Northeast Italians are ethnically Italian



Italian national consciousness

National hero Giuseppe Garibaldi embodied the revolutionary-democratic element of the nation

The national idea came into the country with the revolutionary armies of the French Republic. General Napoleon Bonaparte, himself of Corsican origin, founded various subsidiary republics since the Italian campaign. In 1802 he created one from the Cisalpine Republic for the first time Italian Republic and in 1805 the Kingdom of Italy, whose office of president or crown he himself took over. Even if this national kingdom did not encompass the entire peninsula and was destroyed by Austria as early as 1814 in the course of the Congress of Vienna, the national movement of the Risorgimento grew out of the memory of it and the revolutionary-democratic ideal.


The secret society of the Carbonari organized uprisings in the Italian states in 1820/21, which were suppressed by Austrian troops as well as the effects of the French July revolution of 1830. After the defeat of the revolution of 1848/49, instead of revolutionary republican circles (e.g. Giuseppe Garibaldi) the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont took the lead in the struggle for national unification. The Italian Wars of Independence in 1861 finally led to the establishment of an all-Italian kingdom under the House of Savoy. With the Peace of Vienna (1866) Veneto and a large part of Friuli also came to Italy. With the annexation of Rome (and the overthrow of the Pope) in 1871, the national unification movement was initially completed. The areas of Trento, Trieste and Istria populated by Italians (which together with Dalmatia belonged to Venice until 1797 and to Italy from 1805-1809) had remained outside the nation-state and were part of the Habsburg Empire for the time being. In addition, Sardinia-Piedmont had to return Savoy and Nice to France in 1860. These areas became the target of the Irredenta movement.

The young Kingdom of Italy was also confronted with economic and social difficulties, the north-south contrast and the brigands in the south. It was neglected to improve the situation, especially in the south, through land reform and fair taxation. The country was also not united in linguistic terms: just 2.5% of the population were able to speak High Italian as a written language.[9] The politician Massimo d’Azeglio described the situation with the saying: “Fatta l’Italia bisogna fare gli italiani” (Italy came into being, the Italians have yet to be created).[10]

Irredentism and Colonialism

On the occasion of the anniversary of the Battle of Legnano, a society for the liberation and affiliation of the unredeemed Italy (Italia irredenta). From then on the Italian governments tended to flee from internal crises again and again for propaganda purposes in the irredenta politics.[11] The associated confrontation with Austria-Hungary (and later Yugoslavia) turned into national question and a major element of Italian nationalism.[12]

Because of the late emergence of a sufficiently powerful nation state, Italy came too late or too short when it came to acquiring colonies and was now striving for one, like Germany, Japan and the USA Redivision of the world. France had anticipated the occupation of Tunisia in 1881, although Italian settlers and Italian capital had already begun to spread there. Thereupon Italy allied itself with France's enemies Germany and Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance, whereby the Irredenta movement was blocked for the time being and was even suppressed at times by Prime Minister Crispi. Bismarck, but also Great Britain, instead urged Italy to embark on colonial adventures. From 1882 Italy began to establish itself in East Africa (Eritrea, Somalia), Germany renounced and gave up its claims to the Somali coast. First attempts to conquer Ethiopia failed in 1887 and 1896.

The defeat in the Battle of Adua was just as formative for the Italian national consciousness as it was for the Ethiopian national consciousness. On the one hand, public opinion was influenced for decades by nationalist-revanchist demands for revenge, which overshadowed republican-democratic and proletarian-socialist demands. On the other hand, the defeat had shown the impotence and inadequacy of Italian colonial policy. Crispi was overthrown, his successors turned back to the obvious Irredenta. Italy recognized French rule in Tunisia, France in turn recognized Italy's claims to Tripolitania (Libya), which had to be ceded by the Ottomans in the Italo-Turkish War.

