The small Mediterranean archipelago of Malta has a fascinating history dating back to prehistoric times. Settled in Classical times by the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans, the island of Malta became an important battleground during the Crusades. In 1530 the island became the property of the Order of the Knights of St John (now best known for St John's Ambulance service).
In 1798 Napoleon captured the island from the Knights of St John on his way to his campaign in Egypt. The island rebelled against the French and ejected them with the help of a British naval blockade and military support from the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. In 1800, the Maltese people invited Britain to take the island as part of the empire; it remained as such until 1964, when Malta became independent.