The history of Malta is a long and colourful one dating back to the dawn of civilisation.

The Maltese Islands went through a golden Neolithic period, the remains of which include the mysterious temples dedicated to the goddess of fertility.

Later on, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines, all left their traces on the Islands.

In 60 A.D. St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island while on his way to Rome and brought Christianity to Malta.

The Arabs conquered the islands in 870 A.D. and left an important mark on the language of the Maltese. Until 1530 Malta was an extension of Sicily.

The Normans, the Aragonese and other conquerors who ruled over Sicily also governed the Maltese Islands.

It was Charles V who bequeathed Malta to the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem who ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798.

Following the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights took Malta through a new golden age, a key player in the cultural scene of 17th and 18th century Europe.

The artistic and cultural lives of the Maltese Islands were injected with the presence of artists such as Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Favray.

These were commissioned by the Knights to embellish churches, palaces and auberges.

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte took over Malta from the Knights on his way to Egypt.

French presence on the islands was short lived, the English were requested by the Maltese to help them against the French, blockaded the islands in 1800.

British rule in Malta lasted until 1964 when Malta became independent.

The Maltese adopted the British system of public administration, education and legislation.

Modern Malta became a Republic in 1974. The foreign military bases on the island closed down permanently in 1979.

Malta joined the European Union in May 2004 and the Eurozone in January of 2008.

The Maltese coastal waters are generally clean and safe for swimming as there are no tides.

Some bays are exposed to north and north-easterly winds which do produce some strong undercurrents at times.

If you are new to the Maltese Islands, swim where the locals do.

Sun Bathing
The Maltese Archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean and has a latitude more southerly than that of northern Tunisia.

It is advisable to take precautions to ensure that you avoid over exposure to the sun.

Even in winter it is recommended to wear sunscreen with a suitable factor for your skin type.

This is important if you are out walking, or taking part in water sports. A sun hat is a must.

Children and especially babies need extra protection from the sun.

If you are sunbathing, it is advisable to avoid the strongest sunlight between the hours of 11am and 3pm in peak summer months.

For more about safe and proper beach behaviour, consult our Code of Conduct here.

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