta's islands consists of low hills (mostly limestone formations) running from east to northwest at heights of up to 239 meters (786 feet). There is little vegetation and no forests. The island of Gozo is greener and hillier than the main island Malta, and its coast has high, uneven cliffs.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Malta has no mountains or volcanoes.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are caves on the islands of Gozo and Malta. Alabaster stalagmites and stalactites are found in a grotto in the town of Xaghra on Gozo. The Ghar Dalan Cave on Malta contains fossilized remains of extinct species that are 250,000 years old.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Malta is the site of the world's most ancient temple complexes, built about six thousand years ago. The islands' limestone megaliths are many centuries older than both Britain's Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The historic fortress city of Valletta, the capital, was constructed in the sixteenth century on the rocky Sceberras Peninsula on Malta's east coast. Many of Malta's buildings date back centuries.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Berg, Warren G. Historical Dictionary of Malta. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Ellis, William S. "Malta: The Passion of Freedom." National Geographic , June 1989, 700-717.

Web Sites

LonelyPlanet: Destination Malta. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/europe/malta/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

"Malta—Welcome to the Heart of the Mediterranean." VisitMalta.com . http://www.visitmalta.com/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

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