Italian immigration to Switzerland
|Regions with significant populations|
|Heavily concentrated in Berne, Zürich, Basel, Lugano, Lausanne.|
It began on a large scale in the late 19th century, although most of the immigrants that reached the country in that period eventually returned to Italy after the rise of Fascism. Future Italian leader Benito Mussolini himself emigrated in Switzerland in 1902, only to be deported after becoming involved in the socialist movement.
A new migratory wave began after 1945, favoured by the lax immigration laws then in force. At first the Swiss government encouraged the arrival of guest workers, assigning them different types of work permits, some forbidding job switching, ranging from the "frontaliere" permit given to Italians living near the Swiss border to the "C" permit granting the same status of a Swiss citizen minus the political rights.
In 1970 there were a million immigrants in Switzerland, 54% of whom were Italians. Rising friction with the indigenous majority even led to the creation of an "anti-Italians party" in 1963. As every other immigrant group at the time, Italians were faced with a policy of forced integration, later satirised in the highly successful 1978 comedy film Die Schweizermacher (literally "The Swissmakers"), which went on to become the fifth most-watched film of all time in Switzerland
Italian citizens remain the largest non-naturalized group (ca. 290,000, followed by 270,000 Germans). The total number of "ethnic Italians" in Switzerland is estimated at close to half a million, but there are no official statistics on ethnicity, and furthermore cultural assimilation and cross-marriage makes it difficult to determine who among the second or third generation descendants of Italians should be counted as "ethnic Italian".
Notes and references
- A figure of 527.817 was claimed in 2000 ("Bei der ersten Konferenz der Italiener in Welt[?sic] im Dezember 2000 in Rom und in Lecce zählt man 527.817 in der Schweiz wohnhafte Italiener." "Die italienische Auswanderung in die Schweiz" (PDF). Zürich town hall. 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-28.. 295,000 Italian citizens with residence in Switzerland as of 2007.
- David Levinson (1998). Ethnic groups worldwide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 88–90. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
- Mediterranean Fascism 1919-1945 Edited by Charles F. Delzel, Harper Rowe 1970, page 3
- (Italian) La lunga storia dell'immigrazione in Svizzera
- SRG SSR Timeline: Fondation d'un «parti anti-Italiens» à Zurich
- Italiani in Svizzera: saldo migratorio nuovamente positivo