The History of Malta – Key Moments

History of Malta – Discover Here All Its Key Moments

Welcome to a fascinating journey through the great and notable Malta history. This enchanting peninsula has witnessed different shades of civilizations, leaving a permanent mark on its identity and shaping its remarkable past.

In this analysis of the short History of Malta, we will delve into the key moments that have defined this enchanting archipelago from historic settlements to modern-day developments.

Fun Fact !

The megalithic temples that have been built  on the archipelago are older than the pyramids of Egypt.

To this day, historians still baffle on how people were able to build such magnificent structures in their era.

Brief History of Malta

The History of Malta is a long and interesting one, dating back to the early civilization. Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, this island has been a melting pot of culture. Its interesting heritage can be attributed to the several significant powers that have somehow shaped its history.

The Roman Empire, The Arabs, The French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as The British Empire have all left lasting imprints on Malta, contributing to the country’s mixed culture.

From St. Paul’s shipwreck that brought Christianity to the island in 60 A.D. to the Arabian conquest in 870 A.D., Napoleon Bonaparte’s take over in 1798, down to the British rule which lasted until 1964 when Malta became independent. This fascinating blend of culture is a testament to the island’s rich historical tapestry, thereby shaping Malta’s architecture, language, traditions and cuisine.

History of Malta Timeline

The History of Malta is an interesting chronicle of events that have shaped the island’s cultural heritage. Let’s take you through the timeline of remarkable moments in Malta’s history.

5900 – 3600 BCE
Malta Discovery

This period represents the period when the first human settlements were established in Malta, as seen by archaeological evidence.

3850 – 2350 BCE
Temple Age

This period represents the Temple period, when the construction of Malta’s extraordinary Megalithic temples took place, including the Ġgantija and the Ħaġar Qim temples, showcasing the archipelago’s architectural and religious practices.

2350 – 800 BCE
Bronze Age

This was the bronze age period which came directly after the temple period. The bronze age people were said to have flourished during this period.

800 – 700 BCE
Phoenician Colony

This period represents the period when Malta’s prehistory ended. During this period, the island was colonized by the Phoenician traders and sailors, thereby establishing trading posts and introducing their culture.

600 BCE
Carthaginians Dominance

This period represents the period when the Carthaginians took over the island during the Punic Wars, leading to power struggle and conflicts within the region.

255 BCE – 395 AD
Roman Empire

This period represents Roman domination after the Punic wars. The Roman Catholic religion was introduced during this period.

The Byzantines also dominated briefly during this era. They improved and built defensive structures along the walls.

870 AD – 1091 AD
Arab Empire

This period represents the Arab conquest of Malta which resulted in the introduction of islam, and the repopulation of the island.

It was during this period that the muslims and their slaves rebuilt the city of Melite, and renamed it ‘Medina’.

1090 AD – 1485 AD
Norman Conquest

This period represents the Norman conquest and the middle ages. During this period, Malta returned to christian rule, marking the integration of the island into the kingdom of Sicily.

1530 AD – 1798 AD
The Knights of St. John

During this period, Malta was ruled by the order of Saint John. It was during this period that the knights Hospitaller, also known as the knights of St. john established their stronghold and fortified the islands against potential invaders after being granted the islands by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

It was during this period in 1565 that the Great Siege of Malta took place. And 1566, “Valletta the capital city of Malta” was founded.

1798 AD – 1800 AD
Under Napoleon

This period represents the French take over. During this period, the power of the knights declined and their reign ended when Napoleon Bonaparte took Malta from the knights.

1800 AD – 1964 AD
British Empire

During this period, Malta became part of the British Empire as a protectorate.

Malta played a crucial role as a naval base during World War II and also experienced notable social and political changes.

Sovereign Nation

Malta gained independence from British rule during this period, becoming a sovereign nation within the British Commonwealth.

New Republic

Malta becomes a republic, with the President as the head of state.

