Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

 entry Oct 2006

Demographics of Naples

I don't know if I trust all these figures since, as they say, 47% of statistics are made up on the spot. For example, if there are only 50,000 extracomunitari (those from outside the European community) immigrants in Naples, why do I count more than that on any single street on any single Saturday selling knock-off Rolexes and Guccis?  (I am wearing a fine Gucci timepiece, even as we speak.) Anyway, I pass these numbers on as I gleaned them from various sources in an attempt to provide answers to common questions such as How many people live here? How many immigrants are there? How many unemployed are there?  Hey, where is my wallet? etc.

Naples: city and province

First of all, the city of Naples is the capital and largest city in the province of Naples, part of the Italian region of Campania. The province of Naples is one of five in Campania; the other four are Salerno, Caserta, Benevento, and Avellino. Of the five, Salerno is the largest in area, while the province of Naples has the largest population. The province of Naples has a total population of ca. 3 million, with slightly more women than men. It is the third most populous province in Italy after Rome and Milan. The province of Naples has 92 comuni (towns and cities with their own municipal administrations).

The city of Naples, itself, has ca. 1,000,000 inhabitants with slightly more women than men. Naples is the third largest city in Italy (if you stay strictly within the city limits) after Milan and Rome (Torino is fourth). The population density of the city of Naples is about 8,500 inhabitants per square kilometer (c. 3,400 per sq mile). Cubic kilometer? You don't want to know.

Within the city limits of Naples, there are 325,000 family units and 350,000 dwellings. They tell me that there is a housing shortage, so I can't figure that one out. There are also more cars than people. The cars with no drivers in them often drive better than the cars with drivers.

Although there is no official "Greater Naples," that term may be understood to comprise those towns that together with Naples form a single, contiguous, pulsing, blob-like mass of population. These other towns are Arzano, Casandrino, Casavatore, Casoria, Cercola, Marano di Napoli, Melito di Napoli, Mugnano di Napoli, Portici, Pozzuoli, Quarto, San Giorgio a Cremano, San Sebastiano al Vesuvio. and Volla. "Greater Naples," with a population of about 2.5 million, is, then, smaller than the actual province of Naples. That "greater Naples" area includes the densely populated "Vesuvian communities" (with almost one million persons). They sit there in the "red/must evacuate zone," plant tomatoes and wait for the big one (tomato). The demographic profile in the province is relatively young: 20% are under age 14, while 12% are over 65, compared to the national average of 14% and 19%, respectively.


The economy of the province is relatively weak compared to Italy as a whole, placing only 94th out of the total of 103 provinces in Italy in terms of GVA (Gross Value Added) that is, wealth produced. Such statistics do not include wealth generated by the so called "submerged economy" that is, the black market and untaxed wages about which statistics are difficult to find or even to make up. That's how submerged it is.


Official unemployment is astronomical in the city of Naples; estimates run between 20% and 30%. Again, it is difficult to calculate the wealth of the unofficial economy, which is to say that a number of people who are out of work still make a living somehow. Generally speaking, there is currently a move away from the traditional agriculture based economy in the province to one based on service industries. In 2001 there were over 138,000 enterprises operating in the province of Naples that employed about 595,000. In 2002 the companies registered in the Chamber of Commerce Public Register of Naples  came to 249,590. More than half of these are small enterprises with fewer than 20 workers. As well, 70 companies are mediumsized with more than 200 workers; and 15 have more than 500 workers.

Immigration    (also see this link)

In Italy, at large, there are ca. 2,300,300 legal immigrants in Italy, amounting to about 4% of the population. In the city of Naples, there are (as of December 31, 2003) about 12 thousand legal immigrants that is, those with official permission to stay; there are estimated to be about 43 thousand illegal immigrants that is, without permission to stay. The sex ratio among legal immigrants shows a slight prevalence of women, explained by the relatively large number of immigrant women who find work in Naples as domestic helpers. Most extracomunitari male workers tend to head north where industrial jobs are easier to find.

About the image (above): indeed, indirectly connected with demographics. One honest newsstand owner at Piazza del Gesu Nuovo proudly announces that no one has ever bought a winning ticket at his place. And that sure includes me.

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