Demographics and Ethnicity in Italy
Italy has an estimated total population of 60.4 million. However, the distribution of the population is widely uneven; the most densely populated areas are the Po Valley (that accounts for almost half of the national population) in northern Italy and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples in central and southern Italy, while other areas are very sparsely populated, like the plateaus of Basilicata, the Alps and Apennines highlands, and the island of Sardinia.
The urban population in Italy almost doubled during the twentieth century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven due to large scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North. According to the Italian government, there were an estimated 5,234,000 foreign nationals resident in Italy on 1st of January 2019.
High birth rate and lower mortality rate persisted until the 1970s, after which they started to dramatically decline, leading to rapid population aging. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, one in five Italians was over 65 years old. However, as a result of the massive net migration in the last two decades, Italy has, in recent years, experienced a significant growth in birth rates. The total fertility rate has also climbed too with a higher growth rate of live births leading to population growth.
The major ethnic group in Italy is the Native Italian, comprising more than 90% of the population of Italy. The remaining population comprises ethnic groups like Albanians, Romanians, Ukrainians and other Europeans (2.5%); Africans (1.5%) and several other minorities (1%).
The official language is Italian, while some of the areas also use German, French, and Slovene. The dominant religion in Italy is Roman Catholic, with the Vatican City in the heart of Rome.