Italian Argentines

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Italian Argentines
Italo-argentini (Italian)
Ítalo-argentinos (Spanish)
XXXIV Fiesta Nacional del Inmigrante - desfile - colectividad italiana.JPG
Italian Argentines during the opening parade of the XXXIV Immigrant's Festival in Oberá, Misiones
Total population
25 million or 62.5% of Argentina’s population have at least one Italian ancestor[1]
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Argentina
(Plurality in the Pampas)
Languages
Rioplatense Spanish, Italian, Piedmontese, Venetian, Neapolitan, Sicilian, and other languages of ItalyCocoliche pidgin (also Lunfardo slang).
Religion
Roman Catholicism[2](with small minorities of protestantism)
Related ethnic groups
Italians, Italian Brazilians, Italian Uruguayans

Italian Argentines (Italian: italo-argentini; Spanish: ítalo-argentinos, or tanos in Rioplatense Spanish) are Italian-born people (born in Argentina or Italy) or non-Italian citizens of Italian descent residing in Argentina. Italian is the largest single ethnic origin of modern Argentines,[3] surpassing even the descendants of Spanish immigrants.[4][5]

Italian immigration to Argentina was the largest and most important migratory movement that the current Argentine Republic has historically received,[6] surpassing that of the Spanish conquerors and the descendants of that population who settled in today's Argentine territory before independence.[7]

In 2011, it was estimated that at least 25 million Argentines (62.5% of the country's population) have some degree of Italian ancestry.[1] Argentina has the second-largest community of Italians outside of Italy, after Brazil.

Italians began arriving in Argentina in large numbers from 1857 to 1940, totaling 44.9% of the entire postcolonial immigrant population, more than from any other country (including Spain, at 31.5%). In 1996, the population of Argentines of partial or full Italian descent numbered 15.8 million[8] when Argentina's population was approximately 34.5 million, meaning they represented 45.5% of the population.[1]

Italian settlements in Argentina, along with Spanish settlements, formed the backbone of today's Argentine society. Argentine culture has significant connections with Italian culture in terms of language, customs, and traditions.[9] Argentina is also a strongly Italophilic country as cuisine, fashion, customs, traditions, and lifestyle have been sharply influenced by Italian immigration.

History[edit]

Percent of Italians in each Argentinian Region in 2022

Small groups of Italians began to emigrate to Argentina already in the second half of the 17th century.[4] There were already Italians in Buenos Aires during the May Revolution. The Italian community had already grown to such an extent that in 1836 the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia sent an ambassador, Baron Picolet d'Hermilion.[10]

Earlier, during the Spanish conquest of what would be present-day Argentine territory, an Italian from the region of Sardinia (Leonardo Gribeo) accompanied Pedro de Mendoza to the place where Buenos Aires would be founded. He brought to that place, from Cagliari to Spain and then to the Río de la Plata, an image of Saint Mary of Good Air, to which the "miracle" of having reached a good place was attributed, giving the founded city its name in Spanish: Buenos Aires (lit. "good airs").[10]

However, the stream of Italian immigration to Argentina became a mass phenomenon only from 1880 to 1920, during the Great European immigration wave to Argentina, peaking between 1900 and 1914, about two million settled from 1880 to 1920, and just 1 million from 1900 to 1914.[11]

In 1887, Italians accounted for 60.4% of all immigration to Argentina, then there was a decrease as the percentage of Spanish immigration increased.[12] The effect of Italian immigration to Argentina was important for the constitution of Argentine society. In Argentina there are influences of Italian culture that are still evident today.[4] Outside of Italy, Argentina is the country with the highest percentage of Italians, and the one with the greatest examples of Italian culture.[13][14]

A sculpture symbolizing first Italian inmigrants arrival to Resistencia, Chaco
House of the Italian Argentines of Oberá, Misiones.

In 1914, Buenos Aires alone had more than 300,000 Italian-born inhabitants, representing 25% of the total population.[11] The Italian immigrants were primarily male, aged between 14 and 50 and more than 50% literate; in terms of occupations, 78.7% in the active population were agricultural workers or unskilled laborers, 10.7% artisans, and only 3.7% worked in commerce or as professionals.[11]

The outbreak of World War I and the rise of fascism in Italy caused a rapid fall in immigration to Argentina, with a slight revival in 1923 to 1927 but eventually stopped during the Great Depression and the Second World War.[15]

After the end of the war, from 1946 to 1957, another massive wave of Italians moved to Argentina, this time numbering about 380,000.[16] A small number of Istrian Italians and Dalmatian Italians emigrated to Argentina during the Istrian-Dalmatian exodus, leaving their homelands, which were lost to Italy and annexed to Yugoslavia after the Treaty of Peace with Italy, 1947.[17]

