Italian Information

The Italian people are an ethnic group, in the sense of sharing a common Italian culture, descent, and speaking the Italian language as a mother tongue. Because of the wide-ranging and long-lasting diaspora, over 70 million people of Italian or part Italian ancestry live outside of Italy. Nearly two-thirds of the Italian diaspora live in South America . About 20 million live in North America and nearly 1 million live in Oceania. Genetically, the Italians are the most diverse people in Europe.

Italy has the widest range of genetic differences in Europe. This is due to immigration and conquering from several other territories. In Northern Italy, many people have Longobard/Celtic ancestry dating back to the paleolithic era, and many also have traits of descending from Germanic, Gothic and central European tribes.

People from Central Italy also have very diverse ancestral heritages, and mainly have British, Austrian, Egyptian, Celtic European, Etruscan, Greek and Gallic heritages. This is mainly due to, for example, the 1600 BC eruption in Thrace, Greece, where several people migrated to central Italy, and began working on land and farms in the area of mainly Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany. The Etruscans, despite diffuclty in tracing their true origins, were mainly based in the Etrurian area of Italy. During the 17th and 18th century Grand Tour, several British aristocrats took residence in Tuscany, and many married Italians, meaning that several people from the area have both Italian and English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh heritages. The Austrian Grand Dukes of Lorraine-Habsburg and their servants ruled Tuscany in the 18th and part of the 19th century, and the children they produce had also Italian/Austrian genetics, yet since the Lorraines-Habsburgs had mix heritages too, their offspring would have some Spanish, German, Czech and French heritage too.

Wikipedia, Italian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italians (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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