Malta History

Malta History


Archaeological finds indicate that the island of Malta was already settled in the Neolithic period. Around 5000 BC immigrants from southern Italy probably came to the island, remnants of the megalithic culture they built can still be seen today. From 1000 BC the island’s natural harbors were used as bases by Phoenician seafarers. The Greeks followed around 300 years later, in the 6th century the island belonged to the Carthaginian Empire. As a result of the Second Punic War (218-201 BC) the island fell into the hands of the Romans, who called it “Melita” (honey island).

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After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD Malta fell to the Byzantine Empire. Around 40 years later, during the migration of the peoples, the Ostrogoths conquered the island, then the Germanic vandals, from 533 it belonged to the Byzantine Empire. In the 9th century, Malta was occupied by Muslim Arabs who were exposed by the Normans around 1091. Malta became part of the Kingdom of Sicily, which was later expanded to include southern Italy.

Middle ages

In the Middle Ages, the Staufer (from 1194), the French house Anjou (from 1268), the Spanish Aragon (from 1284) and the Spanish line of the Habsburgs (from 1412) successively ruled the Mediterranean island. In 1530, the Habsburg Charles V gave the island of Malta to the spiritual order of knights of the Johanniter, who had been exposed from the island of Rhodes by the Turks, as a fief. This changed its name to the Order of Malta and subsequently successfully repeated several attacks by the Ottoman Empire on the island as the southernmost bastion of European Christianity. According to AbbreviationFinder, after the Ottoman army had to withdraw without success after a four-month siege in 1565, the entire island was expanded like a fortress; Valetta replaced Mdina as the capital in 1571.

Modern times

In 1789, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the island as part of his Egypt campaign, the religious state was dissolved, his followers left the island.

In September 1800, the British occupied Malta under the leadership of Admiral Lord Nelson. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the island became the crown colony of Great Britain. As in previous centuries, Malta was of great strategic importance for its British occupiers. They developed the island into their most important naval base in the Mediterranean. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Malta became an important stopover on the new sea route to India, the most valuable British colony.

In both world wars in the 20th century, the island served the Allied forces as an important base and base for their troops. In 1941, around 1,500 Maltese died as a result of German bombing and the consequences of the German blockade on the island. For their persistent resistance to the German attacks, the Maltese was awarded the British George Cross (George Cross), the image of which was later included in the state flag.

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Independent state

On the island itself, the call for independence from the British motherland grew louder. In 1921 Great Britain temporarily granted limited internal self-government, which was repeatedly suspended. Only after the end of World War II was Malta granted full internal autonomy, and in 1964 the country was released as a constitutional monarchy under the British Commonwealth. Georgio Borg Olivier became the country’s first prime minister and thus head of government from the conservative-liberal Nationalist Party (NP). Britain continued to maintain a naval base on the island, and the government of Malta received substantial financial assistance in return.

The Labor Party in Malta came to power in 1971 and was the dominant political force until 1987. Prime Minister Dom Mintoff (until 1984), who sought close contact with the Soviet Union and Libya, ruled as an autocrat. In 1974, Malta became a parliamentary republic through a new constitution. The British military presence on the island ended in 1979. Mintoff’s successor, Labor MP Carmelo Mifus Bonnici, continued his course of disempowering the Catholic Church in Malta, and in 1983 the church’s property was expropriated.

In the same year, a treaty was ratified in Italy guaranteeing Maltese neutrality. In 1987 the country’s non-alignment and neutrality were laid down in the constitution. The dominance of the Labor Party, the more western-oriented Nationalist Party (NP), which had campaigned for an end to the “cultural war” against the Church, ended in the same year, won the parliamentary elections and appointed Edward Fenech Adami as the new Prime Minister.

In 1990 Malta submitted the formal application for admission to the European Community (EC), which was approved in principle three years later. However, the socialist Labor Party, which came back to power in October 1996, withdrew Malta’s EC application for membership and at the same time declared the country’s withdrawal from the NATO program “Partnership for Peace” in order to maintain the country’s declared neutrality. In 1998 as in 2003, the Nationalist Party again won the parliamentary elections and the government once again formulated accession to the European Union (EU) as the most important foreign policy goal. After the population of Malta agreed to join the EU, Malta became an EU member country on May 1, 2004 along with ten other candidates.Since January 1, 2008, the euro has been the official currency of Malta.

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