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About Malta

Malta – the very name conjures up thoughts of St George’s Cross and enough historical sights to keep you busy for a month. But there’s so much more to this little beauty than a fascinating past. These days you’re just as likely to hear about its film locations and nightlife as you are its history and culture. The Hollywood swords ‘n’ sandals epics Troy, Gladiator and Alexander were all filmed on the island’s sunny shores. And world famous DJs are flocking here to spin some discs at the up-and-coming hotspots. But though Malta’s image is changing fast, its breathtaking beauty remains one of the key things that draws people back year after year. Wherever you go, the island’s eye-popping scenery provides a sigh-inducing backdrop. And as for all that history, with so much of the past still visible today, there’s no wonder it’s known as an open-air museum. Travel back in time to discover Malta’s mysterious prehistory. Retrace the footsteps of St Paul. Or see where the Knights of St John defended Christendom. But Malta is no regular museum. Here life is lived to the full, so be prepared to get stuck into the Mediterranean way of life. Throw yourself into carnivals and make the most of the island’s packed calendar of events. If you’re looking for a destination that offers more than just a suntan, Malta’s a first class choice.

History

Malta is steeped in a rich history spanning thousands of years. Throughout its varied history, Malta’s location has given it a great strategic importance and a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Fatimids, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and the British have all ruled the Islands. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974 whilst retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.

There are only two remaining WW11 100-ton guns left and one is right here in Malta with the other in Gibraltar.

The Great Siege of Malta took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island. The Knights won the siege, one of the bloodiest and most fiercely contested in history and one which became one of the most celebrated events in sixteenth century Europe. The Siege was the climax of an escalating contest between a Christian alliance and the Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean.

Malta has been inhabited since it was settled around 5200BC from the Italian island of Sicily. Later came the arrival of the Phoenicians and the Greeks who named the island, Melite meaning ‘sweet honey’ in reference to Malta’s endemic variety of bee.

Independence and EU Accession

Malta suffered heavy attacks by German and Italian aircraft during World War II, but was never invaded by the Axis powers. It became an independent nation on Sept. 21, 1964, and a republic on Dec. 13, 1974, but it remained in the British Commonwealth. In 1979, when its alliance with Great Britain ended, Malta sought to guarantee its neutrality through agreements with other countries. Although Malta applied for membership in the European Union, the Labour Party, after winning the election in Oct. 1996, froze Malta’s EU application and withdrew from the NATO Partnership for Peace program in an effort to maintain its neutrality. When the Nationalist Party won the Sept. 1998 elections, however, it revived the EU accession bid, and in May 2004 Malta joined the EU. In July 2005, Malta ratified the proposed EU constitution. The ruling Nationalist Party was narrowly re-elected in March 2008, ensuring Gonzi a second term as prime minister.

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