Yet, immigration from Albania did not come to a halt. Since 1997 Albanians have been represented among the two largest immigrant groups. Between 2003 and 2004 alone their number grew by 40%. All in all, immigration from Eastern European countries has significantly increased in recent years thus majorly changing the composition of the immigrant population. Most striking is the increase in the number of Romanian and Ukrainian citizens on Italian territory (cf. Table 2). Between 2003 and 2004, in only one year, the Romanian community grew by 140%, becoming the largest immigrant group in Italy in three consecutive years. Likewise, the Ukrainian population rose from 15,000 people in 2003 to more than 117,000 people in 2004, an increase of 700% in just one year. This was also an effect of the large regularization of irregular immigrants which took place in 2002/2003 (cf. "Irregular Migration"). Apart from the growing presence of citizens from Eastern European countries in Italy the Chinese population has also experienced significant growth in recent years (cf. Table 2).
In 1991, Italy was, for the first time, confronted with "mass immigration". On only two days, that is March 7th and August 8th, around 50,000 Albanian refugees landed on the coasts of Apulia after the collapse of the Albanian communist regime. The images spread by the media of this massive influx or, as it was perceived by the Italian public "invasion" of migrants, fostered feelings of concern with regard to immigration. 25,000 Albanians were sent back to their country of origin.
Number of foreign visa owners, 1992-2007
Top five countries of origin
Source: Elaboration by the author based on Geo-Demo Istat data
Within the last thirty years Italy has turned from a migrant sending into an immigrant receiving country. The speed of this development which is somewhat typical of other Mediterranean countries
Dr. Giorgia Di Muzio studied political science and sociology at the University of Bologna. She wrote her doctoral thesis on Eastern European women in the household and care market in Italy.
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