World wars and fascism

On the eve of the First World War, the liberalism of Giovanni Giolitti lost its mass influence compared to the integral nationalism of Gabriele D’Annunzio. After Italy had been promised the Irredenta territories by the Entente Powers, it entered the war in 1915 and in 1919 actually received Trentino, Trieste and Istria as well as the Dalmatian city of Zadar in the Treaty of Saint-Germain. However, the rest of Dalmatia fell to Yugoslavia and Italy could not acquire the city of Fiume, Albania or colonial possessions at first. The German-speaking South Tyrol also got the disappointment about the mutilated victory (vittoria mutilata) however was great. These steered Benito Mussolini's fascists on nationalist paths, which they finally brought to power in 1922. After the smashing of Austria, Mussolini's irredenta policy extended to Ticino and led to conflicts with Switzerland and its “Latin sister” France. At that time there were 850,000 Italians in France and another 100,000 in French Tunisia. The German and the Slovenian-Croatian minorities fell victim to a ruthless policy of Italianization, as did the non-Italian minorities of the Alpine Romans.

But Mussolini's overheated nationalism continued. From an exaggeration of history and based on elements of ancient Roman tradition, he developed a supranational claim to rule over a large Mediterranean empire (Mare Nostrum). For this a totalitarian leader state was created, which was militaristic, centralistic and clerical-fascist (1929 reconciliation with the papacy). Every single Italian had a value only within the community and in action for the state, regionalist or sub-state structures (such as the mafia) were fought.[13] The nation understood Mussolini as a community of fate and partnership between the interests of the dispossessed and the haves.

The propagated goal was the re-establishment of the Roman Empire (Renovatio Imperii Romanorum). Just like France or Great Britain, Italy saw itself as a cultural nation and a bringer of civilization. The gradually indoctrinated and fascized masses were mobilized in 1931 for the “pacification” of Libya, in 1935/36 for the conquest of Ethiopia (which never belonged to the Roman Empire) and in 1939 for the occupation of Albania, but Italian settlers hardly wanted to settle in the colonies , and between 1941 and 1943 the empire collapsed. The colonies were all lost after the war.

Italian Republic

The Italian Republic, which emerged from the Kingdom in 1946, has over 60 million inhabitants today, around 4 million of whom are foreigners.

The determining principle of Italian citizenship law is the principle of descent: If the mother or father is Italian, the child also acquires citizenship at birth. The acquisition of citizenship through naturalization is linked to a four-year legal residence for EU citizens or a ten-year legal residence for non-EU citizens. In principle, multiple citizenship is possible.


The Italian language as well as the other Romance languages ​​in southern and western Europe
The languages ​​and dialects of Italy

Even after the unification of 1861, supporters of the Bourbons expelled from Naples continued the resistance against Rome for a while with the help of regionalist and separatist forces, in return Rome neglected the economic uplift of the recalcitrant regions for a long time. The Sicilians in particular claimed a special position in the nation and were given a statute of autonomy immediately after the Second World War, due to the strong tendencies towards separatism, even before the Italian constitution came into force. This was followed by Sardinia, where one of the first parties in Europe was founded to advocate regional federalism.

In the north, the Lega Nord campaigned for the autonomist efforts of the local population at the end of the 1980s. In the meantime, the party even advocated the secession of the economically developed and rich regions of northern Italy. For this purpose, the idea of ​​a nation of its own, called Padania, was created, which has historical and linguistic features of the Po Valley compared to the rest of Italy under the rule of "thieving Rome" (Roma ladrona) should underpin.

Historical events such as the Battle of Legnano are celebrated as a symbol of northern Italian resistance. The Lega Nord even has the freedom fighter Alberto da Giussano in its party coat of arms. She also emphasizes that state structures such as the Venice Maritime Republic remained independent for centuries.

Linguistically, however, the supposed special role of the Po Valley is not well founded. The northern Italian, especially Galloital dialects, are in contrast to the other Eastern Romanic dialects south of the La-Spezia-Rimini-Liniewestromanischen origin and show a Celtic substratum. However, whether they can be viewed as languages ​​in their own right is a matter of dispute. They are reinforced and fused with standard Italian. The art term Padania was also extended by the Lega Nord to areas south of the line and thus Eastern Romanesque-Italian Marche and Tuscany (from whose Eastern Romanesque Florentine dialect the standard Italian language was developed in the first place).

