Malta becomes an independent nation - at last!

Maltese castle (Copyright: Getty Images)Maltese castle (Copyright: Getty Images)

In September 1964 Malta became independent of the UK. This little country in the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of only 400,000, had been a colony for centuries. Due to its strategic importance in the old days, it had been occupied by the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Sicilians, the French, the British and others for most of its history. Now it is free, it has joined the EU, and is a beautiful and relaxing place for tourists to visit.

Malta consists of seven islands, but only two of them - Malta itself and Gozo – are large. Like two other countries which are not very large – Belgium and Ireland – Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. Like Frenchmen and Italians, most Maltese are Roman Catholics. And like Australia, Brazil and the USA, the country’s capital (Valletta) is not its largest city, which is Birkirkara.

Balconies on traditional houses in Valetta (Copyright: Getty Images)Balconies on traditional houses in Valetta (Copyright: Getty Images)

With 1,300 people per square kilometre, Malta is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, and the contrast with Norway, where just over 12 people share the same space, is enormous. But there are similarities with Norway, too. Healthcare and education are very advanced, and there is hardly anybody who cannot read and write.

Finally, if you write to anyone in Malta, you should write the country’s name as “Malta, G.C.”. “G.C.” stands for “George Cross”, a British medal which is not given to many people. It has been given only once to a country, when King George VI gave it to Malta during the Second World War to reward the little nation for the courage it had shown.

 

Activity

Find sentences or parts of sentences in the text which give the same information as these sentences:

  1. Malta is like France and Italy regarding religion.
  2. About 70 years ago, Malta received an important decoration because it had been so brave.
  3. More people live in a small area than most other places.
  4. Schools and hospitals are very good.
  5. For hundreds of years Malta had been ruled by other countries.
  6. In some ways Malta is like Norway.
  7. The centre of government is not in the biggest city.
  8. About 45 years ago Malta started to govern itself.

 

Activities for the links below

  1. On the first website you will find a brief history of Malta. Use it to correct the statements below. Do not copy information from the article, but edit it and present it in simple English. 

    a. The earliest ruins in Malta are from about 1000 BC.
    b. The Normans occupied Malta in 870.
    c. The Ottoman Turks conquered Malta in 1575.
    d. In 1800 the Maltese rebelled against the French and British.
    e. Malta was on the side of the Axis (Germany and Italy) during the Second World War.
    f. In 1964 all British armed forces withdrew from Malta.
    g. Malta is a member of NATO.
    h. In 1996 the Labour Party wanted Malta to join the EU.
     
    Maltese fishing boat (Copyright: Getty Images)Maltese fishing boat (Copyright: Getty Images)

     
  2. If you turn to the second website and click your way around, you will find a lot of information about Malta as a holiday destination. Plan a few days there for next summer, starting with your flight from Norway.

    You can decide how to travel, where to stay, where to eat and what to do during the day and in the evening. There is one important thing you have to remember: your budget is limited to 8,000 kroner per person!

    Write up your plan, day by day, and make a budget.