France is a republic and the largest Western European nation. Through expansion and colonisation in the 17th and 18th centuries France became a great power and still retains territories around the world. It has a seat on the UN security council and is the world’s fourth most wealthy country with a high standard of living and strong cultural identity.
Libya, officially the State of Libya, is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad to the south, Niger to the southwest, Algeria to the west, and Tunisia to the northwest.
The sovereign state is made of three historical regions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. The largest city and capital, Tripoli, is located in western Libya and contains over three million of Libya’s seven million people. The second-largest city is Benghazi, which is located in eastern Libya.
Libya became independent as a kingdom in 1951. A military coup in 1969 overthrew King Idris I. Parts of Libya are currently split between rival Tobruk and Tripoli-based governments, as well as various tribal and Islamist militias.
Libya is a member of the United Nations (since 1955), the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League, the OIC and OPEC. The country’s official religion is Islam, with 96.6% of the Libyan population being Sunni Muslims.
Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital is Valletta. The official and national language is Maltese, which is descended from Sicilian Arabic that developed during the Emirate of Sicily, while English serves as the second official language. Italian and Sicilian also previously served as official and cultural languages.
Malta has been inhabited since approximately 5900 BC. Its location in the centre of the Mediterranean has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base.
Malta became a British colony in 1813, and the British Parliament passed the Malta Independence Act in 1964, giving Malta independence from the United Kingdom as the State of Malta, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and queen. The country became a republic in 1974. It has been a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations since independence, and joined the European Union in 2004; it became part of the eurozone monetary union in 2008.
Catholicism is the state religion, but the Constitution of Malta guarantees freedom of conscience and religious worship.
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant.