Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Malta timeline

A chronology of key events:

1814 - Malta a crown colony of the British Empire.

Grand Harbour, Valletta
Valletta's architectural charms are a draw for tourists
Built in 1565
Taken by the British in 1800
Population: 7,200

World War ll - Heavy bombing by German and Italian air forces targeting Allied bases.

1942 - King George VI awards colony the George Cross - Britain's highest civilian decoration - for heroism.

1947 - Self-government granted.

1959 - Self-government revoked.

1962 - Self-government restored.

1964 - Full independence.

1964-71 - Nationalist Party pursues pro-Western alignment.

1971 - Dom Mintoff's Malta Labour Party takes power, new era begins of non-alignment and special friendship with Libya and Communist states.

'Yes' supporters celebrate result of EU accession vote
EU 'yes' vote was confirmed in subsequent elections

1974 - Malta becomes republic.

1979 - Closure of British military base.

1984 - Mintoff resigns, succeeded by Carmelo Mifsud-Bonnici.

Road to EU

1987 - Victory of Nationalist Party marks move toward European integration. Eddie Fenech Adami becomes prime minister.

1989 - Malta hosts first summit between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George Bush.

1990 - Malta submits application for full membership of the European Union (EU).

1995 April - Malta joins Nato's Partnership for Peace programme, only to leave in October 1996 in order to maintain its neutrality

1996 - Labour Party, led by Alfred Sant, regains power and shelves application for EU membership.

1998 - Eddie Fenech Adami's Nationalist Party returns to power, revives application to enter EU.

1999 - Guido de Marco sworn in as president.

Marsaxlokk, Malta
Marsaxlokk: Its port is a key container terminal

2001 May - Pope John Paul II visits Malta, where 98% of the population are Roman Catholic. The Pope beatifies three Maltese clerics at an open-air ceremony.

2002 December - EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Malta to join in 2004.

2003 March - Just over 53% of voters say yes to EU membership in a referendum.

2003 April - Adami's ruling Nationalist Party claims victory in a general election, confirming the pro-EU referendum result.

2004 March - Lawrence Gonzi sworn in as prime minister following retirement of veteran leader Edward Fenech Adami.

2004 May - Malta is one of 10 new states to join the EU.

2005 July - Parliament ratifies proposed EU constitution.

Malta joins eurozone

2008 January - Malta adopts the euro.

2008 March - General elections. Ruling Nationalist Party wins by a razor-thin margin.

2009 April - Pope Benedict XVI makes pilgrimage to Malta, following in footsteps of early Christian missionary St Paul, who was shipwrecked on the island 1,950 years previously, in 60 AD.

2011 July - Maltese parliament passes law allowing divorce after the move was approved in a referendum in May; the mainly Catholic state had been the only country in Europe to ban divorce.

2012 January - Malta's credit rating, along with that of several eurozone countries, is downgraded by Standard and Poor's rating agency. The IMF warns that the Maltese economy is at risk of contagion from the global financial crisis.

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