Mezzogiorno: A peripheral region
The Italian peninsula south of Rome + Sardinia & Sicily – 40% of
land area and 35% of pop but only 26% of GDP
High dependence on agriculture, high unemployment, low wages
(70% of north) and high emigration (9million in last 100yrs)
Physical: 85% is either mountainous or hilly, Apennines are
dominant mountain range, 40km to 200km wide… rugged &
steep. Thin soils & a narrow coastal plain.
2 areas of coastal lowlands Naples-Salerno and the Puglia
lowlands, most productive agricultural areas
Despite this they are poorly drained mudflats and marshes e.g.
Pontine Marshes south of Rome, mosquitos make them a health
Active volcanoes e.g. Vesuvius & Etna affect the area which is
also subject to earthquakes eg. Puzzuoli in Bay of Naples located
3.5km above a magma chamber…. 1983 chamber opened &
poured into harbour.
Deforestation & over grazing led to soil erosion.
Few Rivers as the area is limestone and the river quickly disappear underground
The Volturno flows into the Tyrrhenian sea and the Pescara flows into the Adriatic
Most fertile soils found along the flanks of volcanoes and also along the existing river valleys and
their floodplains i.e. Volturno and Ofanto
Majority of soils thin and infertile and require irrigation and fertilisers
Terra Rossa soils cover much of the Mezziogiorno, formed by weathered limestone and have a
deep red colour(favoured by wine growers) but most affected by drought and overgrazing
Climate & Vegetation Mediterranean, hot dry summers…. 9 to 29°C
Azores High pressure belt brings clear skies and warm sunshine while the north east trade winds
bring drought from June to September
between 10 and 100mm rainfall pa. with regional variations. Summer the hot Sirocco winds
scorch the area.
Winters are mild and moist with rainfall varying from 500mm- 900mm pa in the west to 400mm
pa in the east. Summer the hot Sirocco winds scorch the area(blow from the Sahara)
Convectional Rain in summer causes downpours and often leads to mudslides increasing soil
Climate strongly effects agric.
Plain of Campania around Naples most productive region…. Fertile ash soils from Vesuvius. Grow
wheat, maize & salad crops + pear, plum & peaches. Pressure on land & villages built on slopes.
Fishing on a small scale + limited forestry & some oil & gas make up the rest of the primary
Agriculture: Limited by climate, soil & terrain. Small farms, lack of mechanisation. Rely on wheat
& tree crops… limes, lemons, oranges, olives, figs & grapes. Roots bind well to soil & olive trees
roots extend to water table & release less moisture.
Winter wheat… mild moist winter & harvest early summer.
Sheep & goats on the hills
Primary Economic Activities
• Agriculture:
Sheep Grazing upland, soil erosion
10% of workforce
Incomes 50% lower than EU average
High dependency on EU grants
Tree crops such as vines, olives etc
Until 1950 land was divided into estates called Latifundi and
plots rented by peasants called minifundia
– These labourers were called braccianti
– Average farm size was 3 ha so they were overcultivated and
– Production levels low as farmers didnt own land so no
incentive to improve them
• Forestry:
– Upland areas, limited rainfall
– Scrub vegetation
• Fishing:
– Small continental shelf, limited
– Pollution of Mediterranean
– Local tourist trade
• Mining:
– HEP production limited
– Natural gas piped from Algeria
Challenges facing agricultural
• Before 1950:
– Underdeveloped water supplies and drought
– Poorly educated
– Outmigration
– Poor use of technology with aging farmers
– Limited buying power in local market
– Unfair ownership of land, only 1 quarter owned
their farms
– Poor transport network
• Positive Effects of Cassa:
Land Reform – Estates bought by govt and redistributed
in 5 hectare farms
New Farming Techniques, Cash crops
Mechanisation investment
Irrigation schemes – Apulian Aqueduct
Co-operatives were formed to help sell produce in North
Improvements in Infrastructure – Autostrada del Sole
Malarial swamps drained – reclaimed marshes of
• Output increased tenfold
• Main producer of citrus fruits and olives in
• Negative Effects:
• Reforms mainly benefitted the coastal plains
• Widened gap between upland and lowland
• 200% increase in tomatoes led to seasonal
overproduction and dramatic fall in prices
Secondary Activities
• 24% of people employed in Secondary
• 17% were in Mezzogiorno prior to Cassa
• Mezzo was bypassed because:
– Workforce poor and uneducated
– Poor local markets and upland terrain
– Peripheral location
– Lack of natural resources
– Limited food processing industries
– Long distance from eu markets
– Little local capital
– Brain drain
1957onwards focused on Secondary
Varoni plan invested 2.3billion between 1965-1970
300,000 jobs created
Grants, subsidies and tax relief
40% of new state companies had to be in south
Industrial estates and transport subsidies
International Airport at Calabria
Autostrada del Sole – 1000km
Heavy Industries accounted for 60% of investment in
• Growth pole of Bari-Brindisi-Taranto triangle
Cassa several growth poles
They focused on steel, shipbuilding, auto manufacture, oil refining and chemicals
(Bari, Brindisi & Taranto industrial triangle and Naples for chemicals, oil refining and
car manufacture) in response to the poor level of manufacturing. By 1962 60% of
Cassa’s budget was in manufacturing.
