Italy hosts more than three million immigrants which comprise over 5 per cent of the country's population, according to the annual report recently released by Caritas, a Catholic relief, development and social service organisation.

For every 10 immigrants, five are European; two are African; two Asian and one American.

Nearly 60 per cent of the immigrant community lives in northern Italy, 27 per cent in central Italy and 13.5 in southern Italy, Caritas says.

According to the survey, eight out of ten immigrants interviewed believe that they have bettered their lives since arriving in Italy. Caritas reports that 91 per cent of immigrants own a mobile phone, 60 per cent have a bank account and 15 per cent purchase a house in Italy.

The biggest challenges and sources of discontentment among immigrants are connected to housing and employment. Many of them struggle to pay the rent and purchasing a house is out of reach for a large number of immigrants.

On the work front, Caritas reports that on average immigrants earn only half of what Italians earn. There is not enough job security for the immigrant population, many of whom do not have regular work or contracts.

The number of immigrants present in Italy is now nearly on par with the number of Italian emigrants around the world, Caritas reveals.

In the European Union Germany is the country that hosts the largest number of immigrants (7,287,980) followed by Spain (3,371,394), France (3,263,186), Italy (3,150,000) and Great Britain (2,857,000).