Year of EU entry: 2004 / Capital city: Valletta / Population: 0.4 million
Malta is a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The terrain is low and rocky with coastal cliffs. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the country is a melting pot of civilisations with a history stretching back thousands of years. Malta has been inhabited since around 5,200 BC and a significant prehistoric civilisation existed on the islands prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians, who named the main island Malat, meaning safe haven.
Tourism is important in Malta, but the island also has an expanding services sector. Traditional Maltese food includes soup (minestrone, fish), pasta and pastry dishes. Stuffed dishes are a feature of Maltese cuisine. The national language is Maltese but English is recognised as an official language, and many Maltese citizens also speak Italian.