Immigration from one's homeland to a new country may be a common occurrence, yet it is also difficult, not undertaken lightly, and usually happens for very good reasons. In addition, immigration populations often have a strong impact on the countries they move to. One of the largest immigrations in recent history is that of Italian immigration to Argentina. In fact, Argentina has been known as "the second homeland of the Italians." This paper will provide an overview of Italian immigration to Argentina, discussing the reasons for immigration, number of people who immigrated, their adjustment to Argentinian society, as well as their status in and impact on that society.
According to Arnd Schneider, Italians are "Argentina's largest numerical immigrant group." According to Gabaccia and Ottanelli, "Nearly three million Italians entered Argentina in the first two decades of the twentieth century." Of those Italians who immigrated before World War I, 46% were from the southern regions of Italy, these generally worked in the factories in Argentina. Forty-two percent were from the northern regions, and these usually worked on farms. Around 12% of the immigrants were from central Italy. Most of the immigrants were males between the ages of fourteen and fifty who started out as temporary workers and later chose to stay. There were twice as many Italian men as women.
After World War II, 500,000 Italians immigrated to Argentina; 68% of these were from southern Italy, usually from Calabria, Campania, Abruzzo-Molise, and Sicily. Fifty percent were men between the ages of 22 and 40 during the years 1947-50. This dropped to 30-40% of the total in 1951, but the number of women increased after 1954. Of these immigrants, 74% ended up in Buenos Aires or its suburbs.
There are many reasons that Italians began immigrating to Argentina. One of the major reasons before World War I was the Risorgimento, a period of cultural nat...