European Union

Malta is among the 10 new states to join the European Union.


Malta joins the Eurozone.

When was Malta Discovered?

As it is understood today, the discovery of Malta as an inhabited land is rooted in ancient history, and is deeply entwined with geological processes that shaped the Mediterranean region over millions of years.

Before Malta emerged as the island we know it as today, it was part of an underwater ridge that connected North Africa and Sicily.

But here comes the begging question, when was Malta discovered? However in the context of human history, the discovery of Malta occurred when early inhabitants settled on the island, leaving their traces of existence behind. Based on archaeological records, this happened around 5,900 B.C.E.

Who Came to Malta First?

The first known inhabitants of this rich archipelago were a group of people who migrated from Sicily, a neighboring island, south of the Italian Peninsula. They populated Malta around 5,000 BCE, thereby establishing the Maltese civilization and cultural landscape.

These early settlers were primarily farmers, hunters, and fishermen who took advantage of the fertile land for their sustainability.

How did Malta get its Name?

The origin of Malta’s name is a fascinating one. The island’s name has its roots in the Greek language. The ancient Greeks referred to the island as “Melite”, which in Greek, means ” Sweet as honey”.

This serves as the foundation for the island’s name. The name stems from the History of Malta book as “a honey producing culture” as well as the abundance of bee species that thrive on the island till this day.

Malta’s Capital City: The Transition from Mdina to Valletta

Malta’s capital city has undergone a significant transition in its history. “Mdina the old capital” served as the main capital of Malta for more that 2,000 years. This happened from the 8th century B.C. to 18th of March 1571, when Valletta became the new capital. 

Why Change the Capital City?

The change in capital was as a result of the need for a more defensible and expandable city. History has it that the Knights of Saint John saved Malta when the island almost fell into the hands of the Ottomans during the Great Siege of 1565.

Afterwards, Grand Master Jean de La Valette decided to build a new city with strong fortifications and a substantial amount of water reservoirs to keep the city in case of another invasion.

When did Malta Become Independent?

After centuries under the influence of various powers, Malta achieved a great feat in its history, which is its long-awaited independence on September 21, 1964. This marked a significant crossroads in Malta’s History and paved the way for the country to chart its own course.


From ancient times, to its modern-day status as a member of the European Union, the History of Malta has been a fascinating one. As we’ve journeyed through the key moments in Malta’s history, we’ve uncovered where the country’s mixed culture came from. We also witnessed the transition of capital cities from  Mdina to Valletta.

Therefore, whether you wander through the Silent City, stand in awe of the capital’s majestic fortifications, let the island’s history be your guide!


After centuries of foreign rule, Malta gained its independence from British rule on September 21, 1964 to become a sovereign nation within the British Commonwealth. This marked a significant milestone in the island’s journey towards self-governance and autonomy.

After several years of self-governance, Malta joined the European Union on May 1st, 2004, thereby marking the island’s integration into the European union’s economic and political framework. This event provided Malta with opportunities for economic growth and development, as well as access to a larger market.

Malta’s History is a captivating one. From prehistoric settlements and Phoenician rule to Roman, Arabian, French and then British dominance, Malta has witnessed tons of remarkable events which have shaped its history and culture, making it an ideal destination for tourists.

Malta is famous for its rich and ancient History, encompassing ancient architecture and temples such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta, breathtaking landscapes, amazing beaches and crystal-clear waters. Malta’s warm climate, unique culture and attractions make the island an ideal tourist destination.

Mdina is the oldest city in Malta. This fortified city which is also known as the “Silent City” was once Malta’s capital. With a History dating back over 4,000 years, this city boasts of ancient architecture, as well as a rich cultural heritage that transports tourists to the ancient times.

With evidence of prehistoric settlements, ancient temples, and a couple of past civilisations, Malta’s history dates back over 7,000 years, making Malta one of the oldest inhabited places in the world.