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a nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense); the basic population of Italy. In Italy there are about 54 million Italians (1971, estimate). Large groups of Italians live in other European countries (more than 2.5 million), North and South America (about 7 million), North Africa (about 200, 000), and Australia (more than 200, 000). A small number of them live in Asia. The language of the Italian people is Italian. The overwhelming majority of believers among them are Catholic.

In the first millennium b.c., Italic tribes made up a significant part of the population of the Apennine Peninsula. Between the sixth and second centuries b.c. the Latins, an Italic tribe that inhabited the region of Latium and founded Rome, subjugated the remaining Italic tribes and the Etruscans, Ligurians, Veneti, and Celts, who inhabited the northern part of the peninsula, as well as the Greeks, Carthaginians, and Siculi, who lived in the south and on the islands of Sardinia, Sicily, and Corsica. The entire population of the peninsula was speaking vulgar Latin by the first and second centuries a.d. However, the languages of the tribes of Italy provided the foundation for the development of local dialectal characteristics, which subsequently influenced the formation of the dialects of the Italian language. From the first centuries of the Common Era many of the Romanized people of the Apennine Peninsula intermarried with slaves of diverse origins and from the fifth century, with Germanic tribes (Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Lombards). The Byzantines, Franks, Arabs, Hungarians, and Normans conquered parts of Italy during the sixth through the tenth century. Large numbers of the Italic population intermingled with the conquerors, giving rise to the Italian nationality and popular language. Literary Latin, however, remained the official language.

During the 11th to 13th centuries the formation of the Italian nationality was completed. The gradual establishment of a single literary language was very important for the shaping of the Italian nation. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Tuscan dialect began to acquire this significance. However, the prolonged political fragmentation of the country prevented the consolidation into a single nation of the population of the various regions of Italy, each of which had its own dialect and material and spiritual culture. The consolidation of the regions of Italy was completed only in the second half of the 19th century, with the development of capitalism and the establishment of a unified state.

Even today some differences persist in the material and spiritual culture of the various regions. (For example, village settlements and dwellings differ in northern, central, and southern Italy.) Oral folklore varies from region to region. Epic poems are characteristic of northern Italy, whereas short lyrical poems (strambotti) are typical of central and southern Italy. Folk songs, the rhythms and melodies of which vary from region to region, are widely enjoyed. (In Campania, for example, lyrical songs prevail. They are called “Neapolitan songs” after Campania’s chief city, Naples.) Italy’s folk dances—the tarantella, saltarello, lombarda, and bergamasca —are distinguished by their great variety. In the folk decorative and applied arts there are age-old traditions. The Italians have made a major contribution to the music and fine arts of the world.


Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 2. Moscow, 1965. (Bibliography, p. 610.)
Candeloro, G. Istoriia sovremennoiItalii, vols. 1-4, 1958–66. (TRANSLATED from Italian.)
Istoriia Italii, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1970–71.
Iro-Volkskunde. Munich [1963].
Le regioni dTtalia, vols. 1–2, 13–16, 18. Turin, 1960–66.


References in classic literature ?
I am not sure, but I think it was because his son, Laurie's father, married an Italian lady, a musician, which displeased the old man, who is very proud.
Along in this region a multitude of Italian laborers were blasting away the frontage of the hills to make room for the new railway.
Albert had never been able to endure the Italian theatres, with their orchestras from which it is impossible to see, and the absence of balconies, or open boxes; all these defects pressed hard on a man who had had his stall at the Bouffes, and had shared a lower box at the Opera.
The duchess, on hearing the name--it was that of an Italian prince--gave a little imperceptible pout, and said to Newman, rapidly: "I beg you to remain; I desire this visit to be short.
The Italians have but little sentiment beyond marbles and colours.
She told me how her aunt had died, very peacefully at the last, and how everything had been done afterward by the care of her good friends (fortunately, thanks to me, she said, smiling, there was money in the house; and she repeated that when once the Italians like you they are your friends for life); and when we had gone into this she asked me about my giro, my impressions, the places I had seen.
The Italians make little difference between children, and nephews or near kinsfolks; but so they be of the lump, they care not though they pass not through their own body.
You cannot make Italians really progressive; they are too intelligent.
No one was inside it, except one tourist; but its platforms were overflowing with Italians, who preferred to stand.
from whom the people, changing their names, were called Italians instead of AEnotrians, and that part of Europe was called Italy which is bounded by the Scylletic Gulf on the one side and the Lametic on the other, the distance between which is about half a day's journey.
The young lady, however, is also very intimate with some third-rate Italians, with whom she rackets about in a way that makes much talk.
In this same library we saw some drawings by Michael Angelo (these Italians call him Mickel Angelo,) and Leonardo da Vinci.