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Originally produced in: Italy
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4. Where do immigrates live and how many do they are? Regional analysis maps


Data on immigration in Italy represent one of the strongest signs of some deep and visible changes going on all over the world tank to increasing migrations. Our daily experience make us witnesses of that. Surveys are confirming that with numbers and cartographies may visualise this phenomenon synthetically and effectively.

Foreign but regular Italian citizens were about 2 millions 600 thousand in 2005 and had reached 3millions and 900 thousand units in 2008, a year when Italy got for the first time above the European average incidence of foreign residents living in its territory.

How are they distributed according to criteria of quantity and ethnic group? All collected documents and official ISTAT surveys show significant differences from region to region ( where Lombardy is at the first place) in terms of numbers, resident communities (which are various but headed by Romanian one, which doubled during the last two years) and ratio ( very low in southern Italy but equal to 8,5% in Emilia and Umbria)


  1. What are cartographies and how effective are they in representing migration phenomena?
  2. Which regions have the largest number of immigrants in absolute terms?
  3. Where does the most part of foreigners migrated today to Italy come from?
  4. What is the “migratory chain”?
  5. Is the ratio between immigrants and residents equal in all Italian regions?

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Description and Analysis

Data collection involves a number of problem, given that sucha phenomenon is sometimes invisible to official collections (because of illegal presences) and given that ISTAT does not include regular or not yet registered migrants (who require a longer time). Though sources are different in terms of numbers, they somehow agree, on the other hand, when it comes to highlight some unique trends. We are here using ISTAT data, that were first processed in charts and afterword in thematic maps and graphs. Cartographies allows to visualize immediately the relationship between territory and the phenomenon values, so to make clear how a great amount of numbers , otherwise difficult to organize, should be read. The first set of maps is to inform about the total number of foreign people in each region. These are , in fact, “MOSAIC MAPS”, maps having as their background a presentation of Italy with all regional partitions. Each area as a different colour according to the number of foreigners living in there, with an increasing tone intensity, according to the phenomenon intensity. The highest levels are to found in four northen regions (Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont, Emilia) plus Lazio. Looking at the territory, Southern Italy is far behind, compared to Northern Italy.

Although there are in Italy several communities, the European presence is still the prevailing one: immigrants come from communitarian states for more than a half, followed by Africans (22%), while the amount of Asians and Americans is definitely smaller. The so-called “Harlequin’s mantle” is now fading, whereas for decades it has represented for Italy the main immigration characteristic, with arrivals from al over the world ( in 2001 150 different spoken languages were counted)

The 5 first communities (Romanians, Albanians, Moroccans and Ukrainians ) overcome alone half the entire foreign presence , as the second set of maps is showing, thanks to the circular diagrams as well, commonly known as “cake graphs”. It can be noticed that there are differences from zone to zone. Anyway, if almost everywhere Romanian community is the strongest and most spread, as Chinese is, some regions, on the other hand, are privileged with regard to the integration of particular communities, as it is happening to Albanians in Puglia and to Ukrainians in Campania. The notion of “migratory chain” is useful to explain which means draw new people to destinations where others of their community are already living in.

A third set of cartographies compares absolute data concerning immigrates to data concerning residents, in order to evaluate their ratio incidence. That is how, then, Emilia and Umbria are those with the highest percentage between foreigners and Italian, reaching more than the 8,5% , while all other southern regions and isles it a hardly passes the 2%.

If we take in to account the average age of foreign people in Italy compared to Italians one, it is of 31 years, counter to 43 years of Italians, which brings out that our country has a quite high aging rate (those who are over-sixties are already overtaking the number of those who are fifteen). We can see that immigrates are a part-factor of demographic rebalancing. Mostly in the North, where their presence is the strongest and the fertility rate of Italian women is the lowest. Starting from these themes, it is possible to shape new study unities on demographic subject (migration net, population growth and age pyramids)


  • http://demo.istat.it = Geodemo ISTAT – Demography in numbers (ISTAT database, including raw data collections and calculations)
  • http://www.comuni-italiani.it/index.html = home page of Comuni Italiani website, containing a database for all Italian Commons (by region and district) which can be used to carry out local surveys, researches and comparisons.
  • http://www.daass.univr.it/?ent=catdoc&bi=80&id=2996&tipobc=4 = didactic e-workbook on migration problems created with Didapages free software and beside the initiatives carried out by the Geo-history Research and Didactic Workshop of Verons University ( texts by Silvana Bianchi an maps by Matteo Bartoletti)