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Emilia Romagna - Population and Economy

With regards to population distribution, two zones are easily distinguished: the hills and mountains, thinly populated, and less suitable for economic exploitation, and the plains, characterized by an excellent communication network, the possibility of intensive farming and ideal conditions for industrial develop ment.

The most important, all built in this zone, except Ferrara and Ravenna, lie along the great axis constituted by the Via Emilia: Piacenza, Parma, Reggio, Modena, Bologna, Imola, Faenza, Forl, Cesena and Rimini.

The regional dialects of Emilia and Romagna form part of the large family of the Italo-Celtic dialects of the northern regions of Italy and conserve a certain homogeneous purity, except in the Province of Piacenza where the Emilian dialect has Lombard elements, and the Province of Forl, where the Romagna dialect is influenced by that of the Marches.

Environmental conditions are generally good, for this is an area of low industrial concentration; problems of air and water pollution occur in the industrial area of Ravenna and in some belts along the lower reaches of the Po.

Of the productive sectors, agriculture is undoubtedly a profitable activity; the soil is naturally fertile, cultivation techniques are highly advanced, and the cooperative system enables smallholders to slash production costs.

There is a plentiful production of fruit (pears, peaches and apples), wheat (the region is the leading national producer), sugar beet, vegetables and grapes. Cattle and pig breeding is a consistent factor. Fishing is also relevant (approximately one quarter of the national production).

The industrial sector is characterized by a significant number of small and medium-sized firms evenly distributed throughout the territory, based principally on the transformation of agricultural products.

Pasta, cheese, salami and canning factories are important, and their products true symbols of the region, eg. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmesan), hams (Parma, Langhirano), zampone (pig's trotter stuffed with meat, Modena), pasta and Lambrusco wine are famous throughout the world.

No less important, however, are other branches of industry: engineering (farm machinery, luxury and racing cars), clothing (Carpi), ceramics (Sassuolo) and chemicals (Ferrara, Ravenna).

There are numerous thermoelectrical power stations; at Caorso (Piacenza) the biggest thermonuclear plant in Italy is in operation. Underground resources are limited to deposits of natural gas, particularly in the Provinces of Ravenna, Ferrara and Piacenza (Cortemaggiore).

The service sector is active in the commerce of agricultural products, the principal distribution centre (also for foreign trade) being Bologna.

Tourism is of great importance and along the Adriatic coast it is the main source of income.

The geographical position of Emilia-Romagna, which lies between North and Central Italy, has determined a high degree of development of communications.

The roads connect with the ancient Via Emilia and the Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome motorway; the Adriatic and Ferrara motorways branch off at Bologna, and the Bologna railway junction is one of the most important in Italy. There are three domestic airports: Bologna-Borgo Panigale, Forl and Rimini, the latter principally handling charter traffic.

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