The Republic of Malta (in Maltese: Repubblika ta
'Malta, in English: Republic of Malta) is an island country that is
a member of the European Union, densely populated, composed of an
archipelago and located in the center of the Mediterranean, in the
south of Italy, to the east of Tunisia and north of Libya. Due to
its strategic location, it has been governed and contested by
various powers over the centuries. Since 1964 he is independent and
in 2004 he joined the European Union. In 2011 it had a population of
452 215 inhabitants with a distribution of 1431 inhabitants / km²,
the highest population density among the countries of the European
The origin of the word Malta is uncertain. The
most accepted etymology is that according to which comes from the
Greek word μέλι (meli, 'honey'). The Greeks called the island Μελίτη
(Melite), which meant 'sweet as honey', probably due to the quality
of the honey produced by the bees of the archipelago. In fact, in
Malta there are endemic species of these insects, which is why it is
called "land of honey." The Romans continued calling it Melita,
latinization of Μελίτη. Another etymology has as reference the word
Phoenician Maleth, which means 'refuge', due to the large number of
bays and inlets on the island's coastline.
Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni located on the island of
Malta is the only known underground prehistoric temple.
Malta, located in the center of the sea routes
from Europe to Asia and Africa, has long attracted conquerors. In
the VIII century BC. e. Malta began to colonize the Phoenicians and
almost simultaneously - the Greeks. From the 4th century BC e.
according to the 13th century e. it was alternately captured by the
Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantium, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards.
In 1530, Emperor Charles V granted Malta the ecclesiastical order of
St. John, which has since received the name of the Order of Malta.
In 1798, Malta was captured by the French army under the command of
Napoleon Bonaparte, heading to Egypt. Napoleon abolished the power
of the order on the island. On December 16 (27), 1798, the Russian
Emperor Paul I was elected the Grand Master of the Order of Malta.
The emperor issued a decree on the adoption of the island of Malta
under the protection of Russia. In the calendar of the Academy of
Sciences, at the direction of the emperor, the island of Malta was
to be designated "The Province of the Russian Empire." Paul I wanted
to make the title of grandmaster hereditary, and Malta to annex to
Russia. On the island, the emperor planned to create a naval base to
ensure the interests of the Russian Empire in the Mediterranean Sea
and in southern Europe. On September 5, 1800, the British, in turn,
occupied Valletta, the capital of Malta, with their troops and
raised the British flag there. The military governor of the island
was Alexander Ball. After the assassination of Paul I, his son
refused claims to the island. Under the terms of the Paris world of
1814, Malta withdrew to Great Britain. The British turned it into
their colony and naval base.
The defense of Malta from June 1940 to December 1942, thanks to the
important strategic location of the island, became one of the
significant episodes in the victory of the Allied forces over the
Axis powers in the Mediterranean theater of operations. On April 15,
1942, King George VI awarded the St. George Cross (the highest
civilian award for valor) "Malta's fortress island - its people and
On September 21, 1964, Great Britain granted Malta independence
within the framework of the British Commonwealth. The British Queen
was still considered the head of state, the British Governor General
remained in the country, British laws were in force. The UK has
concluded an agreement with Malta on "mutual defense of Malta",
which secured the deployment of British troops on the archipelago
for a period of 10 years. The naval and air bases of Great Britain,
which were used by the NATO command, continued to function in Malta.
July 19, 1967 established diplomatic relations with the USSR. In
1971, the Labor government came to power in Malta, which denounced
the Anglo-Maltese agreement of 1964 and limited the presence of
foreign troops in the country. December 31, 1974 in Malta proclaimed
a republic led by the president and unicameral parliament. In March
1979, the Anglo-Maltese treaty expired on the use by Britain and
NATO of military bases on the archipelago. The Government of Malta
refused to renew this agreement for a new term. On March 31, 1979,
the last British naval base was liquidated in Malta and the last
British troops were withdrawn.