Malta, the island republic in the Mediterranean

30 April 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Valletta - Grand Harbour © Henry M. Trotter

Valletta – Grand Harbour © Henry M. Trotter

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, 80 km (50 mi) south of Sicily, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya, with Gibraltar 1,755 km (1,091 mi) to the west and Alexandria 1,508 km (937 mi) to the east. Malta covers just over 316 km2 (122 sq mi) in land area, making it one of the world’s smallest states. It is also one of the most densely populated countries worldwide. The de facto capital city of Malta is Valletta; the largest town, Birkirkara. The main island comprises many towns, which together form one Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) with a population of 368,250 according to Eurostat. The country has two official languages, Maltese (considered the national language) and English.   read more…

The Mediterranean island of Sardinia

7 January 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Sardinia Montage © GaiusCrastinus

Sardinia Montage © GaiusCrastinus

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus). It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands. To the west of Sardinia is the Balearic Sea, a unit of the Mediterranean Sea; to Sardinia’s east is the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is also an element of the Mediterranean Sea. The coasts of Sardinia (1,849 km long) are generally high and rocky, with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline, many outstanding headlands, a few wide, deep bays, rias, many inlets and with various smaller islands off the coast.   read more…

Alicante on the Costa Blanca

20 December 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Harbour with Castle of Santa Bárbara © flickr.com - Juan J. Martínez" title="Harbour with Castle of Santa Bárbara © flickr.com - Juan J. Martínez

Harbour with Castle of Santa Bárbara © flickr.com – Juan J. Martínez” title=”Harbour with Castle of Santa Bárbara © flickr.com – Juan J. Martínez

Alicante is a city in Spain, the capital of the Province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port. The population of the city of Alicante proper was 334,418, estimated as of 2010, ranking as the second-largest Valencian city. Including nearby municipalities, Alicante conurbation was populated by 458,843 residents. Population of the metropolitan area (including Elche and satellite towns) was 769,284 as of 2010 estimates, ranking as the eighth-largest metropolitan area of Spain.   read more…

Spain’s autonomous city of Ceuta

18 November 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Ceuta map © Omar-Toons

Ceuta map © Omar-Toons

Ceuta is a 18.5 square kilometres (7.1 sq mi) autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish exclave Melilla are the only Spanish territories located in mainland Africa. It was regarded as a part of Cadiz province prior to 14 March 1995, when the city’s Statute of Autonomy was passed. Ceuta (like Melilla) was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2008 it has a population of 75,276. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims (chiefly Moroccan Arabic speakers), and small minorities of Jews and Hindus. Spanish is the official language. Ceuta (and Melilla) have declared the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice, as an official public holiday from 2010 onwards. It is the first time a non-Christian religious festival is officially celebrated in Spain since the Reconquista.   read more…

The Camargue

3 November 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

Camargue map © ChrisO

Camargue map © ChrisO

The Camargue is the region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. The eastern arm is called the Grand Rhône; the western one is the Petit Rhône. Administratively it lies within the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, the appropriately named “Mouths of the Rhône”, and covers parts of the territory of the communes of Arles – the largest commune in Metropolitan France, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – the second largest – and Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. A further expanse of marshy plain, the Petite Camargue (little Camargue), just to the west of the Petit Rhône, is in the département of Gard. Camargue was designated a Ramsar site as a “Wetland of International Importance” on December 1, 1986.   read more…

Montpellier, capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region

25 October 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Rue Foch with triumphal arch Peyrou © Jonas Lange

Rue Foch with triumphal arch Peyrou © Jonas Lange

Montpellier is a city in southern France. It is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, as well as the Hérault department. Montpellier is the 8th largest city of the country, and is also the fastest growing city in France over the past 25 years. Montpellier is one of the few large cities in France without a (Gallo-)Roman background and one of the few cities in southern France without a Greek background.   read more…

The Republic of Cyprus

26 September 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Kykkos Monastery © www.moi.gov.cy

Kykkos Monastery © www.moi.gov.cy

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is a Eurasian island country in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of its most popular tourist destinations. An advanced, high-income economy with a very high Human Development Index, the Republic of Cyprus was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.   read more…

The Greek island of Corfu

6 September 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Corfu City citadel © Stefanos Kozanis

Corfu City citadel © Stefanos Kozanis

Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands. The island is part of the Corfu peripheral unit, and is administrated as a single municipality. The municipality includes the island Corfu and the smaller islands Ereikoussa, Mathraki and Othonoi. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality (pop. 33,886) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University. The island is connected to the history of Greece from the beginning of Greek mythology. Its Greek name, Kerkyra or Korkyra, is related to two powerful water symbols: Poseidon, god of the sea, and Asopos, an important Greek mainland river. According to myth, Poseidon fell in love with the beautiful nymph Korkyra, daughter of Asopus and river nymph Metope, and abducted her. Poseidon brought Korkyra to the hitherto unnamed island and, in marital bliss, offered her name to the place: Korkyra, which gradually evolved to Kerkyra (Doric). Together, they had a child they called Phaiax, after whom the inhabitants of the island were named: Phaiakes. This term was transliterated via Latin to Phaeacians.   read more…

Theme Week Balearic Islands – Majorca

23 July 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Building of the Consell Insular - Palma de Mallorca © Olaf Tausch

Building of the Consell Insular – Palma de Mallorca © Olaf Tausch

Majorca is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the Balearic Islands. It is the largest by area and second most populated island of Spain (after Tenerife in the Canary Islands). The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Cabrera Archipelago is administratively grouped with Majorca (in the municipality of Palma). Like the other Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Minorca, the island is a highly popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Scandinavian countries.   read more…

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