The brief history of Malta
About 10 to 20 million years ago the islands, which are now the Republic of Malta (316 km2) consisted of Malta ( 28 x 14 km), Gozo ( 14 x 7 km) and Comino (3 1/2 km). There are five very small uninhabited islands (rocks) like Filfla, Cominette, St. Paul's Island. They are situated in the Mediterranean about 288 km north of Tunesia, 93 km south of Sicily and 387 km north of Libya.
Malta has ruins of unique temples which date from 5200, 3500 and 2500 BC (older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.
During the Punic war Malta was conquered by the Roman Empire and belonged to the Roman Empire till 133 BC, which lasted till the fall of the Roman Empire in 476. Malta has about 375 churches, 98 % of the population is Roman Catholic. At present there are about 430.000 inhabitants.
In the year 60 AD evangelist Paulus was shipwrecked in St. Paul's Bay. He became Patron Saint of Malta.
In 454 the Vandals ruled Malta, in 533 followed by the Byzantines. In 870 the Islamic Arabs, in 1091 The Normans 9 Roger of Sicily). In 1530 Emperor Charles V lent the island to the order of the Knights of St. John. (Maltese Order / Order of the Knights of St. John)
The order started in 1113 in Jerusalem and consisted of hospitallers. Their task was to protect and nurse the Pilgrims. The order had taken the vow of poverty, chastity and obedience to Pope Paschalis II .
As the protection of the ill was a military task the order was being reorganised. Knights were responsible for the protective task and ministers of religion like chaplains, priests and brothers do the caring and organise domestic affairs. The Order became the Order of Knighthood. ( Ordo militaris Sancti Johannis Baptistae Hospitalis Hierosolymitani).
The Knights were active in the areas around Tripoli in " Krak des Chevaliers" (still intact). the good work of the Order was rewarded with many gifts through which the Order quickly had the disposal of goods in the Holy Land, Asia Minor and Europe.
However by the advancing of the Turks (enlarging the Ottoman Empire) , the Order had to move several times; to Akko (1191), Cyprus (1291) and Rhodes (1309). In 1522 Cyprus was also occupied by the Turks and after leaving Cyprus the Knights wandered for 7 years in Italy.
After that Malta was given to the Order for a Falcon a year.
The Order withstood several Ottoman invasions. The most important battle took place in 1565. (The great Siege of Malta)
In 1798 Malta was besieged by the French (under command of General Napoleon Bonaparte). In 1800 the battle against the French began with the help from the population together with the British Royal Navy and the French were driven away.
Malta was being ruled by the British Government till 1964, after which Malta became independent.
Malta became involved in WW I (1914-1918) when Great Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th of August 1914.
During WW II Malta suffered many attacks from the Germans in 1941. They needed Malta as a strategic position for provisioning North Africa.
The Maltese committed itself during WW II in such a way that it received the George Cross (heroism, bravery and dedication), which now can be seen in the Maltese flag.
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