I took the photo at right a few hours ago when I realized I had time to make a quick dash into Valetta, the capital city, before my conference began.
Malta has a fascinating history, having been occupied by the Phonecians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the French under Napoleon and then the British. During the Second World War, the islands endured thousands and thousands of air raids but never surrendered to the Germans.
Independent since 1964, Malta is a fascinating mixture of European and Arabian influences. About 90% of the population is Catholic, but several Jesuits have told me that they expect a huge fall off in church attendance now that Malta has joined the European Union and will experience the same cultural buffeting that Ireland experienced after entry into the Union.