In the United States today, there are currently 26 million Italian-Americans. According to the US Census Bureau, they are the nation's fifth largest ethnic group. Italian-American's are mainly middle class republicans living in industrial cities primarily in northeastern states. I chose to study this group because my mother's side of the family is one hundred percent Italian. I have grown up with certain Italian customs and traditions, so it was interesting for me to research Italian-American families more in depth. .
In 1850, there were less than 4,000 Italians in America. Between 1876 and 1976 there was mass emigration from Italy to the United States. They were met with hatred and discrimination when first arriving to America mainly because their customs and their strong Catholic religious faith was feared. .
Physical Characteristics, Last Names, Language:.
Italian-Americans can be recognized by their physical characteristics as well as their last names. Physical characteristics usually consist of dark hair, dark features, and tan skin. The majority of Italians are shorter than average and have more body hair than average. It is also common that Italians are overweight due to their love of food. Italian last names always end in a vowel such as Fiorda, Trizzino, and Torricelli.
The majority of Italian-Americans speak English and have a sense of the Italian language. There are some Italian-American families who still speak Italian in their homes in order to maintain their cultural roots. Italians and Italian-Americans are also recognized for using hand gestures while speaking to emphasize their words.
In research on interpersonal distance, body orientation, and touch in correlation with culture, it was found that Italians represent contact cultures. Italian dyads used touch during their interactions more than did the English, French, and Dutch dyads (Remland, Jones, & Brinkman, 1995).