Malta is a small, island country in the Mediterranean Sea that lies south of the island of Sicily, Italy. Although small, Malta has a rich history, with evidence for habitation going back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium BC). The country has some of the world’s most ancient standing buildings (the Neolithic temples), and its strategic location and good harbours in the middle of the Mediterranean have attracted Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders, the French and finally the British, with the colonial period lasting until 1964.

The Knights of the Order of St. John (of which my father was made by HM The Queen), took over sovereign control of Malta in 1530. In 1798, the French under Napoleon took the island, when the Grand Master of the Order capitulated after deciding that the island could not be defended against the opposing French naval force. French rule lasted a little over 2 years, with the locals blockading them inside Valletta until they surrendered to the British Royal Navy, under Admiral Nelson’s command, in September 1800.

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars. The island was awarded the George Cross for its heroic resistance during the Second World War. An image of the cross is displayed on the flag.

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Valletta is the seaport and capital of Malta, on the northeast coast of the island of Malta. The nucleus of the city is built on the promontory of Mount Sceberras overlooking two harbours, Grand Harbour to the east and Marsamxett Harbour to the west.

Built after the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, which checked the advance of Ottoman power in southern Europe, it was named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, grand master of the Order of Knights of St. John, and became Malta’s capital in 1570. After 1814 the city became a strategic British Mediterranean naval and military base of the first order; it was subjected to severe bombing raids in World War II and was the place where the Italian fleet surrendered to the Allies in 1943.

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