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Malta: The Mediterranean Mystery
By Mike Thiel

Ask most American travelers what they know about Malta, or even where it is, and they're likely to draw a blank.

When I was invited to visit these islands last May, all I could conjure up were images of Crusaders, the Maltese Cross, and the Maltese Falcon. It certainly wasn't on my radar screen of potentially interesting vacation destinations. And it isn't on most Americans'—even the well traveled.

In fact, only about 11,000 Americans visit Malta in any given year, despite the fact that the country has played a strategic role in the development of western culture, commerce, and politics. Among its claims to fame are:

  • The world's oldest man-made edifices;
  • A history of occupation by most of the peoples that have defined western civilization: the Phoenicians in 800 BC, the Carthaginians, Romans (218 BC), Byzantines, Arabs (870 AD), Normans (1090), Castillians, Knights of St. John (1530), French (1798), and the British (1800);
  • The first planned-from-scratch city in Europe.

Malta is a living museum. Wherever you go, its history seems to surround and envelop you, making you a part of it. And, when you tire of history, there are plenty of sports and other attractions to pursue on this scenic and tranquil archipelago.

Spring/Summer 1998



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