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Italy has been transformed in recent decades from a nation of emigrants to a destination country for mass immigration. Italy currently receives tens of thousands of immigrant from south-east Europe and north Africa each year. Its long coast lines and developed economy make it both an attractive destination and an easy route into Europe. As immigration rates have risen sharply, relations between the Italian and immigrant population have often been tense.


Between 1998 and 2008 the number of foreigners in Italy has tripled from 1.5 million to 4.5 million. It is estimated that this includes around 500,000 undocumented immigrants. Immigrants come from countries including: Romania, Albania, Morocco, China and Ukraine.

In 2008 alone, almost 3,000 people attempting to cross the Mediterranean landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Those who survive the crossing journey arrive exhausted and often in need of medical care. However, while it is true that many of migrants attempt to enter Italy via boat, the main entry route to Italy is via land or air.

This resource summary highlights a sample selection of web-based resources that focus on Italy. Links are provided to full-text documents, journal articles, external resources, and organizations.


Selected full-text documents (for more documents relating to Italy, search in the Digital Library)


Web Resources

Selected web-based information resources (for more, search the FMO website)


Relevant Organizations

Contact details for organizations based in Italy (for more, search in the Organizations Directory)


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Detention centre for refugees and migrants on Italy’s Lampedusa Island

Inside a detention centre for refugees and migrants on Italy’s Lampedusa Island. This center was closed end of July 2007, and replaced with a new one opened in August.

© UNHCR / A. Di Loreto / July 2007.

Location of Italy

Map showing the location of Italy

Italy (highlighted in red) in the South of Europe, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and bordered byFrance, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.

Last updated Sep 06, 2011