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
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.