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Italy Wikipedia



This article is about the republic. For other uses, see Italy (disambiguation).
"Italia" and "Italian Republic" redirect here. For other uses, see Italia (disambiguation). For the short-lived 19th-century state, see Italian Republic (Napoleonic).
Italian Republic
Repubblica italiana
FlagEmblem
Anthem: Il Canto degli Italiani  (Italian)


The Song of the Italians
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Location of  Italy  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Italy  (dark green)
– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)

– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]
Capital


and largest city
Rome


41°54′N 12°29′E / 41.900°N 12.483°E / 41.900; 12.483
Official languagesItaliana
DemonymItalian
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic
 - PresidentGiorgio Napolitano
 - Prime MinisterMatteo Renzi
LegislatureParliament
 - Upper houseSenate of the Republic
 - Lower houseChamber of Deputies
Formation
 - Unification17 March 1861 
 - Republic2 June 1946 
Area
 - Total301,338 km2 (72nd)


116,347 sq mi
 - Water (%)2.4
Population
 - 2013 estimate60,782,668 (23rd)
 - 2011 census59,433,744 (23rd)
 - Density201.7/km2 (63rd)


522.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2014 estimate
 - Total$1.847 trillion (11th)
 - Per capita$30,803 (32nd)
GDP (nominal)2014 estimate
 - Total$2.171 trillion (8th)
 - Per capita$36,216 (27th)
Gini (2011)31.9


medium
HDI (2013)Increase 0.881


very high · 25th
CurrencyEuro (€)b (EUR)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on theright
Calling code39c
ISO 3166 codeIT
Internet TLD.itd
a.French is co-official in the Aosta Valley; Slovene is co-official in the province of Trieste and the province of Gorizia; German and Ladin are co-official in South Tyrol.
b.Before 2002, the Italian Lira. The euro is accepted in Campione d'Italia, but the official currency there is the Swiss Franc.
c.To call Campione d'Italia, it is necessary to use the Swiss code +41.
d.The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
Italy Listeni/ˈɪtəli/ (Italian: Italia [iˈtaːlja]), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica italiana), is a unitary parliamentary republic in Southern Europe. To the north, Italy borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia, and is approximately delimited by the Alpine watershed, enclosing the Po Valley and the Venetian Plain. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two biggest Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Italian territory also includes the islands of Pantelleria, 60 km (37 mi) east of the Tunisian coast and 100 km (62 mi) southwest of Sicily, and Lampedusa, at about 113 km (70 mi) from Tunisia and at 176 km (109 mi) from Sicily, in addition to many other smaller islands. The sovereign states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and has a largely temperate climate. With 61 million inhabitants, it is the 5th most populous country in Europe. Among the world's most developed countries, Italy has the 4th-largest economy in the European Union, 3rd in the Eurozone and 9th in the world by GDP (IMF, 2012).

Italy's capital and largest city, Rome, has for centuries been the leading political and religious centre of Western civilisation, serving as the capital of both the Roman Empire and Christianity. During the Dark Ages, Italy endured cultural and social decline in the face of repeated invasions by Germanic tribes, with Roman heritage being preserved largely by Christian monks. Beginning around the 11th century, various Italian cities, communes and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking (indeed, modern capitalism has its roots in Medieval Italy); concurrently, Italian culture flourished, especially during the Renaissance, which produced many notable scholars, artists, and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Meanwhile, Italian explorers such as Polo, Columbus, Vespucci, and Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy would remain fragmented into many warring states for the rest of the Middle Ages, subsequently falling prey to larger European powers such as France, Spain, and later Austria. Italy would thus enter a long period of decline that lasted until the beginning of the 18th century.

After many unsuccessful attempts, the second and the third wars of Italian independence resulted in the unification of most of present-day Italy between 1859 and 1866. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the new Kingdom of Italy rapidly industrialized and acquired a colonial empire becoming a Great Power. However, Southern and rural Italy remained largely excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite victory in World War I as one of the Big Four with permanent membership in the security council of the League of Nations, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, which favoured the establishment of a Fascist dictatorship in 1922. The subsequent participation in World War II, at the side of Nazi Germany and Japan forming the Axis Alliance, ended in military defeat, economic destruction and civil war. In the years that followed, Italy abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, and enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, thus becoming one of the most developed nations in the world, with the fifth largest economy by nominal GDP by the early 1990s. Italy was a founding member of NATO in 1949 and one of the Inner Six of the European Community in 1957, which became the EU in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area, and has been a member of the Eurozone since 1999.

