L’emigrazione italiana verso i paesi della riva Sud del Mediterraneo dall’Unità d’Italia al 1925

Italian Emigration to the Countries of the Southern Mediterranean from the Unification of Italy to 1925


  • Antonio Cortese Istat-Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, Italy


Between 1876 and 1925, in a lapse that includes the years of the so-called first Italian emi-gration phase (from 1876 to 1914, ending with the “great emigration”, occurred between 1900 and 1914) and the next decade leading to the beginning of fascism, in our country there are about 260 thousand migrants heading towards the Mediterranean countries in Af-rica (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt). Most of them were illiterate farmers, mainly from the Southern regions of the peninsula. They were running away from their own villag-es due to a deep crisis of agriculture, aggravated in the south by the latifundium and a ma-laria plague affecting many coastal areas. The long-lasting industrial and commercial un-derdevelopment does not allow to absorb the excess of labor supply generated by the pri-mary sector. The paper analyzes the formation (and relevant consistency) of Italian com-munities on the southern shore of the Mediterranean favored by job opportunities created by infrastructure investments promoted by the French authorities in the Maghreb and the process of modernization launched by the viceroy of Egypt and then carried forward by the English Administration.