total: 316 km²
land: 316 km²
water: 0 km²
Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 140 km
contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles (44 km)
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 25 nautical miles (46 km)
territorial sea: 12 nautical miles (22 km)
Climate: Mediterranean with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains; many coastal cliffs
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Ta'Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)
Natural resources: limestone, salt, arable land
arable land: 38%
permanent crops: 3%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 59% (1993 est.)<
Irrigated land: 10 km² (1993 est.)
Malta, officially the Republic of Malta, is a small and densely populated island nation consisting of
an archipelago of seven islands in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta lies directly south of
Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, and the country's official languages are Maltese and
English. The strategically located islands constituting the Maltese nation have been ruled by various
powers and fought over for centuries. Malta has been a member state of the European Union since
May 1, 2004. It is currently the smallest European Union country in both population and area. Malta is
the only nation in the world whose flags bear a decoration awarded by a foreign country, the British
The local climate is Mediterranean temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
There is no real thermal dormant season for plants, although plant growth can be checked briefly by
abnormal cold in winter (patches of ground frost may occur in inland locales), and summer heat and
aridity may cause vegetation to wilt. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands
attractive for tourists especially during the drier months. Water supply poses a problem on Malta, as
the summer is both rainless and also the time of greatest water use, and the winter rainfall often falls
as heavy showers and runs off to the sea rather than soaking into the ground.
Contrary to popular belief, the south of Malta is not Europe's most southern point: Malta is Europe's
4th southernmost country (excluding France's départements d'outre-mer and similar); Spain (Punta de Tarifa),
Cyprus and Greece (island of Gavdos), rank 3rd, 2nd, and 1st respectively.
The first Great Siege of Malta took place in 1565. The Second Great Siege. took place in 1942. The
islands strategic importance and retention played a vital role, being the key to the final Allied victory
in North Africa and from there the springboard on into Fortress Europe. The second Great Siege of Malta was
truly a pivotal event in the war in Europe and was vital to the Allies eventual victory.
One quote from the distinguished Australian War Correspondent Alan Moorhead shows the trials and
tribulations suffered by the island for the Allied cause.
"The greatest of battles for supply fell upon Malta. This was now turned into a hell.
Malta was a base for British submarines and aircraft preying on Axis lines of supply to Libya. In the
spring of 1942, the Axis decided to obliterate that base and they wanted to starve it as well. Right
through the spring they turned such blitz upon Malta as no other island or city had seen in the war. It was
a siege of annihilation. One after another all the great sieges were eclipsed - England and Odessa,
Sebastopol and Tobruk. Malta became the most bombed place on earth."
Since 1993, Malta has been subdivided into 68 local councils or localities. These form the most basic
form of local government. There are no intermediate levels between local government and national government.