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Portrait of a civilian A child in the siege of annihilation: Malta 1940–43
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A salient characteristic of the campaigns in the Mediterranean was that the fighting was largely conducted in country almost wholly lacking any civilian populations-with one striking exception. Malta is just 188 km (117 miles) square, or about twothirds the size of the Isle of Wight but, with a population of 270,000 people it was one of the most densely populated areas in Europe. The island’s proximity, just 96 km (60 miles) or 10 minutes’ flying time to Sicily, enabled the Axis to inflict an intense bombardment in an attempt to neutralize Malta as an offensive base.