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Capital: Valletta

Size: 120 sq m Popn: 359 000


This island, in the Mediterranean south of Sicily was occupied by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans. It fell to the Arabs in 870 and was conquered by the Norman count, Roger of Sicily, in 1090. It remained under Sicilian rule until the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, gave it to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem in 1530. They fortified it after a Turkish attack in 1565 and held it until they surrendered to Napoleon in 1798. Malta was annexed by Britain in 1814 after asking for protection and became an important naval base.

In 1947, the island became self-governing and in 1955, Dom Mintoff, leader of the Malta Labour Party, became prime minister. The MLP's proposals for integration with the UK were approved by a referendum in 1956 but opposed by the conservative Nationalist Party under Dr Giorgio Borg Olivier. Mintoff rejected the British proposals and resigned in 1958, causing a constitutional crisis. Both parties were in favour of independence by 1961 and talks began in 1962 with Borg Olivier as prime minister. In 1964, Malta became a fully independent state within the Commonwealth and under the British crown and signed a ten-year military and economic aid treaty. Mintoff returned to power in 1971 with a policy of international non-alignment and declared the treaty invalid. He began to negotiate a new arrangement for leasing the NATO base on Malta and gaining as much economic benefit for his country as possible from it. A seven-year agreement was signed in 1972.

Malta became a republic in 1974 and the MLP won the 1976 election with a reduced majority and again won a narrow majority in the House of Representatives in 1981. The Nationalists, who had a larger share of the popular vote, refused to take their seats for over a year and relations between the two parties grew worse after allegations of pro-government bias in the broadcasting service. Mintoff announced his retirement at the end of 1984 and was succeeded as prime minister and MLP leader by Dr Mifsud Bonnici. The Nationalist Party, under Edward Fenech Adami, won the 1987 general election and Vincent Tabone was elected president in 1989. In December that year, Malta hosted a summit meeting between the US president, Bush, and the Soviet leader, Gorbachev. In 1990, it formally applied for membership of the EC. Adami and the Nationalists retained power in the elections of 1992.

Maltese Names


Dom Edward Hubert
Mifsud Robert Tony


Abela Adami Bonello
Bonnici Borg Caruana
Cassar Chircop Drago
Galea Gauci Guntali
Mintoff Olivier Tabone
Vella Zuba  

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