The substantial recovery allowed by the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s eventually caused the era of Italian diaspora abroad to end, and in the following decades, Italy became a country with net immigration. As of 2016, 527,570 Italian citizens still lived in Argentina.[18]

In 2011, it was estimated that at least 25 million Argentines (62.5% of the country's population) have some degree of Italian ancestry.[1] Argentina has the second-largest community of Italians outside of Italy, after Brazil. Jorge Luis Borges stated that "the Argentine is an Italian who speaks Spanish",[19] while the Spanish philosopher Julián Marías stated that Argentina could be "the only Italian-Spanish republic on the planet".[20]

The Italian economist Marcello De Cecco said: "Italians, as we know, are a people of emigrants. For many centuries they have spread to the four corners of the world. However, they constitute the majority of the population in only two countries: Italy and Argentina."[13]

There are second and third generation Italian Argentines who hold dual citizenship, recognized by both countries.[10][21] This is because Argentina uses the ius soli principle, which grants nationality to those born in the country, while Italy uses the ius sanguinis principle, which grants citizenship to the children of Italians.[22]

Italians abroad have elected[23] deputies and senators in the Italian Parliament since 2006, when, after a constitutional reform, 12 seats in Chamber of Deputies and six seats in the Senate were assigned to the Italian diaspora.[24] Argentina belongs to the constituency of South America, which corresponds to three deputies and two senators.[25]

Characteristics of Italian immigration to Argentina[edit]

Overview[edit]

Percentage of Italian-born immigrants in the 1914 Argentine census by provinces and territories
Italian immigrants to Argentina, 1861–1920 (by decade)[11]
Period Total Italian Proportion
1861–1870 159,570 113,554 71%
1871–1880 260,885 152,061 58%
1881–1890 841,122 493,885 59%
1891–1900 648,326 425,693 57%
1901–1910 1,764,103 796,190 45%
1911–1920 1,204,919 347,388 29%
1861–1920 3,798,925 2,270,525 59%
Italian citizens residing in Argentina[26][27]
Census Population of foreigners Population of Italian citizens % of Italians compared to foreigners % of Italians compared to the total population
1869 210,330 71,403 33.8 4.9
1895 1,006,838 492,636 48.9 12.5
1914 2,391,171 942,209 39.4 11.9
1947 2,435,927 786,207 32.3 4.9
1960 2,604,447 878,298 33.7 4.4
1970 2,210,400 637,050 29.8 2.7

Areas of origin[edit]

Italian association of Italian-Argentines originally from the Campania region in Mar del Plata
Allegory of the Italian Argentines of Molise region origin in Mar del Plata
Monument to Luigi Pirandello. Gift of the Italian city of Agrigento (Sicily) to the Argentine city of Buenos Aires. Tribute to the Sicilian community in Argentina

Most of the Italians who initially moved to Argentina were farmers from the north, originating from regions such as Piedmont, Liguria, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Lombardy.[28][29] Already entered the 20th century, due to the nascent industrialization of Northern Italy, immigration patterns shifted to rural Southern Italy, especially Campania, Calabria and Sicily.[30] Immigrants from northern Italy settled mainly in rural areas, while those from the south preferred large cities.[14]

Of the 2,386,181 Italians who arrived in Argentina between 1876 and 1930, 47% (1,116,369) came from Southern Italy, 41% (988,235) from Northern Italy and 12% from Central Italy (281,577).[31] The Italian regions from which most of the immigrants came were Piedmont (in the north) and Calabria (in the south). Calabrian immigrants have always arrived in large numbers and their migration has not changed much over time. On the other hand, immigrants from Sicily, practically non-existent until the beginning of the 1900s, began to arrive in large numbers from the year 1895 to the point that, around 1914, one in six immigrants was Sicilian.[32]

In the 1950s more than 65% of Italian immigrants came from the south: 30% were from Calabria, 15% from Campania and 12% from Sicily. Of the remaining 35%, 21% came from central-southern regions, in particular Abruzzo and Molise (in this case 14%), while 13% came from the north, mainly from Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.[33]

Of the immigrants who arrived between 1876 and 1915, 16.90% were from Piedmont, 13.20% from Calabria, 11.10% from Sicily, 10.40% from Lombardy, 8.20% from Marche, 7.50% from Campania, 7.20% from Veneto and 3.20% from Abruzzo and Molise, which then constituted a single region.[11] Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and Emilia-Romagna, in central Italy, were the regions that contributed the least to immigration to Argentina.[32]

