The Eternal City

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There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from at least 14,000 years, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to at least 10,000 years of human presence. The power of the well known tale of Rome‘s legendary foundation tends also to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.

At the time of the Emperor Augustus, Rome was the largest city in the world: with a population of about one million people (about the size of London in the early 19th century, when London was the largest city in the world).

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city’s population fell dramatically to less than 50,000 people, and continued to either stagnate or shrink until the Renaissance. When the Kingdom of Italy annexed Rome in 1870, the city had a population of about 200,000, which rapidly increased to 600,000 by the eve of World War I. The Fascist regime of Mussolini tried to block an excessive demographic rise of the city, but failed to prevent it from reaching one million people by early 1930s. After the Second World War, growth continued, helped by a post-war economic boom. A construction boom also created a large number of suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s.

In mid-2010, there were 2,754,440 residents in the city proper, while some 4.2 million people lived in the greater Rome area (which can be approximately identified with its administrative province, with a population density of about 800inhab./km2 stretching over more than 5,000 km2). Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 17.00 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 20.76 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of a Roman resident is 43 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Rome grew by 6.54 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The current birth rate of Rome is 9.10 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.

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