Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Italy
Italians are an ethnic group which is quite varied from one
region to the next, but arguably one ethnic group none-the-less. The common thread
among them is their ties to Rome in the ancient times and the Latinization and unification
of the entire peninsula, making transportation more easily accessible. For the most
part, ethnic Italians are simply a combination of all the local people on the peninsula
at that time and those who arrived due to the wide-reaching net of the Roman Empire.
Italians are, therefore, essentially a combination of the indigenous people like
the Etruscans and the settlers who arrive at various times, like the
Greeks, Jews, Germans, and other Mediterranean people.
Sometimes the Italians are considered Latin in an ethnic sense so are related, to
varying degrees, to other Latin people, including the Spanish, Portuguese, French,
and Romanians among others.
Italian is the official language of Italy. This language is
a Latin-based language, commonly referred to as a Romance language today. Although
based on Latin, having been in contact with many different languages and cultures
over time, Italian today is quite different from Latin and is perhaps more closely
related to French, which is also related to Latin. More distant
languages include Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian.