The Italian Almanac

Italians abroad

Italians Abroad

More people have emigrated from Italy than any other industrialized country over the last 150 years, creating a vast population of 'Italians' scattered around the world. The 'Italians in the World Report 2007', by the Catholic immigration organization, Migrantes, notes that 28 million Italians have left the country since 1861, and more than 3.5 million Italians live abroad today. In addition, some 60-70 million people of Italian origin and with connections to the country live in different parts of the world.

The report, which collated data from several sources, found that the majority of emigrants don't stray too far from home. N early 60% of Italians living abroad are resident in Europe, although just over a third have settled in the Americas. The most popular destination is Germany, where 16.2% of Italy's emigrants live. Argentina is next, home to a further 14.1%, followed by Switzerland with 13.9%.

Over half Italian emigrants are unmarried and a comparatively high number have kids. 18% of the Italian population resident abroad is under the age of 18. The same percentage, 18, is over 65, with 410,000 Italians collecting a pension abroad, totalling 1.184 million euros. Women account for 47% of Italians abroad around the world, although this percentage is higher in the Americas, where the number of women outstrips the number of men.

In keeping with a decades-old pattern, the majority of emigrants are from Italy's poorer, southern regions, where jobs are harder to come by. Of the 3.5 million talian foreign residents, 2 million are from southern Italy: 600,000 are from Sicily, 400,000 from Calabria and more than 300,000 from Puglia. A million foreign residents are from northern Italy and the remaining 500,000 are from the central regions.

But while emigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries were often from the working classes in search of blue-collar jobs, that is no longer the case today. Most Italians moving abroad are either professionals or aspiring professionals, and an above-average number of Italians attend university abroad, nearly 45,000. Germany is the most popular destination, followed by Austria, Britain, France and Switzerland.