Courtesy Reuters

Italian Colonial Policy in Northern Africa

THE Italian colonies, which cover altogether an area of about 780,000 square miles and contain a population of over a million and a half, are entirely inadequate to care for Italy's economic needs or to provide proper room for the expansion of her growing population. Italy was last to join in the contest of the powers for the appropriation of African resources, and consequently all she could do was to take what the others had left. The territories most suitable for European immigration, such as North Africa from Morocco eastward to Tunis and the coastal countries of South and East Africa, were already in the possession of other states or else were populated to their full capacity by other nationalities. Following the far-reaching vision of her great statesman Cavour, Italy succeeded in gaining a foothold on the shores of the Red Sea between the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and French Somaliland. On the shores of the Indian Ocean she combined the efforts of her explorers with an official assertion of her sovereign rights over the country lying between British Somaliland and the mouth of the Juba River, and stretching inland from the seashore to the confines of Ethiopia. Finally, in 1911, came Italy's occupation of Libya, dictated by inexorable economic and political necessity.

Thus the colonial dominions of Italy came to be composed of countries representing diverse functions in the life of the nation. Because of the fact that Libya is contiguous to Tunis and is directly across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy proper, and because of its sparse native population and age-long connections with Sicily, these two colonies are best suited for European colonization within bounds imposed by the native population and special local conditions. Italian immigration into Libya has been on the increase, and in 1921 totaled 27,495. On the other hand, the two East African colonies, Eritrea and Somaliland, are clearly typical territories for economic exploitation. Ethnic and cultural conditions differ in these latter colonies also. Although before the Italian occupation Libya was considered

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