18.1 Situated in the centre of the Mediterranean some 58 miles to the south of Sicily, Malta is made up of a number of islands, namely Gozo and Comino as well as Malta itself, on which the capital Valletta is located. Malta gained its independence from Britain in 1964, became a republic ten years later and is a member of the Commonwealth. Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and has a population of some 415,000. Malta is a parliamentary democracy with members of the House of Representatives elected for a five-year term by proportional representation. The official languages are Maltese and English. The official unit of currency is the Euro.