As from around 1830 onwards, thousands of Maltese migrated to our neighbouring North African Regency, in particular to Tunis and its surroundings and to the various coastal towns.
The first settlers were involved mainly in agricultural and fishing activities. This work aims at reconstructing the number and names of the Maltese immigrants in the coastal towns of Sousse, Monastir, Mahdia, Sfax, Djerba and Moknine for the period between 1836 and 1844, through an investigation of the earliest baptism, marriage and death registers in the possession of the St Felix Catholic Parish in Sousse.
Whilst initially the Maltese in the coastal towns of Tunisia did tend to marry amongst themselves, as time went by intermarriage between different nationalities became more the norm. As years passed and old generations gave way to new ones, it became more important to claim a Tunisian identity and this desire replaced the original nationalistic sentiment that had been the hallmark of parents or grandparents.
Ultimately, the history of Maltese migration to Tunisia in the 19th century simply reflects the flows and patterns of migration anywhere and at any time in history.