Foreign residents as a percentage of the regional population, 2011
Immigration to Italy is a phenomenon that became relevant only at the end of the 1970s.
As of January 2014, there were 4,987,721 foreign nationals resident in Italy. This amounted to 8.1% of the country’s population and represented an increase of 12.4% over the previous year. These figures include 79,894 children born in Italy to foreign nationals (15% of total births in Italy), but exclude foreign nationals who have subsequently acquired Italian nationality; this applied to 65,383 people in 2012. They also exclude illegal immigrants whose numbers are difficult to determine. In May 2008, The Boston Globe quoted an estimate of 670,000 for this group. The distribution of foreign born population is largely uneven in Italy: 86% of immigrants live in the northern and central parts of the country (the most economically developed areas), while only 14% live in the southern half of the peninsula.
Since the expansion of the European Union, the most recent wave of migration has been from surrounding European states, particularly Eastern Europe, and increasingly Asia, replacing North Africa as the major immigration area. About a million Romanians, around 10% of them being Roms, are officially registered as living in Italy. As of 2013, the foreign born population origin was subdivided as follows: Europe (50.8%), Africa (22.1%), Asia (18.8%), America (8.3%), and Oceania (0.1%).