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Did You Know?
Fact: Malta's most famous artist is Caravaggio (1571-1610). Some of his most famous work is displayed in the
Co-Cathedral Of St John including 'Beheading of St John the Baptist'
Malta was referred to as Melita by the Greeks and Romans. Melita means land of honey and refers to the production and abundance of honey on the islands.
There is evidence of the Ghar Dalam caves on Malta being inhabited over 7,400 years ago making it one of the first inhabited spots in Europe!
The Knights of Malta (known as the Knights Hospitalier, Knights of Saint John, Order of Saint John) first came to Malta in 1530 after being given the islands by the Spanish King Charles V. They have shaped much of Malta's history ever since.
There was an "inquisition" introduced by the Knights in 1561 which lasted all the time until Napoleon's capture of the islands in 1798!
The very familiar and distinctive eight-pointed Maltese cross is actually the symbol of the Knights of Malta.
Queen Elizabeth II lived in Malta for two years prior to ascending the monarchy.
Malta is a favoured spot for Hollywood directors due to its relatively predictable sunny, blue skies and stunning geographical features that can be used as backdrops. Amongst others, blockbusters such as Gladiator and The Da Vinci Code have been filmed in Malta.
The Grand Harbour in Malta has been used since Phoenician times and is considered one of the best natural deep water harbours in the world.
For such a small nation, Malta packs a lot of history. There are no less than three UNESCO world heritage sites in Malta the capital city of Valletta (in its entirety!), the various megalithic temples of Malta and Gozo and the Hypogeum underground structures dating from 3000BC.
You make think that the Egyptian pyramids are old but they have nothing on the Ggantija Temples near Xaghra which date from 3600BC a whole millennium before the pyramids!
At Xewkija on Gozo, the St. John The Baptist church has the third largest (unsupported) dome in the world even bigger than St. Paul's in London!
Although evidence of Atlantis is widely disputed, some theories place Malta as being connected to the rest of southern Europe prior to a large flood in ancient times!
Due to its strategic location straddling Europe and Africa at the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta played a significant role in the Second World War. Malta was effectively an island fortress, holding out against bombing raids for several years. The Maltese are the only nation to have received the St. George's Cross collectively.
The Kelb tal-Fenek dog (otherwise referred to as the Pharaohs Hound Dog) is the national dog of the islands.
Although formerly governed by the UK, Malta became independent (as part of the Commonwealth) in 1964 and then a republic in 1974. Its official legislative set-up is now a parliamentary republic.