In 1974 Malta became a republic after being a crown colony of Britain. It was the first time in almost 3,000 years that the islands were not ruled from elsewhere. Phoenecians, Carthiginians, Romans, Byzantians, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Knights of St. John, French and British.
In 1940 Mussolini's Italy entered World War II and on June 10th their bombers attacked Malta's Grand Harbour. The only defence was three aging Gloster Gladiator biplanes, then given the names Faith, Hope and Charity. Malta was a vital hub of the Allied defence, and of thwarting Rommel's North Africa Korp. 157 continuous day and night bombing from the Italians and Germans nearly brought the islands total destruction, until finally a convoy came to help out.
King George II awarded the islands the George Cross in 1942, the highest civilian honour for bravery-to all the islanders and it became the staging point for Operation Husky, the Allied landings in Sicily.
Malta joined the EU in 2003 and adopted the Euro in 2008. They still drive on the left like the British, have red phone booths and post boxes, and serve beer by the pint and half pint, not by metric litres. There is a sort of Manglish slang such as Awright and other phrases. Divorce and abortion is still illegal and they are very family oriented. One world wide survey deemed Malta the Happiest lace on Earth to live, along with Denmark and Switzerland. I thought Disneyland had that title?
Malta was given to The Knights of St. John with the stipulation that two Maltese falcons were delivered annually to the Spanish Emperor and the Viceroy of Sicily. Tourism is now the big earner and when I spoke to a local sports reporter with The Times of Malta, he told me that Gary Neville, who writes a column for the paper,r and pal Ryan Giggs, were investing heavily in a tourist development at Golden Sands.
Lots of movies are also made here with the rich background of the harbour and fortifications. Midnight Express used the loaction of Fort St Elmo as a Turkish prison, Steven Spielberg's Munich used it for Israeli, Greek, Cypriot and Lebanase scenes. Gladiator, League of Gentlemen, Agona, Da Vinci Code, Count of Monte Cristo and more.