Language minorities

In Italy there are Germanic, Romance and Slavic language minorities.[14]

The Germanic minorities include around 320,000 German-speaking South Tyroleans, 2,000 heelers and 1,000 Zimbri people in Trentino and 1,000 Walser Germans in the Aosta Valley and in the province of Verbania. Another 2,500 German speakers populate the language islands of Zahre and Tischelwang as well as the Canal Valley in Friuli and Pladen in Veneto.

Romance language minorities are the 1,000,000 Sardinian-speaking Sardinians on the island of Sardinia, the 500,000 Friulians in north-eastern Italy, the 90,000 Franco-Provençals in the Aosta Valley, Piedmont and two southern Italian language islands[15], the 30,000 Ladins in the provinces of Bolzano, Trento and Belluno, the 18,000 Catalans in Alghero, Sardinia. Occitans are a recognized minority in Piedmont and in the Guardia Piemontese in Calabria.

60,000 Slovenes in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and 2,400 Molisecroats belong to the Slavic minorities in Italy.

100,000 Albanians and 12,000 Greeks in southern Italy are also recognized minorities.

Long-established Italian-speaking minorities

Long-established Italian-speaking minorities in Europe can be found in Switzerland (520,000), France (200,000), Croatia (19,636)[16] and Slovenia (2,258).[17] Most of the Italians (200,000 to 350,000) in the historical region of Venezia Giulia, which today largely belongs to Croatia and Slovenia, were expelled after the Second World War. Most of the nearly 1,000 inhabitants of the Vatican State are Italians.

Monegasque and San Marines are of Italian origin and speak Italian dialects. Ethnically, they are Italians, and under constitutional law they each have non-Italian citizenships. However, 16–19% of Monaco's residents and 12–13% of San Marino's residents are immigrants with Italian citizenship. Most of the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands also came from Italy; through assimilation and emigration, this relationship is barely visible.

At the beginning of the 20th century, over 100,000 Italians lived in the French colony of Tunisia, more than the French, especially in the cities of Tunis, Biserta, La Goulette and Sfax. After independence, most of them left the country. Around 3,000 Italians still live in Tunisia today.

Italian diaspora

Up to 70 million people living outside Italy are said to have Italian roots.

Due to the poor economic situation, Italy was affected by a massive wave of emigration between 1876 and 1915. An estimated 14 million Italians left their homeland at that time. 1913 was the year with the highest recorded emigration: over 870,000 people emigrated at that time.[18]

The main destinations were Brazil and Argentina as well as the USA. There they and their descendants as Italian-Americans make up 17,749,800 about 5.8% of the population,[19] but only 789,800 Italian Americans speak Italian as their mother tongue (0.3% of the total population). In turn, only 28.2% of these native speakers have a command of English.[20]

After the Second World War, immigration increasingly turned towards Western Europe, with many Italians emigrating to Germany, Switzerland and France in particular.

Italians of origin worldwide

Italian citizens worldwide

There are still 4,106,640 citizens registered in the consular register of persons.

Source: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs[32]

The state with the most passport Italians outside Italy is Argentina. Most Italians living abroad, however, live in Europe (2,236,326), especially in Germany and Switzerland. In Germany they make up the second largest group of foreigners after the Turks. According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were 619,100 people with an Italian migration background in Germany in 2005.[33] According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, 648,453 Italian citizens are in Germany, and a further 533,821 Italians live in Switzerland. Many of the Italians living in Switzerland have dual citizenship thanks to a bilateral agreement, so the Swiss authorities only count 290,000 Italians.[34] 17,086 people with Italian citizenship live in Austria.