Italy is considered to be both a major regional power and a leading middle power, with membership in prominent institutions such as the UN, the EU, the NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the DAC, the WTO, the G4, G6, G7, G8, G10, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Latin Union, the Council of Europe, the Central European Initiative and the Uniting for Consensus. Italy currently maintains the world's tenth-largest nominal defence budget and is a participant in the NATO nuclear sharing policy. On 1 July 2014, Italy replaced Greece as the seat of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Contents

              Name


              Main article: Name of Italy
              The assumptions on the etymology of the name "Italia" are very numerous and the corpus of the solutions proposed by historians and linguists is very wide. According to one of the more common explanations, the term Italia, from Latin: Italia, was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning "land of young cattle" (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf"). The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War. Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, mentioned also by Aristotle and Thucydides.

              The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy – according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria: province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia). But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was during the reign of Emperor Augustus (end of the 1st century BC) that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula until the Alps.

              History

              Main article: History of Italy

              Prehistory and antiquity

              Main articles: Prehistoric Italy, Magna Graecia, Etruscan civilization, Roman Italy, Ancient Rome, Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire



              The Colosseum in Rome, built c. 70 – 80 AD, is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.
              Excavations throughout Italy revealed a Neanderthal presence dating back to the Paleolithic period, some 200,000 years ago, modern Humans arrived about 40,000 years ago. The Ancient peoples of pre-Roman Italy – such as the Umbrians, the Latins (from which the Romans emerged), Volsci, Samnites, the Celts and the Ligures which inhabited northern Italy, and many others – were Indo-European peoples; the main historic peoples of non-Indo-European heritage include the Etruscans, the Elymians and Sicani in Sicily and the prehistoric Sardinians.

              Between the 17th and the 11th centuries BC Mycenaean Greeks established contacts with Italy and in the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula became known as Magna Graecia. Also the Phoenicians established colonies on the coasts of Sardinia and Sicily.

              Rome, a modest agricultural community conventionally founded in 753 BC, grew over the course of centuries into a massive empire, stretching from Britain to the borders of Persia, and engulfing the whole Mediterranean basin, in which Greek and Roman cultures merged into a unique civilization. The Roman Imperial legacy has deeply influenced Western civilization for the following millennia. Ancient Rome shaped most of the Modern World. In a slow decline since the late 2nd century AD, the Empire broke into two parts in 395 AD. The Western Roman Empire, under the pressure of the Barbarian invasions, eventually dissolved in 476 AD, when the last western Emperor was deposed by the Germanic chief Odoacer, while the Eastern half of the Empire survived for another thousand years.

              Middle Ages

              Main article: Italy in the Middle Ages
              The Iron Crown of Lombardy, for centuries symbol of the Kings of Italy.
              Castel del Monte, built by German Emperor Frederick II.
              After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was seized by the Ostrogoths, followed in the 6th century by a brief reconquest under Byzantine Emperor Justinian. The invasion of another Germanic tribe, the Lombards, late in the same century, reduced the Byzantine presence to a rump realm (the Exarchate of Ravenna) and started the end of political unity of the peninsula for the next 1,300 years. The Lombard kingdom was subsequently absorbed into the Frankish Empire by Charlemagne in the late 8th century. The Franks also helped the formation of the Papal States in central Italy. Until the 13th century, Italian politics was dominated by the relations between the Holy Roman Emperors and the Papacy, with most of the Italian city-states siding for the former (Ghibellines) or for the latter (Guelphs) from momentary convenience.

              It was during this chaotic era that Italy saw the rise of a peculiar institution, the medieval commune. Given the power vacuum caused by extreme territorial fragmentation and the struggle between the Empire and the Holy See, local communities sought autonomous ways to restore law and order. In 1176 a league of city-states, the Lombard League, defeated the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa at the Battle of Legnano, thus ensuring effective independence for most of northern and central Italian cities. In coastal and southern areas, the maritime republics, the most notable being Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi, heavily involved in the Crusades, grew to eventually dominate the Mediterranean and monopolize trade routes to the Orient.

