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Veneto - Population and Economy

In contrast with the other regions, Venetia lacks one centre which is distinctly superior to the others as regards population and economical importance. Venice, the capital, has in fact only 333,000 inhabitants, followed by Verona (260,000 inhabitants) and Padua (227,000 inhabitants).

The region's population, though mainly in the upper flat areas (Treviso, Padua and Vicenza plains), is scattered. Nearly half of the more than four million inhabitants of Venetia live in communities with a population of less than ten thousand.

The population density is higher than the national average, apart from Rovigo and Belluno, which are poorer towns and have been affected by emigration and depopulation of the countryside and mountain areas.

A constant in the life of the region, this escalated after the disastrous Po Delta floods in 1951 and in the years that followed, when poles of attraction were Piedmont and Lombardy, protagonists of great economic expansion.

Today, there is less tendency to emigrate, and in some parts none at all, as a result of improved general economic conditions in the area, development of the industrial sector and reduced demand for labour in the more industrialized regions.

In Venetia, different dialects are spoken, all deriving from a common Venetian matrix; only the dialects of the mountain regions have been influenced by the Rhaeto-Romanic language.

Mention must be made of the presence of small isolated linguistic zones: an ancient Bavarian dialect is spoken at Sappada, Giazza (at the foot of the Lessini), Rotzo and Roana (in the vicinity of Asiago), where `cimbri', a German dialect dating back to the eleventh century is spoken.

It must also be remembered that the Venetian dialect was, for centuries, the official language of the Republic of Venice.

Figures regarding income pro capita and other social indicators are slightly higher than the national average.

They generally indicate adequate standards of living, but also confirm that this is the least developed region in northern Italy, despite a certain increase in factories and modernization of farming techniques.

The fact that there are no large towns in Venetia has meant that factories are distributed all over the region allowing fairly uniform economical growth, with lower risks of water and atmospheric pollution. This cannot be said, however, of the Porto Marghera area which has a high concentration of industry.

Agriculture has lost importance as a factor in the overall regional income (only 6.6 percent) but is nonetheless remunerative, after rationalization of work techniques and support by the administrative authorities. A relevant factor regards part-time farming by industrial workers.

Major crops are maize, wheat and sugar beet, followed by vegetables, fodder, fruit (apples and cherries) and wine grapes (Verona and Conegliano areas).

The quantity of livestock owned is considerable, especially for cattle and pig breeding. Fishing is important and Venetia occupies fifth place on the national scale, providing large quantities of fish and seafood.

Fish farming is an important new development in the lagoons and Po Delta area.

Industry is characterized by the presence of small and medium-sized firms and is traditionally strong in certain sectors.

Textile production is concentrated in the Vicenza area (Valdagno, Schio), shoe factories along the Brenta river, furniture and household appliance industries around Treviso and ceramics in the Bassano area.

The Porto Marghera industrial complex represents one of the major concentrations of Italian industry with chemical and petrochemical plants, metallurgical and engineering works and thermoelectric stations.

Mining is of little importance (marble, kaolin, lead, zinc); on the other hand, craftsmanship is important (glass, lace, jewelry, reproduction furniture, ceramics).

Commercial and financial activities are concentrated in the provincial capitals, especially Venice where there is a busy commercial port, and Verona, an important freight distribution centre on the communication routes to and from Central Europe. A characteristic of the banking sector is the presence of banks of Catholic administration.

The communications network is well developed, due also to the fact that Venetian territory is mainly on the plain.

There are two important road and rail axes: the first linking Milan to Venice, the second linking the Po valley to the Brenner Pass.

Complex is the waterway system (navigable rivers and canals) which centres round the ports of Chioggia and Venice. There are three international airports: Venice-Tessera, Verona-Villafranca and Treviso-Santangelo.

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