Malta, officially the Republic of Malta (Maltese: Repubblika ta' Malta), is a densely populated developed European microstate in the European Union.
The island nation comprises an archipelago of seven islands situated in the Southern European areas of the Mediterranean sea, 93 km off the coast of Sicily (Italy), 288 km east of Tunisia and 300 km north of Libya. The islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate.
Throughout its history, Malta's location in the Mediterranean Sea has given it a strategic importance. Consequently, a sequence of powers including the Sicilians, Phoenicians, Romans, Fatimids, Knights of St John and British have all conquered Malta.
Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 but remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is currently a member of the European Union, which it joined in 2004, and also of the United Nations. Malta is known for its world heritage sites, most prominently the Megalithic Temples which are the oldest free-standing structures on Earth. According to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island. Malta is also considered a potential location for the mythical lost island of Atlantis.
Malta's capital city is Valletta. The country's official languages are Maltese and English, which replaced Italian in 1934. Malta has a long legacy of Roman Catholicism, which continues to be the official and dominant religion in Malta.