              In the south, Sicily had become an Islamic emirate in the 9th century, thriving until the Italo-Normans conquered it in the late 11th century together with most of the Lombard and Byzantine principalities of southern Italy. Through a complex series of events, southern Italy developed as a unified kingdom, first under the House of Hohenstaufen, then under the Capetian House of Anjou and, from the 15th century, the House of Aragon. In Sardinia, the former Byzantine provinces became independent states known as Giudicati, although some parts of the island were under Genoese or Pisan control until the Aragonese conquered it in the 15th century. The Black Death pandemic of 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing perhaps one third of the population. However, the recovery from the plague led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which allowed the bloom of Humanism and Renaissance, that later spread in Europe.

              Early Modern

              Main articles: Italian Renaissance, Italian Wars and Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic)



              Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man (self portrait, c. 1512).
              In the 14th and 15th centuries, northern-central Italy was divided into a number of warring city-states, the rest of the peninsula being occupied by the larger Papal States and the Kingdom of Sicily, referred to here as Naples. The strongest among these city-states gradually absorbed the surrounding territories giving birth to the Signorie, regional states often led by merchant families which founded local dynasties. War between the city-states was endemic, and primarily fought by armies of mercenaries known as condottieri, bands of soldiers drawn from around Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, led largely by Italian captains. Decades of fighting eventually saw Florence, Milan and Venice emerged as the dominant players that agreed to the Peace of Lodi in 1454, which saw relative calm brought to the region for the first time in centuries. This peace would hold for the next forty years.

              The Renaissance, a period of vigorous revival of the arts and culture, originated in Italy thanks to a number of factors, as the great wealth accumulated by merchant cities, the patronage of its dominant families like the Medici of Florence, and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Conquest of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. The Italian Renaissance peaked in the mid-16th century as foreign invasions plunged the region into the turmoil of the Italian Wars. The ideas and ideals of the Renaissance soon spread into Northern Europe, France, England and much of Europe. In the meantime, the discovery of the Americas, the new routes to Asia discovered by the Portuguese and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, all factors which eroded the traditional Italian dominance in trade with the East, caused a long economic decline in the peninsula.

              Following the Italian Wars (1494 to 1559), ignited by the rivalry between France and Spain, the city-states gradually lost their independence and came under foreign domination, first under Spain (1559 to 1713) and then Austria (1713 to 1796). In 1629-1631, a new outburst of plague claimed about 14% of Italy’s population. In addition, as the Spanish Empire started to decline in the 17th century, so did its possessions in Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Milan. In particular, Southern Italy was impoverished and cut off from the mainstream of events in Europe. In the 18th century, as a result of the War of Spanish Succession, Austria replaced Spain as the dominant foreign power, while the House of Savoy emerged as a regional power expanding to Piedmont and Sardinia. In the same century, the two-century long decline was interrupted by the economic and state reforms pursued in several states by the ruling élites. During the Napoleonic Wars, northern-central Italy was invaded and reorganized as a new Kingdom of Italy, a client state of the French Empire, while the southern half of the peninsula was administered by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law, who was crowned as King of Naples. The 1814 Congress of Vienna restored the situation of the late 18th century, but the ideals of the French Revolution could not be eradicated, and soon re-surfaced during the political upheavals that characterized the first part of the 19th century.

              Italian unification, Liberal Italy and the Great War

              Main articles: Italian unification and Military history of Italy during World War I



              The legendary "handshake of Teano" between Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II: on 26 October 1860, General Garibaldi sacrificed republican hopes for the sake of Italian unity.
              The birth of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. In the context of the 1848 liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful war was declared on Austria. The Kingdom of Sardinia again attacked the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence of 1859, with the aid of France, resulting in liberating Lombardy.

              In 1860–61, general Giuseppe Garibaldi led the drive for unification in Naples and Sicily, allowing the Sardinian government led by the Count of Cavour to declare a united Italian kingdom on 17 March 1861. In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II allied with Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, waging the Third Italian War of Independence which allowed Italy to annex Venetia. Finally, as France during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870 abandoned its garrisons in Rome, the Italians rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal States.

              The Piedmontese Albertine Statute of 1848, extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, provided for basic freedoms, but electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. The government of the new kingdom took place in a framework of parliamentary constitutional monarchy dominated by liberal forces. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. As Northern Italy quickly industrialized, the South and rural areas of North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad, while the Italian Socialist Party constantly increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative establishment. Starting from the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing Somalia, Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule.



