The Italians are a Southern European ethnic group found primarily in Italy and in a wide-ranging diaspora throughout Western Europe, the Americas and Australia. Their native language is Italian, and historically Italian dialects and languages. Their religion is predominantly Roman Catholic.
The Italian people have varied origins, due to Italy's long history. Northern Italy had a strong Celtic presence until the Romans conquered and colonised the area in the 2nd century BC, which lead to thousands of Romans and Italians migrating to the North. The Central portion of the Italian peninsula was settled by the Etruscans and Latin peoples. The South was mostly Greek and other Italic peoples such as the Bruttii and Samnites. Sicily was predominately Greek in the East and coastal areas and a had a strong Phoenician presence known as the Carthaginians in the West of Sicily. The appellation Italian is possibly derived from the Greeks who used the term to describe the Ancient Italic peoples, who pre-date the coming of Indo-European languages.
There are almost 56 million autochthonous Italians in Italy, about 750,000 Italians in Switzerland, and about 28,000 in San Marino. There is also a large but undefined, autochthonous population in France (Nice, Corsica, Savoie). Smaller groups can also be found in Slovenia and Croatia. There is a notable population of Italian descent in Brazil (Italian Brazilians), Argentina, the United States (Italian Americans), Venezuela, Uruguay, Canada (Italian Canadians), Australia (Italian Australians), and throughout Europe- mainly in Belgium, United Kingdom (Italian-Scots/Britalian), France and Germany (Italo-Germans).