Due to Malta’s strategic location in the ‘middle of the sea’ the islands’ inhabitants were colonised for millennia, for example by the Phoenicians (→Ace♦ and 2♥), Romans and Arabs (→3♠, second paragraph). Standing at the Saluting Battery below Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta are her last three occupiers (acrylics, 42x30cm): the Knights (→2♦ and Jack♥), French (1798-1800) and British (1800-1964). The background depicts Fort St Angelo’s bastions in Birgu, this fortification has been in existence since at least the 13th century, when Malta was an appendage of Sicily and under Norman rule (→6♦), and was last used by the British for military purposes in 1979. The party is truly over: three cannon balls forming a ♣ show the end of colonization and, with a boom and a bang, Malta’s status as a self-governing nation has been celebrated as Independence Day since 1964 and Freedom Day since 1979, depending on one’s political persuasion. Throughout the EU, Malta is the country with the most public holidays (14) of which no less than five are national holidays (for another example →7♠). Worldwide there are only 10 [out of 193] countries who top this amount of public holidays.
(text by Margit Waas)