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Italy Travel Guide:

       Facts on Italy

Flag of Italy
   Geography    People    Economy    Communications    Transportation

Map of Italy's major cities

Map of Italy and its major cities




History   Top of Page
  Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the European Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.
Public safety issues, rules and regulations, crime information, tips on driving,  facts about health care in Italy and other Tourist Tips for traveling in Italy can be found  at our page Italy Travel Information.
Geography   Top of Page
Location Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia  
Geographic Coordinates 42 50 N, 12 50 E  
Area Total: 301,230 sq km
Note: includes Sardinia and Sicily
Water: 7,210 sq km
Land: 294,020 sq km
Area - Comparative Slightly larger than Arizona  
Land Boundaries Total: 1,932.2 km border countries: Austria 430 km, France 488 km, Holy See (Vatican City) 3.2 km, San Marino 39 km, Slovenia 232 km, Switzerland 740 km  
Coastline 7,600 km  
Climate Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south  
Terrain Mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands  
Elevation Extremes Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a Secondary peak of Mont Blanc)
Natural Resources Mercury, potash, marble, sulfur, natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, coal, arable land  
Geography Note Strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe  
Natural hazards Regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice


People   Top of Page
Population 58,147,733 (July 2007 est.)  
Age Structure 0-14 years: 13.8% (male 4,147,149/female 3,899,980)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 19,527,203/female 19,059,897)
65 years and over: 19.9% (male 4,823,244/female 6,741,172) (2007 est.)
Nationality Noun: Italian(s)
Adjective: Italian
Ethnic Groups Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)  
Religions Predominately Roman Catholic with mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community  
Language Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d'Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)  
Literacy Definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98.6%  
Government   Top of Page
Country Name Conventional long form: Italian Republic
Conventional short form: Italy
Local long form: Repubblica Italiana
Former: Kingdom of Italy
Local short form: Italia
Government Type Republic  
Capital Rome  
Administrative Divisions 15 regions (regioni, singular - regione) and 5 autonomous regions* (regioni autonome, singular - regione autonoma); Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia*, Lazio (Latium), Liguria, Lombardia, Marche, Molise, Piemonte (Piedmont), Puglia (Apulia), Sardegna* (Sardinia), Sicilia*, Toscana (Tuscany), Trentino-Alto Adige* (Trentino-South Tyrol), Umbria, Valle d'Aosta* (Aosta Valley), Veneto  
Independence 17 March 1861 (Kingdom of Italy proclaimed; Italy was not finally unified until 1870)  
Flag Description Three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and red; similar to the flag of Ireland, which is longer and is green (hoist side), white, and orange; also similar to the flag of the Cote d'Ivoire, which has the colors reversed - orange (hoist side), white, and green. Note: inspired by the French flag brought to Italy by Napoleon in 1797  
Economy   Top of Page
Overview Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. 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 Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions. But the leadership faces a severe economic constraint: the budget deficit has breached the 3% EU ceiling. The economy experienced almost low growth in 2006, and unemployment remained at a high level.   
Currency Euro  
Currency Code Eur


Communications   Top of Page
Telephone System General assessment: modern, well developed, fast; fully automated telephone, telex, and data services  
Internet Country Code .it  
Transportation   Top of Page
Railways total: 19,460 km
standard gauge: 18,038 km 1.435-m gauge (11,354 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 123 km 1.000-m gauge (122 km electrified); 1,299 km 0.950-m gauge (161 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways total: 484,688 km
paved: 484,688 km (including 6,621km of expressways) (2004)
Waterways 2,400 km
note: used for commercial traffic; of limited overall value compared to road and rail (2004)
Ports and Terminals Augusta, Genoa, Livorno, Melilli Oil Terminal, Ravenna, Taranto, Trieste, Venice  
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