              The military cemetery of Redipuglia, resting place of approximately 100,000 Italian soldiers. More than 650,000 died on the battlefields of World War I. The total deaths for Italy amounted to 1,240,000.
              Italy, nominally allied with the German Empire and the Empire of Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance, in 1915 joined the Allies into the war with a promise of substantial territorial gains, that included western Inner Carniola, former Austrian Littoral, Dalmatia as well as parts of the Ottoman Empire. The war was initially inconclusive, as the Italian army get struck in a long attrition war on the Alps mountains, making little progress and suffering very heavy losses. Eventually, in October 1918, the Italians launched a massive offensive, culminating in the victory of Vittorio Veneto. The Italian victory marked the end of the war on the Italian Front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was chiefly instrumental in ending the First World War less than two weeks later.

              During the war, more than 650,000 Italian soldiers died and the kingdom went on the brink of bankruptcy. Whereas many Italians were left in the new founded Kingdom of Yugoslavia[note 1] half a million South Slavs, mainly Slovenes and Croatians, and about two hundred thousand germanophone Tyroleans became part of the Kingdom of Italy. Under the Peace Treaties of Saint-Germain, Rapallo and Rome, Italy obtained most of the promised territories, but not Dalmatia (except Zara), allowing nationalists to define the victory as "mutilated". Moreover, Italy could annex the Hungarian harbor of Fiume, that was not part of territories promised at London but had been occupied after the end of the war by Gabriele D'Annunzio.

              Fascist Regime

              Main articles: Italian Fascism and Military history of Italy during World War II



              Benito Mussolini, Duce of Fascist Italy.
              The socialist agitations that followed the devastation of the Great War, inspired by the Russian Revolution, led to turmoil and anarchy throughout Italy. The liberal establishment, fearing a Soviet-style revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini. In October 1922 the blackshirts attempted a coup (the "March on Rome"). The coup itself was a failure, but at the last minute king Victor Emmanuel III refused to proclaim the state of siege and appointed Mussolini prime minister. Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship, who attracted international attention and that served as the inspiration, among others countries, for Nazi Germany and Francoist Spain, in Europe and outside.

              In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, resulting in an international alienation and leading to Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations. Consequently, Italy allied with Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan and strongly supported Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war. In 1939, Italy annexed Albania, a de facto protectorate for decades. Italy entered World War II on June 10, 1940. After initially advancing in British Somalialand and Egypt, the Italians suffered heavy defeats in Greece, Russia and North Africa.

              After the attack on Yugoslavia by Germany and Italy, suppression of the Yugoslav Partisans resistance and attempts to Italianization resulted in the Italian war crimes and deportation of about 25,000 people to the Italian concentration camps, such as Rab, Gonars, Monigo, Renicci di Anghiari and elsewhere. After the war, due to the Cold war, a long period of censorship, disinterest and denial occurred about the Italian war crimes and the Yugoslav's foibe killings. Meanwhile about 250,000 Italians and anti-communist Yugoslavs fled to Italy in the Istrian exodus.

              Sicily was then invaded by the Allies in July 1943, leading to the collapse of the Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini on 25 July. On 8 September 1943, Italy surrendered. The Germans shortly succeeded in taking control of northern and central Italy. The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the Allies were slowly moving up from the south.

              In the north, the Germans set up the Italian Social Republic (RSI), a Nazi puppet state with Mussolini installed as leader. The post-armistice period saw the rise of a large anti-fascist resistance movement, the Resistenza. Hostilities ended on 29 April 1945, when the German forces in Italy surrendered. Nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) died in the conflict, and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in 1944 was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century. Following the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, Italy surrendered to Yugoslavia almost all the territories gained on the East border at the end of WWI, Briga and Tenda to France and lost all its colonies except for Somalia.

              Republican Italy

              Main article: History of the Italian Republic



              Alcide De Gasperi, first republican Prime Minister of Italy and one of the Founding Fathers of the European Union.
              Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote. Victor Emmanuel III's son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate and exiled. The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January 1948. Under the Treaty of Peace with Italy of 1947, most of Julian March was lost to Yugoslavia and, later, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided between the two states. Italy also lost all its colonial possessions, formally ending the Italian Empire.

              Fears in the Italian electorate of a possible Communist takeover proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on 18 April 1948, when the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, obtained a landslide victory. Consequently, in 1949 Italy became a member of NATO. The Marshall Plan helped to revive the Italian economy which, until the late 1960s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the "Economic Miracle". In 1957, Italy was a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC), which became the European Union (EU) in 1993.



