chapter
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immigration

Historically, Italy has been a country of outward migration, but by the mid-1990s foreign residents in Italy numbered more than one million, representing nearly 2 per cent of the Italian population (see also emmigration). Such a figure may both overstate and understate the actual volume of Italian immigration, if ‘immigrant’ is interpreted in the most narrow sense of persons seeking to establish themselves in a foreign country for economic reasons or for safety. In fact, nearly 14 per cent of foreigners residing in Italy come from other countries in the European Union, and more than 8 per cent of those origination from non-EU countries come from developed economic areas. US citizens, for example, represent the fourth foreign national group. On the other hand, the official figures cannot give any account of the overwhelming presence of undocumented people, who may represent a further 30 to 50 per cent of the legal resident population.