Some data on multicultural Italy

How many people live in Italy? and how many of these come from other countries? When we live in a new multicultural country it can be useful to know some information on how the population is composed. Read this article to find out how the Italian population is composed and the important data on immigration in Italy.

Until the 1980s, Italy was a country of emigration rather than immigration. This means that Italians went to other countries to find work and live better. Between the end of the 1800s and the end of the 1900s, about 30 million Italians emigrated to the United States, Germany, Switzerland or other countries to seek a better future. In recent years, however, the number of people who migrated to Italy in search of a better life has grown a lot. In fact, today many people of foreign origin live in Italy. They come from other European countries, from African, Asian, American countries. Every day we hear a lot of news and information on the presence of immigrant people in Italy. These often confuse us and do not allow us to fully understand the phenomenon of immigration in our country. Here is some information that will help you get a clearer idea:

About 60 million people live in Italy. Of these, about 6 million (10%) of people come from other countries.

These people have left their countries of origin to look for a better life and future and have a very important role in our country. Their different cultures, ideas and skills allow our society to enrich and evolve.

For more information about immigrant people in Italy click here. The numbers listed in the table you see do not include foreign people who live in Italy without a residence permit.

While many people believe that most immigrant people are from African countries, this is not the case. The reality is very different.

Here is a chart showing the top ten countries by citizenship:

grafico paesi di origine

As you can see, the two largest communities are the Romanian and the Albanian ones. The two main countries of origin are therefore European.

Following are countries of North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

People from countries that are part of the European Union can vote, but only for administrative elections (therefore, for example, the election of the sindaco of their municipality) and the elections to the European Parliament (voting for the deputies of their country of origin ).

Instead, people from countries that are not part of the European Union, and therefore non-EU citizens, cannot vote in any election. Even though these people have a regular residence permit and have been living in Italy for many years, they cannot vote. They will be able to vote only if they get Italian citizenship.

With “seconde generazioni” we mean all people who were born in Italy to immigrant parents. Specifically, “seconde generazioni di immigrati” (second generations of immigrants).

Even if they were born in Italy, they do not automatically obtain Italian citizenship. Italian law does not provide it. On reaching the age of 18, however, they can apply for citizenship if they have lived in Italy for 10 years.

The people who belong to the “seconde generazioni” are more than 1 million. Many ask for and obtain Italian citizenship.

There are many organisations in Italy that deal with the rights of young people with a migration background. Many of these are part of the CoNNGI network (Coordinamento Nazionale Nuove Generazioni italiane). To find out more about CoNNGI click here.

For more data and information about the second generation in Italy, click here.

In Italian schools there are about 8 million students. Of these, 860,000 do not have Italian citizenship, so they have a migratory background. They are about 10% of the total number of students.

Most foreign students are located in the north, especially in Lombardy. The cities of Milan, Rome and Prato have a very high number of foreign students.

The main countries of origin of these students are Romania, Albania, Morocco and China.

More than half of foreign students were born in Italy of foreign parents and therefore cannot obtain Italian citizenship until the age of 18.

For more information on children with a migration background in Italian schools click here.

There are about 6 million companies in Italy. Of these, about 600,000 (ie 10%) are started and managed by immigrant people.

Businesses of immigrant people are mainly in the sectors of commerce, construction and catering.

These entrepreneurs come mostly from Morocco, China and Romania. Then followed by Albanian and Bengali entrepreneurs.

The regions with the highest number of foreign companies are Toscana, Liguria and Lombardia. Lazio, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli-Venezia Giulia follow.

For more information about foreign companies in Italy click here.

In recent years, we have heard a lot about “arrivi via mare”. “Arrivi via mare” means the large number of people who flee their countries in search of a better future and arrive in Italy crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Once in Italy, many request international protection, thus becoming asylum seekers. Some manage to obtain protection, while others remain in Italy without any kind of protection.

But how many people really arrive by sea in our country? What about the refugees and asylum seekers we hear very much about? It is possible that the number seems to us much higher than the real one.

In 2019 just over 11,000 people arrived by sea in Italian ports and in 2020 about 34,000. This is about 0.05% of the total population. For more detailed information click here.

If instead we look at the number of refugees and asylum seekers in Italy, these are about 220,000 in 2019. This is approximately 0.4% of the total population and 4% of the immigrant population.

We therefore understand that the vast majority of people of foreign origin who live in our country arrive with a regular visa for work, study or family reunification, but above all not by sea. Furthermore, most of them come from European countries, such as Romania and Albania (as shown in the graph above).

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