Italian Americans • Italian explorers, including Christoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus), played a major role in opening the Americas to European colonization and exploitation. An Italian navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, made a number of voyages to the Americas shortly after Colombo’s voyages. Because of his early maps, the continents came to be named after him. • Since 1820, more than 5 million Italians have migrated to the United States. Between 1880 and 1920, immigration was heavy, with more than 4 million immigrants. Prior to 1880, most immigrants were from northern Italy; after 1880 very large numbers came from southern Italy. • As with the Irish, land and agricultural problems triggered much of the Italian emigration. National unification under a government controlled by northern Italians had brought heavy taxes to southern Italy. Low income, poor soil, a feudal land system, unreasonable taxes, and government corruption were important push factors. The often exaggerated image of the United
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