Filfla is a small, mostly barren, uninhabited islet 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) south of Malta , and is the most southerly point of the Maltese Archipelago . Filflu (or filfluu ), a small rocky islet some 102 meters (335 feet) southwest of Filfla, [1] has the southernmost point of Malta. The name is believed to come from felfel , the Arabic for a peppercorn . [2]


Filfla has an area of ​​just 6 hectares (15 acres) and is a crumbling flat-topped limestone plateau surrounded by 60 meters (197 feet) high cliffs. Three species of seabirds breed on the islet: the European storm petrel (with an estimated 5000 – 8000 pairs), Cory’s shearwater (c 200 peers) and yellow-legged gull (c 130 peers). The Bird has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International , mainly because of the storm petrel colony. [3] A kind of wall lizard ( Podarcis filfolensis ssp. Filfolensis ) and door snail (Lampedusa imitatrix gattoi ) are endemic to Filfla. A large wild leek, growing up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high, also occurs. Access to Filfla is only available for the environment and planning authority . [4]


The island of Filfla was sacred to the neolithic inhabitants of Malta, who built the temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra on the Maltese coast opposite the islet. [4] The Ħamrija Tower , one of 13 watchtowers that Martin de Redin built around the coast of Malta, a memorial to Walter Norris Congreve , one of Malta’s British governors , who was buried in the channel between Filfla and Malta Filfla facing Malta.

The only known permanent structure on the island was a chapel built inside a cave in 1343, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1856 that also sank part of the island. A map of Malta dating back to 1798 shows in a fort, a lighthouse and a monastery with a chapel on Filfla. [5]

Until 1971 the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force used the island for target practice, and spent cartridges from these bombings can still be found on Filfla today. [4] It became a bird reserve in 1980. The Filfla Natural Reserve Act , enacted in 1988, provided for further restrictions on access and use, including a prohibition on fishing on a nautical mile (1.9 km) around the island due to the possibility of encountering unexploded ordnance . [2]

Maltese Government notice 173 of 1990 once again allowed fishing within the one mile area. [6]

Filfla Was Invoked in a territorial row over the continental shelf entre Libya and Malta. The case was adjudicated by the International Court of Justice in 1985, essentially by ignoring the islet from the calculations. [7] [8]

See also

  • Endemic Maltese wildlife
  • Libya-Malta relations


  1. Jump up^ “Topography and Flora of the Satellite Islets Surrounding the Maltese Archipelago”- Arnold Sciberras, Jeffrey Sciberras, 2010
  2. ^ Jump up to:b Morana, Martin (2011). Bejn Kliem and Storja (in Maltese). Malta : Books Distributors Limited. ISBN  978-99957-0137-6 . Archived from the original on 20 October 2016.
  3. Jump up^ “Filfla Islet” . Important Bird Areas factsheet . BirdLife International. 2013. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007 . Retrieved 2013-08-07 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:c “An island cemetery for bombs is qui no one can set foot” . TVM . 6 January 2016. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016.
  5. Jump up^ Dalli, Kim (28 April 2015). ” ‘ Napoleon’ map gives a tantalizing clue to the past” . Times of Malta . Retrieved April 29, 2015 .
  6. Jump up^
  7. Jump up^ Hance D. Smith (1991). The Development of Integrated Sea Use Management . Taylor & Francis. p. 82. ISBN  978-0-415-03816-4 .

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