              In 1957 Italy was among the EEC's six founding members in the Treaty of Rome.
              From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the country experienced the Years of Lead, a period characterized by economic crisis (especially after the 1973 oil crisis), widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US intelligence. The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978 and the Bologna railway station massacre in 1980, where 85 people died.

              In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one liberal (Giovanni Spadolini) and one socialist (Bettino Craxi); the Christian Democrats remained, however, the main government party. During Craxi's government, the economy recovered and Italy became the world's fifth largest industrial nation, gaining entry into the G7 Group. However, as a result of his spending policies, the Italian national debt skyrocketed during the Craxi era, soon passing 100% of the GDP.

              In the early 1990s, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters – disenchanted with political paralysis, massive public debt and the extensive corruption system (known as Tangentopoli) uncovered by the 'Clean Hands' investigation – demanded radical reforms. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: the Christian Democrats, who ruled for almost 50 years, underwent a severe crisis and eventually disbanded, splitting up into several factions. The Communists reorganized as a social-democratic force. During the 1990s and the 2000s (decade), center-right (dominated by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi) and center-left coalitions (led by university professor Romano Prodi) alternatively governed the country, which entered a prolonged period of economic stagnation.

              In April 2013, after the general election, the Vice-Secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta formed a new government at the head of a Grand coalition. Following tensions with the Secretary of the PD Matteo Renzi, Letta resigned on 14 February 2014. On 22 February Renzi sworn as new Prime Minister.

              Geography

              Main article: Geography of Italy



              Topographic map of Italy
              Italy is located in Southern Europe and comprises the boot-shaped Italian Peninsula and a number of islands including the two largest, Sicily and Sardinia. It lies between latitudes 35° and 47° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E.

              The country's total area is 301,230 square kilometres (116,306 sq mi), of which 294,020 km2 (113,522 sq mi) is land and 7,210 km2 (2,784 sq mi) is water. Including the islands, Italy has a coastline and border of 7,600 kilometres (4,722 miles) on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas (740 km (460 mi)), and borders shared with France (488 km (303 mi)), Austria (430 km (267 mi)), Slovenia (232 km (144 mi)) and Switzerland (740 km (460 mi)). San Marino (39 km (24 mi)) and Vatican City (3.2 km (2.0 mi)), both enclaves, account for the remainder.

              The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone and the Alps form most of its northern boundary, where Italy's highest point is located on Mont Blanc (4,810 m/15,782 ft).[note 2] The Po, Italy's longest river (652 km/405 mi), flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea. The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size: Garda (367.94 km2 or 142 sq mi), Maggiore (212.51 km2 or 82 sq mi, shared with Switzerland), Como (145.9 km2 or 56 sq mi), Trasimeno (124.29 km2 or 48 sq mi) and Bolsena (113.55 km2 or 44 sq mi).



              Mont Blanc is the highest point in Italy and the European Union.
              The country is situated at the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate, leading to considerable seismic and volcanic activity. There are 14 volcanoes in Italy, four of which are active: Etna (the traditional site of Vulcan’s smithy), Stromboli, Vulcano and Vesuvius. Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is most famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculanum. Several islands and hills have been created by volcanic activity, and there is still a large active caldera, the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples.

              Although the country comprises the Italian peninsula and most of the southern Alpine basin, some of Italy's territory extends beyond the Alpine basin and some islands are located outside the Eurasian continental shelf. These territories are the comuni of: Livigno, Sexten, Innichen, Toblach (in part), Chiusaforte, Tarvisio, Graun im Vinschgau (in part), which are all part of the Danube's drainage basin, while the Val di Lei constitutes part of the Rhine's basin and the islands of Lampedusa and Lampione are on the African continental shelf.

              Environment

              See also: List of national parks of Italy and List of regional parks of Italy



              Map of national parks in Italy.
              After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront its environmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in the world for ecological sustainability. National parks cover about five percent of the country. In the last decade, Italy has become one of the world's leading producers of renewable energy, ranking as the world’s fourth largest holder of installed solar energy capacity and the sixth largest holder of wind power capacity in 2010. Renewable energies now make up about 12% of the total primary and final energy consumption in Italy, with a future target share set at 17% for the year 2020.



              Hilly landscape in Tuscany.
              However, air pollution remains a severe problem, especially in the industrialised north, reaching the tenth highest level worldwide of industrial carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s. Italy is the twelfth largest carbon dioxide producer. Extensive traffic and congestion in the largest metropolitan areas continue to cause severe environmental and health issues, even if smog levels have decreased dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s, and the presence of smog is becoming an increasingly rarer phenomenon and levels of sulphur dioxide are decreasing.

