Malta

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Malta

(môl`tə), officially Republic of Malta, republic (2005 est. pop. 399,000), 122 sq mi (316 sq km), in the Mediterranean Sea S of Sicily. It comprises the islands of Malta (95 sq mi/246 sq km), Gozo (Ghawdex, 26 sq mi/67 sq km), and Comino (Kemmuna, 1 sq mi/2.6 sq km), as well as four uninhabited islets. The group is sometimes called the Maltese Islands. VallettaValletta
, city (1994 est. pop. 9,129), capital of Malta, NE Malta. It is strategically located on a rocky promontory between two deep harbors. Dockyards line the harbors and employ more workers than any other industry. Tourism is also an important industry.
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 is the capital.

People, Economy, and Government

Malta has a very high population density. The population is ethnically diverse, a mixture of Arab, Sicilian, Norman, Spanish, Italian, and British strains. English and Maltese, a Semitic dialect, are the official languages, although Italian is also widely spoken. Roman Catholicism is the religion of nearly all the people.

Malta has no rivers or lakes, no natural resources, and very few trees. It is, however, of great strategic value and was an important British military base until 1979. Following the withdrawal of British forces, the country faced severe unemployment; it has since made progress in diversifying its economic base. Manufacturing and tourism are now the main industries. There is food, beverage, and tobacco processing and the manufacture of electronics, pharmaceuticals, footwear, and clothing. Shipbulding and ship repair, performed in state-owned dry docks, and freight transshipment are also important. Although the soil is poor, there is some agriculture, producing potatoes, cauliflower, grapes, wheat, barley, and cut flowers. Hogs and chickens are raised. International banking and financial services are growing, and the island is developing as an offshore tax haven. Shortage of water has stimulated the building of desalination plants, which now provide more than half the country's freshwater needs. The main imports are machinery, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and petroleum; exports include machinery, transportation equipment, and manufactured goods. Most trade is with Italy, France, Great Britain, the United States, and Germany.

Malta is governed under the constitution of 1964 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by the legislature for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister is the head of government. Members of the unicameral legislature, the 65-seat House of Representatives, are popularly elected to five-year terms. Malta is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

History

Malta was settled in Neolithic times; the Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum is the site of what is believed to be the largest group of prehistoric European rock-cut chamber tombs. The island, anciently called Melita, later belonged successively to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans. St. Paul was shipwrecked there (A.D. 60). Arab rule began in A.D. 870; the Normans of Sicily occupied it c.1090. In 1530 the Hapsburg Charles V granted Malta to the Knights HospitalersKnights Hospitalers,
members of the military and religious Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, sometimes called the Knights of St. John and the Knights of Jerusalem. The symbol of the Order of St.
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. Notwithstanding a determined siege by the Turks in 1565, the knights held it until 1798, when it was surrendered to Napoleon.

The British ousted the French in 1800 and made it a crown colony in 1814. For most of the 19th cent., Malta was ruled by a military governor. The opening of the Suez Canal (1869) increased its strategic value, Malta becoming one of the principal coaling stations for steamers bound for India and East Asia. During World War II, Malta was subjected to extremely heavy bombing by Italian and German planes, and in 1942 King George VI awarded its citizens the George Cross for bravery.

Almost from the start of the period of British rule the Maltese agitated for increased political freedom. Considerable self-government was granted in 1921, but this was revoked in 1936. A constitution granted in 1947 was revoked after civil disturbances in 1959. Malta achieved full independence in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. The Labor party, led by Dom MintoffMintoff, Dominic,
1916–2012, Maltese political leader, prime minister of Malta (1955–58, 1971–84). An architect and engineer, he was educated at the Univ. of Malta and Oxford. He joined the Labor party in 1943 and was first elected to the legislature in 1947.
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, was in power from 1971 to 1987. The government of the Nationalist prime minister Edward Fenech Adami was elected in 1987 and was returned to office in 1992 and 1998. Alfred Sant of the Labor party was prime minister from 1996 to 1998. In the 1990s, Malta tried to balance its foreign policy between neighboring Libya and the economically more important Western nations. It applied for full membership in the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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 (EU) in 1990 and embarked on an extensive economic and restructuring program, and Malta joined the EU in 2004.

