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Originally produced in: Italy
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3. Migrations toward Italy

Migrants Click image to enlarge
Source: “LIMES. Geopolitics Italian Rewiev”, n. 2, 2009, page. 17.


After being for a couple of centuries a country characterized by strong migration, Italy has now become a destination for it. In early 2010 official surveys drawn up by ISTAT and CARITAS/MIGRANTES quantified the 8% of Italian population in about 5 millions regular migrants strangers. This makes Italy the country attracting continuously the most part of migrants - from various other countries,- compared to any other.

Romanian community is the largest one, followed by Albanian and Moroccan, as a confirmation that most migratory flows, both from ashore and sea, have European e Mediterrean origins and take advantage of neighbour states.

Immigration involves positive aspects especially in some productive fields, but it also involves fears with reference to personal security and occupation. Xenophobia attitudes towards Albanians and Moroccans are still very popular, although they now have little relevance in criminal surveys.


  1. Whose is the official database for the Italian migration phenomena?
  2. How has Italian situation changed in the last few years with reference to the relation between emigration and immigration?
  3. Which are the largest foreign communities?
  4. Which area do the main population waves come from? What kind of “door” do they arrive from?
  5. What kind of relationship can be established between the largest foreign communities and the most suspicious Italians’ perception?

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Description and Analysis

ISTAT (The Italian Institute for Statistic Research) is the main Italian producer of official statistic research made thanks to surveys and census. CARITAS is Italian Episcopal Conference the pastoral organisation. On the immigration subject its annual provides a detailed contribution with the CARITAS/MIGRANTES Dossier (born with the first Italian Immigration Convention in 1990) which trags out to the light even what seems to be “sunken” among offical data, thanks to a wide range pastoral operators -.

The strong foreign immigration appeared in Italy from mid-Nineteenth Century, after a hundred years of large migration abroad and produced very profound changes.

Though Italy has been expelling work power for two centuries, has now become an attracting country. In early 2010 ISTAT registered four millions two hundred and thirty-five thousand foreign residents. CARITAS database, including all regular migrants - even thought not registered at the registry office, quantifies regular foreigners in 4 millions nine-hundred and nineteen-thousand people: in other words there is one immigrant every twelve residents – with an increase of about 3 millions in the last ten years. This means that, in 60 millions people, the 8% of Italian population is represented by foreign migrants and makes the country attracting the largest number of migrants out of it – if compared to any other in the world.

Overall there are 5 communities covering more than a half of foreign presence in Italy: Romanian community which is the largest one, followed by Albanian and Moroccan ones, confirming the European and Mediterranean origin of the main population waves arriving from the sea and from the mainland (see “doors of Italy” on the map) and pointing to some countries (as ex Yugoslavia, Turkey and Libya) that are arranging the migration traffic. On the total amount of landings, only a few are of illegal migrants, equal to less than 1% of regular presences. Nevertheless it is necessary an effective control on sea, earth and air boundaries so to prevent illegal labour traficants from berthing, and to safeguard, on the other hand, the condition of shelter for those who are in need of humanitarian protection and are desperate conditions (cfr. Content 1). In the last ten years, Spain and Italy have been deeply touched by these phenomena and Mediterranean States in general, have become part of those affected by immigration.

Immigration, in fact, involves both positive and negative aspects: on one hand, in the health care and work market foreign workers have “unwanted” jobs and are for the most unqualified workers. On the other hand immigration involves a sort of fear linked to personal security and occupation in a moment of global crisis. Those elements bring out feelings and attitudes like xenophobia, mostly towards Romanians and Albanian (which are the strongest communities in terms of numbers) and produce persisting fears and refusal feelings, despite their connection with crime is now decreasing. The number of foreigners, together with their continuous arrivals is often producing unjustified fears.