See also


  • Diercke country lexicon, 1989, ISBN 3-89350-211-4.
  • Harald Haarmann: Small lexicon of peoples: from Aborigines to Zapotecs.
  • Detlev Wahl: Lexicon of the Peoples of Europe and the Caucasus. Rostock 1999, pages 94-101.
  • Dietmar Stübler: Italy - 1789 to the present. Berlin 1987.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Willi Stegner: Pocket atlas peoples and languages, Page 62. Klett-Perthes, Gotha and Stuttgart 2006
  2. ↑ Detlev Wahl, page 94
  3. ↑ A Panorama of Migration - Italian and German Experiences - A Comparison in 10 Theses (PDF) p. 3
  4. ↑ How many are Italians abroad? Italian Bishops' Conference
  5. ↑ Rapporto Italiani nel Mondo 2009 (PDF; 125 kB) Migrantes Foundation
  6. ↑ Harald Haarmann: The Indo-Europeans. Origin, languages, cultures. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60682-3, p. 66.
  7. ↑ Rigobert Günther: From the fall of western Rome to the empire of the Merovingians. Dietz, Berlin 1987, page 136.
  8. How does Italy work? If we wanted we could ... In: The time, No. 13/2010.
  9. ↑ Anna Laura Lepschy, Giulio C. Lepschy: The Italian language, P. 38
  10. ^ Richard Mohr: Then my king will probably ride over my grave. (Memento of the original from December 21, 2015 in Internet Archive) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@ 1 @ 2 Template: Webachiv / IABot / (PDF; 819 kB) Staging of nation using the example of the Monumento Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome, p. 3
  11. ^ Children, Hilgemann: dtv atlas on world history, Volume 2, pages 73 and 119. Munich / Cologne 1989
  12. ↑ Golo Mann: The Fischer Lexicon Foreign Policy, Pages 121-126. Frankfurt / Hamburg 1958
  13. ↑ Fraenkel, Bracher: The Fischer Lexicon State and Politics, Page 64f. Frankfurt / Hamburg 1959
  14. ^ Autonomous Region Trentino - South Tyrol, language minorities in Italy
  15. ^ Celle di San Vito and Faeto in the province of Foggia
  16. Population by Ethnicity, by Towns / Municipalities, Census 2001. 2001. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  17. ↑ Population by ethnic affiliation, Slovenia, Census 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2002
  18. ↑ Source: Processing of data from ISTAT, in Gianfausto Rosoli, Un secolo di emigrazione italiana 1876–1976, Roma, Cser, 1978
  19. ^ Sarah Janssen (Ed.): New York TimesThe World Almanac and book of facts 2010, page 625
  20. ^ New York Times The World Almanac and book of facts 2009, page 596
  21. ↑ Guillermo Spina: Historias de inmigrantes italianos en Argentina. Universidad Nacional de La Matanza, November 14, 2011.July 2015 (Spanish): "al menos 25 millones están relacionados con algún inmigrante de Italia."
  22. (Memento of the original from February 27, 2008 in Internet Archive) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@ 1 @ 2 Template: Webachiv / IABot / (PDF)
  23. ^ Italian Embassy in Brazil
  24. ↑ (Memento of the original from February 3, 2009 in Internet Archive) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@ 1 @ 2 Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  25. ↑ U.S Census Bureau - Selected Population Profile in the United States
  26. ↑
  27. ↑ http: // "... el diplomático calcula que 5% o 6% de la población venezolana actual tiene origen italiano. "
  28. ↑ Statistics Canada: Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories - 20% sample data (Memento from June 3, 2008 in Internet Archive)
  29. ↑
  30. ↑ (Memento of the original from May 15, 2010 in Internet Archive) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@ 1 @ 2 Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  31. ↑ (Memento of the original from January 26, 2009 in Internet Archive) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@ 1 @ 2 Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  32. ↑ Statistical Yearbook 2009, pp. 121–129 (PDF; 367 kB)
  33. ↑ Population and employment. Population with a migration background - results of the 2005 microcensus (Memento from June 11, 2007 in Internet Archive) Federal Statistical Office Germany, published on May 4, 2007, accessed on May 28, 2008
  34. For the first time over a million EU and EFTA members in Switzerland. In: NZZ Online