Italian Americans (Italian: Italoamericani) are the United States citizens of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship. Italian Americans are the fourth largest European ethnic group in the United States (not including American ethnicity, an ethnonym used by many in the United States; overall, Italian Americans rank seventh, behind German, Irish, African American, English, American and Mexican).
About 5.5 million Italians immigrated to the U.S. from 1820 to 2004. The greatest surge of immigration, which occurred in the period between 1880 and 1920, alone brought more than 4 million Italians to America. About 80% of the Italian immigrants came from Southern Italy, especially from Sicily, Campania, Abruzzo and Calabria. This was a largely agricultural and overpopulated region, where much of the populace had been impoverished by centuries of foreign misrule, and the economic measures imposed on the South after Italian unification in 1861. After unification, the Italian government initially encouraged emigration to relieve economic pressures in the South. In the U.S., most Italians began their new lives as unskilled, manual workers in Eastern cities, mining camps and in agriculture. Italian Americans gradually moved from the lower rungs of the economic scale in 1890-1910 to a level comparable to the national average by 1970. By 1990, more than 65% of Italian Americans were managerial, professional, or white-collar workers. The Italian-American communities have often been characterized by strong ties with family, the Catholic Church, fraternal organizations and political parties. Today, over 17 million Americans claim Italian ancestry.
Italians and their descendents in America helped shape the country, and were in turn shaped by it. No common identity is shared by all Italian Americans; rather, they are as diverse as the American population itself. They have gained prominence in politics, sports, the media, the fine arts, the culinary arts, and numerous other fields of endeavor.
Famous quotes containing the words italian and/or american:
“Master of Trinity: Is he an Italian?
Harold Abrahams: Of Italian extraction, yes.
Master of Trinity: I see.
Harold Abrahams: But not all Italian.
Master of Trinity: Im relieved to hear it.
Harold Abrahams: Hes half-Arab.”
—Colin Welland (b. 1934)
“The American people are doing their job today. They should be given a chance to show whether they wish to preserve the principles of individual and local responsibility and mutual self-help before they embark on what I believe to be a disastrous system. I feel sure they will succeed if given the opportunity.”
—Herbert Hoover (18741964)