Map of Malta
Although small in size (316 km˛), the Republic of Malta is strategically located in the Mediterranean Sea. The country is made up of three inhabited islands: the island of Malta, the largest, Gozo, and Comino, the smallest, is situated between the two larger islands. The capital and largest city, Valletta, is mainly built on a rocky peninsula along the northeast coast of Malta. Valletta can be identified even on this small image where the peninsula extends northeast between two natural harbors.
The geological faulting in this area has produced numerous fine natural harbors around the periphery of Malta. Although the islands are composed of sedimentary rocks, mainly limestone and clays, the alkaline soils provide fertile conditions for the well-established agricultural economy. Precipitation amounts can be a problem in that the islands average only about 32 cm per year. Malta has few natural resources so the growth of tourism, especially since World War II, has gradually added to the Maltese economy (NASA, 1997).
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