In Argentine slang, tano (from Napulitano, "Neapolitan") is still used for all people of Italian descent although it originally meant inhabitants of the former independent state the Kingdom of Naples. The assumption that emigration from cities was negligible has an important exception. Naples went from being the capital of its own kingdom in 1860 to being just another large city in Italy. The loss of bureaucratic jobs and the subsequently declining financial situation led to high unemployment. This caused a massive departure from Naples and southern Italy to Argentina.[34][35]

According to a 1990 study, the high proportion of returnees can show a positive or negative correlation between regions of origin and of destination. Southern Italians indicate a more permanent settlement. Argentine society's Italian component is the result of Southern rather than Northern influences.[36][37]

Italian immigrants arriving in Argentina and regional distribution[38]
Period Northwest
Italy
Northeastern
and central Italy
Southern
and insular Italy
Total
1880–1884 59.8% 16.8% 23.4% 106,953
1885–1889 45.3% 24.4% 30.3% 259,858
1890–1894 44.2% 20.7% 35.1% 151,249
1895–1899 32.3% 23.1% 44.6% 211,878
1900–1904 29.2% 19.6% 51.2% 232,746
1905–1909 26.9% 20.1% 53.0% 437,526
1910–1914 27.4% 18.2% 54.4% 355,913
1915–1919 32.3% 23.1% 44.6% 26,880
1920–1924 19.7% 27.4% 52.9% 306,928
1925–1929 14.4% 33.1% 52.5% 235,065

Settlement areas[edit]

Most of the Italian immigrant community settled in the Buenos Aires Province, especially in the city of Buenos Aires, as well as in the provinces of Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, Córdoba, La Pampa, Tucumán, Santiago del Estero and Corrientes.[39] For example, in Rosario, Santa Fe, the descendants of Italians are almost 65% of the total of the city.[40] Italian immigration to Argentina was markedly urban, with the exception of the province of Santa Fe, where agricultural colonies predominated.[32]

In La Plata at the end of the 19th century there were almost 4,600 Italian emigrants in a city of just 10,000 inhabitants.[41] Immigrants from northern Italy settled in highly populated regions of the country such as the provinces of Santa Fe, Córdoba and Mendoza, where they found real job opportunities. The capital of Chaco Province, Resistencia, was the destination of many Italians after 1878.[29] Patagonia was a minor destination.[4] However, the city of Ushuaia, capital of the Tierra del Fuego Province, received a substantial contingent of Italians between 1948 and 1949.[42]

Culture[edit]

Manuel Belgrano, politician and military leader who created the Flag of Argentina. His father was Italian.
Italian festival in Oberá.

Language[edit]

According to Ethnologue, Argentina has more than 1,500,000 Italian speakers, making it the third most spoken language in the nation (after Spanish and English).[43] In spite of the great many Italian immigrants, the Italian language never truly took hold in Argentina, partly because at the time of mass immigration, almost all Italians spoke their native regional languages rather than what is now standard Italian, precluding the expansion of the use of Italian as a primary language in Argentina. The similarity between Spanish and many of those languages also enabled the immigrants to acquire communicative competence in Spanish with relative ease, and thus to assimilate linguistically without much difficulty.

Italian immigration from the second half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century made a lasting and significant impact on the intonation of Argentina's vernacular Spanish. Preliminary research has shown that Rioplatense Spanish, particularly the speech of the city of Buenos Aires, has intonation patterns that resemble those of Italian dialects (especially the ones whose substratum is the Neapolitan language) and differ markedly from the patterns of other forms of Spanish.[44] That correlates well with immigration patterns as Argentina, particularly Buenos Aires, which had huge numbers of Italian settlers since the 19th century. According to a study conducted by National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, and published in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (ISSN 1366–7289)[45] The researchers note that this is a relatively recent phenomenon, starting in the early 20th century with the main wave of Southern Italian immigration. Until then, the porteño accent was more similar to that of Spain, particularly Andalusia.[46]

Much of Lunfardo arrived with European immigrants, such as Italians, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, and Poles. Most Italian and Spanish immigrants spoke their regional languages and dialects, rather than Standard Italian or Spanish; other words arrived from the pampa by means of the gauchos; and a few came from Argentina's native population. Most sources believe that Lunfardo originated in jails, as a prisoner-only argot. Around 1900, the word lunfardo itself, originally a deformation of lombardo in several languages of Italy, was used to mean "outlaw." Lunfardo words are inserted in the normal flow of Rioplatense Spanish sentences. Thus, a Spanish-speaking Mexican reading tango lyrics needs only the translation of a discrete set of words, not a grammar guide. Most tango lyrics use lunfardo sparsely, but some songs (such as El Ciruja, or most lyrics by Celedonio Flores) employ lunfardo heavily. Here are some examples:

Between about 1880 and 1900, Argentina received a large number of peasants from the South of Italy, who arrived with little or no schooling in Spanish. As the immigrants strove to communicate with the local criollos, they produced a variable mixture of Spanish with Italian languages and dialects, specially Neapolitan. The pidgin language was given the derogatory name cocoliche by the locals. Since the children of the immigrants grew up speaking Spanish at school, work, and military service, Cocoliche remained confined mostly to the first generation immigrants and slowly fell out of use. The pidgin has been depicted humorously in literary works and in the Argentine sainete theater, such as by Dario Vittori.

