Italo-Venezuelans

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Italian-Venezuelans
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Total population
1,447,305 to 1,736,766 Venezuelans of Italian descent
5–6% of Venezuela's population[1]
Regions with significant populations
Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo, Puerto La Cruz, Maracay, Mérida and surrounding areas.
Languages
Italian, Spanish
Religion
Roman Catholic

Italian-Venezuelans are Venezuelan citizens of Italian descent. The word may refer to someone born in Venezuela of Italian descent or to someone who has emigrated to Venezuela from Italy. Among European Venezuelans, Italians are one of the largest groups of immigrants to settle in the country.

History[edit]

Before the discovery of huge deposits of oil in Venezuela, during the first half of the 20th century, the emigration of Italians to Venezuela was very limited. Only a few hundred (like Agostino Codazzi) moved to Venezuela from Italy during the colonial times and the Simón Bolívar era.

But in the 1940s and 1950s the Venezuelan President Marcos Pérez Jiménez promoted European immigration to his depopulated country, and more than 300,000 Italians emigrated to Venezuela (although many later returned to Italy).

The Italians in the 1961 Venezuelan census were the biggest European community in Venezuela (ahead of the Spanish). In 1976 the "Dirección de Estadísticas" of Venezuela registered 210,350 Italians residents and 25,858 Italians "naturalised" (who got Venezuelan citizenship).[2]

Marisa Vannini calculated that in the eighties Italian-Venezuelans made up almost 400,000 of Venezuela's population, including second-generation descendants of immigrants. The Italian language in Venezuela is influencing Venezuelan Spanish with some modisms and loanwords and is experiencing a notable revival between the Italian-Venezuelans of second and third generation.

Santander Laya-Garrido estimated that the Venezuelans with at least one grandparent from Italy can be nearly one million at the beginning of the 21st century (like the former president of Venezuela, Raul Leoni, whose grandfather was an Italian mason refugee of the 19th century).

Currently the Italians resident in Venezuela are reduced to less than 50,000 due mainly to demographic mortality and to their return to Italy (because of a Venezuelan political and economic crisis in the 2000s).[3] The Ambassador of Italy in Venezuela, estimated that 5-6% (1,44 to 1,73 million) of the current Venezuelan population is of Italian origin.[4]