Arguably one of the oldest countries on the planet, Malta, is believed to have been established as far back as 5900BC, and aside from its age, Malta is also one of the smallest countries in the world. The capital city of Valletta is, in fact, the smallest European capital, but the country is quite heavily populated, with more than 500,000 people living in an area of just 122 square miles.
When you initially think of this Mediterranean gem, your mind may drift towards thoughts of history, architecture, and culture – you wouldn’t be far wrong. Malta is well-known for many things, including its excellent diving opportunities, the great food, and the stunning scenery.
The country also has a wonderful and varied history, which can be seen when visiting this beautiful island nation.
In this article, I’d like to share a little about what Malta is famous for and give you a good idea of what to expect when taking a vacation here.
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What Is Malta Famous For?
Malta is well known for many things including its rich history and stunning beauty, yet a lot of tourists are still unaware of much of this information.
When we look at Malta’s location, it isn’t difficult to see that it is in a prime location for naval purposes and, as such, has long been used as a naval base for a variety of civilizations. From the Romans and Greeks to the Arabs and the French, Malta has served the surrounding areas well.
In the early days, the first settlers on the island came from the neighboring Italian island of Sicily, and there were a lot of structures on the island that reflected this culture when the next lot of inhabitants made their way to Malta circa 3600BC. Furthermore, there have been many archaeological explorations of the island, and many pieces of pottery were found that closely matched shards found on Sicily. Historians believe that this is indicative of their farmers making their way to the island for agricultural reasons. Fast forward to modern-day Malta, and you will not find anywhere near as much farmland, in fact, only 2.5% of the country’s GDP comes from agriculture.
Many people are under the impression that Malta remains a British colony and while it was taken over by the country in the 1800s, as of the 1960s, it became a colony in its own right and just a few years later, in 1974, it went on to become a republic. However, the country does remain a member of the British Commonwealth, ruled over by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
That being said, there appears to be a lot of British influence remaining in the country, and this is highly reflected in the business and industry sectors.
Not only has Malta seen 11 different rulers over its time, but it has also been a varied nation in terms of religion, most notably Christians, Muslims and Jews. With its proximity to both the Catholic and Christian nations of Southern Europe and the Islamic nations of North Africa, it’s little wonder that there is still a good amount of spiritual diversity in the country. However, Malta now recognizes itself as a predominantly Catholic country.
If you are looking to explore the historic side of Malta, you won’t be left disappointed since there are so many wonderful and interesting Maltese historical sites across the nation. Built way before Britain’s world-famous Stonehenge, the monolithic temple known as Hagar Qim brings in thousands of visitors each year. Crafted from limestone, this is just one of many similar temples that can be found on the island and something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
Many of these temples are protected by their UNESCO world heritage site status, and the capital city also benefits from this. Traveling to Valletta is perfect for anyone with an interest in history since the buildings here are truly unique and tell the tale of the development of the city over time.
Furthermore, Valletta is known for its strong culture and with plenty of museums, churches and monuments, you won’t be left short of things to discover.
The Sea And Climate
If there is one thing that attracts more people to Malta than anything else, it is the stunning blue seas and the comfortably warm climate. Many Europeans treat Malta as the ideal holiday destination and with the convenient location, it isn’t a surprise. However, travelers from all over the world are drawn to the country thanks to its climate.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, Malta is widely considered to be one of the best places to live in terms of weather, and the wealth of outdoor activities only adds to this.
The island lies in the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea which is well known for its warm, clear waters. There are many beautiful beaches in Malta, many of which offer some excellent opportunities for divers and snorkelers – but more on that later.
Since Malta is an archipelago, visitors have the chance to explore many hidden gems when it comes to seaside action, and one of the most well-loved and beautiful spots is found on the island of Comino – known as Blue Lagoon.
This is an area that attracts tourists from all over the world, and when you see the incredibly clear, bright turquoise waters and relaxed atmosphere, it’s not hard to see why. This is considered to be one of the best swimming spots in the country and whilst there isn’t much to do here other than appreciate the splendor of the ocean and relax, it is certainly worth a visit.
Thanks to the perfectly clear waters that surround this nation, diving and snorkelling are some of the most popular activities here – for both locals and tourists. If you ask anyone ‘What is Malta famous for?’, they’ll likely mention these two things.
One of the most notable things about diving in Malta is the many shipwrecks that line the coast – some of which are ancient. It’s clear that the history of this country follows you wherever you go – even under water!
There are also some beautiful reefs with various species of fish and other sea life that bring a lot of attention, and for those who are a little more adventurous, the wealth of underwater caves is a real opportunity for discovery.
