The history of Malta dates back to the Neolithic era more than 5,000 years ago. The largest megalithic temples in Malta are Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien in Malta, and Ggantija temples in Gozo. These gigantic stone structures are the oldest free structures in the world. In addition, the underground hypogeum is the only one of its kind in the world.
Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans successively occupied the Maltese islands. In A.D. 870 the Arabs occupied the islands for 2 hundred years followed by the Normans. After the death of the Norman king, Malta formed part of the kingdom of the two Sicilies under the Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and Castillans.
In 1530 Emperor Charles V handed over the Maltese islands with their protesting inhabitants as a fief to the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, a powereful body of celibate nobles vowing to help the poor, care for the sick and wage war on Islam. The knights were driven out of Malta in 1798 by the French. According to Laferla "no one in the space of a few days attempted more, did more and upset the Maltese more than he [Napoleon] did."
Two years later the French surrendered to the British who came to assist the Maltese in 1800. The islands were formally ceded to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1814. The British ruled the islands for 164 years. In 1964 Malta gained independence from Britain. Ten years later, in 1974, Malta became a Republic. Malta joined the European Union in May 2004 and joined the eurozone in 2008.


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