Italian Republic

Capital Rome
Religion 74.4% Catholic Church 22.6% Irreligious 3.0% others
Language Italian
Area Total 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) (71st) Water (%) 2.4
Capital Rome
Population 60,483,973 Increase[3] (23rd)
Currency Euro (€)b (EUR)
Dialing code +39c
Time Zone UTC+1 (CET) • Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)

Italy


Italy (ItalianItalia [iˈtaːlja] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana [reˈpubblika itaˈljaːna]), is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Due to its central geographic location in Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient Italian tribes and Italic peoples dispersed throughout the Italian Peninsula and insular Italy, beginning from the classical era, PhoeniciansCarthaginians and Greeks established settlements in southern and insular Italy, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited the centre and the north of Italy respectively. The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which eventually became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People. The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, and the Republic eventually expanded and conquered parts of EuropeNorth Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural, political and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technologyeconomyart and literature flourished. Italy remained the homeland of the Romans and the metropole of the Roman Empire. The legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culturelawgovernmentsChristianity and the Latin script.

During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism. These mostly independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of ByzantineArabNormanAngevinand Aragonese conquests of the region.

The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanismscienceexploration and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths such as MichelangeloLeonardo da VinciRaphaelGalileo and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco PoloChristopher ColumbusAmerigo VespucciJohn Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, and it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as FranceSpain and Austria.

By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was almost entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy rapidly industrialised, namely in the north, and acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil (e.g. the anni di piombo, the Maxi Trial, and mani pulite) became a major advanced country.

Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically developed countries, with its economy ranking eighth largest in the world and third in the Eurozone. As an advanced economy, it has the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth, and is ranked third for its central bank gold reserve. Italy has a very high level of human development, and it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is both a regional power[ and a great power. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Unionand a member of numerous international institutions, including the UNNATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of EuropeUniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more.

As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to 54 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is the fifth-most visited country.

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