Italy is a Southern European country. It occupies the Italic Peninsula, identified by its “boot” shape. It covers an area of 301 230 km2 , including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. It is bordered by France to the northwest, Switzerland and Austria to the north and Slovenia to the northeast and is bathed by the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas, to the west. The most important cities are Rome, the capital, with 2 453 100 residents (2004), Milan (1 179 500 residents), Naples (990 700 residents), Turin (855 100 residents), Palermo (650 900 residents ), Genoa (1,175,000 residents), Bologna (369,000 residents), Florence (351,300 residents), Catania (305,600 residents), Bari (311,600 residents) and Venice (265,500 residents).
The Italian territory consists of a continental part, further to the north, a peninsular part and an insular part. The northernmost part of the country is formed by two areas of different altitude: the foothills of the Alps, along which the border with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia develops; the built plain of the Po River. The peninsular part is crossed in its length by the Apennines, an essentially calcareous chain, which extend through Sicily.
To witness the origin of the mountains, the existence of volcanoes such as Vesuvius (near Naples) and Etna (in Sicily), whose eruptions are known, namely the destruction of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The climate is Mediterranean, hot and dry in summer and mild in winter. In northern Italy, winters are more severe.
Italy has a developed economy, centered on industry and services. In agriculture, the dominant crops are beet, wheat, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, olives, barley, soybeans, peaches and pears. The existing mineral resources are insufficient for the type of industrial needs, only pyrite, zinc, magnesium and lead are produced in quantity. In the industry, the main productions are steel, armament, automobiles, textile machinery, electrical material, construction materials, chemicals, textiles and clothing, footwear, glass, ceramics, products food, wine and beer. The tourism sector also deserves to be highlighted, as Italy is one of the countries that receives the largest number of tourists. Exports are destined for Germany, France, the USA and the UK and cover machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, textiles, clothing, footwear and food products. Imports come from Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and are made up of machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, metals, food products, oil and textiles.
Environmental indicator: the value of carbon dioxide emissions, per capita (metric tons, 1999), is 7.3.
The population was, in 2006, of 58 133 509 residents, which corresponds to a density of approximately 192.89 residents/km2. The birth and death rates are, respectively, 8.72% and 10.4%. Average life expectancy is 79.81 years. The value of the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.916 and the value of the Gender-adjusted Development Index (IDG) is 0.910 (2001). It is estimated that in 2025, the population will decrease to 54 271 000 residents. Almost all the residents of the country are of Italian origin. The religion with the greatest expression is Catholic (83% of the population). The official language is Italian.
Art and Culture
From an early age, Italian literature became an important international expression, especially through Dante, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio. After the creations of Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso, at the end of the Renaissance, there followed a period of a certain literary decline that was invigorated, in the 19th century, by Alessandro Manzoni and by Giacomo Leopardi and, in the 20th century, by Gabriele D ‘Annunzio and by Luigi Pirandello.
In the plastic arts and architecture, the names of Giotto, Donatello, Fillipo Brunelleschi, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo appear.
Italian music represents one of the greatest artistic expressions in Europe. After the troubadour and madrigal songs, the compositions of GP da Palestrina, Claudio Monteverdi, Antonio Vivaldi, Gioacchino Rossini and Giuseppe Verdi appeared. However, the most significant contemporary artistic contribution is probably the cinema. Some of the most prestigious and prominent directors are Roberto Rossellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Vittorio de Sica, Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Luchino Visconti.
Despite its antiquity as a large region, Italy is a nation with little more than a century. Barbarian invasions in the 4th and 5th centuries led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Part of the peninsula was dominated by the Byzantines, while the remaining territory passed to the domain of the Lombardos. In the 11th century, the Normans settled in southern Italy, forming a kingdom. However, some city-states, whose political and economic rivalries were intense, began to assert themselves in the North. But, although Italy remained politically fragmented for several centuries, it became the cultural center of the West, between the 13th and 16th centuries. For Italy democracy and rights, please check intershippingrates.
At the end of the 15th century, Italy was invaded by France and, later, by Emperor Charles V, who subjugated most of the territory in 1550. After Charles V, the Spanish Habsburgs controlled Italy until the Austrian Habsburgs ruled the territory in the first half of the 18th century. At the end of the Napoleonic occupation, in 1815, some states became independent. In the 19th century, Risorgimento appeared, a movement favorable to unification, led by the liberal monarchs of the State of Piedmont. With French help, they managed to unite much of Italy and put King Victor Emmanuel II on the throne in 1861. The annexation of Venice in 1866 and papal Rome in 1870 made Italy a peninsular nation.
After the First World War, under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, fascism developed rapidly in the country. Italy invaded Ethiopia and, in 1936, formed an alliance with Nazi Germany. In 1943, when the Allied forces invaded Italian territory, Mussolini fled and Italy surrendered and joined the Allies against Germany. In 1946, the Republic was proclaimed and, as the country recovered from the war, coalition governments were succeeding. Economic growth was slow, but steady, and Italy eventually became a founding member of the EEC (now the European Union) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, in the 1970s, the initiation of terrorist actions by the left Red Brigades threatened the country’s internal stability.
Beginning in the 1990s, governments began to be agitated by a series of scandals. On the other hand, large financial expenditures led to a huge deficit, which generated a period of great political, social and economic instability.
- Countryaah.com: Offers a full list of airports in the country of Italy, sorted by city location and acronyms.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Provides most commonly used abbreviations and initials containing the country name of Italy. Listed by popularity.
1UpTravel.com – Maps of Italy
Browse a collection of city, country, political, shaded relief and historical maps of Italy, the European peninsular country. View the maps of Naples, Trieste and Rome.
Expedia.com – Italy Map
Map of the county allows users to zoom in and out of specific regions. Includes links to several Italian city maps.
Italy – ABC Maps
Peruse a small political map of this country and click through for information, facts and figures.
Italy – About.com Almanac
Features a selection of maps and atlas resources, plus geography data and cities.
Italy – Atlapedia Online
Explore a set of detailed, clear maps, one political and the other physical. Also includes country facts and figures.
Italy – Blank Map
Offers a blank outline for the country of Italy. Good for printing to use for educational purposes.
Italy – InfoPlease.com Map
Useful graphical map for viewers who wish to only quickly pinpoint the location of key cities, towns and villages throughout the country.
Italy – Merriam-Webster Atlas
Comprehensive altas and almanac includes a detailed map, two diagrams, country facts and a historical summary.
Italy – National Geographic
View an expandable map of this nation of nearly 60 million residents.
Italy – University of Texas Library
Choose from an array of historical, country and administrative maps, many originating from the CIA.
Milan – City Centre Map and Guide
Find maps of the city center and the subway system, as well as an interactive map that allows users to enlarge by region.