- country on a group of islands in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily: a former British colony, it became independent & a member of the Commonwealth (1964): 122 sq mi (316 sq km); pop. 376,000; cap. Valletta
- main island of this group: 95 sq mi (246 sq km)
An island country in the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily, comprising the island of Malta and two smaller islands. Occupied successively by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Saracens, and Normans, Malta was granted to the Knights Hospitalers in 1530 and passed to France in 1798 and Great Britain in 1800. The country became independent in 1964. Valletta, on Malta Island, is the capital.
OriginSee also: Maltā
Disputed; from a Phoenician root [script?] (mlṭ), meaning "refuge" or from Ancient Greek μέλι, μελίτος (meli, melitos, “honey”).