Fenech Adami and the Nationalist party, strong supporters of EU membership, were returned to power in the Apr., 2003, parliamentary elections. Fenech Adami stepped down in Mar., 2003, and Lawrence Gonzi succeeded him as prime minister. Malta adopted the euro in Jan., 2008. The Nationalist party won a narrow victory in the 2008 parliamentary elections; Gonzi's government fell in Dec., 2012, after it lost its majority. Labor won a majority in the Mar., 2013, elections, and Joseph Muscat became prime minister. In recent years the country has received increasing numbers of Europe-bound illegal African immigrants, most of them rescued at sea by Malta's navy.

Bibliography

See B. Blouet, The Story of Malta (rev. ed. 1972); D. H. Trump, Malta, an Archaeological Guide (1972); R. Seth, Malta (1988).

Malta

 

a state located in the Maltese archipelago in the central Mediterranean, 93 km from Sicily and 200 km from the coast of Africa. Malta is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In 1972 its area was 316 sq km, and its population was 320,000. The capital is Valletta.

Constitution and government. Malta is a constitutional monarchy. Its constitution was adopted in 1964. The chief of state is the king (or queen) of England, who is represented by a governor-general. The highest legislative body is the unicameral parliament (the Legislative Assembly), which consists of 55 deputies elected to five-year terms by the population. All citizens who have reached the age of 21 and who have lived in Malta for at least two years by election day have the right to vote. The government is headed by a prime minister.

Natural features. The Maltese archipelago includes two major islands, Malta (246 sq km) and Gozo (67 sq km), as well as a number of smaller islands. They were formed when a section of the Mediterranean Sea floor rose above sea level. The southern and southwestern coasts of the island of Malta are steep and clifflike with numerous grottoes; the northern and northeastern sections are low and flat, with good harbors. The islands are made up of almost horizontally stratified Oligocene and Miocene limestones and clays. Karst plateaus with elevations of up to 240 m (on the island of Malta) prevail.

The climate is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The average February temperature is 12°C, and the average August temperature, 25°C. The total annual precipitation is approximately 530 mm. There is little surface water on the islands. Mediterranean xerophytic vegetation prevails.

Population. Approximately 98 percent of the native inhabitants are Maltese. Several thousand British and Italians also live in Malta. The predominant religion is Catholicism. Maltese and English are the official languages. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Despite a considerable natural increase, the population of Malta declined by an average of 0.1 percent a year between 1963 and 1971. Every year several thousand persons leave Malta in search of work. Most of them emigrate to Australia, Great Britain, and Canada. (Between 1946 and 1970 more than 100,000 persons left the country.) Of the employed population (100,000 persons, or 31.4 percent of the entire population as of 1968), 23.3 percent were employed in industry, 12.6 percent in construction, 6.2 percent in agriculture and fishing, and 57.9 percent in the service industries. The population density is very high—more than 1,000 persons per sq km. More than 87 percent of the inhabitants live in the cities, the most important of which (as of 1971) were Sliema (22,000) and Valletta (18,000).

Historical survey. The first settlements were founded on Malta during the fourth millennium B.C. During the 13th century B.C., Maltese territory was colonized by the Phoenicians. From the eighth through the seventh century B.C. the Carthaginians penetrated into Malta, and during the sixth century B.C. the island became their possession. In 218 B.C. it fell to the Romans. From 395 to 870 A.D., Malta was under Byzantine rule. The prolonged domination of the island by the Arabs (870-1091) greatly influenced the economic life, culture, and language of the population. In 1091, Malta was conquered by the Normans and made part of Sicily. The Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who came to Malta in 1530, became known as the Knights of Malta. During the 16th century, Malta was attacked several times by the Turks. In 1565 the island’s fortifications held out against a Turkish siege. The people of Malta rebelled in 1775 against the feudal oppression of the Knights of Malta. In 1798, Malta was captured by Napoleonic France, and in 1800, by Great Britain, which declared Malta its colony. Malta’s status as a British colony was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris (1814). The island’s strategic importance grew, particularly after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Malta became a powerful British naval base in the Mediterranean. Its people were subjected to harsh colonial oppression.

