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Malta's Biggest City: Detroit...?

August 16, 2017

Recently an intriguing article came across my desk. This article looked at how nations deal with large diasporas, particularly when nations, large and small, have so many of their residents living abroad that their largest “city” is actually a “colony” in another country. We here in Detroit know that issue all too well. The number of Maltese living in our fair city rivals most cities in Malta.

 

Here is that article: http://www.ozy.com/acumen/when-a-countrys-biggest-city-lies-outside-its-borders/75816

 

Now, there is a discrepancy in the article, it lists Detroit’s Maltese population at 44,000 making it Malta’s largest city, double the size of Birkirkara. I very much doubt that there are 44,000 Maltese citizens or passport holders living in the Detroit region. The most recent census data for the State of Michigan from 2000 suggests just 13,726 who were born in Malta or are citizens of Malta.[1] The larger number likely includes second generation Maltese who might consider themselves Maltese but wouldn’t identify as such on the Census.

 

Regardless, the fact remains that even with 13,000+ Maltese people living primarily in the Detroit region, the Motor City is within the top 10 of Malta’s largest cities, at home and abroad.

 

  1. Birkirkara - 22,247

  2. St. Paul’s Bay - 21,046

  3. Mosta - 20,241

  4. Melbourne, Australia - 19,730

  5. Toronto, Canada - 18,680

  6. Ħal Qormi - 16,779

  7. Ħaż-Żabbar - 15,404

  8. Tas-Sliema - 16,854

  9. Detroit, Michigan - 13,726

  10. In-Naxxar - 13,443[2]

 

But, let’s go back to the idea of 44,000 and our second (and even third) generation Maltese living in Metro-Detroit. What matters is, at the end of the day there are probably somewhere in the ballpark of 44,000 people who do identify, to some extent, as Maltese in the region and that does make the Detroit area vitally important in the global Maltese world.

 

These numbers are excellent reminders of our stewardship to our collective, global, Maltese heritage. We live in the United States (or Canada for our friends in Windsor and beyond) but we are still Maltese. I have studied Maltese communities in North America for years now and from their first founding in the 1910s and 1920s, they all have desired to be in touch and more importantly remembered by their friends, family, politicians, and religious figures back home.

 

We are lucky in that we are not forgotten by people in Malta. Most sitting Prime Ministers of Malta make it a priority to visit Detroit. Many other politicians, religious members, and even major entertainers endeavor to visit us.

 

We have also been the focus of many professional works. In that same breath, I want to remind many of you that we have a wonderful project taking place in just two weeks’ time!

 

On September 1st, Ms. Charlie Cauchi will be visiting from Malta to film her documentary project about these Maltese communities abroad. We are still looking for volunteers who would like to share their experiences either in the migration process itself or simply as just being a Maltese person in Metro-Detroit. The documentary will also capture the Festa Il-Vitorja on September 10th (reminder, if you want tickets for the event please visit the club sometime in August to pre-purchase food).

 

Hopefully you can take part, and do your duty to help us preserve the history and heritage of this Maltese community within this great American city.

 

 

[1] https://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/DEC/00_SF4/DP2/0400000US26/popgroup~548

 

[2] Table provided with statistics from the Maltese Electoral Commission and Department of Social Security and Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs. The numbers for Toronto and Melbourne have not been changed from the original article. https://secure2.gov.mt/localgovernment/file.aspx?f=7810

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