Fourth Shore, the

views updated


Italy's Fourth Shore (Quarta Sponda) became a key element in the propaganda of Italy's colonialist opinion formers at the start of twentieth century.

The term Fourth Shore implied that Italy needed an overseas colonial extension along the North African Mediterranean that would partner its other threethe Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, and Sicilian. It also reflected the growing concern in Italy, in the wake of the Risorgimento of the 1860s, to re-create the splendor of the classical Roman Empire, with Libya as its jewel (after Italy was prevented from annexing Tunisia by France's occupation of that country in 1881).

Once Libya had been conqueredofficially by January 1932Mussolini's Fascist policy toward Libya put the concepts of the Fourth Shore into practice. Libya's supposed agricultural potential was to be realized by the immigration of Italy's excess peasant population from the mezzogiorno (the South). After an effective infrastructure would be created, Libya was to become an extension of the Italian mainland itself. This would guarantee Italy's strategic security and make it into a power in North Africa, alongside France and Spain.

Fascist ideology promoted individual family farm units through state-sponsored schemes. Libyans were to become economic collaborators and copartici-pants in this process; they were to be transformed into Muslim Italians, as Italy, after 1937, sought to become "Protector of Islam," in Mussolini's words.

See also Italy in the Middle East.


Segrè, Claudio G. Fourth Shore: The Italian Colonization of Libya. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

George Joffe