Italy has the oldest population in the European Union and despite an influx of young immigrants it is getting older every year, national statistics bureau Istat said on Thursday.
One in five Italians is now 65 or over and this section of the population outnumbers the under-14s by three to two.
Istat, which published its annual snapshot of the country Thursday, said Italy is one of the eight countries in the 25- member EU in which the population graph bulges at the top.
The others are Germany, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Slovenia and Estonia, Istat said.
But Italy, with its low birth rate and relatively long life- expectancy, leaves the rest far behind.
Meanwhile, the overall population is rising. The number of people resident in Italy at the start of 2006 was up by about half a percent to 58.75 million.
Istat noted that this increase was due to immigration and that the number of births was considerably less than the number of deaths. In 2005 the difference was 13,282.
The average Italian woman now has 1.32 children, a lower birth rate than in any of the 15 old EU members except Spain and Greece.