- History of the Maltese in Gibraltar
A Maltese community has existed in
Gibraltarsince shortly after the British conquest in 1704. Gibraltar, Maltaand Cypruswere the three stepping stones whereby Great Britain controlled the Mediterraneanand the vital route to the Suez Canaland 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 Catholicuniqueness of the colony despite centuries of British occupation.
Gibraltar prospered by the arrival of
19th centurytrade with Africaand 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 centurythe 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
dockyardand others operated businesses which were usually ancillary to the dockyard. Some sold tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Others were porters, carters and boatmen.
economy of Gibraltarwas 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
Daniel Bugeja, current Taxi guitaristand former Melon Diesel guitarist.
Davina Camilleri, TV presenter of the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.
Charles Caruana, Bishopof the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar.
Leni Mifsud, prominent painter.
Vin Mifsud, prominent painter.
Gerard Teuma, TV and presenter "head of radio" of the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.
Leslie Zammit PhD MBE, dramapioneer and former headmasterof Bayside Comprehensive School.
Jamie Zammitt, swimmerand silver medalist at the 2005 Island Games.
*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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