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Thursday 23rd May
Malta Information - Page 2
Malta and Gozo have been inhabited for over five thousand years. Stone Age and Bronze Age communities left impressive structures on the Maltese landscape.

Early colonisers were Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians. Roman rule followed lasting until the fifth century.

Over the centuries Malta was ruled by a succession of foreign powers including Arab invaders, the German Hohenstaufen Dynasty, Sicilian Angevins, Germans and Spaniards. In 1530 the Spanish passed Malta to the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The French arrived in 1798 and after the Napoleonic Wars Britain acquired the island.

The British remained in Malta until the island became independent in 1964. Ten years later Malta became a republic. Malta retained its links with the UK becoming a member of the Commonwealth.

In December 2002 Malta took part in EU accession negotiations with nine other countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia). The Accession Treaty was signed on 16 April 2003 with 1 May 2004 the formal entry date.

Malta's service sector provides the highest contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) employing a significant percentage of the working population. Services include shipping, finance and tourism.

Limestone is an important resource. Industries are construction, shipbuilding and repair, electronics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, clothing, footwear, tobacco, food and beverages.

Agriculture provides a relatively small percentage of the country's GDP. Products include grains, potatoes, cauliflowers, green peppers, tomatoes, grapes, citrus fruits and cut flowers. Poultry, goats, pigs, sheep and cattle are reared. Fishing plays a minor part in the overall economy but has a traditional role in the provision of food for the Maltese family. (2008)

Malta is well known for pottery. Some of the oldest examples of Maltese pottery were found in the ancient burial chamber of Hypogeum. Other crafts are handmade lace, wrought ironwork and filigree silver.

Malta's most well known artists of the twentieth century include the ceramist and sculptor Gabriel Caruana and the modern artist Alfred Chircop.

Football is Malta's most popular team sport and horse racing is a favourite spectator sport.

The Malta Marathon in mid-February is an international event with runners participating from different parts of the world.

With its island coastlines and favourable weather Malta is ideal for water sports. Diving is available from the islands and swimming, sailing and windsurfing are popular.

The following religious days are observed: Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck, Feast of St. Joseph, Feast of St. Peter & St. Paul, Feast of the Assumption, Feast of Our Lady of Victories and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Christmas and Easter are celebrated.

Other holidays are New Year's Day, Freedom Day (31 March), Variable Workers' Day, Commemoration of the 1919 Uprising - Sette Giugno riots (7 June), Independence Day (21 September 1964) and Republic Day (13 December).

News from Malta can be found in Newslink.

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