Demographics of Italy
This article is about the demographic features of the population of Italy, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
Italy has 60,656,000 inhabitants according to estimates current as of January 1, 2016 Its population density, at 201 inhabitants per square kilometre (520/sq mi), is higher than that of most Western European countries. However the distribution of the population is widely uneven. The most densely populated areas are the Po Valley (that accounts for almost half of the national population) and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, while vast regions such as the Alps and Apennines highlands, the plateaus of Basilicata and the island of Sardinia are very sparsely populated.
The population of Italy almost doubled during the twentieth century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven due to large-scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North, a phenomenon which happened as a consequence of the Italian economic miracle of the 1950-60s. In addition, after centuries of net emigration, from the 1980s Italy has experienced large-scale immigration for the first time in modern history. According to the Italian government, there were an estimated 5,000,073 foreign nationals resident in Italy.
High fertility and birth rates persisted until the 1970s, after which they started to dramatically decline, leading to rapid population aging. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, one in five Italians was over 65 years old. However, as a result of the massive immigration of the last two decades, in recent years Italy experienced a significant growth in birth rates. The total fertility rate has also climbed from an all-time low of 1.18 children per woman in 1995 to 1.41 in 2008.
Since the 1984 Lateran Treaty agreement, Italy has no official religion. However, it recognizes the role the Catholic Church plays in Italian society. 87.8% of the population identify as Catholic, 5.8% as non-believers or atheists, 2.6% as Muslims, and 3.8% adhere to other religions.
About 68% of Italian population is classified as urban, a relatively low figure among developed countries. During the last two decades, Italy underwent a devolution process, that eventually led to the creation of administrative metropolitan areas, in order to give major cities and their metropolitan areas a provincial status (somehow similar to PRC's direct-controlled municipality). However, none of these new local authorities has yet become fully operative. According to OECD, the largest conurbations are:
Italy used to be a country of mass emigration from the late 19th century until the 1970s. Between 1898 and 1914, the peak years of Italian diaspora, approximately 750,000 Italians emigrated each year. Italian communities once thrived in the former African colonies of Eritrea (nearly 100,000 at the beginning of World War II), Somalia and Libya (150,000 Italians settled in Libya, constituting about 18% of the total population). All of Libya's Italians were expelled from the North African country in 1970. In addition, after the annexation of Istria in 1945, up to 350,000 ethnic Italians left Titoist Yugoslavia. Today, large numbers of people with full or significant Italian ancestry are found in Brazil (25 million), Argentina (20 million), US (17.8 million), France (5 million), Uruguay (1.5 million), Canada (1.4 million), Venezuela (900,000) and Australia (800,000).
As a result of the profound economic and social changes induced by postwar industrialization, including low birth rates, an aging population and thus a shrinking workforce, during the 1980s Italy became to attract rising flows of foreign immigrants. The present-day figure of about 5 million foreign residents, that make up some 9% of the total population, include 97,000 children born in Italy to foreign nationals (19% of total births in Italy) in 2014, but exclude foreign nationals who have subsequently acquired Italian nationality; this applied to 106,000 people in 2014. The official figures also exclude illegal immigrants, the so-called clandestini, whose numbers are very difficult to determine. In May 2008 The Boston Globe quoted an estimate of 670,000 for this group. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and more recently, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union, the main waves of migration came from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe (especially Romania, Albania, Ukraine and Poland). The second most important area of immigration to Italy has always been the neighbouring North Africa (in particular, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia), with soaring arrivals as a consequence of the Arab Spring. Furthermore, in recent years, growing migration fluxes from the Far East (notably, China and the Philippines) and Latin America (Ecuador, Peru) have been recorded. Currently, circa one million Romanians (around one tenth of them being Roma) are officially registered as living in Italy, representing thus the most important individual country of origin, followed by Albanians and Moroccans with about 500,000 people each. The number of unregistered Romanians is difficult to estimate, but the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network suggested that in 2007 that there might have been half a million or more. Overall, at the end of the 2000s the foreign born population of Italy was from: Europe (54%), Africa (22%), Asia (16%), the Americas (8%) and Oceania (0.06%). The distribution of immigrants is largely uneven in Italy: 84.9% of immigrants live in the northern and central parts of the country (the most economically developed areas), while only 15.1% live in the southern half of the peninsula.
