Malta’s position in the Mediterranean, midway between Europe and Africa, has made it a strategic prize. Here, in the 16th century, the Knights of St. John repelled 30,000 soldiers of Süleyman the Magnificent’s Ottoman Empire. It withstood Axis bombs during World War II. In 1964, after almost 150 years as a British colony, the Maltese islands won independence. Tourism is the cornerstone of the nation’s economy, and it joined the EU in 2004.