              Many watercourses and coastal stretches have also been contaminated by industrial and agricultural activity, while because of rising water levels, Venice has been regularly flooded throughout recent years. Waste from industrial activity is not always disposed of by legal means and has led to permanent health effects on inhabitants of affected areas, as in the case of the Seveso disaster. The country has also operated several nuclear reactors between 1963 and 1990 but, after the Chernobyl disaster and a referendum on the issue the nuclear program was terminated, a decision that was overturned by the government in 2008, planning to build up to four nuclear power plants with French technology. This was in turn struck down by a referendum following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

              Deforestation, illegal building developments and poor land-management policies have led to significant erosion all over Italy's mountainous regions, leading to major ecological disasters like the 1963 Vajont Dam flood, the 1998 Sarno and 2009 Messina mudslides.

              Climate




              Southern Italy has a Mediterranean climate.
              Main article: Climate of Italy
              Thanks to the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula and the mostly mountainous internal conformation, the climate of Italy is highly diverse. In most of the inland northern and central regions, the climate ranges from humid subtropical to humid continental and oceanic. In particular, the climate of the Po valley geographical region is mostly continental, with harsh winters and hot summers.

              The coastal areas of Liguria, Tuscany and most of the South generally fit the Mediterranean climate stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). Conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer. Average winter temperatures vary from 0 °C (32 °F) on the Alps to 12 °C (54 °F) in Sicily, like so the average summer temperatures range from 20 °C (68 °F) to over 30 °C (86 °F).

              Politics

              Main article: Politics of Italy
              Matteo Renzi, 56th Prime Minister of Italy, in office since 22 February 2014.
              Giorgio Napolitano, 11th President of Italy, in office since 15 May 2006.
              Italy has been a unitary parliamentary republic since 2 June 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by a constitutional referendum. The President of Italy (Presidente della Repubblica), currently Giorgio Napolitano since 2006, is Italy's head of state. The President is elected for a single seven years mandate by the Parliament of Italy in joint session. Italy has a written democratic constitution, resulting from the work of a Constituent Assembly formed by the representatives of all the anti-fascist forces that contributed to the defeat of Nazi and Fascist forces during the Civil War.

              Government

              Italy has a parliamentary government based on a proportional voting system. The parliament is perfectly bicameral: the two houses, the Chamber of Deputies (that meets in Palazzo Montecitorio) and the Senate of the Republic (that meets in Palazzo Madama), have the same powers. The Prime Minister, officially President of the Council of Ministers (Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri), is Italy's head of government. The Prime Minister and the cabinet are appointed by the President of the Republic, but must pass a vote of confidence in Parliament to become in office.

              While the office is similar to those in most other parliamentary systems, the Italian prime minister has less authority than some of his counterparts. The prime minister is not authorized to request the dissolution of Parliament or dismiss ministers (that are exclusive prerogatives of the President of the Republic) and must receive a vote of approval from the Council of Ministers—which holds effective executive power—to execute most political activities.



              Palazzo Montecitorio, seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
              After the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi on 12 November 2011, economist Mario Monti has been appointed as a technocratic Prime Minister. The Italy's four major political parties are the People of Freedom, the Democratic Party, the Northern League and the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC). During the 2008 general elections these four parties won 589 out of 630 seats available in the Chamber of Deputies and 293 out of 315 seats available in the Senate of the Republic.

              Most of the remaining seats were won by minor parties that only contest election in one part of Italy, like the South Tyrolean People's Party and the Movement for Autonomies. However, during the last 3 years, a so-called "Third Pole" emerged, merging the Christian Democrats of UDC with some dissident MPs coming from Mr. Berlusconi's cabinet.

              A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad: 12 Deputies and 6 Senators elected in four distinct overseas constituencies. In addition, the Italian Senate is characterized also by a small number of senators for life, appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field". Former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life senators.

              Law and criminal justice

              Main articles: Law of Italy, Judiciary of Italy and Law enforcement in Italy



              The Supreme Court of Cassation.
              The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the highest court in Italy for both criminal and civil appeal cases. The Constitutional Court of Italy (Corte Costituzionale) rules on the conformity of laws with the constitution and is a post–World War II innovation. Since their appearance in the middle of the 19th century, Italian organized crime and criminal organizations have infiltrated the social and economic life of many regions in Southern Italy, the most notorious of which being the Sicilian Mafia, which would later expand into some foreign countries including the United States. The Mafia receipts may reach 9% of Italy's GDP.