Italy's official language is Italian. Ethnologue has estimated that there are about 55 million speakers of the language in Italy and a further 6.7 million outside of the country. However, between 120 and 150 million people use Italian as a second or cultural language, worldwide.
Italian, adopted by the state after the unification of Italy, is based on the Florentine variety of Tuscan and is somewhat intermediate between the Italo-Dalmatian languages and the Gallo-Romance languages. Its development was also influenced by the Germanic languages of the post-Roman invaders.
Italy has numerous dialects spoken all over the country. However, the establishment of a national education system has led to decrease in variation in the languages spoken across the country. Standardisation was further expanded in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to economic growth and the rise of mass media and television (the state broadcaster RAI helped set a standard Italian).
Several minority and regional languages are legally recognized and protected, and they have co-official status alongside Italian in various parts of the country. French is co-official in the Valle d’Aosta—although in fact Franco-Provencal is more commonly spoken there. German has the same status in the province of South Tyrol as, in some parts of that province and in parts of the neighbouring Trentino, does Ladin. Slovene and Friulian are officially recognised in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udine in Venezia Giulia. Sardinian language was recognized as co-official in Sardinia.
In these regions official documents are bilingual (trilingual in Ladin communities), or available upon request in either Italian or the co-official language. Traffic signs are also multilingual, except in the Valle d’Aosta where—with the exception of Aosta itself which has retained its Latin form in Italian as in English—French toponyms are generally used, attempts to Italianise them during the Fascist period having been abandoned. Education is possible in minority languages where such schools are operating.
UNESCO and other authories recognize many other endangered languages, which are not protected by Italian government: Piedmontese, Venetian, Ligurian, Lombard, Emilian-Romagnolo, Neapolitan and Sicilian.
|Average population (x 1,000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1,000)||Crude death rate (per 1,000)||Natural change (per 1,000)||Fertility rates|
- JJ = 1.1.2016 - 31.7.2016
- Number of births from January–July 2015 = 278,280
- Number of births from January–July 2016 = 260,935
- Number of deaths from January–July 2015 = 395,583
- Number of deaths from January–July 2016 = 360,906
- Natural growth from January–July 2015 = -117,303
- Natural growth from January–July 2016 = -99,971
Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although the Catholic Church is no longer officially the state religion. Fully 87.8% of Italy's population identified themselves as Roman Catholic, although only about one-third of these described themselves as active members (36.8%).
Most Italians believe in God, or a form of a spiritual life force. According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005: 74% of Italian citizens responded that 'they believe there is a God', 16% answered that 'they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force' and 6% answered that 'they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force'. This makes Italians much more theist than those of most other European countries, including France, Spain, and Germany.
The Italian Catholic Church is part of the global Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the Conference of Italian Bishops. In addition to Italy, two other sovereign nations are included in Italian-based dioceses, San Marino and Vatican City. There are 225 dioceses in the Italian Catholic Church, see further in this article and in the article List of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Italy. Even though by law Vatican City is not part of Italy, it is in Rome, and along with Latin, Italian is the most spoken and second language of the Roman Curia.
Italy has a rich Catholic culture, especially as numerous Catholic saints, martyrs and popes were Italian themselves. Roman Catholic art in Italy especially flourished during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods, with numerous Italian artists, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Raphael and Giotto. Roman Catholic architecture in Italy is equally as rich and impressive, with churches, basilicas and cathedrals such as St Peter's Basilica, Florence Cathedral and St Mark's Basilica. Roman Catholicism is the largest religion and denomination in Italy, with around 87.8% of Italians considering themselves Catholic. Italy is also home to the greatest number of cardinals in the world, and is the country with the greatest number of Roman Catholic churches per capita.
In the 20th century, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostalism, non-denominational Evangelicalism, and Mormonism were the fastest-growing Protestant churches. Immigration from Western, Central, and Eastern Africa at the beginning of the 21st century has increased the size of Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal and Evangelical communities in Italy, while immigration from Eastern Europe has produced large Eastern Orthodox communities.
