Malta is a southern European country in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km south of Sicily, 284 km east of Tunisia and 333 km north of Libya. The country covers just over 316 km2, making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. The capital of Malta is Valletta which is also the smallest capital in the EU. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.
Malta’s location as a naval base has given it great strategic importance throughout history, and a succession of powers including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish, Normans, Aragonese, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St. John, French and the British ruled the Islands. Malta gained Independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a Republic in 1974. This was followed by the last British Naval ships leaving the Grand Harbour in 1979 on Freedom Day. Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and in 2008 Malta adopted the Euro currency.
Malta is a favoured tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, architectural and historical monuments, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most prominently the Megalithic Temples which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.