As a result of the growth of the liberation movement on the island after the end of World War I (1914-18), Great Britain was compelled to grant Malta the status of a self-governing colony in 1921. When the political struggle became more intense, British authorities abolished self-governrment on Malta (1930) and concentrated all power on the island in the hands of the British governor. During World War II (1939-45), Malta was the target of Italian and German bombing raids, as well as shelling from the sea, which did considerable damage. The national liberation and workers’ movement grew stronger after the war. Under the 1947 constitution internal self-government was restored. In 1949 a dockworkers’ strike broke out, but it was suppressed with the aid of British troops sent from the metropolitan country.

In 1958, after the outbreak of mass, anti-British demonstrations, a state of emergency was declared, and a year later the 1947 constitution was abrogated. Great Britain was again compelled to reinstate internal self-government in Malta in 1962, and on Sept. 21, 1964, independence was granted on the condition that Malta remain part of the British Commonwealth. In 1964, Malta became a member of the UN. At the time that independence was granted, Great Britain bound Malta to a ten-year agreement “on mutual defense,” under which the former metropolitan country received the right to station its armed forces on Malta. In fact, Malta became a military base of the aggressive NATO bloc. As early as 1953 the staff of the unified naval forces of NATO for the southern zone of Europe made the island its headquarters. Maltese ports were used as ports of call by ships of the US Sixth Fleet. Under the Anglo-Maltese agreement of 1964 on financial aid, Great Britain promised to grant Malta £51 million in loans and subsidies.

The consequences of British colonial domination, particularly the one-sided orientation of the island’s economy toward providing services for foreign armed forces, has had an extremely negative effect on the condition of Malta. The Nationalist Party, which was in power from 1962 to 1971, took measures to stimulate the economy, especially by trying to attract foreign capital. However, most of its efforts proved to be quite ineffectual.

The reactionary policy of the Nationalist Party, which went against the national interests of the Maltese people, aroused dissatisfaction. As a result of the 1971 general elections, the Malta Labour Party, which is headed by D. Mintoff, came to power and formed a government. It took a number of steps to strengthen Maltese sovereignty, gaining control of the administration of the docks, removing the naval staff of NATO for the southern zone of Europe from the island, denouncing the Anglo-Maltese agreement of 1964, and prohibiting the ships of the US Sixth Fleet from stopping at Valletta. After prolonged negotiations with Great Britain, a new Anglo-Maltese agreement was concluded in 1972, under which the term of lease of Maltese territory used as a British military base was extended for seven years, on the condition that Malta would receive from Great Britain and the other NATO powers £14 million a year (instead of the £5 million provided for in the previous agreement).

At the same time, the government of Malta strengthened its relations with a number of other countries, including Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Libya. In 1973, Malta participated in the conference of nonaligned countries. The Mintoff government established diplomatic relations with Bulgaria, Poland, the German Democratic Republic, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China, and Albania. Relations with Hungary, Rumania, and Yugoslavia had been established earlier. Malta opened diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1967.

In December 1974, Malta’s Legislative Assembly adopted constitutional amendments, under which the country was proclaimed a republic. The former governor-general, M. A. J. Mamo, was elected president.

E. FEDOROV

Political parties and trade unions. The Malta Labour Party, founded in 1920, relies on the support of trade union members as well as on low-paid office employees, petit bourgeois elements, and the intelligentsia. As of 1970, it had 7,000 members. It has been the ruling party since 1971. Founded in 1924, the Nationalist Party is supported by the big and middle bourgeoisie, the Catholic clergy, and high-ranking officials. The Progressive Constitutional Party was founded in 1953. The Maltese Center Party, which was founded in 1961, was called the Christian Workers’ Party until 1971. The Communist Party of Malta is politically active.

