In Jan 1853, there were 2,914 troops on the island. This was just enough to guard Valletta and Floriana. Without an increase in the strength of the garrison, it was impossible to secure all the fortifications, which measured 25 miles, had 54 gates, and were home to 46,000 inhabitants. The east side of the harbour where the dockyard was situated, was left undefended. The gunpowder for the Mediterranean Fleet was also located in the Cottonera Lines.
The Maltese Islands had a total population of 123,498, of which 108,833 were in Malta. This gave a density of 1,145 individuals to the square mile. Gozo had a population of 14,663. The breakdown of the population was:
- Males: Maltese 56,181, Englishmen: 650, Foreigners 625, Total 60,436.
- Females: Maltese 62,106, Englishmen 651, Foreigners 283, Total 63,040.
- 10,755 were employed in Agriculture
- 5958 were employed in Commerce
- 35,570 were Artificers and Labourers
- 1,273 were landowners
- 347 were mariners and boatmen
- 1040 were priests
- 125 were nuns
- 40,200 had no fixed abode
- 474 were mendicants by profession
- 7767 were students, Government Servants of all descriptions including the Native Malta Regiment and Police Forces, and the aged and infirm in the Charitable Institutions.