History of Malta - Mediterranean Holiday Destinations
The history of Malta has been shaped by its strategic location and perfect harbour setting. It is believed that Malta was first settled in Neolithic times. The Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum on Malta itself is the oldest example of prehistoric rock cut tombs in Europe; the megalithic temples are thought to date back to 3600BC and both are world-class archaeological sites. Malta went on to become a powerful place as its location meant it could exercise control over the passing of trade ships across the vast Mediterranean Sea. Its calm waters and deep natural harbours made perfect sheltering points for fleets crossing the Mediterranean. Consequently, Malta has been irresistible to military powers, and the less reputable who sought to overthrow them, for hundreds of years as exercising control of Malta meant taking control of the Mediterranean.
A long list of colonisers chequers the history of Malta. From the ancient Carthaginians to the Normans and the French, all the major forces in history have ruled Malta at some point. Of course the hand of British rule touched Malta when they ousted the French in the early 1800s. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 increased the strategic importance of Malta. It became the perfect re-fuelling spot for ships bound for Asia. During the time of British rule however, it seems the Maltese had their fill of being governed and began to fight for independence. Their plea for political freedom was only granted in 1964 and soon after, it became a republic.
A place of so many influences, the history of Malta is evident as soon as you land on the island. Step off the plane and the feeling that you're stepping into a place with a detailed and complex history is overwhelming. The rich Maltese art and culture combines their many influences and reflects the ability of the Maltese people to adapt and accept change as well as demonstrating their resilience. At various points in history, Malta has been a battleground, a refuge and a home to people of different races and cultures, culminating in a place that although small in size, is huge in history.