Created 300,000 jobs in industry
Tax concessions, grants, loans given to companies to set up.
Alfa Romeo… assembly plant at Naples
Fiat… components & assembly plants employing 44,500.
Petro-chemical industry… oil refineries & petro-chemical plants e.g. at Brindisi &
Steel plants… Taranto & Palermo
Set up port industries like oil refining, chemicals, shipbuilding (Bari), engineering.
Deep water ports were developed at Catania and Ragusa on the east coast of Sicily
State owned companies spent over 40% of their investment in the region.
Pop – 210,000
Located in Puglia
Long maritime tradition, location on the Med, natural deep water harbour, improved rail and
motorway linkage to northern italy
Also an important naval base and the area is strongly fortified
Port 3rd biggest in Italy and handles 36million tonnes of freight annually
Imp steel works located there but employment dropping due to increase competition from low
cost producers
Further expansion is limited by: distance from markets and shortage of skilled labour
Finsider Steelworks, Taranto
• Most successful state owned investment
• Italys biggest Steel works
• Taranto port handled 36million tonnes of freight in
1970’s cassa focused on labour intensive industries
Cassa disbanded in 1984
EU structural funds gave 13billion between 1989-1993
Current worfforce is 1.4m and outmigration has
Capital intensive industries (oil refining) providing small number of jobs.
Town planning & industrial development needed to be integrated.
Lack of training & skill shortage.
Continued out-migration from rural areas.
Industries not suited to their specific location.
1970’s these issues addressed. EEC funds, state owned companies spend
80% of their investment in the Mezz.
Emphasis on environmental protection, integrate tourism industry &
labour intensive food processing, sourced locally.
Programme ended in 1984. Corruption (mafia) led to embezzled funds.
Privatisation of state companies reduced investment in the region. By
2000 unemployment still at 20% in some areas.
Negative Cassa
Heavy Industry created very little spin off industry
Oil refineries – capital intensive and very little jobs
Environment not a priority – polluted water
2m jobs in agri lost due to mechanisation
Over reliance on state investment
Unemployment still high at 20%
Not an equal spread – naples a beneficiary
Infant mortality 4 times higher than northern Italy
Housing is substandard
24 % of children leave education after primary school
Foregin companies nervous of mafia influence
Infastructure still lags behind the north
Limited Success
• Most factories were capital intensive – provided little
• Many workers were part time farmers which lowered
• Large Industries failed to attract other industries
• Industrial jobs created failed to match those lost in
• Workers not properly trained
• Town planning and industrial development not
coordinated so often built far apart
• Over reliance on state investment
• Privatisation of industry has allowed a lot of them to
move back north
• Cassa finished up in 1984
67% or 17million Tourists
•Rich Culture… Greek, Roman & Arabic historical mix
•Climate – sun guaranteed
•Scenery + Etna & Vesuvius
•Historical sites… Pompeii
•Coast… Amalfi coast, Apulian Coast
•Good infrastructure… ferry, airports & motorway.
