The history of the Maltese Islands dates back 7000 years, with the first known settlers being the Phoenician Mediterranean traders.  The Maltese Islands formed part of both the Roman and Byzantine Empires before being subject to Arab and, later, Norman domination.  In 1530 A.D. the Maltese Islands were relinquished to the Order of St. John which constructed several strategic fortifications to resist the Ottoman attacks.  These fortifications, together with a number of palaces built by the Knights of the  Order of St. John, today form part of the islands’ rich historical and cultural heritage.  Following the surrender of the islands to Napoleon in 1798 A.D., a popular uprising of the Maltese population in 1800 A.D. led to the end of the French rule in Malta and, with the approval of its people, Malta became a British Crown Colony; a status which it retained until its independence in 1964.  Malta became a Republic in 1974 and in May 2004 became a member of the European Union.


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