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Campania - Population and Economy

The distribution of population in Campania is somewhat irregular: certain inland areas (Sannio, Matese, Irpinia, Cilento) are underpopulated, while the coasts are highly urbanized. The Province of Naples, in particular, has a density of 2,617 inhabit ants/sq. km., one of the highest in Europe.

This imbalance is the result of centuries of drift by rural workers from the poorer areas, while the coastal cities (especially Naples, the principal pole of attraction), lacking the manufacturing enterprises capable of absorbing such an abundant supply of labour (mostly unskilled), found that their own historical, social and environmental problems, rooted in unemployment and proliferation of the `black economy', were severely aggravated.

The Campania dialects, the most characteristic being Neapolitan, and those of Irpinia and Cilento belong to the central-southern Italian family of dialects. There is a small linguistic enclave in Irpinia where Albanian and Greek is spoken. One of the major problems facing the coastal cities, particularly Naples, is that of bad housing conditions in the poorer quarters which are overcrowded and lacking the necessary social and public health infrastructures, excacerbated by the effects of the earthquake that rocked the region in November 1980. Speculation is rife in the building sector, related to corruption and organized crime, and has frequently led to deturpation of the beauty of the Campanian coastline.

Of the principal productive sectors, agriculture is still most important, with a high quality elevated output, in spite of imbalance between the flat coast alareas (Piano Campano, Agro Nolano, the Sarno and Sele lowlands), where the climate and soil fertility are more favourable, and the mountain zones (Sannio, the Matese Apennines, Cilento). Campania is the leading national producer of a number of horticultural products, which have gradually taken the place of cereals.

These include cauliflowers, aubergines, beans, potatoes, cherries, apricots, figs, walnuts, hazel nuts, fennel, tomatoes, varieties of lettuce, peaches, plums, strawberries and peppers. There is a satisfactory production of wine grapes, olives and citrus fruit. Cattle are still reared (on low ground) but traditional sheep rearing (in the interior) is declining.

The industrial sector, though unable to provide sufficient work to ease the pressure of unemployment, is still the leading sector of its kind in the south of Italy. Since the start of the century, however, industrial expansion has always been restricted to a number of privileged areas, particularly round Naples, also Sarno and Salerno, giving rise to pollution and environmental problems associated with the heavy concentration of factories close to inhabited zones.

The major industries are engineering and metalworking (Pomigliano d'Arco, Casoria, Castellammare di Stabia, Naples), chemicals and petrochemicals (Naples, Pozzuoli, Torre Annunziata), construction materials (Napels), food and food processing (Torre Annunziata, S. Giovanni a Teduccio, Nocera Inferiore, Pagani, Battipaglia), textiles, garment manufacturing and footwear.

In the service sector, commerce is intense (highly important markets for horticultural produce) in the Naples and Salerno areas. There is a high rate of employment in the public sector, and tourism linked to the natural beauty of the coast and islands is an important factor.

The road and rail networks are reasonably well developed, the principal lines of communication being the Rome-Naples-Reggio Calabria railway, the Autostrada del Sole, and the Naples-Reggio Calabria, Naples-Canosa and Caserta-Salerno motorways. There is heavy passenger traffic at the port of Naples, and though inadequately equipped, Capodichino airport is the third most important in Italy.

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