Borders and area. – According to the agreements between Italy and Yugoslavia in October 1954, the territory of Trieste was divided so that the so-called zone A with the city of Trieste remained under the Italian administration, zone B to Yugoslavia, with slight changes in favor of this. Moreover, Italy has recognized this state of affairs only as provisional. The area of Italy has therefore risen to 301,223 km 2.
Population. – On November 4, 1951, the 9th census of the Italian population was carried out, which gave an overall result of 47,158,738 residents present and 47,515,537 residents. At 31 December 1959 the resident population was calculated at 50,707,816 residents (See the table below with the data for regions and provinces).
With regard to the movement of the population, it can be observed that the surplus of live births over the dead has remained in recent years at 8 ‰ per year, albeit with considerable fluctuations from region to region, from less than 1 ‰ (Florence, Siena, Pistoia) to 15-17 (Basilicata). In the southern provinces almost without exception the surplus is higher than 10%. The budget for all the Piedmontese provinces, for those of Pavia, Genoa, Savona, Imperia, Trieste is passive.
But the movement of the population in the last decade has been greatly influenced by interregional or interprovincial movements, which it is difficult to evaluate in their numerical entity. The persistence and in some cases the accentuation of the depopulation of mountain areas, reported for some parts of western Liguria, for the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, which has now also manifested itself in the Umbrian-Marche region, in the Abruzzo region, in the mountainous regions of Calabria, etc. In many cases, the areas of recent reclamation are centers of attraction: as happened in the past for the Pontine reclamation, so now Venetian peasant families have settled in the reclamation of Alberese and Maccarese and here and there in other places in Lazio. Southern settlers have settled in the Romagna Apennines; peasants and other Sicilian workers appear in the countryside and also in the cities of southern Tuscany. Families from the surrounding mountains, but also from the Marche and Teramo, moved to the Fucino, in the reclamation of Oristano settlers from Romagna, in the Nurra refugee settlers from Istria. In Carbonia, also in Sardinia, more than half of the population comes from different regions of the peninsula. Conversely Sardinian workers settle in Lazio and southern Tuscany; Calabrian peasants have settled to form permanent nuclei in the Riviera di Ponente. In areas of recent reclamation of Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, we often meet Marche peasants.
The sea also exerts an attraction, but the often really conspicuous increase of recent maritime centers in connection with the bathing and similar industries is mostly due to transfers of populations from the region itself; modest movements continue to occur from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea for the exercise of fishing activities.
Very notable continues to be the immigration of southern elements in the large cities of the North, such as Turin, Genoa, Milan, Brescia, Verona, Bolzano, but precise data on this subject are not always available. What is certain is that for these and other large cities the increase in population in the last decade finds its explanation, as well as in the surplus of births, in the currents of immigration. And this is true in the forefront of Rome, where families come to settle not only from the surrounding regions but, to varying degrees and for different reasons, from every region of Italy.
The 1951 census also provides data on the active population divided according to the various categories of employment. The population defined as active and which includes those surveyed over the age of ten employed in any occupation, art or trade, was 14,760,000 individuals in 1951 out of a total of 22,959,000, in large comparison to 13,260,000 out of 20,234.000 in 1931. Limiting ourselves to the categories of occupations, it appears that 41.1% of the active population was devoted to agriculture, including fishing and hunting, 32.5% to industries, 3.7% to related activities with transport and communications, 16.1% to commerce (including credit, banks, etc.), 6.6% to public administration, etc. The corresponding percentage figures were, twenty years earlier (1931 census): agriculture 51%; industry 27.2%; transport etc. 4%; trade etc. 11.3%; public administration 5.5%. In this comparison, first of all, the increase in the category of industrial activities is striking, to the detriment of agricultural activities. It can no longer be said that Italy is an agricultural state; it now falls into the category of agricultural-industrial states. There has been a notable decrease in the number of people working on the land, which had already begun to occur since the beginning of the current century (1901: agriculture 59.8%; industry 23.8%).
The development of industrial and commercial activities is partly the cause of the increase in the population of the major cities and the consequent worrying phenomena of urbanism. According to the 1951 census, the following thirteen cities exceeded 200,000 residents (the population calculated in the middle of 1959 in brackets): Rome 1,651,754 (1,943,733); Milan 1.874.245 (1.447.006), Naples 1.010.550 (1.139.411), Turin 719.300 (926.629), Genoa 688.447 (752.983), Palermo 490.692 (585.231), Florence 374.625 (424.625), Bologna 340.526 (420.859), Venice 316.891 (342.991), Catania 299.629 (358.047), Trieste 272.522 (284.492), Bari 268.183 (311.509), Messina 220.766 (246.504). In 1959 also Verona exceeded 200,000 residents
Administrative order. – The Italian Republic is divided into 92 provinces and about 8000 municipalities (8019 in 1959), as shown in tab. on p. following. The average area of the province is 3272 km 2 and the average population is about 525,000 residents; but the differences are very considerable: apart from Trieste, the smallest province is that of Gorizia (473 km 2), the least populated is Aosta (94,140 residents in 1951); the largest province is Cagliari (9297 km 2), the most populous is Milan (2,505,153 residents).
The average area of the municipality is about 38 km 2, the average population is 6200 residents; here the differences are even greater. The largest municipality is notoriously that of Rome (1507 km 2), which is also the most populous; the smallest municipality is currently Atrani, in the province of Salerno, with 0.1 km 2 of area and 1250 residents; but the latter figure is nevertheless higher than that relating to the municipality of Moncenisio, which with 74 residents appears to be the least populated municipality in Italy.