sovereign state in Southern Europe situated on an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea

Malta (officially the Republic of Malta (Maltese: Repubblika ta' Malta), is an island country in southern Europe, located in the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of an archipelago between Italy, Tunisia and Libya. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Sicily, Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. The official languages are Maltese, the only Semitic language in the European Union, and English. The nation's capital is Valletta.



The finest heap of rock in the world —Bernard Shaw
The Island Fortress —George VI
  • In Malta, the Wars of Religion reached their climax. If both sides believed that they saw Paradise in the bright sky above them, they had a close and very intimate knowledge of Hell.
    • Ernle Bradford, The Great Siege: Malta 1565 (1961), Ch. 21
  • To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history.
  • I poke my braised welly with a fork ... the food is indescribably dire. Malta is the only place in the world where the local delicacy is the bread.
    • Alan Coren, Punch (12 January 1972)
    • Reported in: The Wit and Wisdom of the 20th Century (1987), p. 147
  • No one could have described Coulson as a warm and friendly man but he was better at first sight than the two highly coloured gentlemen on the bum-warmer. He was thin, sandy and weedy. He exuded an aura of defeat.
    ‘Malta is a sod of a place,’ he said, ‘you'll hate it. Nobody knows how long we’ll be here. The second battalion is in India and we were supposed to be on home service for the next ten years but they suddenly winkled us out of Aldershot and shipped us out here a couple of years ago. It’s a bloody mess being a home battalion on service abroad, they don’t even give us tropical kit. Just wait till you have to wear full mess kit with a stiff shirt and waistcoat in August when the sirocco is blowing ... Christ, you’ll melt!’
  • The finest heap of rock in the world.
    • George Bernard Shaw; quoted in Charles A. Jellison, Besieged: The World War II Ordeal of Malta, 1940–1942 (1984), Ch. 2

Rare Adventures and Painfull Peregrinations

William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse of the Rare Aduentures and painfull Peregrinations of long nineteene Yeares, &c. (London, 1632, 4to), VII, 330–332
  • This City is divided in two, the old and new Malta, from which the Ile taketh the name; it is a large and populous place, and strongly fortified with invincible walles, and two impregnable Castles St. Hermes, and St. Angelo; St. Michael being distant from both: Here the great Master or Prince for that yeare being a Spaniard made much of me for Jerusalems sake; so did also a number of these gallant Knights, to whom I was greatly obliged. And withall to my great contentment, I rancountred here with a countrey Gentleman of mine, being a souldier there, named William Douglas, who afterward for his long and good service at sea was solemnely Knighted, and made one of their order. Whose fidele and manly services have beene since as plausibly regarded by the Maltezes, as Monsieur Creichton his worth, in learning and excellent memory, rests admired in Italy, but especially by the noble Gonzagaes, and dependant friends of the house of Mantua; for whose losse, and accidentall death, they still heavily bemone: acknowledging that the race of that Princely stock, by Gods judgements was cut off, because of his untimely death.
    • A joyfull arrival in Malta.
  • Malta was called Melita, mentioned Acts 28. 1. 2. where the Viper leaped on Paules hand; I saw also the Creeke wherein he was shipwracked: This Iland may properly be termed the Fort of Christendome, yet a barren place, and of no great bounds, for their Cornes, and Wines come daily by Barkes from Sycilia: but it yeeldeth good store of Pomegranates, Cittrons, Cottons, Orenges, Lemmons, Figges, Mellons, and other excellent fruits. The Knights of Malta had their beginning at Acre in Palestina; from thence to the Rhodes, & now exposed to this rocky Ile. They are pertinacious foes to Infidels, for such is the oath of their order, continually making war and incursions against them, to their power: being strengthned also with many souldiers, and their Captaines are surnamed Knights of Malta, and so through a great part of Christendome; it is a most honourable Order: They are not permitted to marry, the most part of whom being younger brothers: the reason was, because not being intangled to wife and children, they might be the more resolute to adventure their lives in the Christian service; but therein they are mightily decayed, and their valour no way answerable to that it hath been when their auncestors lived in the Rhodes and holy Land; having had these eighteene yeares past little or no good fortune at all.
    • The Ile of Malta.
  • This Ile was given in possession to these Knights of St. John, by the Emperour Charles the fifth, and King of Spaine; being newly expelled from the Rhodes by Solyman the magnificent, Anno 1522. And afterward the Turke not contented therewith, and mindfull all-utterly to extermine their power, came with a huge Armado, and assayled Malta, Anno 1565. when Valetta was great maister, who so couragiously withstood their fury, that the Turkes were defeated, and forced to returne.
    This Iland is ten leagues in length, and three broad: the earth whereof being three foote deepe, is the cause, why it is not so fertile, as the clymat might afford: It containeth besides the City, forty seven Villages and nine Cassales; the peasants or naturall Inhabitants whereof, are of the Affrican complexion, tanny, and Sun-burnt; and their language semblable to the Barbarian speech, without any great difference, both tongues being a corrupt Arabick: And not unlike therein to the Italians from the Latine, or the vulgar Greeke from the auncient; yet the moderne Greeke is nearer the auncient, then the Italian is the Latine: These rurall Maltezes are extreamely bent, in all their actions, either to good or evill wanting fortitude of minde, and civill discretion, they can not temper the violent humours of their passions, but as the headstrong-tide, so their dispositions runne, in the superfluous excesse of affections.
    • An invincible victory.
  • They follow the Romane Church, though ignorant of the way, and their woemen be lovely faire, going head-covered with blacke vayles, and much inclined to licentiousnesse; their beauties being burrowed from helpe more then nature: for now it is a common practice amongst decayed beauties, banquerouted by time or accidents, to hide it from others eyes with Art, and from their owne with false glasses. But (alasse) the graces and beauties of the soule ought more to be cared for, and to have the first place and honour, above these counterfeit or outward showes of the body; and the beauty and lovely proportion of the body, should be preferred before the effeminate deckings, that the body doth rather carry then enjoy: since it often hapneth; that a foule and deformed carkasse hath a faire and rich wardrope. In this Towne of Malta, there are many Turkish and Moorish slaves, very rudely treat, yet not answerable to that cruelty the slavish Christianes indure upon their Gallies in Barbary or Turky: The discription of Malta, I postpone to the succeeding relations of my second Travells; and after twelve daies staying here, I imbarked in a Frigat with other passengers, and arrived at Cicly in the South-east corner of Sicilia, being three score miles distant.
    • The nature of the Maltezes.

