Italian diaspora

The Italian diaspora is the large-scale emigration of Italians from Italy. There are two major Italian diasporas in Italian history. The first diaspora began more or less around 1880, a decade or so after the Unification of Italy (with most leaving after 1880), and ended in the 1920s to early-1940s with the rise of Fascism in Italy. The second diaspora started after the end of World War II and roughly concluded in the 1970s. These together constituted the largest voluntary emigration period in documented history. Between 1880-1976; about 13,000,000 Italians left the country permanently.[1] By 1978, it was estimated that about 25,000,000 Italians were residing outside Italy.[2] A third wave is being reported in present times, due to the socio-economic problems caused by the financial crisis of the early twenty-first century, especially amongst the youth. According to the Public Register of Italian Residents Abroad (AIRE), figures of Italians abroad rose from 3,106,251 in 2006 to 4,636,647 in 2015, growing by 49.3% in just ten years.[3]


The so-called Italian Diaspora, indicating a large-scale migration of Italians away from their country during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, occurred in three different waves. The first wave occurred between the unification of Italy in 1861 and 1900, the second wave occurred between 1900-40 during the beginning of World War I, and the third wave occurred following World War II along with Europeans from various countries.[4] Poverty was the main reason for leaving, specifically the lack of land as property became subdivided over generations; especially in the South of Italy where conditions were harsh.[4] Secondary reasons for the diaspora include internal political and economic problems, as well as organized crime from economic difficulties in the former Kingdom of the two Sicilies. Until the 1860s, Italy was a partially rural society with many small towns and cities and almost no modern industry, in which land management practices, especially in the South and North-East, did not easily convince farmers to stay on the land and work the soil.[5] Another factor was related to the overpopulation of southern Italy after the improvements of the socio-economic conditions, following the unification process. Indeed, southern Italian families after 1861 started to have access (for the first time) to hospitals, improved hygienic conditions and normal food supply.[6] This created a demographic boom and forced the new generations to emigrate en masse at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century, mostly to the Americas. Concurrently, industrial capital spread from its earlier concentration in the cities of northern Europe and Great Britain to those of the Americas, and to plantations and mines in newer colonies in Africa and Asia.[7] This new migration of capital created millions of unskilled jobs around the world and was responsible for the simultaneous mass migration of Italians on the search for "work and bread." [8] Like preceding migrations from Italy, the proletarian mass migrations of the late-nineteenth century created multiple diasporas that gave new meanings to the adjective "Italian."[7] Between 1861-1985, 29,036,000 Italians emigrated to other countries; of whom 16,000,000 (55%) arrived before the outbreak of the First World War. About 10,275,000 returned to Italy (35%), while 18,761,000 permanently settled overseas (65%).[9] In 2011 in the world there were 4,115,235 Italian citizens living outside Italy[10] and several tens of millions of descendants of Italians, who emigrated in the last two centuries.[11]

Other Languages
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Italijanska dijaspora