25 interesting facts about Malta

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The most interesting facts about Malta, from its own version of Dr Pepper to the world record for the largest Catherine wheel firework.

Valletta in Malta
Interesting facts about Malta include its historic capital city (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Malta
Population: 0.5 million
Area: 316 sq km
Capital city: Valletta
Major languages: Maltese, English
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Malta

1. Malta is an island nation located in Southern Europe in the Mediterranean Sea.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

2. Human remains found in Malta suggest the island has been inhabited since around 5900 BC.
– Source: Times of Malta

3. Malta is made up of the three main islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino.
– Source: Government of Malta

A map of Malta and Europe
Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea (NuclearVacuum/CC BY-SA 3.0)

4. Malta has had many foreign rulers including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

5. The Knights of St. John (also known as the “Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John” and the “Hospitaller Malta”), a religious and military order of the Roman Catholic Church, ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798.
– Source: Visit Malta, Britannica

6. One of Malta’s most famous symbols is the eight-pointed Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross was adopted by the Knights of St. John in 1126. Its eight points denote the eight obligations of the knights: to live in truth; have faith; repent one’s sins; have humility; love justice; be merciful; be sincere and whole-hearted; and endure persecution.
– Source: Visit Malta

The Maltese Cross carved into stone
The Maltese Cross (Shutterstock)

7. Britain ruled Malta from 1814 until 1964 when Malta finally gained independence. In 1974, Malta became a republic.
– Source: BBC News

8. The Maltese people were awarded the George Cross by King George VI of the UK for their bravery and gallantry during the Second World War.
– Source: Government of Malta

9. Malta’s flag is split into white and red with a George Cross in the upper left corner. The colours date from the 11th century when Roger I, the count of Sicily, granted his coat of arms to Malta.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

Malta's flag flying in the wind
Malta’s flag (Shutterstock)

10. St. Paul the Apostle, considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity, was shipwrecked on Malta in 60 AD. He is believed to have converted the population to Christianity.
– Source: Britannica

11. Malta is the world’s fifth most densely populated country with 1,715 people per square km of land area.
– Source: World Bank

12. Malta has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the City of Valletta, Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and the Megalithic Temples of Malta.
– Source: UNESCO

Valletta shortly after sunset
Malta’s capital city, Valletta, is UNESCO- listed (Shutterstock)

13. Valletta was named after Jean de Valette, the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John who successfully defended the island from an Ottoman invasion in 1565 known as the Great Siege of 1565.
– Source: Visit Malta

14. Valletta has 320 monuments, all within an area of just 0.55 sq km, making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
– Source: UNESCO

15. Malta’s famous limestone arch, the Azure Window, which featured in the film Clash of the Titans and the TV series Game of Thrones, collapsed after a heavy storm in 2017. The arch may be replaced by a futuristic building called the Heart of Malta.
– Source: The Guardian, Lonely Planet

Two stacked images of the old arch and new design
The old Azure Window and the new Heart of Malta (Shutterstock, Hotei Russia)

16. Malta has the world’s fourth-lowest fertility rate with just 1.2 total births per woman.
– Source: World Bank

17. The Megalithic Temples of Malta are seven megalithic temples found on the islands of Malta and Gozo constructed during the 4th millennium BC and the 3rd millennium BC.
– Source: UNESCO

18. The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an enormous underground structure in Malta that was created around 2500 BC. The structure was possibly a sanctuary initially before becoming a necropolis in prehistoric times.
– Source: UNESCO

Inside the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Inside the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (xiquinhosilva/CC BY 2.0)

19. Malta takes its name from the ancient Greeks who called the island “Melite” meaning “honey-sweet” – referring to the island’s honey production.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

20. Malta is referenced in the 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon as well as the 1941 film of the same name. The stories of both revolve around the how in 1539 the Knights of St. John paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels. In reality, the real tribute was made annually in the form of a live pergrin falcon. In 2013, the Maltese Falcon movie prop (made of lead) sold for $4.1 million USD.
– Source: Luhr, William (1995). The Maltese Falcon. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, Vanity Fair

21. The Inland Sea is a cliff-entombed lagoon connected to the open sea by a tunnel running 100m through the headland of Dwejra Point on the island of Gozo. It has been used as a fishermen’s haven for centuries.
– Source: Lonely Planet

The Inland Sea in Malta
The Inland Sea in Malta (Shutterstock)

22. In 1979, Anchor Bay in Malta was transformed into the fishing village of Sweethaven for the set for the 1980 movie, Popeye, starring Robin Williams. The set still stands today as a theme park.
– Source: Lonely Planet, Popeye Village

23. The first feature films to be shot in Malta were The Sunset Princess (1918) and Sons of the Sea (1925). Since then, hundreds of films have been shot in Malta.
– Source: IMDB

24. Luzzus are Maltese traditional fishing boats which are typically painted in traditional bright colours and feature a pair of eyes near the bow. The eyes – known as the Eye of Orisis or Eye of Horus – are a symbol of protection and good health which protect the fishermen from any harm.
– Source: Air Malta Magazine

Colourful luzzu fishing boats with eyes
Interesting facts about Malta include its Luzzu fishing boats (Shutterstock)

25. Malta produces its own popular soft drink called Kinnie, not dissimilar to Dr Pepper. Invented in 1952, its recipe remains a closely-guarded secret.
– Source: The Times, Times of Malta

27. Malta holds the record for the largest Catherine wheel firework. It 32m (105ft) in diameter and completed four revolutions under its own propulsion..
– Source: Guinness World Records

28. 20,000 years ago, the islands of Malta were all connected to each other as well as to Italy’s island of Sicily. During the last Ice Age, the sea level in the Mediterranean was 130m lower creating a land bridge between the islands.
– Source: Times of Malta

28. From 2011 to 2014, Malta held the world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as storybook characters: 453. In 2014, Singapore beat the record and raised it to 1,560.
– Source: Times of Malta, Guinness World Records

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Malta using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.