Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Italy and immigration

The ancient Romans used to call the Mediterranean "mare nostrum," our sea, and of course all Italians know this. Yet Their Sea is increasingly not theirs.

Today's Italian papers cite a report from the non-profit Caritas according to which immigrants are now 3.7% of the population, up 21.6% just in the last year. Thus, they would make up 6.2% of the population, as against a EU average of 5.2%, putting them in third place behind Germany and Spain.

Immigration is facilitated by the geography of Italy, notably its proximity to Africa and the Middle East. The island of Lampedusa (Sicily)(in the photo), the scene of many immigrant arrivals, is actually closer to Tunisia than to Sicily itself, which is of course an island with respect to the mainland. The scenario is further complicated by the role of organized crime throughout Southern Italy, which feeds on the phenomenon. For more, see this recent article from the British daily The Guardian.