Malta's location as a naval base has given it great strategic importance throughout history, and a succession of powers including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish, Normans, Aragonese, Spanish, Hospitallers, French and British have ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the British Empire in 1964 as a Commonwealth realm. Malta was admitted to the League of Nations in 1964 and to the EEC in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.
Malta has a long Christian legacy and is an Apostolic see. According to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta.
Malta is a favoured tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments, including nine World Heritage Sites: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Valletta and seven Megalithic Temples which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.