The archipelago of Malta consists of the two major islands Malta and Gozo, the interpost Comino, with the nearby Cominotto, and some minor islets, among which Filfola, south of the major island, is considered as the southernmost strip of Italy. The archipelago rises between 35 ° 48 ‘and 36 ° 5’ lat. N. and between 14 ° 12 ‘and 14 ° 51’ long. E., on the continental shelf south of Sicily, from which it is about 90 km. (Can. Of Malta; max. Depth m. 140 on the C. delle Correnti-Valletta line); from the nearest African coast (Tunisia) it is 316 km. and about 360 from Tripoli. The largest island has an area of 237 sq km. and it is separated from Gozo (about 60 sq. km.) by the Comino canals (Can. del Nord deep m. 18 and Can. del Sud deep m. 27). For Malta 2003, please check computerannals.com.
Morphology. – The archipelago presents, in relief, modest heights (maximum height of the major island, 258 m. SE of Dingli; Torre Nadur 240 m; maximum height of Gozo m. 162) and the highest areas have the appearance of flat bumps or soft humpbacks in the culminating parts; however the terrain is very uneven because deep furrows and recessed valleys separate and sometimes almost isolate the individual hills. On the main island a sort of raised edge, where the highest heights are, runs along the south-west coast, plunging into it with a steep step, from which the coast appears steep, straight, uniform and contains no landings. From this edge originate the most important furrows and the major valleys which, following the general inclination of the land, are directed towards north-east and east and end in the sea with deep inlets, similar to laughs. In fact, they represent the terminal portions of the submerged valleys, as seen above all in the Bay of San Paolo and in the Bay of Saline to the north-west; but also the branched and complicated inlet overlooked by Valletta and the surrounding centers is probably the result of the confluence of several valleys, submerged in the terminal parts. The aforementioned St. Paul’s Bay, continued by the valley of the same name, almost entirely separates a northern appendage from the main island, indented to the east by another deep gulf (Bay of Melleha) and also affected by inlets to the west. In the southern part of the island opens the large bosom called Marsa Scirocco, which had considerable importance as a port, before the new port of Valletta took over. Gozo has less indented coasts; some inlets have a similar origin to those of the major island, that is, they represent the extremity of submerged valleys, or even cavities of other species (Cala Dueira is perhaps a drowned sinkhole), but they are all short and narrow; the best landing place is Cala del Migiarro to the south. The relief of Gozo is even more dismembered by furrows, which isolate flat-topped hills similar to both. The prevalence of very cracked limestone soils determines in both islands a notable development of karst phenomena: carriageway fields, sinkholes, cracks widened by mechanical-chemical erosion, and also caves. Therefore, the underground circulation of the waters is remarkable, which infiltrates the limestones, but these are frequently interspersed with marl and impermeable clays and in contact with these there are springs, scattered throughout the greater island and wisely used. A very rich aquifer is found almost at sea level; the waters are raised by means of pumps and are used, together with those of the most important springs, to water the major inhabited centers. The deep superficial valleys bring water only rarely, in the rainy season; the largest in Malta are those of Curmi, which flows into the innermost part of the Valletta inlet, and of Ghasel, which ends in the Bay of Saline.
Climate. – The climate is characterized by very mild winters (averages of the coldest months, January and February, in Valletta 11 °, 7) and summers that are not excessively hot (averages of July and August 25 °); the minimum winter temperatures do not drop below 3 ° and therefore snow and frost are unknown. Summer highs now reach 35 °, very rarely 40 °; the most painful periods correspond to the blowing of the sirocco, hot and humid, which is frequent in August and September. On the other hand, feared, especially in winter, is the north-east wind that disturbs the navigation of sailing ships, and sometimes also damages the ships anchored in the port. The rainfall is just over 500 mm. in Malta, and in Gozo it is even smaller; about four-fifths of the rainfall falls between October and February, while from May to the end of August there is almost absolute drought (Valletta: annual average 504 mm. 391 of which from October to February, in 56 rainy days out of a total of 77). Thunderstorms with hail are not uncommon.