History of Malta

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Malta has been inhabited since it was settled around 5200 BC from the Italian island of Sicily.[1] Later came the arrival of the Phoenicians and the Greeks who named the island Μελίτη (Melite) meaning "honey sweet" in reference to Malta's endemic variety of bee. The island was known as 𐤈𐤄𐤋𐤀𐤌 Maleth meaning 'safe-haven', by the Phoenicians.


Abbreviated Timeline

  • about 5200 BCE: First settlers arrive on Malta, from the island of Sicily.[1]
  • about 3600 BCE to about 2500 BCE: The Temple building period starts, construction of the world's oldest free standing buildings at Ġgantija Gozo, of the Mnajdra solar temple complex on Malta and several others.
  • Circa 700 BCE: A Greek colony is founded on the main island.
  • Circa 800-480: Phoenician colonization.
  • 480 BCE: The Maltese Islands come under the control of Carthage.
  • 218 BCE: Malta is incorporated into the Roman Republic.
  • 60: Saint Paul is shipwrecked on an island identified by many Bible scholars as Malta.
  • 395: Byzantine domination of Malta, following the final division of the Roman Empire.
  • 870: The Aghlabid Arabs conquer Malta.
  • 1091: Count Roger I of Sicily establishes Norman rule over Malta.
  • 1127: Norman control over Malta is consolidated under Roger II of Sicily.
  • 1194–1266: Malta and Sicily are ruled by the Swabians (House of Hohenstaufen), who establish the County of Malta whereby Counts rule Malta with some degree of autonomy.[2]
  • 1224: Expulsion of all remaining Muslims in Malta and Sicily.[3]
  • 1266–1283: The Angevins rule Malta and Sicily.
  • 1283–1530: The Crown of Aragon rules Malta and Sicily.
  • 1397: Establishment of the Università, a form of government composed of local aristocrats.
  • 1427: King Alfonso incorporates Malta to the Crown of Aragon (Kingdom of Sicily), abolishes the County of Malta, and promises never to grant Malta as a fief to any third party.
  • 1530: In an effort to protect Rome from Turkish invasion, the then King of Sicily Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor grants the Maltese Islands to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in perpetual fief, ending four centuries as part of the Kingdom of Sicily.
  • 1565: The siege by the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1566: The founding of Malta's new capital city, Valletta. A general strengthening of Malta's fortifications is undertaken.
  • 1798: Napoleon conquers Malta.
  • 1799: The Maltese revolt against the French. Britain takes Malta under its protection, in the name of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
  • 1802: The Peace of Amiens, mandates that Britain return Malta to the Knights of St John, but Britain chooses not to comply.
  • 1814: Under the Treaty of Paris, subsequently ratified by the Congress of Vienna, Malta becomes a British Crown Colony.
  • 1853–1856: During the Crimean War, Malta serves as a hospital base for wounded combatants, and acquires the nickname Nurse of the Mediterranean.
  • 1914–1918: Throughout World War I, Malta resumes its role as the Nurse of the Mediterranean as the British ship many casualties to hospitals in Malta, especially following the failed Gallipoli campaign.
  • 1919: Sette Giugno protests over increases in the price of bread. British soldiers fire on the crowd and kill four Maltese protesters during a violent riot instigated by students. The protests lead to greater autonomy for the Maltese.
  • 1934: English and Maltese are declared the sole official languages of Malta, to the exclusion of Italian.
  • 1935–1939: Benito Mussolini announces his intention to annex Malta to Italy, as part of the larger Mare Nostrum campaign for Italian dominance in the Mediterranean.
  • 1940: Italy declares war on France and the United Kingdom.
  • 1942: King George VI awards the George Cross to Malta so as to "bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people".
  • 1943: Italy announces its unconditional surrender to the Allied forces.
  • 1943: U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio sign the Italian fleet’s surrender in Malta.
  • 1956: A referendum is held on the integration of Malta into the United Kingdom.
  • 1958: Talks regarding the integration proposal break down. The United Kingdom imposes direct colonial rule.
  • 1961: The State of Malta is created pursuant to the Blood Constitution, which provides for a measure of self-government.
  • 1964: The United Kingdom grants Malta its independence. Malta becomes a Constitutional Monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its Head of State.
  • 1964–70: Malta joins the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and becomes an Associate member of the European Community.
  • 1974: Malta becomes a republic. The last Governor-General, Sir Anthony Mamo, becomes its first President. Malta remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • 1979: The Military Agreement between Malta and the United Kingdom expires, leading to the closure of the UK's military base.
  • 2003: Referendum on European Union membership.
  • 2004: Malta becomes a member of the European Union.
  • 2008: The euro replaces the lira as the Republic's currency.

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