Italy (Italian: Italia ), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica italiana), is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. Due to its shape, it is often referred to in Italy as lo Stivale (the Boot). With 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous EU member state.

Today Italy has the third largest GDP in the Eurozone and the eighth largest in the world. As an advanced economy it also has the sixth worldwide national wealth. It has a very high level of human development and is ranked sixth in the world for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is both a regional power and a great power. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus and many more. As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to 53 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is the fifth most visited country.

Several historical linguistic and ethnic minorities already live in the country. These are the long-established French, German, and Slovenian minorities (mostly in the north of the country), as well as the Arberesh (Albanian), Greek minorities (living mostly in the south of the country). The latter linguistic and ethnic minorities are the Muslim community, which emerged as a result of the migration waves of the past forty years mainly from the Maghreb region of northern Africa, along with sub-Saharan African migration, and Asian migration (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China) over the past thirty years.

Italy was one of the few EU states that was hit by the refugee crisis first. Since 2014, from 170 to 180 thousand migrants enter the country annually. Several thousand died or went missing, trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

The refugee system in Italy is finding it increasingly difficult to withstand the influx of migrants. Most of them arrived in the country from African countries: about 36,000 from Nigeria, about 20,000 from Eritrea and about 12,000 from Guinea. Many intend to go north, among the most popular destinations - Germany and Sweden. The number of migrants arriving in Italy increased further after the way through Greece and the Balkans was largely blocked due to an agreement between the European Union and Turkey.

At the same time, there are other historically developed migration flows to Italy: from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Albania, the Arab countries, as well as China and South-East Asia. These processes have led to the fact that the number of foreign nationals in Italy permanently residing in the country has increased dramatically, despite the fact that Italy itself is experiencing a demographic crisis - the number of children born from Italian citizens is decreasing from year to year. The sharp increase in the number of people representing a different culture in the country, which in itself is a socio-cultural shock for the local population, has been superimposed on the economic crisis and job losses, which has paved the way for the growth of xenophobia against migrants, whom some employers prefer to hire, as they do not demand high salaries or social support.

It should be noted that the Italian society is already largely xenophobic. Anti-Roma sentiments are at their highest in Europe (more than 80%); there is a fairly high level of anti-Semitism (24% with a tendency to increase) and a threatening level of Islamophobia (69% with an upward trend). The migration crisis has exacerbated these trends, which led to a sharp increase in radical nationalist sentiments. In 2014, Italy overtook Greece and took third place in the radicalism rating. The country was shaken by dozens of hate crimes, including those that ended in a fatal outcome. The spread of crimes was received against migrants, including acts of terrorism – Molotov cocktails thrown at reception centres for refugees.

At first, Italian police was not ready for a sharp increase in violence and hate crime. However, in 2015-16, the situation started to improve. A number of measures have been adopted that limited the arbitrariness with regard to illegal migrants - control over places of shelter was introduced, pre-arrest of migrants was forbidden prior to the decision to deport them. A number of measures were also taken to integrate migrants at the local level. The fight against terrorism was entrusted to the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs against the Mafia, which was renamed the Department for Combating Mafia and Terrorism. A special department was also established to prevent hate crimes by the army and police - the Office for Control of Security and Acts of Discrimination.

Finally, anti-terrorism legislation was tightened up. It affected not only the fight against right-wing radicalism, but also Islamic extremism, especially with regard to the departure of citizens to the so-called Islamic State. Italy is not a popular target for Islamists – rather, it is used as a transit zone – and these measures have significantly improved the situation in the country.

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