| ||INFORMATION STATION|
|Facts at a Glance|
| ||Full country name: Republic of Malta|
Area: 320 sq km (124 sq mi)
Capital city: Valletta (pop 92,000)
Language: Maltese, English and Italian
Religion: Roman Catholic (91%)
Government: Parliamentary democracy
President: Guido de Marco
Prime Minister: Eddie Fenech Adami
The Maltese archipelago consists of three islands lying in the middle of the Mediterranean, 93km (57mi) south of Sicily and 350km (217mi) north of Libya. Malta, the largest, is shaped like a bottle of port, and is indented by many bays and harbours. Aside from a few low ridges and outcrops, Malta is pretty flat and composed mainly of limestone. Gozo is greener and hillier than Malta, and its coast has high rugged cliffs.
The islands' soil is generally thin and rocky, yielding very little flora. The main exception is Buskett Gardens, a lush valley of trees and orange groves protected by the imposing Dingli Cliffs on the southwestern coast of Malta.
Malta has an excellent climate, reaching up to 30°C (86°F) in midsummer (July to August) and when the hot sirocco winds blow in from Africa. The lowest average daily high temperature, about 15°C (59°F), occurs during January. Rainfall is heaviest from November to February, though it's low year-round.
| ||GDP: US$5.3 billion|
GDP per head: US$13,800
Annual growth: 4%
Major industries: Tourism, electronics, ship repair, construction
Major trading partners: Italy, Germany, UK
Member of EU: no
|Facts for the Traveler|
| ||Visas: Visas are not required for holiday visits of up to three months by Americans, Australians, Britons, Canadians, Japanese, Libyans, Moroccans, New Zealanders, South Africans, Tunisians or nationals of most EU countries.|
Health risks: None
Time: GMT/UTC plus 1 hour
Electricity: 250V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
|Money & Costs|
| ||Currency:Maltese lira (Lm)|
Budget: US$5-10Mid-range: US$10-25Top-end: US$25 and upwards
Budget: US$2-18Mid-range: US$18-40Top-end: US$40 and upwards
By European standards, Malta is very good value. You can travel in comfort and style for US$75-100 per day, though even US$30-35 a day will get you pleasant hostel accommodation, a simple restaurant meal, a decent street-side snack and enough cold drinks to keep you going.
Banks are the best place to change money; they almost always offer a significantly better rate than hotels or restaurants. Waiters and taxi drivers expect a 10% tip. All major credit cards are widely accepted. Bargaining for handicrafts at stalls or markets is essential, but most shops have fixed prices. There's a 15% value-added tax on all consumer items.
|When to Go|
The best time to visit Malta is the lull from February to June, between the rainy season (such as it is) and the hot Mediterranean summer. This is also when room rates drop by as much as 40% from their late June to August high. September and October are also good months to visit.
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