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, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St. John, French and the British, have ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.
Malta has a long Christian legacy and its Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Malta is sometimes traditionally claimed to be an Apostolic see because, according to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked on Malta.
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