              A 2009 report identified 610 comuni which have a strong Mafia presence, where 13 million Italians live and 14.6% of the Italian GDP is produced. The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, nowadays probably the most powerful crime syndicate of Italy, accounts alone for 3% of the country's GDP. However, at 0.013 per 1,000 people, Italy has only the 47th highest murder rate (in a group of 62 countries) and the 43rd highest number of rapes per 1,000 people in the world (in a group of 65 countries), relatively low figures among developed countries.

              Foreign relations

              Main article: Foreign relations of Italy



              The US President, Barack Obama, and Giorgio Napolitano in Rome.
              Italy is a founding member of the European Community, now the European Union (EU), and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955, and it is a member and strong supporter of a wide number of international organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and the Central European Initiative. Its recent turns in the rotating presidency of international organisations include the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), the forerunner of the OSCE, in 1994; G8; and the EU in 2009 and from July to December 2003.

              Italy strongly supports multilateral international politics, endorsing the United Nations and its international security activities. As of 2013, Italy was deploying 5,296 troops abroad, engaged in 33 UN and NATO missions in 25 countries of the world. Italy deployed troops in support of UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Mozambique, and East Timor and provides support for NATO and UN operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Italy deployed over 2,000 troops in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) from February 2003. Italy still supports international efforts to reconstruct and stabilize Iraq, but it had withdrawn its military contingent of some 3,200 troops by November 2006, maintaining only humanitarian operators and other civilian personnel. In August 2006 Italy deployed about 2,450 troops in Lebanon for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission UNIFIL. Italy is one of the largest financiers of the Palestinian National Authority, contributing € 60 million in 2013 alone.

              Military

              Main article: Italian Armed Forces



              The aircraft carrier MM Cavour.
              The Italian Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri collectively form the Italian armed forces, under the command of the Supreme Defence Council, presided over by the President of Italy. From 2005, military service is entirely voluntary. In 2010, the Italian military had 293,202 personnel on active duty, of which 114,778 are Carabinieri. Total Italian military spending in 2010 ranked tenth in the world, standing at $35.8 billion, equal to 1.7% of national GDP. As part of NATO's nuclear sharing strategy Italy also hosts 90 United States nuclear bombs, located in the Ghedi and Aviano air bases.

              The Italian Army is the national ground defense force, numbering 109,703 in 2008. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, recently deployed in UN missions. It also has at its disposal a large number of Leopard 1 and M113 armored vehicles.



              A Eurofighter Typhoon operated by the Italian Air Force.
              The Italian Navy in 2008 had 35,200 active personnel with 85 commissioned ships and 123 aircraft. It is now equipping itself with a bigger aircraft carrier (the Cavour), new destroyers, submarines and multipurpose frigates. In modern times the Italian Navy, being a member of the NATO, has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations around the world.

              The Italian Air Force in 2008 had a strength of 43,882 and operated 585 aircraft, including 219 combat jets and 114 helicopters. As a stopgap and as replacement for leased Tornado ADV interceptors, the AMI has leased 30 F-16A Block 15 ADF and four F-16B Block 10 Fighting Falcons, with an option for more. The coming years will also see the introduction of 121 EF2000 Eurofighter Typhoons, replacing the leased F-16 Fighting Falcons. Further updates are foreseen in the Tornado IDS/IDT and AMX fleets. A transport capability is guaranteed by a fleet of 22 C-130Js and Aeritalia G.222s of which 12 are being replaced with the newly developed G.222 variant called the C-27J Spartan.

              An autonomous corps of the military, the Carabinieri are the gendarmerie and military police of Italy, policing the military and civilian population alongside Italy's other police forces. While the different branches of the Carabinieri report to separate ministries for each of their individual functions, the corps reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs when maintaining public order and security.

