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Italy: internal migration 1800–present

Migration A–Z


  1. Stefano Gallo

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm603

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Gallo, S. 2013. Italy: internal migration 1800–present. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


As the crossroads of the Mediterranean and a stepping-stone between Africa and Europe, the Italian peninsula has always whetted the appetite of foreign powers. Its identity is rooted in centuries of invasion, and many different groups have inhabited its coasts and cities. The migration of Goths, Lombards, Arabs, and Turks, and, later, domination by the French, Spanish, and Austrian monarchies have left a deep mark on the cultural and genetic heritage of the Italian people. The country's political unification as an independent state (1861) meant coming to terms with a composite, variegated population that spoke different dialects from one valley to the next, and in which only roughly 2.5 percent spoke the standard Italian language. Moreover, there was a clear economic divide between regions, with intensive agriculture in the north and areas with grain-based extensive agriculture on latifundia in the south; some scholars have even seen the Italian unification as the annexation of a foreign territory by the north (Schneider 1997).


  • immigration;
  • labor;
  • poverty;
  • globalization;
  • capitalism