Cuisine[edit]

Pasta is a feature of the Argentine cuisine.
Argentine "Fainá".
Argentine "Sorrentinos".

Argentine cuisine has been strongly influenced by Italian cuisine; the typical Argentine diet is a variation on the Mediterranean diet.

Italian staple dishes like pizza and pasta are common. Pasta is extremely common, either simple unadorned pasta with butter or oil or accompanied by a tomato or bechamel based sauce.

Pizza (locally pronounced pisa or pitsa), for example, has been wholly subsumed and, in its Argentine form, more closely resembles Italian pizza al taglio but round instead of rectangular. Pizza is shared between two or more people, it's not the usual Italian personal pizza. Typical or exclusively Argentine pizzas include pizza canchera, pizza rellena (stuffed pizza), pizza por metro (pizza by the meter), and pizza a la parrilla (grilled pizza). While Argentine pizza derives from Neapolitan cuisine, the Argentine fugaza/fugazza comes from the focaccia xeneise (from Genoa), but in any case, its preparation is different from its Italian counterpart, and the addition of cheese to make the dish (fugaza con queso or fugazzeta) started in Argentina.[47]

Fainá is a type of thin bread made with chickpea flour (adopted from northern Italy). The name comes from the Ligurian word for the Italian farinata. Pizzerias in Buenos Aires often offer fainá, which is eaten with pizza, a wedge of fainá on top of a wedge of pizza.

Nevertheless, the pastas (pasta, always in the plural) surpass pizzas in consumption levels. Among them are tallarines (fettuccine), ravioles (ravioli), ñoquis (gnocchi), and canelones (cannelloni).

For example, pasta is often eaten with white bread ("French bread"). That can be explained by the low cost of bread and the fact that Argentine pastas tend to come with a large amount of tuco sauce (Italian sugo) and accompanied by estofado (stew). Less commonly, pastas are eaten with a dressing of pesto, a green sauce based on basil, or salsa blanca (béchamel sauce).

Sorrentinos are also a local dish with a misleading name (they do not come from Sorrento but were invented in Mar del Plata). They look like big round ravioles stuffed with mozzarella, cottage cheese and basil in tomato sauce.

Polenta comes from Northern Italy and is very common throughout Argentina. And, just like polenta concia in Italy, it is eaten as a main dish, with sauce and melted cheese, or it may accompany a stew.

Other dishes are milanesas (the name deriving from the original cotoletta alla milanese from Milan), breaded meats similar to the Wiener schnitzel. A common dish of this variety is the milanesa napolitana, an Argentine innovation despite its name, which comes from former Buenos Aires restaurant "Nápoli." It is breaded meat baked with a topping of melted cheese, tomatoes, and sometimes ham. The milanesa was brought to Argentina by Central European immigrants.[48][49]

Pasta frola is a typical Argentine recipe heavily influenced by Southern Italian cuisine, known as Pasta Frolla in Italy. Pasta frola consists of a buttery pastry base with a filling made of quince jam, sweet-potato jam or milk caramel (dulce de leche) and topped with thin strips of the same pastry, forming a squared pattern. It is an Argentine tradition to eat pastafrola with mate in the afternoon. The dish is also very popular in Paraguay and Uruguay. The traditional Italian recipe was not prepared with latticework, unlike in Argentina, but with a lid pierced with molds in the form of hearts or flowers.

Ice cream (Spanish: Helado, Italian: gelato) is a particularly popular Argentine dessert. Its creamy texture is caused by the large proportion of cream,[50] and, as everywhere, many flavors are available. Ice cream was again a legacy of the Italian diaspora.

