|Facts & Figures|
President: George Abela (2009)
Prime Minister: Joseph Muscat
Total area: 124 sq mi (321 sq km)
Population (2010 est.): 406,771 (growth
rate: 0.4%); birth rate: 10.3/1000; infant mortality rate: 3.7/1000;
life expectancy: 79.6; density per sq km: 1,277
Capital (2003 est.):
Valletta, 194,200 (metro. area) 6,900 (city
Largest city: Birkirkara,
Monetary unit: Euro
More Facts & Figures
The five Maltese islands—Malta, Gozo,
Comino, Comminotto, and Filflawith—have a combined land area smaller
than Philadelphia. Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, about 60 mi
(97 km) south of the southeast tip of Sicily.
The strategic importance of Malta was recognized
by the Phoenicians, who occupied it, as did, in turn, the Greeks,
Carthaginians, and Romans. The apostle Paul was shipwrecked there in
60. With the division of the Roman Empire in
395, Malta was assigned to the eastern
portion dominated by Constantinople. Between 870 and 1090, it came under
Arab rule. In 1091, the Norman noble Roger I, then ruler of Sicily, came
to Malta with a small retinue and defeated the Arabs. The Knights of St.
John (Malta), who obtained the three habitable Maltese islands of Malta,
Gozo, and Comino from Charles V in 1530, reached their highest fame when
they withstood an attack by superior Turkish forces in 1565.
Napoléon seized Malta in 1798, but the French forces were ousted by
British troops the next year, and British rule was confirmed by the Treaty
of Paris in 1814.
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