2. North Africa
3.4. Tripolitania – Libya
3. Eastern Mediterranean
4. The other countries
Emigration was directly linked to the situation in the country of origin. Especially from 1820 onwards Malta had formidable problems with redundant population. Peace in the country developed occupancies, which led to unemployment throughout the country. Although the country was afflicted by several diseases like the plague in 1813 and cholera this did little to curb the unstoppable growth in population. Many inhabitants saw emigration, as the only possible solution to avoid the crisis of overpopulation, which would have left them with no or little income. Especially men left their home country for a better occupation, whilst women stayed at home or followed later (Dr. C. Cassar). In the early years, emigration was primarily an escape from the misery at home. After a while the need to go abroad was found in all social classes, but with different ambitions, being the eager of survival or the desideratum for a better life in a more educated world (Price, C.A., page 36). Furthermore the British Government implemented schemes to settle Maltese in other parts of the English empire. Cyprus for instance was lacking a healthy population, therefore the British tried to settle Maltese inhabitants there, to counterbalance both populations. As one will see later on, this was largely unsuccessful. The average Maltese inhabitant, loves his country and its traditions. Therefore leaving their fatherland and exploring new and unknown domains was, as stated previously, mostly not a choice but a necessity. To make it easier for them as well as to not completely lose touch with their folkway, it is eye-catching that most emigrants chose a destination in or close to the Mediterranean. Here they would find the same climate, similar family structures, food, conventions and sometimes even similar languages, which made it easier to communicate with the locals. The majority of people travelled by ship. Since Malta is an island there are basically only two ways to reach another destination and since aviation was still in its infancy and very expensive, travelling by sea was the only viable option. References should be made regarding the significant amount of emigration flow towards North Africa in the nineteenth century, which increased after the French occupation of Algeria. “By 1842 there were 20000 Maltese emigrants in Mediterranean countries. Of these the majority settled in North Africa mainly Tunisia, Algeria, Tripoli and Egypt“ ( Dr. C. Cassar, 2006). The following chart shows the passports issued for destinations in the Mediterranean till the mid 19th century:
As one can see, Algeria was for many years by far the most important country, when it comes to Maltese emigration. Considering European emigration, the Maltese were the 3rd largest group moving to Algeria, only outnumbered by Spaniards and Sicilian settlers. Being such a small country, the degree was outstanding (demography.matters.blog). When researching different literature, one will find various opinions about Maltese settlers. Some, especially in Algeria, considered them as barbarians, others welcomed the migrants, since they described the Maltese as hard workers, mostly in agriculture, fishing and trading goods. Their loyalty to the French empire and the Catholic church brought them esteem and therefore the concession to stay. In fact many Maltese did stay, even after their home country overcame certain obstacles, and acquired a French citizenship (demography.matters.blog). Not only for this reason, but also for the remigration to their beloved home country and the flow between the adopted homes, it is difficult, to comprehend exactly how many migrants went to a certain country, for how long and the time of their...
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