The Mediterranean Sea covers an area of 970,000 square miles and is almost landlocked by Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and Western Asia. The sea connects to the Atlantic Ocean and has long provided an important route for trade throughout the area. The Mediterranean Sea is home to over 3,300 islands, of which only two are independent nations: Cyprus and Malta. These countries are often referred to as the Mediterranean States.
Cyprus is a country situated between Turkey and Egypt, bordered by Greece to the northwest and Syria and Lebanon to the east. The country covers an area of 3,572 square miles, making it the third largest island in the Mediterranean. It has a population size of approximately 1.17 million, who are either residents of the Republic of Cyprus or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This separation between residents dates back to the 1950s, when Turkish Cypriot created its own state and began a movement aimed at annexing Cyprus to Turkey. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot population fought for a union with Greece. In response to political instability and violence, Cyprus became an independent nation in 1960.
The island nation is primarily composed of two geographic formations: mountains and plains. Two mountain ranges, the Kyrenia and the Troodos, come together on one end and form the Mesaoria plain between them. This plain extends to the country's western coastline. The waterways that cross this plain originate in the two mountain ranges and flow into the Pedieos River, which is the longest in Cyprus. Most waterways here are seasonal, which means they only have water at certain times of the year. In fact, residents of Cyprus are frequently faced with water shortages.
Malta is a country located just 50 miles south of Italy, bordered by Tunisia to the west and Libya to the south. The country covers a total area of 122 square miles and has a population size of approximately 445,426. This population size is considered fairly large relative to the country's area, which makes Malta one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The majority of this population identifies as native Maltese, although small minority groups are also present. Throughout history, Malta has served as a strategic military base for several cultures in the larger Mediterranean area.
Malta is made up of at least 21 islands, making it an archipelago. Of these islands, only 3 are inhabited: Gozo, Comino, and Malta. The majority of the land area of Malta is made up of the Malta Plateau, which has a number of low elevation hills. In fact, the highest altitude in the country is only 830 feet above sea level, which occurs at Ta’ Dmejrek, near the town of Dingli. Like Cyprus, residents of Malta experience freshwater shortages given the lack of water on the islands. Researchers and residents report that the islands do not contain any permanent source of water and that only a few waterways are available during the rainy season.