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Italy



Repubblica Italiana Flag of Italy Italy: Coat of Arms Flag Coat of Arms Location of ItalyOfficial language Italian1Capital and largest city RomePresident Carlo Azeglio CiampiPrime minister Silvio BerlusconiArea
- Total
- % waterRanked 71st
301,336 km
2.40%Population
- Total (December 2004)
- DensityRanked 23rd
58,462,375
194/kmUnification17 March 1861GDP (2004) - Total (PPP) - Total (nom.) - GDP/capita (PPP) - GDP/capita (nom.)
$1.621 trillion (8th) $1.672 trillion (6th) $27,727 (19th) $28,599 (20th)HDI (2003) 0.934 (18th)Currency Euro (€)2 Time zone
- in summer CET (UTC+1)
CEST (UTC+2) National anthem Il Canto degli Italiani Internet TLD .it Calling Code +39 1 French is co-official in the Aosta Valley; German is co-official in South Tyrol.
2 Prior to 1999: Italian Lira.
Italy (Italian: ''Repubblica Italiana'' or ''Italia'') is a country in southern Europe. It comprises the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, the Po River valley, and two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, and shares its northern alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent countries of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italian territory.For more than 3,000 years Italy witnessed many migrations and invasions from Germanic, Greek, Celtic, Franks, Byzantines, Normans, and the French Angevins, and Lombard peoples. Italy was also home to many well-known and influential civilisations, including the Etruscans and the Romans.

History

''Main article: History of Italy''Italy has shaped the cultural and social development of the whole Mediterranean area, deeply influencing European culture as well. Important cultures and civilizations have existed there since prehistoric times. After Magna Graecia, the Etruscan civilization and especially the Roman Republic and Empire that dominated this part of the world for many centuries, Italy was central to European philosophy, science and art during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.Modern Italy became a nation-state belatedly — on March 17 1861, when most of the states of the peninsula were united under king Victor Emmanuel II of the Savoy dynasty, which ruled over Sardinia and Piedmont. The architects of Italian unification were Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Chief Minister of Victor Emmanuel, and Giuseppe Garibaldi, a general and national hero. Rome itself remained for a decade under the Papacy, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy only on September 20, 1870. The Vatican is now an independent enclave surrounded by Rome.

Politics


''Main article: Politics of Italy''The 1948 Constitution of Italy established a bicameral parliament (''Parlamento''), consisting of a Chamber of Deputies (''Camera dei Deputati'') and a Senate (''Senato della Repubblica''), a separate judiciary, and an executive branch composed of a Council of Ministers (cabinet) (''Consiglio dei ministri''), headed by the prime minister (''Presidente del consiglio dei ministri''). The President of the Republic (''Presidente della Repubblica'') is elected for 7 years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. The president nominates the prime minister, who proposes the other ministers (formally named by the president). The Council of Ministers must retain the support (''Fiducia'') of both houses.The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected by a mixed majoritarian and proportional representation system. Under 1993 legislation, Italy has single-member districts for 75% of the seats in parliament; the remaining 25% of seats are allotted on a proportional basis.
The Chamber of Deputies has officially 630 members (''de facto'', 619 only after the 2001 elections). In addition to 315 senators, elected members, the Senate includes former presidents and several other persons (no more than 5) appointed for life by the President of the Republic according to special constitutional provisions. Both houses are elected for a maximum of 5 years, but either may be dissolved before the expiration of its normal term. Legislative bills may originate in either house and must be passed by a majority in both.The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. A constitutional court, the ''Corte Costituzionale'', passes on the constitutionality of laws, and is a post-World War II innovation.To vote for the senate, the voter must be at least 25. To vote for anything else, the voter must be at least 18.

Regions


''Main article: Regions of Italy''
Map of ItalyItaly is subdivided into 20 regions (''regioni'', singular ''regione''), of which five enjoy a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their specific local matters, marked by an *:*Abruzzo
*Basilicata
*Calabria
*Campania
*Emilia-Romagna
*Friuli-Venezia Giulia *
*Latium (Lazio)
*Liguria
*Lombardy (Lombardia)
*Marche
*Molise
*Piedmont (Piemonte)
*Apulia (Puglia)
*Sardinia (Sardegna) *
*Sicily (Sicilia) *
*Tuscany (Toscana)
*Trentino-South Tyrol (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) *
*Umbria
*Aosta Valley (Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste)*
*VenetoAll regions except the Aosta Valley are further subdivided into two or more provinces.

Geography


''Main article: Geography of Italy''
Monument to king Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome
Villa Badoer by Andrea Palladio
Trulli houses in Alberobello.
Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy,
Ponte Fabricio, Isola Tiberina, Roma.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence.
Rifugio Laghi GemelliItaly consists predominantly of a large peninsula with a distinctive boot shape that extends into the Mediterranean Sea, where together with its two main islands Sicily and Sardinia it creates distinct bodies of water, such as the Adriatic Sea to the north-east, the Ionian Sea to the south-east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the south-west and finally the Ligurian Sea to the north-west.The Apennine mountains form the backbone of this peninsula, leading north-west to where they join the Alps, the mountain range that then forms an arc enclosing Italy from the north.
Here is also found a large alluvial plain, the Po-Venetian plain, drained by the Po River and its many tributaries flowing down from the Alps, Apennines and Dolomites.Other well-known rivers include the Tiber, Adige and Arno.Its highest point is Mont Blanc (''Monte Bianco'') at 4,810 m, but Italy is more typically associated with two famous volcanoes: the currently dormant Vesuvius near Naples and the very active Etna on Sicily.

Demographics


''Main article: Demographics of Italy''

Italy is largely homogeneous in language and religion but is diverse culturally, economically, and politically. The country has the fifth-highest population density in Europe at 194 persons per square kilometre. Indigenous minority groups are small. For a country of 58.5 million people, Italy has a smaller number of migrants compared to France and Germany. According to ISTAT, the national statistical office, Italy has 2 million (3.5%) foreigners. While according to the last figure (Caritas est. 2005 http://www.rassegna.it/2005/affarisociali/articoli/caritas2.htm, almost 3 million of immigrants live legally in Italy, making up 5% of the total population. (while figure for undocumented immigrants vary from 0.8 million to 2 million. Italy is periodically legalizing unauthorized foreigners).
The largest immigrant groups are Romanian (445,812) (unoficially 1,000,000 ), Albanian (270,383), Moroccan (253,362) and Chinese (86,738). There are many other ethnic groups, like Filipinos, Tunisians, Croatians, Serbians, and Ukrainians, but they make smaller numbers.
An October 2005 report estimates that 1,061,400 Romanians are living in Italy, constituting 37.2% of 2.8 million immigrants in that country. http://www.evz.ro/eveniment/?news_id=201813 * Mitrica, Mihai Italia ("One million Romanians have moved to Italy"). ''Evenimentul Zilei'', 31 October 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2005.>

Economy


''Main article: Economy of Italy''Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the United Kingdom. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. In comparison to its western European neighbours, it has a high number of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEes).Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Union and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. Italy joined the Euro from its conception in 1999.Italy's economic performance has at times lagged behind that of its EU partners, and the current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. It has moved slowly, however, on implementing certain structural reforms favoured by economists, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labour market and expensive pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labour unions.*List of Italian companies
Although Roman Catholicism is the majority religion (85% of native-born citizens are nominally Catholic) there are mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim (see: Islam in Italy) immigrant community, as many come from Albania, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Culture


''See the separate article: Culture of Italy.''

Languages

The official language of Italy is Standard Italian - a direct descendant of Latin (some 75% of Italian words are of Latin origin).