Population in a European Region

Leaving Cert

Geography Higher Level

Population in a European Region

Sample Answer

The Mezzogiorno located in southern Italy is an example of a European region that has a unique population distribution which I have studied. The population of this region has fluctuated dramatically and experienced varied distribution patterns throughout the latter half of the last century. Between 1951 and 1971 an estimated 4 million migrants vacated the Mezzogiorno due to widespread unemployment and unfavourable living conditions. This trend continued into the 1980s with a further 1 million migrants exiting for urban centres in the north of Italy and the USA.

Within the region many factors were restlessly affecting the population which the Italian government realised needed to be addressed. Up to the 1950s the vast majority of the Mezzogriono’s working population were employed in primary economic activities such as agriculture and fishing. These practices were mainly subsistent and so provided low incomes and poor levels of productivity.

Latifundia was the term used to describe the poor agricultural situation. The majority of the land was owned by absentee landlords who rented to peasant farmers. These peasants commuted from the hilly midlands to work the land. Only 25% of farmers owned their own land and in 1950 average farm holdings were less than 3 hectares in size. The presence of small farm plots unsuitable for mechanisation and uneducated farming practice resulted in the land being overworked and yielding minimal output.

The government in 1950 intervened and bought the land from absentee landlords. It was then redistributed to landless labourers who took pride in their land and relocated to live on the land to ensure constant monitoring and maintenance. Average holding sizes increased, ranging between 5 and 50 hectares in size to encourage greater levels of output and increased prosperity. The government installed irrigation services to increase the longevity of the growing season...

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