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The Republic of Malta, consisting of three islands, is located off the southeast coast of Italy in the central Mediterranean Sea. Its location between Europe and the northern African coast enhances its strategic importance. Malta maintains political and military neutrality.

In 1955, Malta was given the opportunity to become a full member of the United Kingdom. In a referendum, the votes were three-to-one in favor -- but the "yes" vote did not reach the needed absolute...

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