Malta may only be a tiny island nation in the Mediterranean, but it certainly packs a punch in terms of its heritage and industry traditions. Located between Sicily and the North African coastline, Malta attracted just over two million tourists in 2019, up from 1.98 million the previous year.
Visitor numbers have been rising year-on-year since 2006, almost doubling from its 1.15 million tourists. If you want to know more about the country before packing your bags, read on as we reveal five fascinating facts about this picturesque nation.
1. Malta is the hub for European iGaming
Malta has become the hub for iGaming in the continent. Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has become an overarching jurisdiction for online betting across Europe and beyond. It’s helped inform the iGaming laws in the UK, whereby the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) oversees the fairness and transparency of all promotions, including free bets and welcome offers from online sportsbooks and casinos licensed by both the UKGC and MGA. Malta also plays host to the SiGMA, the largest iGaming conference in Europe, attracting 12,500 iGaming executives annually.
2. The country contains seven small islets
Many people think of Malta as a single island nation. In actual fact, Malta is an archipelago. It comprises seven small islets, with only some of them habitable. Comino is one such islet that only comes to life in the summer months when its exclusive vacation resorts open their doors to overseas holidaymakers. Malta and Gozo are the most populous islands and are the most popular locations for tourists.
3. Civilisation has existed in Malta since 5000 BC
Although Malta is very much out on a limb when it comes to location, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that its islands have been habitable for thousands of years. In fact, historians believe people have been active here since the early stages of the Neolithic age – roughly 5000 BC. The proof is its magnificent Megalithic temple structures which are considered the biggest and oldest free-standing stone buildings on the planet.
4. Malta has only been independent for 56 years
Malta used to be a British colony, but it secured independence back in 1964 following a campaign by the then-Prime Minister George Borg Olivier. It is considered a politically neutral country and was finally approved as a new member state of the European Union in May 2004. Despite no longer being part of the British Empire, remnants of its British past remain, including driving on the left-hand side of the road and its iconic red telephone boxes.
5. The capital Valletta was Europe’s first ‘planned city’
The charming capital city of Valletta is a beautiful example of a planned European city. In fact, it is the continent’s first, drawn and laid out by Grand Master La Valette, which explains the city’s name. He devised the city as a place to offer shelter and protection for victims during the 16th century Crusades. Unfortunately, Grand Master La Valette passed away before seeing the fruits of his labour, which explains why the city is named in his honour. It has since been labelled a World Heritage City.