Day of the Italian Immigrant[edit]

The Argentine national law n. 24,561 established that Italian Immigrant Day should be celebrated every year on 3 June as a sign of recognition to Italian immigrants and their contribution to Argentina. This date was chosen because it is the day of the birth of Manuel Belgrano, of Genoese origin.[51]

Architecture[edit]

The Arts Powerhouse (Usina del Arte), inaugurated on 23 May 2012, in a former Italian-Argentine Electric Company (CIAE) facility originally built in 1916 in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

The Italian architect Giovanni Chiogna, who emigrated to Argentina from Trento, was hired by the Italian-Argentine Electric Company (CIAE) to build more than 200 structures for power plants, substations and substations in various parts of Buenos Aires. Currently some buildings maintain their function, while others have been transformed. These buildings are characterized by having a Florentine neo-Renaissance style originating in northern Italy, where Chiogna came from, with the buildings that are characterized by the presence of stone and exposed brick bases, round arched windows, medieval turrets and other elements decorative.[52][53]

Popular culture[edit]

From the Apennines to the Andes is a short fictional story included by Edmondo de Amicis in his novel Heart, published in 1886. It tells the story of the long and complicated journey of a thirteen-year-old boy, Marco, from Genoa, Italy to Argentina, in search of his mother, who had immigrated to that South American country two years earlier.[54]

Il Gaucho is a film made in 1965 by the Italian director Dino Risi. It was co-produced by Clemente Lococo, an Argentinian production company, and in Argentina it was released as Un italiano en la Argentina ("An Italian in Argentina").[55] It was shot in Argentina.[56]

Music[edit]

The Italian contribution to the music of Argentina has been extremely important for tango. Among the first and most important tangueros were immigrants and descendants of Italians. There are also numerous tango lyrics inspired by Italian immigrants and their lives.[57]

Institutions[edit]

Italian Association of Junín, province of Buenos Aires

The typology of the Italian associations in Argentina is very varied and includes, among others, cultural institutions, sports centers, social organizations and war veterans organizations.[10] The Italian Association of Mutuality and Education "Unione y Benevolenza" was created by 53 Italians on 18 July 1858, becoming the first Italian institution in South America.[58] Already in 1866 Italian language lessons were held there.[10] The Confederation of Italian Federations in Argentina dates back to 1912 and brings together all the federations of Italian-Argentine associations.[59] The Dante Alighieri Society is the most important Italian institution for the formation of the Italian language and culture. It has 126 offices in Argentina,[60] being Buenos Aires its main office outside Italy.[10]

There are also the Committees for Italians Abroad, bodies of the Italian state created by law with functions in every consular jurisdiction, and there are several in Argentina. They represent the Italian community before the Italian consular authorities and the Argentine authorities.[61]

Education[edit]

Italian international schools in Argentina include:[62]

Notable people[edit]

Pope Francis. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is an Argentine of Italian descent.

Anarchists[edit]

Architects[edit]

  • César Pelli, designed some of the world's tallest buildings and other major urban landmarks

Artists[edit]

Business[edit]

Criminals[edit]

Entertainers[edit]

Inventors[edit]

Jurists[edit]

Law enforcement figures[edit]

Journalism[edit]

Military[edit]

Painters and sculptors[edit]

Politicians[edit]

Prelates[edit]

Scientists[edit]

Sports[edit]

Writers[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Departamento de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad Nacional de La Matanza (14 November 2011). "Historias de inmigrantes italianos en Argentina" (in Spanish). infouniversidades.siu.edu.ar. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Se estima que en la actualidad, el 90% de la población argentina tiene alguna ascendencia europea y que al menos 25 millones están relacionados con algún inmigrante de Italia.
  2. ^ "Argentina - Language and religion | Britannica".
  3. ^ In 2005, the Servicio de Huellas Digitales Genéticas Archived 2011-08-20 at the Wayback Machine of the Universidad de Buenos Aires concluded an investigation directed by the Argentinean geneticist Daniel Corach. The study was done over genetic markers in a sample of 320  male subjects, taken at random of a group of 12 000 individuals from 9 provinces.

    Más del cincuenta por ciento de las muestras exhiben haplogrupos mitocondriales característicos de las poblaciones originarias, 52 % en la muestra de la región centro, 56 % en la muestra del sur-suroeste y 66 % en la región nor-noreste. Por otro lado, el 20 % exhibe la variante "T" característica de las poblaciones originarias en el locus DYS199. La detección de ambos linajes originarios, tanto por vía paterna como por vía materna se restringe a un 10 %. El componente poblacional que no presenta contribución amerindia alguna en la región del centro es de 43 %, en la región Sur-SurOeste es de 37 % y en la región Nor-NorEste de 27 %. En promedio, menos del 40 % (36,4 %) de la población exhibe ambos linajes no amerindios; pudiendo ser europeo, asiático o africano.

  4. ^ a b c d "Colectividad Italiana". Archived from the original on 12 June 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Diaspora italiana in cifre" (PDF) (in Italian). p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
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