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Marche - Population and Economy

Analysis of the regional population does not indicate a great degree of urbanization in the Marches. Ancona, the administrative centre, is the only town with over 100,000 inhabitants; even the demographic situation in the four provinces is fairly balanced.

On the other hand, excluding administrative partitions, a difference can be seen immediately between population density on the densely inhabited coast and hills, and that in the inland mountainous areas which are steadily becoming depopulated, as woodlands and sheep-rearing are no longer remunerative.

Infraregional migration has thus been towards the many craft businesses on the hills and the factories and tourist attractions along the coast.

Apart from those in the provinces, the main urban settlements are Fano, Iesi, Fermo, Civitanova Marche, San Benedetto del Tronto and Senigallia, all with over 30,000 inhabitants.

The Marches dialects can be divided into four main groups: the Emilia-Romagna dialect prevails to the north (province of Pesaro and part of the province of Ancona); in the centre (Ancona, Loreto, Iesi, Fabriano) the dialect is a mixture of northern and Umbrian-Tuscan features; a little farther south (province of Macerata, Fermo) the Umbrian-Latian type prevails; in the far south (province of Ascoli) the inflection acquires southern characteristics, especially those of Abruzzo.

As far as the economy is concerned, statistical data indicate that the standard of living in the Marches is slightly below the national average.

However, environmental conditions appear to be very satisfactory, given the absence of large industrial and urban concentrations, generally the source of high levels of pollution.

Though farming methods are not particularly efficient, agriculture still employs one sixth of the working population. There are two main reasons for this: farmers are strongly attached to their land and small craft businesses (nearly 50,000) often offer part-time jobs or work at home, so that farming is a spare time activity.

Even full-time farmers sometimes produce wooden, pottery, wrought-iron, straw and wicker articles. The share-cropping system too helped to delay the development of agriculture (this as changed only recently), as did the low acreage of farms.

The most important crops are: wheat, sugar-beet, cauliflowers, fennel and olives. Livestock resources are rather limited, while fishing is greatly developed (1/10 of national fish production, 1/7 of mussels and shellfish).

Industry spreads mainly along the coast and mussels traditionally characterized by the semi-craft system, although in the last few decades, large concerns have undergone development, particularly near ports.

The most important industries footwear, textiles, furniture, paper (Fabriano), musical instruments (Castelfidardo), mechanical products (Pesaro), tinned food, ships and boats (Ancona), petrolchemicals (Falconara), electromechanical instruments and chemicals.

The regional production of electricity is fairly low.

Trade is reasonably lively and often linked to agricultural products. The transport, banking and insurance sectors are steadily increasing. The tourist flow towards seaside resorts is high in summer.

Due to the morphology of the area, communications are sufficiently well developed along the coast, with the Bologna-Bari motorway and railway, though still inadequate in the interior.

Ancona-Falconara is the only passenger airport. The port of Ancona handles a large amount of shipping and some passenger traffic, especially in summer.

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