Maltese is a Semitic language spoken by about 350,000 people on the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo.
The Maltese language developed from the Arabic spoken by the Arabs who invaded and occupied Malta in 870 AD. Malta was occupied by French-speaking Normans in 1090. Between 1530 and 1798 Malta served as the base for the Knights Hospitaller of St John, who spoke Italian and Latin. Malta became a British colony in 1800 and the British tried to replace Italian with English as the local language. After Malta become independent in 1964 both English and Maltese were given official status and Maltese became the national language of Malta.