c. 0.01% of the U.S. population (2016)
|Related ethnic groups|
|Maltese diaspora, Sicilian American, Corsican American, Italian American|
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.
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, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, California, 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.
The majority of Maltese immigrants arrived in the first half of the twentieth century, settling in cities like Detroit, New York City, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago. The majority of Americans of Maltese descent now live in these five cities, particularly Detroit (approximately 44,000 Maltese) and New York City (more than 20,000 Maltese), in the latter them, most of the people of Maltese origin are concentrated in Astoria, Queens.
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.