•Adriatic coast has a lot of Greek and Roman influence
•Cheaper and less crowded than other alternatives
•(Cassa spent 15% of budget on tourism developing 25 locations by
upgrading acc and providing grants for facilities)
Growth of Tourism began in 1950’s
Package holiday, cheap flights and paid holdiays from work
Limited to coastal regions due to accessibility
15% of cassa budget spent on Tourism
– Improved hotels and self catering facilities
– Communications
– Airport at Calabria, Ferry links to Siciliy and Sardinia
– Developed 25 tourist areas
– These increased demand for local farm produce
– 2/3 of tourists from northern Italy
– Failed to attract lucrative foreign market
– Employment seasonal as no skiing option in winter
– Environmental pollution and inflated land prices
– Strained water supply
– International tourism coming- Ryanair fly London-Bari
– Starting to develop skiing in Apennines
• Transport:
– 2.5 Million euro of Cassa Autostrada
– Ports Taranto,Sicily, Gioia Tauro, 1995 employed
1000 people
GDP per capita
Hospital beds per
North of Italy
Human Processes:
Life Expectancy Improving – men 76 + women 82
13.2 births per 1000 (high) but decreasing due to education
Population density varies
Low fluctuation stage
Hilltop villages, humidity, Malaria, protection
Naples 1.2million, 3rd largest city
People descended from Greeks, Romans & Arabs. Influence of
different cultures. Area a crossroad for Mediterranean trade & many
Result: Sallow skin, dark haired & smaller than northern Italians.
Arabs introduced oranges, lemons & sugar cane to the area.
Language: Italian, Catalan, Spanish, Sard & Arabic. Local dialects of
Sicilian & Neapolitan…. reflecting past history.
Population: 21million (36% of Italy). Overall reduction in family
size due to education, rise in living standards, & decline of
Catholic church influence.
Death rate below the birth rate so overall a slight natural increase
in pop.
Migration: Outward. Major factor in pop. change in the area. Move
to North of Italy & USA 1951 to 1971 total 4 million.
Inward: Balkan refugees & African.
Pop. density & distribution varies greatly due to relief, land system
& migration.
Sicily: Invaded by Greeks, Romans, Arabs & Normans. Unified
under Italy in 1860’s. Led to a mistrust of outside rule. Resulted in
Mafia & corruption.
Major Problems that threaten improvement
Organised Crime
Political corruption
Outward migration
High unemployment
Slow economic development
Low literacy levels
High dependency ratio
Poor healthcare system
Port of Gioia Tauro
• New container port in Calabria opened in 1995
• Second largest container port in the Med
• Gioia Tauro is now a transport hub for transhipment
to 12 countries around the Med
• Since 1998 its the southern terminal of rail routeway
that allows quick shipping to North sea coast –
journey of 2500km to rotterdam takes 42hrs
• Employs 1000 and local town of 18,000 is
experiencing growth
Founded by the Greeks in 600BC
Largest city in Mezzogiorno and 3rd in Italy
City pop is 1.2 but total urban pop is 3m
Located in beautiful bay near Vesuvius
Naples reputation is one of crime, gridlock
and the Mafia
• City and infrastructure benefitted from Cassa
but unemployment still 20%
• Informal economy is strong i.e. They dont pay
taxes e.g. Clothing, footwear etc
• Tourism is very big, Pompeii, Herculaneum
and the Isle of Capri
• Urban renewal has given the city a facelift and
modernised it
• Neapolitans have deep mistrust of
government and political leaders and look to
themselves to develop economically
• Centre of Med where shipping lanes pass so
colonised for centuries
• Greek, Roman Aran and Norman influences
• Reunited with Italy in the late 19th C
• Distrust of outside ruler which led to mafia in
18th C
• Mafia offered protection to Islanders from
foreign rulers for a price
• Sicilian Provinialism led to continuation of Mafia
after unification
• Omerta – Code of silence – very hard to break the
• Local politicians have strong links with the Mafia
• Public prosecutors targeted by mafia
• Many convictions overturned on technicalities by a
judge later convicted of membership