Italians in Argentina: Background

Italians in Argentina: Background

Italians in Argentina: Background

Italians in ArgentinaThe vast majority of Italians are concentrated in two countries: Italy and Argentina. This statement illustrates the importance of the relationship between the two countries, dating back to the late 19th-century when thousands of people fled southern Europe looking for new horizons.

Between the years 1870 and 1960, over 2 million Italian citizens settled in the country and there were periods when Italians made up almost half of the country’s population. It is estimated that currently, 90% of Argentina’s population has some European ancestry and that at least 25 million inhabitants in the country are somewhat related to an immigrant from Italy.

In 1899 a doctor in sociology by the name Ramos Mejia singled out the concerns of the ruling class when mass immigration from Italy took place in Argentina. According to the higher classes, immigrants (mostly with Italian origins but also from other countries in Europe like Germany, Spain, France and Croatia) were so many that they were starting to invade theaters, outdoor parks, churches, the streets, squares, homes, hospitals and markets. The most “disturbing thing” was that this amorphous mass was ever growing and emerging and, slowly but surely, flourishing economically.

In Italy, a rumor started to circulate, and people started to hear that Italians in Argentina were not only hired for blue collar jobs and positions. Often, it was heard that in Europe, those born poor, would die poor. In America, however, people were able to make economic progress.

Browsing through this website, you will be able to find an audiovisual archive of different stories told by Italian immigrants in Argentina and gather evidence about the lives of people who fled their country to escape hunger, wars or poverty that struck Europe in the late 19th century as well as the first half of the 20th century.