Some of the best diving hotspots on the archipelago are:
- The Santa Maria Caves offer diving opportunities for people of all levels of experience. One of the most popular diving sites, the caves can be found on the north side of Comino.
- The P29 wreck is based around a large, 62m sunken vessel but is also great for appreciating the excellent selection of marine life that call this area home.
- The Blue Hole is a dive spot that you will probably have already heard of, due to its well-earned reputation around the world as one of the most beautiful places to dive. The inland sea pool is located on Gozo and leads down to a stunning rock formation and out into open waters. Here you will be able to appreciate the magnificent coastline and get up close and personal with hundreds of different fish species including bream and parrotfish.
The contrast in terms of activities on Malta is incredible – once you’ve finished exploring the surrounding seas, you can get back on to dry land and appreciate the many beautiful walks that the country has to offer.
One of the things that Malta is really famous for is its excellent choice of hiking trails – and, of course, all those days of sunshine will mean that you have plenty of opportunities to make the most of these.
Whether you are looking for structured gardens for a gentle stroll or something a little more off the beaten track, your choices are limitless in Malta.
- The Argotti botanic gardens provide the perfect place for tranquility and an appreciation of nature and if you are looking for somewhere to take a quiet afternoon stroll, there aren’t many places more well-equipped than this. You can take a guided tour or go it alone, but the striking sea views and access to nature are what Malta is all about.
- The Dinglii cliffs are something of a walker’s paradise, and even though Malta has many rocky cliff edges to explore, these are, without doubt, some of the most breathtaking. From here, you will be able to access the highest point of the island, giving you the chance to look out over this incredible country. What’s more, there are some extremely interesting prehistoric ruins along this walk so it’s perfect for combining with the historical exploration of the country.
- Siggiewi is known to be one of the more strenuous walks so do be prepared for this if you’re heading out to the south of the main island. There are some very prominent spots of local beauty including the many traditional farmhouses that can be found along the trail – a prime opportunity to chat with the locals and get a true taste for Maltese life.
People from all over the world are familiar with the fact that Malta is renowned as one of the global hotspots for excellent food but not many people are familiar with exactly what Maltese cuisine is.
Malta offers some of the most unique and tasty dishes on the planet, and the capital city of Valletta is filled with excellent places to wine and dine yourself and your family.
One of the most popular day time snacks is the Pastizzi which is a filo pastry based offering filled with ricotta cheese and peas.
Whilst in the capital, it would be a crime not to try out the locally brewed soft drink known as Kinnie which is extremely well-loved by the locals and I am sure you will fall in love with it too. Made from a secret blend of herbs and spices and locally sourced bitter oranges, it’s a taste that will stay with you for a long time.
Maltese sausage is one of the most well-recognized dishes from this country and is a mix of British and Portuguese recipes, including coriander, parsley and peppercorns as some of the seasonings. It is widely popular with locals but also perhaps one of the most frequently sought-after dishes for visitors to the country.
On Location Filming
TV and movie producers are always on the look-out for stunning places for on location shoots and Malta has fast become one of the most popular spots in the world.
With everything from Games of Thrones to Troy being recorded here, the country has gained some serious recognition in the industry. This is all thanks to the incredible natural beauty which is unlike anything else in the world.
Famous People from Malta
While Wikipedia contains the most thorough list of famous Maltese people and people of Maltese decent, below are a few notable famous people from the country:
Andy Partridge – he of XTC rock band fame. He was founding frontman of the band. he hails from the little village of Mtarfa.
Edward de Bono – He advocated for thinking as a subject and he coined the term ‘lateral thinking’. He was a Maltese physician, psychologist and author having written over 57 books. He died in June 2021.
Joseph Calleja – He is best known as a world renowned Tenor and is a considered a national treasure and a Maltese Cultural Ambassador.
Paul Tisdale – Former Professional Footballer for UK clubs such as Southampton and Huddersfield and Manager of Exeter City, MK Dons and most recently Bristol Rovers. He was born in Valletta in 1973.
Meghan Markle – Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, once stated that her great-great grandmother, Mary Bird, was born in Malta.
Other notables who have Maltese ancestry include, Bryan Adams, Brittany Spears and Kerry Ingram of Game of Thrones fame.
Malta is the epi-center of culture and history in Europe and dates as far back as 5000 years before Christ. It is little wonder, then, that the country is filled with such rich history and culture and this draws in more than 2.5 million visitors every year.
But even if you aren’t a fan of history, this tiny nation in the middle of the Med has far more to offer than some of the largest countries in the world. From beautiful diving spots and crystal clear waters that are ideally discovered in the sunny climate to find food and a close association with the film industry, there is something for everyone in Malta.
So next time you are asked the question ‘What is Malta famous for?’, you can give a pretty confident answer – it’s famous for a lot!