History of the Maltese in Gibraltar

Maltese Gibraltarians
Malta Gibraltar
English, Spanish, Maltese, Llanito
Largely Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Maltese diaspora

A Maltese community has existed in Gibraltar since shortly after its capture by an Anglo-Dutch fleet 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. Following the Capture of Gibraltar, most of the existing population elected to leave, leaving behind a small population of around seventy (mainly neutral Genoese people). Immigration from neighboring Spanish towns soon followed, giving Gibraltar a very cosmopolitan population. Years of coexistence and intermarriage on the Rock soon led to a coalescence of Maltese, Italian and Andalusian culture, preserving the Mediterranean and Catholic nature of Gibraltar despite the centuries of British rule.


Gibraltar prospered with the arrival of 19th century trade with North Africa and the presence of the Royal Navy. This prosperity attracted immigrants from neighbouring Mediterranean lands and in 1885 there were about 1,000 Maltese people living in Gibraltar. Early in the 20th century the British undertook vast naval works and improvements to the existing fortifications of Gibraltar to make the rock practically impregnable. The naval base in Gibraltar was to prove its strategic value in the two world wars. Given the common cultural bond between Malta and Gibraltar, the prospect of lucrative employment spurred further immigration from Malta.

Maltese in Gibraltar

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. However, the economy of Gibraltar was not capable of absorbing a large number of immigrants from Malta and by 1912 the number of Maltese was already in decline as they returned to the Maltese Islands. Eventually those who stayed in Gibraltar became very much involved in the economic and social life in Gibraltar, most of them also being staunch supporters of links with the UK. The situation in Malta was very different, where, despite an earlier attempt at integration with the UK, rising nationalist sentiment led to independence in 1964 and the establishment of a republic a decade later.

Notable Gibraltarians of Maltese descent

See also


  • "France, England and Gibraltar". Maltamigration. Archived from the original on 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
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