The capital of Malta is Valletta, which at 0.8 km2, is the smallest national capital in the European Union. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.
The origin of the term Malta is uncertain, and the modern-day variation derives from the Maltese language. The most common etymology is that the word Malta derives from the Greek word μέλι, meli, "honey". The ancient Greeks called the island Μελίτη (Melitē) meaning "honey-sweet" (which was also, inter alia, the name of a Nereid), possibly due to Malta's unique production of honey; an endemic species of bee lives on the island. The Romans went on to call the island Melita, which can be considered either as a latinisation of the Greek Μελίτη or the adaptation of the Doric Greek pronunciation of the same word Μελίτα
Another conjecture suggests that the word Malta comes from the Phoenician word Maleth "a haven" or "port"in reference to Malta's many bays and coves.
The Maltese Islands form the most water poor country in the European Union and one of the ten driest in the world.
Due to their small size and limited rainfall, fresh water resources are very limited, while demand is high to cover the dense population and diverse water uses. Lack of freshwater resources has led to overexploitation of groundwater from the island's aquifers beyond sustainable levels. Overuse has also lead to saltwater intrusion, salinising the freshwater in the aquifer. This has further restricted the amount of usable available water on the island. Alter Aqua is a multi-stakeholder programme aiming to tackle these water scarcity issues by mobilising Non Conventional Water Resources (NCWR).
Malta only has two days supply of potable water in its reservoirs, according to the Malta Water Association.
Addressing a press conference, association spokesman Dirk Ketelaere said the island was running a major risk by not preserving rain water.
“We are almost exclusively dependant on water produced via reverse osmosis. If something like an oil spill occurs, the island will have no water,” he said.
Mr Ketelaere said the island had a 50 per cent of ground water that was over exploited. Moreover, some 90 per cent of the groundwater showed nitrate levels that exceeded the EU limit.
“This is terrifying from a strategic point of view,” he said, adding that the plan to have all houses built with a well had been scrapped
The Maltese language (Maltese: Malti) is the constitutional national language of Malta, having become official, however, only in 1934. Previously, Italian was the official and cultural language of Malta, in its Sicilian variant from the 12th century, and in its Tuscan variant from the 16th century. Alongside Maltese, English (imposed by the British after 1800) is also an official language of the country and hence the laws of the land are enacted both in Maltese and English.
However, the Constitution states that if there is any conflict between the Maltese and the English texts of any law, the Maltese text shall prevail.
Malta, an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, is a nation known for historic sites related to a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of St. John, French and British. It has numerous fortresses, megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to 3600 B.C.E.
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (Latin: Supremus Ordo Militaris Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani Rhodius et Melitensis), also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) or Order of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order traditionally of military, chivalrous and noble nature.
It was founded as the Knights Hospitaller circa 1099 in Jerusalem, Kingdom of Jerusalem, by Gerard Thom, making it the world's oldest surviving chivalric order.Headquartered in Palazzo Malta in Rome, widely considered a sovereign subject of international law, its mission is summed up in its motto: "Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum", protecting the Roman Catholic Church and serving those in need.
Following the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade and the loss of the Kingdom of Jerusalem to the Mamluk Sultanate, it became chartered as a military order to protect against Islamic persecution of Christians, recognised as sovereign in 1113 by Pope Paschal II. It operated from Cyprus (1291–1310), Rhodes (1310–1523), Malta (1530–1798), over which it was sovereign until the French occupation, and from Palazzo Malta in Rome from 1834 until the present, subsequently known under its current name. The order venerates as its patroness Mary, mother of Jesus, under the title "Our Lady of Mount Philermos".
Although you’ll usually hear this organization called the “Knights of Malta” in conspiracy circles, their full name is a mouthful: The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. And, unlike some of the other groups you hear about in conspiracy theories, the Sovereign Order of Malta is real. This organization provides humanitarian assistance in 120 countries. It also has diplomatic relations with 104 countries, despite not being a state itself.
These two abilities — the independence from other nations and the right to use military force — provide the basis for the Order’s peculiar standing in the international community.
The Order is still based in Rome today, and it still conducts extensive humanitarian work across the planet.
The ‘Lodge of St. John and St. Paul’ first met in Hope Tavern on South Street, Valletta, and continues to this day as the oldest Masonic Lodge in Malta. A second Lodge, the ‘Union of Malta’ was Warranted on 17th June 1831; to the chagrin of the Bishop of Malta, Monseigneur Francesco Saverio Caruana who, in 1843, railed against ‘secret societies in general and Freemasonry in particular’. Progressively, additional Lodges were founded and by 1900 there were seven with a membership of 584 Masons; increasing to an overall membership of 1484 by the end of World War I; with United Grand Lodge of England having created the ‘Masonic District of Malta’ with its District Grand Master and Officers.
In addition to this English Constitution representation on the Island there were two lodges of the Irish Constitution, ‘Leinster Lodge No. 387’, founded in 1851, and ‘Abercorn Lodge No.273’ founded in 1899; together with ‘The Lodge of St. Andrew No. 966’ of the Scottish Constitution, founded in 1906.
In 2004 Malta celebrated 40 years of Independence. This, at the turn of the millennium, combined with Maltese electorate aspiration to European Union membership and coalesced in Masonic thinking as to how Freemasonry might otherwise be established in an independent sovereign State. Local circumstances were not encouraging of open debate of the subject, although interchange of opinions indicated that a number of minds were reflecting on alternatives to the status quo.
Freemasonry was largely viewed with suspicion in Malta, mainly due to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and its antipathy towards masonic lodges.
After years of notoriety as a secret society, and a raging debate over the alleged membership of public officials, Malta’s freemasons have gone public with a fully-fledged website describing their activities, history and also their statute.
Saint Paul and the Venomous Viper
Perhaps the best known legend on the island is that of Saint Paul and the Venomous Viper. This legend can be found in the Bible. Legend has it that when St Paul was gathering wood to make a fire for himself and some other shipwrecked people, a venomous viper sprang out of the sticks and bit him. The Maltese,who were very superstitious at the time, expected St Paul to die of poisoning, however no harm came to him. It is said that from that day all snakes and scorpions in Malta became harmless and non-poisonous.
Malta has incredible ancient structures that are now dated as over 9000 years old and are said by orthodox archaeologists to potentially be the oldest stone ruins in the world.