As of 1969 there were 40 trade unions with a membership of 32,000 workers and office employees, 28,000 of whom belonged to an unskilled workers’ trade union. The largest trade union group is the Confederation of Maltese Trade Unions, which was founded in 1958.

E. FEDOROV

Economic geography. The Maltese economy is poorly developed. During the colonial period Malta’s economy revolved around the provision of services to the British military base. Since independence, the economy has undergone certain structural changes. However, the dominant position is still occupied by foreign (primarily British) capital. In accordance with the state’s program for making full use of its economic resources, branches of industry associated with metalworking and the production of chemicals have been created. The production of building materials and electrical energy has also risen. In order to finance new construction projects, foreign subsidies have been accepted. Nevertheless, full employment for the population has not yet been ensured, and there is still chronic unemployment. (In October 1972 6,200 people were unemployed.)

In 1970 industry accounted for 30 percent of the gross national product, and agriculture for 6 percent. The service industries, especially the hotel and tourist business, are expanding.

In 1972 the island’s steam power plants produced 324 million kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. The principal branches of industry are food processing and textiles, which provide a third and a fifth, respectively, of the value of all industrial output. Canned fruits and vegetables, wine, tobacco products, cotton and woolen fabrics, and knit goods are produced. There are small leather footwear and ceramics workshops, as well as chemical enterprises, some of which produce synthetic fibers. Metalworking (for example, repair shops) is of some importance. The Dockyard (formerly the British firm Baily [Malta] Ltd.) is a major enterprise. As of 1971 an industrial complex consisting of 42 enterprises (3,000 jobs) was under construction, and military docks were being refitted for civilian ships. Table salt and building stone are extracted on the island of Malta.

In agriculture, land cultivation prevails. Small peasant farms (plots of less than 2 hectares [ha] each) predominate, but their number is constantly dropping. (From 1960 to 1967 the number of small peasant farms fell from 7,200 to 6,200.) Approximately 50 percent of the territory is under cultivation (14,000 ha in 1971), and 1,000 ha are irrigated. Part of the territory is used for pastures. Less than a sixth of the cultivated lands (2,000 ha in 1972) are sown with cereal crops, such as wheat, barley, and corn (total harvest, 4,000 tons in 1972). A larger area is planted with potatoes and other vegetables, primarily tomatoes. There are subtropical gardens, orchards, and vineyards (1,000 ha, with a crop of 4,000 tons; 2,300 tons of wine in 1972). There are also olive and cotton plantations. Horticulture is important.

As of 1972 there were 16,000 goats, 8,000 sheep, 24,000 pigs, 10,000 cattle, and 5,000 work animals (donkeys, mules, and horses). Poultry and rabbits are raised. The islanders engage in coastal fishing. The annual catch of 20,000-25,000 tons consists primarily of sardines and tuna.

The principal seaport and airport, Luqa, is an international port. Valletta is the road hub. As of 1970 there were 1,200 km of paved roads. There were 60,300 motor vehicles in 1971, including 43,000 passenger cars, 10,700 trucks, and 622 intercity buses. There are no railroads. As of 1971 the tonnage of the merchant fleet was 43,800 gross registered tons.

Malta exports textiles, wine, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and seeds and imports foodstuffs (a fifth of the value of its imports), fuel, chemicals, and industrial and transportation equipment. Its principal foreign trade ties are with Great Britain and Italy. Since 1971, Malta has been associated with the Common Market. Its balance of payments deficit is covered by income from foreign tourism and by foreign subsidies.

In 1972, 149,000 tourists visited Malta, which is known for its picturesque shoreline, favorable climate, historical sites, and architectural ruins. The monetary unit is the Maltese pound.

