Maltese Americans

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Maltese Americans
Malti tal-Amerika
Malta United States
Total population
c. 0.01% of the U.S. population (2019)
Regions with significant populations
Metro Detroit, New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago
English, Maltese
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Maltese diaspora, Sicilian American, Corsican American, Italian American

Maltese Americans are Americans with Maltese ancestry.


The first immigrants from Malta to the United States arrived during the mid-eighteenth century to the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Many Americans assumed Malta was part of Italy. In some cases "Born Malta, Italy" was put on tombstones of Maltese because of the confusion.

At this time and in the nineteenth century the Maltese who emigrated to the United States were still scarce. In fact, in the 1860s, only between five and ten Maltese emigrated to the United States every year. The majority of them were agricultural workers, and, in the case of New Orleans, market gardeners and vegetable dealers.

20th century

After World War I, in 1919, Maltese immigration to the US increased. In the first quarter of 1920 more than 1,300 Maltese immigrated to the United States. Detroit, Michigan, with jobs in the expanding automobile industry, drew the largest share of immigrants. It is believed that in the following years, more than 15,000 Maltese people emigrated to the United States, later getting U.S. citizenship.

A significant percentage of early Maltese immigrants intended to stay only temporarily for work, but many settled in the US permanently. In addition to Detroit, other industrial cities such as New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago attracted Maltese immigrants.

After World War II the Maltese government committed to pay passage costs to Maltese people who wanted to emigrate and live at least two years abroad. This program led to increased emigration by the people of the island and made up approximately 8,000 Maltese who arrived to the United States between the years 1947 and 1977. Malta's government promoted Maltese emigration because Malta was overpopulated.


Estimates of the number of Maltese immigrants and their descendants living in the US by 1990 have been as high as 70,000. The majority of Americans of Maltese descent continued to live in the same cities where immigration had taken place, particularly Detroit (approximately 44,000 Maltese) and New York City (more than 20,000 Maltese); in the latter, most of the people of Maltese origin are concentrated in Astoria, Queens. San Francisco and Chicago also have significant populations.

The 2013 American Community Survey estimated that there were 38,177 Americans of Maltese ancestry living in the United States. Of these, 24,202 have Maltese as their first or only ancestry. This includes Maltese born immigrants to the United States, their American born descendants as well as numerous immigrants from other nations of Maltese origin.


As in their country of origin, Maltese Americans predominantly practice Roman Catholicism as their religion. Many are practicing Catholics, attending church every week and actively participating in their local parishes.

Notable people

See also

Further reading

  • Andreassi, Diane. "Maltese Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2014), pp. 163–170. online
  • Andreassi, Diane. Maltese in Detroit (Arcadia, 2011).
  • Cassar, Paul. Early Relations between Malta and the United States of America (Valletta, Malta: Midsea Books, 1976).
  • Lubig, Joseph M. Maltese in Michigan (Michigan State University Press, 2011).

External links