Glancing at a map you can quickly see why Malta is often dubbed as "The jewel in the heart of the Mediterranean." At just 93km from Sicily and 288km from Tunisia, with Gibraltar 1,830km to the west and Cyprus 1,680km to the east, Malta's position slap bang in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is probably the single greatest factor sculpting the entire history and social development of the Nation.
Malta's location has led it to take on an important role since ancient times, when the islands provided a convenient, safe haven for the Phoenicians exchanging merchandise between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. The strategically located islands changed hands continuously such that they were ruled by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Aragonese, the Knights of St John, Napoleon and the British in turn, with Malta playing a pivotal role during WWII. With each rule came a heritage and an influence which is still evident, not only in several historic remains and buildings but also in the Maltese language, customs and traditions to this present day. Furthermore the Maltese islands possess a remarkable pre-historic heritage.
Malta finally joined the EU in 2004, bringing with it a more cosmopolitan influence to an already colourful culture. Today Malta's location is best known for its ideal climate, crystal clear waters and hub of entertainment, making it a prime tourist destination. Enriched by its own story through the ages living on in the present, during a visit to Malta you will find that although it may be small in size, it is definitely great in character.