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Italy - Society

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Italy has a population of just over 58 million, and has the fifth-highest population density in Europe with 194 persons/sq. km. The number of immigrants or foreign residents in Italy sits around 2,402,157 (just over 4 per cent of the total population). The largest foreign minorities include Albanians (316,659), Morrocans (294,945), Romanians (248,849), Chinese (111,712), and Ukrainians (93,441). Tunisians, Macedonians, Serbians, and Filipinos exist in smaller groups in Italy as well.

Religion in Italy is predominately Roman Catholic (83-96% of the population), but Jehovah's Witness (400,000 members), Protestant, and Jewish (30,000) communities are well established and there is a growing Muslim immigrant community (987,751). Approximately 45% of the population regularly attends mass. Some famous Roman Catholic churches can be found in Italy, like the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, and St. Peter's in Rome.

The official language of Italy is Italian, but other languages are spoken as well, such as:

Language

Location Spoken
# of Speakers
Sardinian
Throughout Italy
1,600,000
Friuli
Friuli
700,000
German
Trentino-Alto Adige region
300,000
French
Valle d'Aosta region
120,000
Albanian
Southern Italy and central Sicily
100,000
Slovene
Trieste-Gorizia area
80,000
Ladin
Dolomite mountains
40,000
Greek
Southern Italy
30,000

Catalan

near Alghero
15,000
Serbo-Croation
Molise region of South-Central Italy
4,000

From "Italy" by Wikipedia, 2006.

Immigrants have brought Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Turkish, Kurdish, Mandarin, Chinese, Hebrew, and other languages to Italy as well.

In the past, each historical region of Italy had its own dialect (see History). Following Italian unification in 1861, a national education system was established with a five year primary stage and an eight year secondary stage. This lead to a more homogenized version of Italian by the 1960s. Today, regional variations in the form of accents and vowel emphasis persist.

Popular sports in Italy include soccer (called football), rugby, basketball, skiing, archery, car racing, ice skating, and baseball. Italy has participated in the summer Olympics since 1900 and the winter Olympics since 1948. Italy has a national rugby team, the Italian Football Federation, and the Italian Grand Prix.

Music notation originated in Italy. Many different types of music are supported in Italy, including chant, hip-hop, and folk-singing.

See Sources: CIA; Wikipedia, Culture of Italy; and Wikipedia, Italy.

Last Updated Jan. 12, 2006