A. E. SLUKA

Medicine and public health. In 1970 the birthrate was 16.3 per 1,000 inhabitants. The mortality rate was 9.4 per 1,000 inhabitants, and infant mortality was 27.9 per 1,000 live births. Noninfectious diseases such as atherosclerosis, malignant tumors, diabetes mellitus, and hypertonic diseases prevail. Among the infectious diseases the most common are children’s infections and typhoid fever. Cases of murine typhus are recorded every year. Brucellosis is widespread on the island of Gozo, where some of the milk is not pasteurized. In the northwest and southeast cases of thalassemia have been recorded.

In 1971 the state hospitals had 3,400 beds (10.4 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). Outpatient treatment is available at 15 hospital poly clinic departments. As of 1971 there were 387 physicians (one per 855 inhabitants), 157 of whom were employed by the state. There were 53 dentists, 197 pharmacists, and about 1,100 paramedical personnel. Physicians, dentists, and pharmacists are trained at the Royal University of Malta. During 1969-70, 10.8 percent of the state budget was spent on public health.

I. IA. KUDOIAROVA and A. A. ROZOV

Education. Instruction of children age six to 14 is considered compulsory. The Maltese educational system is similar to the British system, with two-year infant school, a six-year elementary school, and a seven-year secondary school (five- and two-year divisions). There are three types of secondary schools: grammar, technical, and modern schools. During the 1970-71 school year 32,000 pupils were enrolled in the elementary schools and infant schools, and more than 20,000 in the secondary schools. Vocational training (three- to five-year courses) is open to those who have completed elementary school. During the 1970-71 school year about 1,400 students were enrolled in vocational schools. Elementary school teachers must be graduates of a five-year secondary school and a two-year training program. (In the 1970-71 school year about 370 students were enrolled in the training program.)

Higher education is provided by the Royal University of Malta in Valletta. Founded in 1592, it attained the status of a university in 1769. In the 1972-73 school year 1,100 students were enrolled in the university. The university library contains more than 100,000 volumes. Also located in the capital is the College of Arts, Science, and Technology (enrollment, 1,300 students during the 1972-73 school year). The Royal Malta Library and the National Museum of Malta (founded in 1903) are located in Valletta.

Press, radio, and television. In 1972 more than 60 periodicals were published in English and Maltese, but the circulation of newspapers and journals was insignificant. The leading English dailies as of 1972 were the Times of Malta (1935; circulation, 25,000), the Bulletin (1944; circulation, 7,000-10,000), and the Malta News (1964; circulation, 12,000). Maltese-language dailies are Iz Zmein (1966; circulation, 7,000), L’Orizzont, and II-Had-diem (1949). The leading weeklies published in English are the Sunday Times of Malta (1922) and the Maltese Observer (1964). Il-Torka, the leading Maltese weekly, has been published since 1944.

Radio broadcasts (relay) in English and Maltese are carried on two channels. Since 1962 the island has had one television channel, which broadcasts for 4½ hours a day.

E. FEDOROV

Architecture and art. Located on the islands of Malta and Gozo are unique megalithic cultic structures of the Neolithic period. They are enclosed by huge walls and decorated with bas-reliefs and punctate and spiral designs (at Hal Tarxien and Mnajdra, for example). Painted pottery and stone and terracotta figurines that reveal the influence of Western Mediterranean cultures have been found near the sanctuaries. During the ancient as well as the Byzantine and Arabic periods Maltese art was strictly provincial. Late medieval Maltese architecture reflects the Sicilian-Norman influence.

During the late Renaissance, Italian masters in the service of the Knights of Malta (for example, Francesco Laparelli) created innovative works of civil and military architecture (the layout of Valletta, for example). Italian painters, such as Caravaggio, worked in Malta during the 17th century. Gradually, local masters came to play an increasingly important role. In the 16th century the Maltese architect G. Cassar achieved prominence, and in the 17th century, Lorenzo Gafa (an architect) and Melchiorre Gafa (a sculptor), brothers whose work is representative of the baroque style in Malta. S. Ittar and D. Grognet de Vasse were outstanding Maltese classical architects of the 18th and 19th centuries.

