Things To Know When Traveling To Malta
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Things To Know When Traveling To Malta

There are several little-known facts about the nation of Malta, which is actually comprised of several islands situated east of Northern Africa and south of Sicily. This former British territory is perhaps best-known for its mild temperatures and historic architecture.

Malta is a major European producer and exporter of limestone. Aside from its favorable geographic location, this archipelago boasts some of the oldest architecture in all of Europe. Public schools in Malta use both Maltese and English almost equally, though most university courses are taught in English. Until 1934, Italian served as the official language of Malta.

In 2008, the Euro replaced the Maltese Lira as the official national currency. A popular tourist destination to those seeking Old World flavor and history, the Maltese islands boast year-round sun, cultural tours and landmark churches like St. John's Co-Cathedral. Local festivals are similar to those found in much of Sicily. Mnarja, a national festival dedicated to the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, is a Maltese tradition marked by music, food and religion. In 2009, for the first time in the country's history, a New Year's Eve street party was organized successfully, something that's likely to become a yearly event.

In terms of accommodations, Malta offers a variety of hotels, including Il Palazzin Hotel Malta, Hotel Santana and The Westin Dragonara Resort. It should be noted that most of the more secluded beaches are located on the northern coast of the island. Though most hotels in Malta are located within a stone's throw of the sea, only a handful of its beaches aren't crowded during the Summer months. If beaches aren't your thing, there are many bike tours(watch the hills!) and boat trips to enjoy.

Only by strolling down Valleta's main streets can one appreciate Malta's multi-ethnic past and heritage, a heritage reflected in the Maltese language, a language derived from a prominent Arabic dialect that predominated in Southern Italy between the 800s and 1300s. Maltese borrows nearly half of its vocabulary from Italian, while as much as 20% is comprised of English words. The similarity and dissimilarity to Italian is astounding, as are many of the customs.

But be careful while strolling the streets of Malta early morning -- you could get an unexpected shower! That's because Maltese women are notorious for cleaning house and watering their hanging plants. No wonder so few Maltese women are overweight! Though we Americans would never suggest this sort of daily exercise to our women, if it leads to less obesity in the U.S... -- but I digress.

There are many things to do in Malta while on vacation, and many of them will open your eyes and pique your curiosity.

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