A New Voyage to the Levant

Jean Dumont, A New Voyage to the Levant, done into English (London: Printed by T.H. for M. Gillyflower, T. Goodwin, M. Wotton, J. Walthoe, and R. Parker, 1696), pp. 131–141
  • Malta is so low an Island that 'tis scarce discernible above twenty Miles off at Sea, even in the clearest Weather; so that many Ships pass by without perceiving it. There are no Woods in it by reason of the shallowness of the Ground; for the whole Island is only a dry Rock, which, with much ado, may be made to produce something. And the scarcity of Earth makes it so precious, that if a Man were found stealing it out of his Neighbours Grounds, he wou'd be punish'd with the utmost Severity.
  • Malta is hotter than Rome, or any other place in Europe; and the stifling Heat of the Climate is so much the more insupportable, because there are no cool Breezes to temper it; and the Brow of the Hill is expos'd directly to the South. The Peasants are as black as Egyptians; for they take no care to preserve themselves from the Sun; and the most scorching Heat is not able to drive 'em into their Houses, or even make 'em leave off working.
  • The Island of Malta is very populous, and reckon'd to contain 15000 Men, who are all divided into Companies. They are oblig'd to wear Swords, but forbidden to draw 'em under such rigorous Penalties, that the natural Malice of the Inhabitants is very effectually curb'd by their Fear of Punishment: Yet they sometimes venture to execute their Fury with a little Poniard or Stiletto, after the Italian fashion.
  • The Number of the Curtesans is extremely great; their Trade is not at all reputed scandalous; and when they have earn'd a little Money, they may Marry, and are esteem'd as honest Women as if they had kept their Maidenhead for their Husbands. No Person whatsoever dares offer 'em the least indignity; for they are look'd upon as Publick Persons that ought to be Sacred; and there are even some Ladies of Honour who disdain not their Acquaintance and Society; so that 'tis not an easie Task to distinguish those Prostitutes from Vertueus Women.
    • Letter XI
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