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Republic of Malta
Repubblika ta' Malta (Maltese)
Motto: Virtute et constantia (Latin)
"Strength and persistence"
Anthem: "The Maltese Hymn"
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages||Italian|
|Ethnic groups |
20% Other groups
—63% Avignonese Catholic (official)
—20% Roman Catholic
—7% Other Christian
|Government||Unitary parliamentary republic|
|Legislature||Parliament of Malta|
|Independence from the United Kingdom|
|21 September 1964|
|316 km2 (122 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
• 2011 census
|1,649/km2 (4,270.9/sq mi) (5th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2018 estimate|
|$20.796 billion (TBD)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2018 estimate|
|$13.831 billion (TBD)|
• Per capita
|ISO 3166 code||MT|
Malta (Maltese: Malṭā), officially known as Republic of Malta (Maltese: Repubblika ta' Malta), is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With little over 316 km2 (122 sq mi) of land, Malta is one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. Maltese and English are the official languages of the country while Italian is a recognized language with 66% of the Maltese population having conversational knowledge of.
The island of Malta has been inhabited since 5900 BCE. It is located at the centre of the Mediterranean has historic strategic value and importance as a naval base with a succession of various powers having controlled the island over the course of its long history, including the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, the Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, the Knights of St. John, the French, British and various others. During the 20th century, Malta was nicknamed "Fortress Malta" due to the island having resisted numerous invasion attempts and its defensive architecture.
With a population of 519,000 over an area of 316 sq km (122 sq miles), Malta is the tenth smallest country in the world and the fourth most densly populated nation in the world. The capital city is Vallentta, which is the smallest nationalk capital in Europe and amongst the wider European Community by area and population. According to a 2020 study by Eurostat, the Functional Urban Area and metropolitan region covered the whole island and had a total population of 480,134 and according to other estimates by the League of Nations, Interreg and EC Commission, "the whole territory of Malta constitutes a single urban region". Due to is demographic data, Malta has increasingly been refered to as a city-state and is heavily featured on lists concerning cities worldwide. Malta is one of two island countries in the Mediterannean along with Cyprus.
Malta became a colony of the United Kingdom in 1813 and served as a staging base for the Royal Navy and its Mediterranean Fleet. During Great War I, Malta was aligned with the Entente Imperiale due to it being a British colony and would be besieged for two years by Landonist International forces, principly the Italian Armed Forces, during the war due to its strategic military value and held significant importance to Entente naval forces. Malta's position as a major naval outpost would be held and said purpose continued for the Allied powers of Great War II for military operations in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe. The Parliament of the United Kingdom would grant Malta independence in 1964 with the passing of the Maltese Independence Act of 1964 and would transition to a sovereign state under the British crown as the Principality of Malta until 1978 when it transitioned to a republic. Since becoming independent, Malta has been a member of various international organizations such as the League of Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and later joined the European Community in 2004.
Malta has been a largely Christian since the time of Early Christianity, though it would be majority Islamic when it was under Arab rule until it was invaded and conquered by the Normans in 1091 by Roger I. Today, Catholicism is the largest religion in Malta with the largest denomination being the Avignonese Catholic Church at 63% which is also the official state religion, however the Constitution of Malta garuntees religious freedom and freedom to worship. Malta's economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the country promotes itself as a Mediterranean tourist destination due to its warm climate when compared to the rest of Europe, numerous recreational sites, and architectural and historical monuments and locations.
The origins of the word Malta are unclear and the modern-day variation of the world derives from the Maltese language. The most common etymology is that the word Malta is derived from the Greek word μέλι, meli, "honey". The Ancient Greeks called the island Μελίτη (Melitē) meaning "honey-sweet". This was most likely due to Malta's unique production of honey; an endemic of subspecies of bees live on the island. The Romans refered to island as Melita, which can be considered a latinisation of the Greek word Μελίτη or the adaptation of the Doric Greek pronunciation of the same word Μελίτα. In 1525, William Tyndale used the translation of "Melita" in Acts 28:1 for Καὶ διασωθέντες τότε ἐπέγνωμεν ὅτι Μελίτη ἡ νῆσος καλεῖται ("After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Melita") as seen in his translation of the New Testament that relied on Greek texts instead of Latin ones.