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Umbria - Population and Economy

Early in the 1950s, the population was spread evenly over the territory, largely in numerous villages or small centres, some scattered on hilltops and in the mountains.

When in the last thirty years, industry and communication networks developed in the valleys, part of the population migrated to these areas, though not in the large numbers characteristic of other regions, due to the traditional link between land and agriculture, and the absence of large centres polarizing economic activities.

The most densely populated areas are round the two chiefs and in the Tiber Valley and Valle Umbra along the Assisi-Foligno-Spoleto highway.

The Umbrian dialects belong to approximate areas, those of Tuscan (Arezzo-Chiana Valley) or Romagna influence in the north (upper province of Perugia) and the south, where dialects closely resembling those of Central Italy, particularly Latium (Sabine or Roman), are spoken.

With regard to the various productive sectors, nearly 13% of the working population is employed in agriculture, though productivity is low, due to the unsuitable environment and excessive number of small farms, often worked on the share-cropping system.

Production techniques are, however, being increasingly improved and modernized, and small farmers are tending to form efficient co-operatives, much more practical for the development of modern agriculture.

The commonest crops are: wheat, sugar beet, potatoes and tobacco. Umbria is the leading producer of truffles in Italy.

The big industrial complexes are concentrated mainly in the Terni area, facilitated by the vast supplies of hydro-electric power available and include steel works, chemical, textile, paper and food factories.

Perugia, the chief town and administrative centre, has several large food and clothing manufacturers, together with a host of small and medium-sized businesses operating indifferent fields at little more than craft level.

Pottery is important (Gualdo Tadino, Deruta, Gubbio, Orvieto), as are hand-beaten copper articles, lace, and hand crafted wrought iron and wood.

As far as communications are concerned, the construction of a number of main roads linking with the principal national highways has helped to make Umbria less isolated.

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