Malta Facts

Malta Facts and History


Malta – the small island nation in the Mediterranean

Malta, the small island state between Sicily and Africa, is a special attraction for tourists in various ways. Unique in Europe are the numerous prehistoric temples on Malta and Gozo, some of which are over 5,000 years old it was organized matriarchally. The country has been strictly Catholic since the times of the religious knights.

The Maltese extreme enthusiasm for fireworks is related to the great traditional festivals. There are over 30 fireworks factories on the islands today. After all, tons of fireworks are blown up at the annual fireworks festival in Grand Harbor.

The country is also known as one of the most popular film and television sets in the world, doubling locations from all over the world. Films such as Troy, Gladiator and Popeye were shot in Malta.

On May 1, 2004, the island nation in the Mediterranean became a member of the EU.

Name of the country Republic of Malta (“Repubblika ta ‘Malta”)
Form of government Parliamentary republic
Head of state President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca (since April 4, 2014)
Geographical location In the Mediterranean, south of Sicily
National anthem L-Innu Malti
Population approx. 434,000 (Credit: Countryaah: Malta Population)
Ethnicities Maltese
Religions approx. 97% Catholic Christians (state religion)
Languages Maltese (Malti) and English are the official languages.Italian is also spoken among other things.
Capital Valletta
Surface approx. 316 kmĀ²
Highest mountain Ta ‘Dmejrek (Dingli Cliffs) with a height of 253 m
Longest river There are no rivers in Malta.
Largest lake There are no lakes to speak of in Malta.
International license plate M.
National currency 1 euro = 100 cents
Time difference to CET = CET
International phone code 00356
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts, 50 hertz (three-pin plug)
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .mt

Malta: history

Before the year 1000

Malta was originally part of the seabed, as evidenced by marine fossils that can be found all over the islands and that also explains why the country’s soil consists mainly of coral and globular limestone. The islands probably rose up because the continents of Europe and Africa were converging. This happened between 25 and 5 million years ago.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, finds in the “Ghar Dalam” cave show that there was a land connection between Malta and Sicily during the Ice Age. A connection to the African continent is also suspected on the basis of the bones found in pygmy elephants and pygmy hippos, but this has not been sufficiently proven.

The oldest traces of human habitation discovered to date in Malta are around 7,200 years old. These were members of the Stentinello culture who had immigrated from Sicily. From the Neolithic Age (4600 to 2500 BC) the remains of the residential complex of Skorba were found, ceramics (today in the National Museum of Archeology), the grave caves at Xemxija and Zebbug (approx. 4100 BC), which from approx. 3600 BC Built temples of Ta’Hagrat, Skorba, Mnaidra and Tarxien and the temples from the Tarxien phase from 2800 BC. BC: Tarxien, Ggantija, Hagar Qim and Mnaidra as well as the lower floors of the hypogeum. Around 2500 BC BC this megalithic culture disappeared for reasons that have not yet been clarified.

From 2000 BC BC the Bronze Age settlement of the archipelago took place, probably again from Sicily. Until about 1000 BC Among other things, the forts of Borg in-Nadur, dolmen graves and the unexplained “cart and grinding marks”, which were found particularly on the rocky south coast of Malta, were created.

Around 900 BC Malta became a Phoenician trading colony. The Phoenicians, a seafaring people from today’s Lebanon, gave the main island the name “Malet”, from which the current name was later derived. A few centuries later, the Punians took over the island base from the Phoenician daughter city of Carthage.

In the second Punic War in 218 BC Carthage was defeated by the Romans, who then also occupied Malta.

According to the account of the Evangelist Luke, the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on the coast of Malta in AD 60 on his journey to Rome and then began converting the Maltese people to Christianity. In the 2nd century, under Emperor Hadrian, the first large early Christian catacombs were built.

After brief conquest by Vandals and Goths, Malta fell to Byzantium at the end of the 4th century, whose rule was secured in 533 under Emperor Justinian (527-65) by the general Belisarius.

In the 9th century, the islands were conquered from North Africa by the Arab Aghlabids, who also advanced into Sicily at the same time. They created an artificial irrigation system on Malta and thus enabled agricultural cultivation. They also had a lasting influence on the Maltese language.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

The Norman Count Roger drove the Arabs out of Sicily and, in 1090, also to Malta and Gozo. Its heraldic colors red and white have since formed the national flag of Malta. This was followed by the rule of the Hohenstaufers from 1194, the House of Anjou from 1268, the Aragonians from 1272 and Castile from 1416.

Towards the end of the 14th century, Turks and Christians began to fight for supremacy in the west of the Mediterranean area.

In 1530 Charles V gave Malta, Gozo and Tripoli as “perpetual fiefs” to the Knightly Order of St. John, who had been driven out of the Holy Land in 1291 and now also from Rhodes, and who then renamed himself the Order of Malta. However, as early as 1551 the Maltese lost Tripoli to the Turks.

After the Turkish allies Barbarossa and his successor Dragut plundered and devastated the islands several times, with Gozo almost depopulated, the order succeeded in building a complete system of fortifications by the middle of the 16th century. In 1565 the Turks failed in the “Great Siege” of Valletta and their advance into the western Mediterranean was stopped. In the following years the order operated piracy against the “infidels”.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

Between 1741 and 1773, Grand Master Manoel Pinto de Fonseca’s pompousness led the order into a financial crisis. The Maltese clergy reacted to its growing tax demands on the population in 1775 with the “conspiracy of the priests”, which was discovered prematurely and suppressed by mass executions.

In 1789 Napoleon landed with his fleet on Malta and the Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch had to surrender. The order found exile at the Tsar’s court in St. Petersburg. Shortly thereafter, the Maltese population revolted against the French occupiers. Britain intervened after a two-year blockade and occupied the island in 1800.

Malta became a British crown colony in 1814/15 and later served as a military base during the First World War. In 1869 the Suez Canal was opened, which further increased the island’s strategic importance. The English secured the east coast at Marsaxlokk towards the end of the 19th century with underground concrete fortifications.

In the 20th century

In 1919 British soldiers shot dead four Maltese in a popular uprising. In 1921 Malta was granted internal self-government by a parliament with limited powers.

During the Second World War, Malta served the Allies primarily as an air base. As a result, it suffered severe damage from Italian and German air raids. Most of the bombs in this war fell on Malta by area. The island was also temporarily cut off from all supply transports. In 1942, Malta received the George Cross, which has been on the national flag since then.

On September 21, 1964, Malta gained independence with the British Queen as head of state.

In 1974 the Republic of Malta was declared. The government signed a friendship pact with Libya and canceled the troop stationing agreement with Great Britain. Under Prime Minister Dom Mintoff there was a phase of distancing the country from the Western powers, but he had to resign in 1984 after unrest and a dramatically deteriorated economic situation.

In 1987 the Christian Democratic Nationalist Party won the elections.

On May 1, 2004, Malta became a member of the European Union. It is the smallest EU country.

Malta Facts