The Maltese archipelago includes the islands of Malta, Gozo, Comino, Comminotto and Filfla. It has a history of colonial control spanning centuries. Independence from Britain was achieved in 1964. For more detail on key events, click this link Malta Key Events
Located south of the Italian island of Sicily between Europe and North Africa, it has been occupied by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and latterly France and Britain.
Politics: The Nationalist Party's Lawrence Gonzi has been PM since 2004.
President: George Abela
Prime minister: Joseph Muscat is a Maltese politician who has been Prime Minister of Malta since 2013. Mr Muscat has been leader of the Labour Party since 6 June 2008, and he was Leader of the Opposition from 1 October 2008 to 10 March 2013.
Economy: Financial services, tourism and manufacturing are key sectors
International: Malta pursues a policy of neutrality, while keeping close ties with Europe and the US
Malta was the smallest of the 10 countries to join the EU in May 2004. It joined the eurozone in 2008.
Over the centuries, Malta's strategic position fostered its development as an important trading post and it remains a leading centre for container and freight tran-shipment.
Facts and Figures:
Full name: Republic of Malta
Population: 418,000 (UN, 2011)
Area: 316 sq km (122 sq miles)
Major languages: Maltese, English
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 78 years (men), 82 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: Euro from 1 January 2008
Main exports: Machinery and transport equipment
GNI per capita: US $19,270 (World Bank, 2010)
Internet domain: .mt
International dialling code: +356