Malta is a Mediterranean island nation in Southern Europe. The country's strategic location in the path of ancient and modern sea routes has led to its inhabitation by various populations since ancient times.
Brief History of Malta
The islands of Malta have also been ruled by a succession of powers including the Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, and British. The culture of the country has thus been enriched over the centuries by the influence of these major global powers. Prior to its independence, Malta became a British colony in 1815. During the Second World War, the people of Malta fought alongside the Allied forces. As a result, the United Kingdom awarded the country with a George Cross for bravery. In 1964, the Malta Independence Act was passed, whereby the country became independent of British rule. However, Queen Elizabeth II continued to serve as the head of state and queen of the country. Malta became a republic a decade later.
History of Malta's Flag
During British rule in Malta, the colonial flag of the Crown Colony of Malta was used, which featured the Union Jack in the canton. A new flag was used in Malta between 1943 and 1964, which was similar to the current flag but included a canton that was blue in color and featured the George Cross inside it. However, this flag was used unofficially. Another design change occurred on September 21, 1964, which removed the blue canton but maintained the George Cross in the upper left corner. The intention was to make the cross appear less prominent since it was a reminder of the country’s colonial past.
The flag of Malta is a bicolor flag with two vertical bands equal in size: white (left) and red (right). The white band features the George Cross with red edges on the upper hoist-side corner.
According to legend, the colors of Malta’s flag were originally given to the country by Roger I of Sicily in 1090. When his fleet of ships landed in Malta after a successful conquest of Sicily, the Christians living on the island of Malta offered to help Roger I fight the Arabs. In recognition of this help, Roger I tore a part of his chequered red-and-white flag and gifted it to the locals as a sign of gratitude. However, scholars claim the story is simply a 19th-century myth. The Maltese colors were possibly derived from the flag of the Knights of Malta, which featured a red field with a white cross. The George Cross featured on the flag is the second highest award in United Kingdom honors system.