Britain has had a long connection with the Maltese Islands mainly dating back to the early 1800’s after assisting the Maltese to expel the French. Two of the most well-known and more recent events connecting the Islands are the World Wars and the Maltese Independence.
How it began?
The British found themselves sovereign of the Maltese Islands after defeating the French and were originally unsure whether they would retain the territory. Following the treaty of Amiens in 1802, it was decided that Malta would be under the guidance of the Order of St John, however, some locals were not too happy about returning to their predecessors and requested to remain under British protection. Unfortunately peace did not last long as the British were committed to defend Malta with the continuation of the Napoleonic Wars and Britain eventually gained full sovereignty of the Maltese Islands following the Treaty of Paris in 1814. From this moment on Malta became part of the British Empire and was an important and strategic stronghold in the Mediterranean region.
Brave Malta & Nurse of the Mediterranean
Malta played a significant role in the First World War as a supply station and a base for the recovery of the injured gave the Maltese Islands the name ‘Nurse of the Mediterranean’.
During World War Two there were large numbers of RAF stationed in Malta. Malta sustained constant attacks with 3000 bombing raids over a two year period, more bombs were dropped on Malta per square mile than London with 15,000 tonnes dropped on the Maltese Islands.
The Maltese Islands suffered extensive damage and were on the brink of capitulation and were reprieved only by the miraculous arrival of a supply convoy carrying fuel and food supplies. Without the timely arrival of the convoy Malta was about to come to a halt with the fuel stocks all but empty and fall victim of starvation.
Britain’s highest honour of civilian bravery is the George Cross. After the war, acknowledged by King George the V, the entire Maltese population was awarded the George Cross, the only country to be given this accolade. From there on Maltese self-determination became stronger and stronger and they regained their independence on 21st September 1964 although British forces remained in Malta until March 1979.
There are a number of museums in Malta and tours such as The Second World War in Malta & It’s British History that you can visit and find out about British history in malta and Malta’s own fascinating history.
With Britain’s long standing ties with Malta over the past 200 years it is unsurprising there is a great deal of British influence that can still be seen today in Malta. English is a joint official language along with Maltese.
Many laws, education and business have plenty of British overtones. ‘Mediterranean Britishness’ can be found in all walks to Maltese life. Walking around Malta you’re a sure to come across many red painted letter and phone boxes as well as shops and cafes with classic British names, serving British breakfast and brunch. Beer is also a popular drink in Malta with beverages being served in pints and half pints rather than litres. Many old British cars can be found roaming around the island from morris Minors to Triumphs and Bedford Lorries. Oh, and don’t forget they drive on the left!
Malta and the British connection is just some of the reasons why Britons just love to visit and holiday in Malta. With great Mediterranean weather and exceptional cuisine, Malta is an all round great holiday destination and this year Valletta is the European capital of culture which makes Malta an ideal choice for 2018.