This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of Malta – a tiny (122 square miles and 440,000 people), strategically-located archipelago (90 miles south of Sicily) that has played an outsized and significant role in the Central Mediterranean region for two and one-half millennia. It is written for the participants in the Chief Executives Organization’s program, Malta, May 29-June 3, 2019.
I begin by summarizing the main turning points in Malta’s 2500 years of recorded history and the key indicators of socio-economic development since Malta gained its independence from Great Britain in 1964. I then contrast the differing roles of its early outside rulers –Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab/Berber, Norman, German, French, and Spanish dynasties – and examine how well the Order of St. John ran Malta (after 1530) and why it lost control (in 1798). I next discuss Malta’s evolving roles and significance as a British colony (1802-1964). At the end, I look at political and economic changes since Malta became independent in 1964. Prosperous Malta became the smallest member of the European Union in 2004. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Malta.
Order of St. John, Colonial and Independent Malta, British colonial rule of Malta, Independent Malta, Malta in the European Union, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Paola, Hagar Qim Temple, Malta Island, Medieval Mdina, Gozo Island, St. Paul’s Catacombs, Rabat, St. Paul’s Grotto, Rabat, The Three Cities of Malta, Grand Harbour