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Calabria - Population and Economy

As in many other regions, in Calabria there is an increasing trend towards concentration of the population in the larger towns, particularly the coastal areas, to the detriment of the inland rural areas where depopulation is linked to poor prospects in a backward economy.

Large-scale emigration abroad as well as to Northern Italy, which began to diminish only in the nineteen seventies, has had a lasting effect on the demographic situation in the region. Over the past century, nearly a million people have left Calabria, though many are now returning.

There is no single Calabrian dialect; of the three sub-dialects, each is fairly distinctive of its own province. Several linguistic enclaves include the Albanian (especialy in the provinces of Cosenza and Catanzaro), and Franco-Provenal languages still spoken in Guardia Piemontese (Cosenza) as well as Greek in the Bova area (Reggio Calabria).

The standard of living is much lower than the national average, as can be deduced from the fact that the pro capite income is the lowest of any region.

There are various reasons for this, including the morphology of the region, which has never facilitated communications, consequently increasing its isolation from the rest of Italy, to which historical factors, including the economic policy of exploitation carried out under the various rulers of Southern Italy, have also contributed.

Only the primary sector is still of considerable importance; it is, however, characterized by a number of generally small proprietors and by a clear contrast between the coastal areas (particularly the Sibari, Sant'Eufemia and Rosarno lowlands), more highly developed and assisted by State aid and irrigation systems, and the interior, where subsistence farming is still found.

Of the cereals, now declining, the main crop is wheat, while the principal crops of the now more widespread horticultural and specialized cultivations include aubergines, tomatoes, onions, water melons, beans and peppers.

Sugar beet and potatoes are also important, but Calabria is famous for its olives, citrus fruit (oranges and bergamots) and wine grapes.

The industrial sector is underdeveloped and characterized by fairly small manufacturing companies.

The most important are engaged in construction, foods (sugar refineries, oil mills, wine growing-making), chemicals (Crotone, Cosenza, Catanzaro, Reggio di Calabria), textiles (woollen mills at Praia a Mare, Cetraro and Tortora), construction materials (numerous cement works), metalworking (Crotone, Vibo Valentia), engineering (Reggio di Calabria, Vibo Valentia, Castrovillari), wood processing and papermaking.

Commercial activities are widespread, though often inef ficiently organized. Employment in the public sector is high and Calabria's immense tourist resources are now being exploited. Certain craft industries (fabrics, lace, ceramics, woodworking) are still significant.

As a result of considerable effort by the State and various public authorities, the communications network is now gradually improving and the Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway has been added to the existing littoral highways.

There are three airports: Reggio di Calabria, Crotone and Lamezia Terme (international). Communications with Sicily centre on Villa S. Giovanni and Reggio di Calabria.

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