REFERENCES

Blouet, B. The Story of Malta. London, 1967.
Dobie, E. Malta’s Road to Independence. Norman (Okla.), 1967.
Zammit, T. Prehistoric Malta. London, 1930.
Ceschi, C. Architettura del templi megalitici di Malta. Rome, 1939.
Hughes, J. Q. The Building of Malta During the Period of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem: 1530-1795. London, 1956.
The Malta Yearbook—1970. St. Michael’s College Publications, St. Julian’s, Malta.
Duncan, A. Malta: An Archaeological Survey. London, 1973. [15-888-3; updated]

Malta

 

an urban-type settlement in Rēzekne Raion, Latvian SSR. It is located on the Malta River (in the basin of Lake Lubāna). It has a railroad station on the Daugavpils-Rēzekne line. A creamery and a woodworking plant are located in Malta.


Mal’ta

 

an Upper Paleolithic site on the Belaia River, near the village of Mal’ta, 85 km west of Irkutsk. The site was discovered in 1928 by M. M. Gerasimov and investigated by him until 1959.

The remains of different types of dwellings (teepee-like dwellings, semisubterranean dwellings, and surface dwellings), which existed at the same time, were unearthed. The inhabitants of Mal’ta hunted the reindeer, mammoth, and woolly rhinoceros. Stone implements, such as knives, perforators, gravers, and scrapers, were found, as well as articles made of bone, including harpoon and javelin heads, daggers, knives, awls, needles, and such ornaments as clasps, pendants, diadems, and bracelets. Numerous art objects, such as sculptural figurines of women, ducks, geese, swans, and a rhinoceros and engravings of mammoths and snakes, were also found. A burial of a child with a rich inventory was discovered. The stone and bone articles from Mal’ta resemble the finds at the Buret’ site.

REFERENCES

Gerasimov, M. M. “Raskopki paleoliticheskoi stoianki v sele Mal’te.” In the collection Izvestiia Gosudarstvennoi akademii istorii material’noi kul’tury, issue 118. Leningrad-Moscow, 1935.
Gerasimov, M. M. “Paleoliticheskaia stoianka Mal’ta (Rasskopki 1956-1957).” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1958, no. 3.

M. M. GERASIMOV

Malta

Official name: Republic of Malta

Capital city: Valletta

Internet country code: .mt

Flag description: Two equal vertical bands of white (hoist side) and red; in the upper hoist-side corner is a represen­tation of the St. George Cross, edged in red

National anthem: “L-Innu Malti” (first line in English: Guard her, O Lord, as ever Thou hast guarded!), lyrics by Dun Karm Psaila, music by Robert Samut

Geographical description: Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)

Total area: 122 sq. mi. (316 sq. km.)

Climate: Mediterranean; mild, rainy winters; hot, dry sum­mers

Nationality: noun: Maltese (singular and plural); adjective: Maltese

Population: 401,880 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Maltese (descendants of ancient Carthagini­ans and Phoenicians, with strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock)

Languages spoken: Maltese (official), English (official)

Religions: Roman Catholic 98%

Legal Holidays:

Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Commemoration of Uprising of June 7, 1919Jun 7
Feast of Our Lady of VictoriesSep 8
Feast of St. JosephMar 19
Feast of St. Paul's ShipwreckFeb 10
Feast of Sts. Peter and PaulJun 29
Freedom DayMar 31
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Immaculate ConceptionDec 8
Independence DaySep 21
New Year's DayJan 1
Republic DayDec 13
Workers' DayMay 1

Malta

a republic occupying the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino, in the Mediterranean south of Sicily: governed by the Knights Hospitallers from 1530 until Napoleon's conquest in 1798; French driven out, with British help, 1800; became British dependency 1814; suffered severely in World War II; became independent in 1964 and a republic in 1974; joined the EU in 2004; a member of the Commonwealth. Official languages: Maltese and English. Official religion: Roman Catholic. Currency: Maltese lira. Capital: Valletta. Pop.: 396 000 (2004 est.). Area: 316 sq. km (122 sq. miles)
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