Malta was built from a small agricultural community that inhabited the island as early as 8000 years ago, a community which has been noted for building megalithic structures before those of the Pyramids in Egypt.
Owing to its position in the middle of the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians and the Greeks used it as a trading post, before it fell into the hands of the Roman Empire, where it remained for many centuries until the fall of Rome. It then passed to the Byzantine Empire who had to use it as a battle ground with the Arabs who then conquered it. During their occupation the Arabs introduced new irrigation techniques, new crops and most significantly asserted their language which evolved into the Maltese we know today.
The Normans conquered Malta in 1091 and King Roger I was installed as monarch of the Kingdom of Sicily. Under his rule the Norman architecture seen in modern Mdina was built. The kingdom then passed to the Holy Roman Empire a century later which turned the island into a fortress and expelled all Muslims. It was also passed to the Capetian House of Anjou and the House or Aragon creating a feudal system.
The Island was given to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem indefinitely from 1530 having been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. Unhappy that the Knights had re-settled, the Ottomans laid siege on the Island in 1565 with a force of 40,000 men, hugely outnumbering the Knights of Malta. Against all the odds, the Knights managed to fight them off.
In 1798 Napoleon requested a safe harbour to re-supply his ships en-route to Egypt during the French Revolutionary Wars, but while he was safely in port, turned the gun on his hosts and captured the island. The British went to help out the islanders in their insurgency against French forces, so when Napoleon was defeated the Island became a British territory in 1814. Malta then became a hugely important stop half-way between Suez and Gibraltar and on the way to India.
During WWII Malta retained considerable strategic importance, so when Malta repelled the German siege of the islands in 1942, King George VI awarded the Island the George Cross, which is now part of the Maltese Flag.
Malta gained independence from the UK in 1964.