Malta becomes an independent nation - at last!
Maltese castle (Copyright: Getty Images)
In September 1964 Malta became independent of the UK. This little country in the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of only 400,000, had been a colony for centuries. Due to its strategic importance in the old days, it had been occupied by the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Sicilians, the French, the British and others for most of its history. Now it is free, it has joined the EU, and is a beautiful and relaxing place for tourists to visit.
Malta consists of seven islands, but only two of them - Malta itself and Gozo – are large. Like two other countries which are not very large – Belgium and Ireland – Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. Like Frenchmen and Italians, most Maltese are Roman Catholics. And like Australia, Brazil and the USA, the country’s capital (Valletta) is not its largest city, which is Birkirkara.
Balconies on traditional houses in Valetta (Copyright: Getty Images)
With 1,300 people per square kilometre, Malta is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, and the contrast with Norway, where just over 12 people share the same space, is enormous. But there are similarities with Norway, too. Healthcare and education are very advanced, and there is hardly anybody who cannot read and write.
Finally, if you write to anyone in Malta, you should write the country’s name as “Malta, G.C.”. “G.C.” stands for “George Cross”, a British medal which is not given to many people. It has been given only once to a country, when King George VI gave it to Malta during the Second World War to reward the little nation for the courage it had shown.
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History of Malta
Guide to Malta