At the end of 2008, the Italian population surpassed 60 million. Italy currently has the fourth-largest population in the European Union and the 23rd-largest population worldwide. Italy's population density, at 199.2 persons per square kilometre, is the fifth highest in the European Union. The highest density is in Northern Italy , as that one-third of the country contains almost half of the total population. After World War II , Italy enjoyed a prolonged economic boom which caused a major rural exodus to the cities, and at the same time transormed the nation from a massive emigration country to a net immigrant-receiving country.
The number of foreigners counted in the resident population is continuously increasing: at the end of 2007 they were 3,432,651 (5.8% of total population). In relative terms the increase has been of 16.8% in the last year, 122% in the last 6 years.Since the expansion of the European Union , the most recent wave of migration has been from surrounding European nations, particularly Eastern Europe , and increasingly Asia , replacing North Africa as a major source of migrants. Some 625,287 Romanians are officially registered as living in Italy, replacing Albanians and Moroccans as the largest ethnic minority group,but unofficial estimates put the actual number of Romanians at double that figure or perhaps even more.[As of 2007, migrants came from Eastern Europe (52.02%), North Africa (16.17%), Asia (16.08%), the Americas (8.5%) and sub-Saharan Africa (7.06%).
Italy became an important source for emigrants after about 1870. Between 1898 and 1914, approximately 750,000 Italians emigrated each year.Large numbers of people with full or significant Italian ancestry are currently found in Brazil (25 million), Argentina (20 million)and the United States (17.8 million)
High fertility persisted until the 1970s, when it plunged below the replacement rates, so that as of 2008, one in five Italians was over 65 years old. Despite this, thanks mainly to the massive immigration of the last two decades, in the 2000s Italy saw a crude birth rates growth (especially in the northern regions) for the first time in many years.The total fertility rate also significantly grew in the past few years, thanks both to rising births in foreign born and Italian women, as it climbed to 1.41 children per woman in 2008 compared to 2005 when it sat at 1.32.