Malta is a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. I fell in love with Malta in 2008 when my husband participated in a university exchange program with the University of Malta. It is everything I wanted in a place to call my home and in the autumn of 2010 my future-husband and I packed up one apartment and two dogs and began a new adventure on the other side of the ocean.
That's right, it's not all sun and sand here. Since Neolithic times, for over 8,000 years, Malta has been populated. In fact, archaeologists believe that some of the Neolithic temples on Malta were erected around one thousand years before the construction of the famous pyramids of Giza in Egypt, and are believed to be the oldest freestanding monuments in the world (neat!)
Malta has been occupied by just about everyone in the Mediterranean: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, Sicilians, Normans (French), Angevins (French), Hoenstaufens (Germanic), and Aragonese (Spanish-Catalan). I know, right? And you thought American history was complicated.
We can credit the Order of the Knights of St John (also known as the Knights of Malta) with "Europeanizing" Malta, as they ruled the island from 1530 until 1798, when Napoleon's army drove them out. In 1814 the British took over Malta and this little island remained a British colony until 1964. Since May 2004 Malta has been a member of the European Union.
Population: 408,000 (2011) / Capital: Valletta / Area: 316 square kilometers (122 square miles) / Languages: Maltese, English / Religion: Roman Catholic (98%) / Currency: Euro / One of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world / Maltesers did not originate here; Maltese dogs, however, may have.