How United Was Italy after 1861? - Economics

Talks about disunity after 1861 in terms of economics. 

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  • Created on: 23-04-12 20:47
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How United Was Italy after 1861 ­ Economics
The transport system in Italy was extremely poor.
Britain's canal and railway construction and
improvement formed the basis of an integrated
transport system; Italy did not have anything near
such a modern system. There was little interest in
Italy for promoting industrial transport because of
their topography and their lack of excess water,
despite Cavour encouraging the construction of
canals in Piedmont. There were a few railways
built across the north Italian plains, and in 1857 the
Venetian and Lombard railway system were linked together. The poverty of the transport system in
the south, however, prevented agricultural and industrial development. In the southern region of
Apulia, the lack of a modern transport system stopped the development of an olive oil industry.
By 1860 a national transport system became a political necessity. A national rail system would allow
trade to develop and unite the disparate provinces of the country. In 1865 the railways were
transferred into private hands, although the state was still required to produce a significant amount
of capital. The effects of building the railways were substantial on economy and Italian society. In
1971 when Mount Cenis tunnel that went through the Alps was finished, the Italian railway network
was linked to France. The building of the railway was important as it came with the benefits of
increased volume in trade between the two countries. This led to the development of engineering,
iron and steel industries. However, these were based primarily in the north, therefore the railways in
a way helped encourage the development of a dual economy opposed to a unified one.
In Italy there was a division between the landowners and
middle class and the peasants and the landless; this did not
improve after 1861. Unification brought the sale of large tracts
of Church land. The 1867 act of the nationalisation of Church
land meant that over the next nine years ½ million acres of land
were sold. In the northern regions peasant farmers bought
land. In the central and southern regions land was mainly
bought by the middle class and those who have capital.
However, the peasants could not afford to pay the interest
payments on the loan they used to buy the land, or they had
little to no capital to use to improve the land, forcing them to
sell what was recently acquired. Political unification did not
accompany any significant land reform.


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