In 2006, Protestants made up 2.1% of Italy's population, and members of Eastern Orthodox churches comprised 1.2% or more than 700,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians including 180,000 Greek Orthodox, 550,000 Pentecostals and Evangelists (0.8%), of whom 400,000 are members of the Assemblies of God, about 250,000 are Jehovah's Witnesses (0.4%), 30,000 Waldensians, 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists, 22,000 Mormons, 15,000 Baptists (plus some 5,000 Free Baptists), 7,000 Lutherans, 4,000 Methodists (affiliated with the Waldensian Church).
The longest-established religious faith in Italy is Judaism, Jews having been present in Ancient Rome before the birth of Christ. Italy has seen many influential Italian-Jews, such as Luigi Luzzatti, who took office in 1910, Ernesto Nathan served as mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913 and Shabbethai Donnolo (died 982). During the Holocaust, Italy took in many Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. However, with the creation of the Nazi-backed puppet Italian Social Republic, about 15% of Italy's Jews were killed, despite the Fascist government's refusal to deport Jews to Nazi death camps. This, together with the emigration that preceded and followed the Second World War, has left only a small community of around 45,000 Jews in Italy today.
Due to immigration from around the world, there has been an increase in non-Christian religions. As of 2009, there were 1.0 million Muslims in Italy forming 1.6 percent of population; independent estimates put the Islamic population in Italy anywhere from 0.8 million to 1.5 million. Only 50,000 Italian Muslims hold Italian citizenship.
There are more than 200,000 followers of faith originating in the Indian subcontinent, including some 70,000 Sikhs with 22 gurdwaras across the country, 70,000 Hindus, and 50,000 Buddhists. There are an estimated some 4,900 Bahá'ís in Italy in 2005.
- 60,674,003 (Jan 2016 est.)
- 0-14 years: 13.7%
- 15-64 years: 64.3%
- 65 years and over: 22.0%
- 0-14 years: 13.5% (male 4,056,156/female 3,814,070)
- 15-64 years: 66.3% (male 19,530,696/female 18,981,084)
- 65 years and over: 20.2% (male 4,903,762/female 6,840,444) (2010 est.)
- total: 44.2 years
- male: 43.0 years
- female: 45.3 years (2013 est.)
- total: 44.2 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate
- 0.03% (2016 est.)
- 10.01 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
Net migration rate
- 4.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
- urban population: 68% of total population (2010)
- rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
- at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.93 male(s)/female
Maternal mortality rate
- 4.0 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Infant mortality rate
- total: 3.33 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 3.54 deaths/1,000 live births
- female: 3.12 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 81.95 years
- male: 79.32 years
- female: 84.73 years (2013)
Total fertility rate
- 1.39 children born/woman (Italian citizens)
- 1.91 children born/woman (Foreign citizens)
- 1.39 children born/woman (total citizens) (2014)
- 9.5% of total GDP (2010)
- 4.24 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
Hospital bed density
- 3.6 beds/1,000 population (2009)
- Adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2009 est.)
- People living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2009 est.)
- Deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
Obesity – adult prevalence rate
- 19.8% (2008)
- noun: Italian(s)
- adjective: Italian
Historically the ethnicity of the Italian people was mainly made of romanized autochthonous Italics and Gauls, with additions of Germanic populations (like Longobards) and -in very small amounts- of other bordering people (like Slovenes, Austrians, Albanians, etc..).
- 4.7% of total GDP (2008)
- definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 98.6%
Approximately half of Italian males belong to the Y-DNA haplogroup R1b which is standard amongst most west European populations. According to data found through different sources, samples, and studies by Eurpedia, the percentages of Y-dna haplogroups observed were :
- R1 (51.5% : 49% R1b and 2.5% R1a)
- J (20% : 18% J2 and 2% J1)
- E1b1b (11%)
- G (7%)
- I (6.5% : 2.5% I1, 3% I2 + I2a and 1% I2b)
- T (4%)
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