Malta is a small and densely populated European microstate, comprising an archipelago of seven islands, making it an island nation. Situated in Southern Europe, 93 km (58 mi) off the coast of Sicily (Italy), it is located in the Mediterranean Sea, giving the country a warm, Mediterranean climate. A farther 288 km (179 mi) to the island's west is Tunisia and 300 km (186 mi) south is Libya.Malta's capital city is Valletta.

Ggantija Temples
Ggantija Temples

Throughout much of its history, Malta's location in the Mediterranean Sea has had strategic importance. Malta was conquered and ruled by a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Romans, Fatimids, Knights of St John and English. Malta gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and is currently a member of the European Union, which it joined in 2004. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations.

The island is commonly associated with the Knights Hospitaller who ruled it from the 16th through the 18th Centuries. Along with the historic Biblical shipwreck of St. Paul on the island, this ingrained a strong Roman Catholic legacy responsible for Catholicism being the official and dominant religion in Malta today.

The country's official languages are Maltese and English, although there are strong historical ties to the Italian language on the islands.