With a civilisation dating back as far as 5000 BC, and with neolithic temples which stood way before the Pyramids of Giza, Malta has a long history with its fair share of unique and interesting trivia.
Most of us know that Malta was British until 1964 and we’ve all heard that Mdina used to be the capital city and how everybody loves pastizzi.
But those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to awesome Maltese facts.
Here are 20 random things about Malta you never knew you needed:
1. It took around 9,000 people to build Valletta, with the foundation stone laid on 28 March 1566.
2. Malta is the smallest country in the EU but it is the most densely populated.
3. Meghan Markle has a Maltese connection, and has actually visited the island in the past.
4. There are more people of Maltese ancestry in Melbourne than there are in Malta.
5. The name Malta is supposedly derived from a Greek word for honey.
6. Malta has 365 churches, one for every day of the year.
7. The hottest it’s ever been in Malta was 43.8 °C back in August 1999.
8. Valletta is one of the most concentrated historical areas in the world, according to UNESCO.
9. Strait Street in Valletta used to be the island’s main red light district.
10. The Queen was Malta’s head of state until 1974, when the island became a Commonwealth republic – and when she was still a Princess, she lived in Malta together with Prince Philip for a while, with many saying that she still holds her years of “normality” in Malta clsoe to her heart. In Netflix’s The Crown, Her Majesty speaks of how she used to go grocery shopping with Prince Philip.
11. The official languages of Malta are English and Maltese.
12. Malta’s fishing boats are painted with two eyes at the front to protect them from evil spirits.
13. The cross in the corner of Malta’s flag is the George Cross, awarded in 1942 by King George VI.
14. Britney Spears’ great-great-grandfather Edward Portelli was born in Malta in 1873.
15. The first car in the Maltese Islands was imported to Gozo in 1907.
16. The 1941 film The Maltese Falcon is based on a Golden Falcon given to Charles V of Spain by the Knights of Malta in 1539.
17. There are 54 cities, towns and villages in Malta, and 14 in Gozo.
18. Malta’s worst football defeat was in 1983, when we lost 12-1 to Spain in a European Championship qualifier.
19. Malta is the best diving destination in Europe, according to Sport Diver Awards.
20. Malta has been named the best place in the world to spend the Christmas holidays by CNN.