The main island of Malta is just 15 miles long, but this isolated and arid speck of land has seen a disproportionate amount of history, owing chiefly to its strategic location. St. Paul was famously shipwrecked on Malta in A.D. 60. In 1530, the island was given to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem; Napoleon captured Malta en route to Egypt in 1798, but his forces were subsequently driven out by the British, who remained until independence in 1974. During World War II, Malta endured an epic two-year siege and suffered more than 3,000 bombing raids. Today’s traveler will find a wealth of fascinating churches and immense fortifications constructed from the island’s honey-colored stone. Malta’s capital, Valletta, possesses one of the most dramatic and beautiful harbors in the world.
CLIMATE: May/June is the ideal time for a visit: The weather is settled and the Mediterranean has warmed to a pleasant temperature for swimming. July/August can be excessively hot, and the island receives hordes of visitors from northern Europe.
CURRENCY: Euro (€). Fluctuating rate valued at €1.00 = US$1.30 as of December 2012.
U.S. EMBASSY: Floriana, Tel. (2561) 4000.
DIRECT DIAL CODES: To phone hotels in Malta, dial 011 (international access) + 356 (Malta code) + city code and local numbers in listings.