Malta's History

Malta's position, close to the near major Mediterranean shipping routes has resulted in the islands key role in history. The island's megalithic temples that date from 3800 BC. The Phoenicians colonised the islands around 800 BC and stayed for about 600 years. The Romans took the islands into their empire in 208 BC. St.Paul was shipwrecked on Malta in 60 AD.

Arabs arrived from North Africa in 870 until displaced by the Normans in 1090, and for the next 400 years Malta remained under their control. In 1530 the Emperor of Spain ceded to the Knights of the Order of St John. Malta is perhaps most famous for two great sieges. The first great siege took place in 1565 when 30,000 Turks were kept at bay by 700 knights and 8000 Maltese. For their heroic defence the knights were awarded a new city, Valletta.

In 1798 Napoleon arrived. The British began their long involvement with the islands when they assisted the Maltese to defeat the French, a blockade masterminded by Lord Nelson, and then colonised the islands.

Britain turned Malta into a major naval base, and it is to celebrate this role, the heroic defence and the islands sacrifice in World War II that our project is making its commemoration. After a long blockade and five months of non-stop bombing raids, Malta was devastated.

After the war Malta set on the route towards independence, achieving complete autonomy in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. In recent decades, the Maltese have achieved great success particularly in its tourism and the islands are currently in the process of application for membership of the European Union.



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