Malta covers just over 300 km² in land area, making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. Throughout history, Malta’s location has given it great strategic importance and a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Fatimids, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and the British ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974, whilst retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations (since 1964) and a member of the European Union (since 2004).
Malta has 405,000 of the EU’s 495 million people, and is 316 square kilometres in size, out of the EU’s total size of 4,324,782 square kilometres.