              Administrative divisions

              Main articles: Regions of Italy, Provinces of Italy, Municipalities of Italy and Metropolitan cities of Italy
              Italy is subdivided into 20 regions (regioni, singular regione), five of these regions having a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters. The country is further divided into 110 provinces (province) and 8,100 municipalities (comuni). There are also 15 metropolitan cities (città metropolitane), established in 2009, but this administrative division is not yet operational.
              Apulia
              Basilicata
              Calabria
              Sicily
              Molise
              Campania
              Abruzzo
              Lazio
              Umbria
              Marche
              Tuscany
              Sardinia
              Emilia-Romagna
              Liguria
              Piedmont
              Friuli


              Venezia Giulia
              Aosta


              Valley
              South Tyrol
              Trentino
              Veneto
              Lombardy
              Adriatic Sea
              Ionian Sea
              Mediterranean Sea
              Tyrrhenian Sea
              Ligurian Sea

              Region[note 3]CapitalArea (km²)Area (sq mi)Population
              AbruzzoL'Aquila10,7634,1561,342,177
              Aosta ValleyAosta3,2631,260128,129
              ApuliaBari19,3587,4744,090,577
              BasilicataPotenza9,9953,859587,680
              CalabriaCatanzaro15,0805,8222,011,537
              CampaniaNaples13,5905,2475,833,131
              Emilia-RomagnaBologna22,4468,6664,429,766
              Friuli-Venezia GiuliaTrieste7,8583,0341,235,761
              LazioRome17,2366,6555,724,365
              LiguriaGenoa5,4222,0931,616,993
              LombardyMilan23,8449,2069,909,348
              MarcheAncona9,3663,6161,564,886
              MoliseCampobasso4,4381,713319,834
              PiedmontTurin25,4029,8084,456,532
              SardiniaCagliari24,0909,3011,675,286
              SicilyPalermo25,7119,9275,050,486
              TuscanyFlorence22,9938,8783,749,074
              Trentino-Alto Adige/SüdtirolTrento13,6075,2541,036,639
              UmbriaPerugia8,4563,265906,675
              VenetoVenice18,3997,1044,936,197

              Economy

              Main article: Economy of Italy



              The Ferrari F12berlinetta. Italy is the world's 7th largest exporter of goods.



              Vineyards in the Chianti region. Italy is the world's largest wine producer.



              Italy is part of a monetary union, the Eurozone (dark blue), and of the EU single market.
              Italy has a market economy characterized by high per capita GDP and low unemployment rates. In 2012, it was the ninth-largest economy in the world and the fifth-largest in Europe in terms of nominal GDP, and the tenth-largest economy in the world and fourth-largest in Europe in terms of PPP. It is a founding member of the G7, G8, the Eurozone and the OECD.

              After World War II, Italy was rapidly transformed from an agriculture based economy into one of the world's most industrialized nations and a leading country in world trade and exports. It is a developed country, with the world's 8th highest quality of life in 2005 and the 25th Human Development Index. In spite of the recent global economic crisis, Italian per capita GDP at purchasing power parity remains approximately above to the EU average, while the unemployment rate (8.5%) stands as one of the EU's lowest. The country is well known for its influential and innovative business economic sector, an industrious and competitive agricultural sector (Italy is the world's largest wine producer), and for its creative and high-quality automobile, industrial, appliance and fashion design.

              Italy has a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size, but there is a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises, notoriously clustered in several industrial districts, which are the backbone of the Italian industry. This has produced a manufacturing sector often focused on the export of niche market and luxury products, that if on one side is less capable to compete on the quantity, on the other side is more capable of facing the competition from China and other emerging Asian economies based on lower labour costs, with higher quality products.

              The country was the world's 7th largest exporter in 2009. Italy's closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts about 59% of its total trade. Its largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany (12.9%), France (11.4%), and Spain (7.4%). Finally, tourism is one of the fastest growing and profitable sectors of the national economy: with 43.6 million international tourist arrivals and total receipts estimated at $38.8 billion in 2010, Italy is both the fifth most visited country and highest tourism earner in the world.

              Despite these important achievements, the Italian economy today suffers from many and relevant problems. After a strong GDP growth of 5–6% per year from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and a progressive slowdown in the 1980s and 1990s, the last decade's average annual growth rates poorly performed at 1.23% in comparison to an average EU annual growth rate of 2.28%. The stagnation in economic growth, and the political efforts to revive it with massive government spending from the 1980s onwards, eventually produced a severe rise in public debt. According to the EU's statistics body Eurostat, Italian public debt stood at 116% of GDP in 2010, ranking as the second biggest debt ratio after Greece (with 126.8%).

              However, the biggest part of Italian public debt is owned by national subjects, a major difference between Italy and Greece. In addition, Italian living standards have a considerable north-south divide. The average GDP per capita in the north exceeds by far the EU average, while many regions of Southern Italy are dr
              Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy )
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