MALTA - BASIC FACTS

The Maltese islands lie in the center of the Mediterranean, 93km south of Sicily and 300km north of Libya. The archipelago is made up of the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, plus the tiny uninhabited islets of Cominotto in the north and Filfla, about 5km off the southern coast. Together the islands make up a mere 316sq km. Malta, the largest, is only 27km at its longest point from northwest to southeast, and 14.5km at its widest point, from west to east. The geography of Malta is dominated by water. The Island of Gozo is a third the size of Malta, but greener and more rural. Its landscape has hills and deep valleys as well as rugged cliffs, which give natural protection to the island’s small harbours and inlets. Life here moves at a leisurely pace, revolving around farming and fishing. Comino This tiny island is given over to swimming, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing and dreaming in the sun. The waters are crystal clear with safe bathing for even the youngest children. The superb Blue Lagoon is not only excellent for swimming but also one of the most wonderful sights of the Maltese Islands.

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The island of Malta is made up of rock and limestone. There are no mountains, rivers or lakes. The appearance is emphasized by scores of dry stone walls that flank fields, terraces and slopes, gardens and paths. To ease the water shortage, five reverse osmosis plants were set up some years ago to convert seawater to fresh water, and this now produces half of the islands consumption of water. The Maltese woodlands were hacked down centuries ago and today the only trees you will see are the pine, citrus, rubber plant , tamarisk and carob trees. On both Malta and Gozo, the slopes are cultivated for vegetables and vines. For centuries Malta’s abundant limestone has been used for construction- from pre historic megaliths to modern day houses. Newly quarried stone soon mellows with exposure to the sun and blends with the colour of the surroundings. Because of its greater quantity of water-retaining blue clay subsoil, the island of Gozo is a greener island than Malta. The lie of the island is different, with villages built of flat topped hills leaving the slopes for cultivation. The coastline of Malta and Gozo is predominantly rocky, with sandy bays found mostly in the north and just a few in the south. Malta’s coastline is heavily indented and sheltered. The eastern side of the island is broken up by 3 large bays which make ideal harbours. To the south , spectacular cliffs drop 250metres straight to the sea. Gozo’s coastal scenery is at its most spectacular around the cliffs of Dwejra.