Findings of animal skeletons show that there
was probably a land bridge between Malta and Sicily
about 6,000 years ago. It was also from Sicily that the
first people came to settle in Malta. They lived as
farmers and traded flint and copper.
Between 3,500 and 2,500 BC, the so-called temple
people ruled the islands. At that time Malta's stone
temple was built, which is some of the archipelago's
main attractions. Some of these temple buildings are
older than the Egyptian pyramids and belong to the
oldest buildings in the world. The temple culture went
on for around 2,000 BC, probably when other people
invaded the islands. The next finds that testify to
settlement originate from the Bronze and Iron Age.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Malta, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Around 800 BC, Malta was occupied by the Phoenician
city state of Carthage. The Romans conquered the
archipelago of the Second Punic War 218 BC (Carthaginian
people were called Puns by the Romans). Malta first
became part of the Sicilian province, but later gained a
kind of autonomy within the Roman Empire. The islanders
paid taxes to the Romans but had their own Senate, where
political issues were discussed. The Maltese also had
their own coins and sent their own ambassadors to Rome.
According to legend, the apostles Paul and Luke ended
up in Malta in AD 60, and since then the Maltese have
been Christians. When Rome was divided at the end of the
300s, Malta attacked the Byzantine Empire of Ístrom.
The islands were conquered by the Arabs in the 8th
century. At that time, an economic upturn began and many
news was added in agriculture and architecture. The
Christian population was discriminated against.
Malta becomes part of the Spanish empire
In 1091, Malta was incorporated into the Norman
Empire and ruled from Sicily. Normans oppressed the
Maltese and kept many in slavery. At the beginning of
the 1280s Malta became part of the Kingdom of Aragon
based in the northeastern part of present-day Spain. In
1469, Aragon merged with Castile in northern and central
Spain and Malta became part of the Spanish empire.
In the middle of the 16th century, the Roman Catholic
Johannite order (which was called the Maltese Order)
from the 19th century settled on the island. The words
had been formed in 1070 to care for sick pilgrims in
Jerusalem during the Christian crusades to the Middle
East. Eventually, the Johannite Order gained military
functions and in the 1300s became a feared naval power
in the Mediterranean. The Johannites previously lived on
Rhodes in the Greek island world, but were forced out of
there when the Turks conquered the island.
The Order of Johannite was given to Malta by the
Spanish emperor Karl V, who thanked them for their
efforts during the crusades. With the Johannite Knights,
whose members were recruited from the foremost European
nobility, a cultural heyday began on the islands. The
Order Knights plowed down their fortunes in Malta, which
was transformed into a fortified military base. Many of
Malta's most beautiful buildings were created during
The Ottomans (Turks) repeatedly tried to conquer the
islands. Under the leadership of Jean de la Vallette,
the Johannite Order endured in 1565 a legendary Turkish
siege for four months. Then the knights founded the
capital Valletta, named after the order leader.
The archipelago becomes a British crown
colony with an important naval base
In the 1600s, it became more common for Europeans to
travel to the Far East by sailing around Africa, and
Malta's importance to trade in the Mediterranean
In 1798, Malta was captured by the French emperor
Napoleon's forces and became a French possession. But
the Maltese revolted against the occupants. Britain sent
troops to help the insurgents and 1800 surrendered the
French. At the peace of Amiens in 1802, the Johannite
order regained Malta, but the Maltese preferred British
rule and sought protection from London. In connection
with the Treaty of Paris in 1814, Malta became a British
Over time, Valletta developed into the main base of
the British Mediterranean fleet. Since the Suez Canal
between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was opened in
1869, the importance of Malta as a link on the road to
India and the Far East has grown. The economic upswing
that followed led to a sharp increase in population.
Many Maltese, however, found it difficult to support
themselves and emigrated to Italy as well as to
English-speaking countries around the world.
In 1921 Malta was given limited autonomy, but soon a
dispute arose between the British and the local
government. The British criticized the government's way
of managing the finances of the archipelago. Also the
question of which language would be the official created
wear. The conflict led Britain to reintroduce colonial
rule in the 1930s. English and Maltese were given
official language status instead of Italian.
During World War II Malta was an important military
base for Britain. The islands were therefore subjected
to intense air strikes from Germany and Italy. The
Maltese endured and were rewarded with the English
Georgian cross depicted on the flag of Malta.