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Malta is a southern European country in the Mediterranean Sea 80 km (50 mi) south of Sicily and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. Malta covers just over 316 km2 (122 sq mi), making it one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. The capital of Malta is Valletta. There are two official languages: Maltese and English.Malta's location has given it great strategic importance throughout history and a succession of powers including the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St John, French and the British 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 is an Apostolic see. According to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta.