History of the Maltese in Gibraltar

History of the Maltese in Gibraltar

A Maltese community has existed in Gibraltar since shortly after the British conquest in 1704. Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus were the three stepping stones whereby Great Britain controlled the Mediterranean and the vital route to the Suez Canal and thence to India. When the British conquered Gibraltar, the majority of the inhabitants fled and sought refuge principally in the nearby Spanish town of San Roque, leaving behind a place to be taken by immigrants, mostly from Malta and Genoa. Immigration from neighboring Spanish towns soon followed giving the colony a very cosmopolitan population. Years of coexistence and intermarriage on the colony soon led to a coalescence of Maltese, Italian and Andalusian culture, preserving the Mediterranean and Catholic uniqueness of the colony despite centuries of British occupation.

Gibraltar prospered by the arrival of 19th century trade with Africa and the presence of the British Fleet. This prosperity attracted immigrants from neighbouring Mediterranean lands and in 1885 there were about 1,000 Maltese people living on The Rock. Early in the twentieth century the British undertook vast naval works to make the colony practically impregnable. The base in Gibraltar was to prove its strategic value in the two world wars. It was only to be expected that, given the common colonial bond between Malta and Gibraltar, some Maltese would be lured by the prospect of lucrative employment on The Rock.

By 1912 the total number of Maltese living in Gibraltar was not above 700. Many worked in the dockyard and others operated businesses which were usually ancillary to the dockyard. Some sold tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Others were porters, carters and boatmen.

However, the economy of Gibraltar was not capable of absorbing a large number of immigrants from Malta. By 1912 the Maltese colony was already in decline. Eventually those who stayed on The Rock became very much involved in the economic and social life of the colony, most of them also being staunch supporters of the colony's link with Great Britain.

Notable Gibraltarians of Maltese Descent

* Keith Azopardi, leader of the Progressive Democratic Party and former Gibraltar Social Democrat Deputy Chief Minister.

* Daniel Bugeja, current Taxi guitarist and former Melon Diesel guitarist.

* Davina Camilleri, TV presenter of the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.

* Charles Caruana, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar.

* Peter Caruana QC, GSD Chief Minister of Gibraltar.

* Leni Mifsud, prominent painter.

* Vin Mifsud, prominent painter.

* Gerard Teuma, TV and presenter "head of radio" of the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.

* Daryl Vassallo, athlete and gold medalist at the 2003 and 2005 Island Games.

* Leslie Zammit PhD MBE, drama pioneer and former headmaster of Bayside Comprehensive School.

* Jamie Zammitt, swimmer and silver medalist at the 2005 Island Games.

ee also

* Maltese people


*cite web |url=http://www.maltamigration.com/history/exodus/chapter3-5.shtml |title=France, England and Gibraltar |accessdate=2007-09-26 |publisher=Maltamigration

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