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Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.
Malta's location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the George Cross to Malta in 1942 for the country's bravery in the Second World War. Pottery found by archaeologists at the Skorba Temples resembles that found in Italy, and suggests that the Maltese islands were first settled in 5200 BCE mainly by Stone Age hunters or farmers who had arrived from the Italian island of Sicily, possibly the Sicani.
During the 1st century BC the island was mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Diodorus Siculus: the latter praised its harbours, the wealth of its inhabitants, its lavishly decorated houses and the quality of its textile products. 117–38) upgraded the status of Malta to municipium or free town: the island local affairs were administered by four quattuorviri iuri dicundo and a municipal senate, while a Roman procurator, living in Mdina, represented the proconsul of Sicily.
It is presumed the population arrived from Sicily because of the similarity of Maltese dolmens to some small constructions found on the largest island of the Mediterranean sea.
indicates the slow pace of the island's Romanization, since the very last locally minted coins still bear inscriptions in Ancient Greek on the obverse (like "MEΛΙΤΑΙΩ", meaning "of the Maltese") and Punic motifs, showing the resistance of the Greek and Punic cultures.
Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone. Pottery from the Għar Dalam phase is similar to pottery found in Agrigento, Sicily.
Malta has a long Christian legacy and its Archdiocese of Malta is claimed to be an apostolic see because, according to tradition dating to around the 12th century, the Acts of the Apostles is interpreted by the faithful Malta is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, in reference to Malta's many bays and coves. A culture of megalithis temple builders then either supplanted or arose from this early period.
Under the Malta Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1964, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom as an independent sovereign Commonwealth realm, officially known from 1964 to 1974 as the State of Malta, with Elizabeth II as its head of state. The extinction of the dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants has been linked to the earliest arrival of humans on Malta.