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History of Malta

It is difficult to find it in a map, but it’s there. Malta, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, also called a ‘Diamond’ because of the historical richness one can find in every angle of these small islands; Malta, Gozo, Comino and some small islands. It would be ideally to give a short story from the beginning of the human settlement on these islands.

We’ll have to go back 5000 years... and confirmation of this, are the oldest megalithic temples in the whole world. These types of temples can be found in many places such as Ggantija, Hagar Qim, Tarxien and Mnajdra. It is most known that the first settlers on this island came from Sicily, another island just 100Km to the north of Malta, making part of the Italian republic.

Time passed by, and the Maltese islands began to see many conquistadors, beginning with the Phoenicians at about 800BC, to the Romans in about 218BC until the fifth century. As it is well known all over the world the Roman empire won almost all Europe, the Middle East and down to Africa. During their occupation in Malta the Romans built some fortifications the old capital city Medina, and developed port facilities. During this period Cicero - the Roman emperor - planned to visit Malta, although this dream never came true. The most influential visitor during these époque was obviously that of Saint Paul, who shipwrecked on the island in 60AD while directed to Rome; *further detail can be achieved from the Bible. From this event it is said that Malta received its Roman Catholic baptism, until to date.

After this long time the Arabs came to rule Malta. This time was critical for its citizens, for one can still notice that the Arabs influenced a lot our language, and today one can notice the big influence of Arabic words, although Italian and English are widely spoken. Then, in a millennium time, Normans and the Spanish came by to enter the scenario of these islands, as conquistadors.

Now, 300 years have passed, and Malta was facing a stately decision. This was when the Emperor and King of Spain Karl V gave the Maltese islands to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in 1530, for a yearly rent of a Maltese falcon. In those days, the falcon was given to people of a higher rank.

In the beginning both sides were unhappy with the situation. The King didn’t want to be responsible for this island, while the knights were coming from a long spell. The Knights, under Grand Master L’Isle Adam, commissioned a report about the situation of the island, and the results were all in the negative. Only one thing was positive; Malta had excellent natural ports.

But things changed drastically under the knights of Saint John. Malta had individual attention. The Knights bought some standards for that time. They began building fortresses, bastions and later in years, a city. They were good corsairs and used to capture Muslim pirates for money and as slaves. This used to be the main income for the knights. The greatest event was the 1565 siege against the Muslim empire; a total religious war which gave the biggest defeat to the Ottoman Empire. The greatest mark left was the building of the city of Valletta, who brought the name of the same Grand Master who built it – Jean de La Vallette.

Every beginning has an end. So was for the Knights, whom after 270 years in charge, were expelled by Napoleon, whom just ruled the island for two years. This French negative experience was attributed because of the way they treated the Maltese people. In the beginning, they helped financially, but later in time, they started to use the island just for their exclusive economic reasons. The Maltese people rebelled, chasing the French soldiers in their bastions. A rebellion plot also took place, leaving many Maltese fellows shot by the foreign soldiers.

The English came by, under Sir Alexander Ball in 1800. He gave a re-birth to the island in its status, economy and status. The English naval were tugged in our harbor, and fought World War I and II with the Maltese people, whom were awarded the George Cross for their bravery during the last war. In 1964, Malta conquest it’s Independence, as a great step towards total freedom, which was awarded in 1979.

* The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 28

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