Valletta, 21 September 2023 (TDI): Malta celebrates its 59th Independence Day on 21st September each year, marking its liberation from the United Kingdom in 1964.
Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, this European Union archipelago had a history of foreign rule before gaining independence. The British influence, which began in 1813, was the longest in Malta’s history.
After achieving independence in 1964, Malta became a republic in 1974 and joined the European Union in 2004. It has been a part of the United Nations since gaining independence.
Malta, a diminutive island nation located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, shares its borders with the nearby regions of Sicily to the north and Libya and Tunisia along the North African coastline to the south and west.
Comprising an archipelago of islands, Malta primarily consists of low-lying, rocky, and flat terrain, with numerous coastal cliffs adorning its shores. Among these islands, the three largest ones are inhabited, making them the focal points of Maltese life and culture.
The earliest known reference to Malta is in the biblical account of Saint Paul’s shipwreck. Geographically, it is centrally located in the Mediterranean Sea, with Sicily to the north and Tunisia to the west, covering a territory of 94.9 square miles (320 square kilometers).
Gozo, one of Malta’s islands, is greener and supports larger-scale farming despite thin soil and limited groundwater. Terracing is used to combat erosion, and herding primarily occurs on Gozo. The islands have minimal wildlife, mostly insects and migratory birds.
Malta’s public transportation includes buses serving large towns on Malta and Gozo, and ferry services connect the islands. The landscape features beaches, coves, grottoes, and fishing villages, with some areas featuring abrupt cliffs and medieval fortifications.
The climate is mild year-round, with a rainy season from October to February. Valletta dominates the Grand Harbor of Malta and serves as the national capital, while Gozo’s capital is Victoria.
Maltese, a unique European language in the Afro-Asiatic family, is universally understood with minimal dialectical variations. English is also spoken, and Italian is understood by many educated Maltese.
Maltese cuisine includes heavy meals with pasta, meat, vegetables, and dessert. Hot pastizzi, stuffed poultry, and baked pasta dishes are common, while rabbit stewed in wine and tender lamb are specialties, especially at Easter.
Malta’s history is rich and influenced by various civilizations, from Phoenicians and Carthaginians to the French and British. Foreign powers coveted Malta for its strategic trade location, shaping its culture into a diverse amalgamation of influences.
The British presence in Malta began in 1813 and intensified during World War II when Malta served as an Allied base. This period spurred local interest in self-rule.
In 1964, Malta signed the treaty declaring its independence, though Queen Elizabeth II remained the monarch with a governor-general representing her. Ten years later, Malta became a republic, electing its representatives through democratic elections, modeling its parliament on the Westminster system.