Description of Italy

When you take a look at the Apennine peninsula, which is hardly all that large, it is hard to imagine that Italy, the state that occupies it, was once known as the Roman Empire and claimed half the world as its own in its heyday. However, when you visit this country and find out that 60 percent of items of cultural value in Europe are concentrated here, you realize that the history of this country was truly of enormous importance.

The total area of contemporary Italy is 301,340 square kilometers. The country's population is almost sixty million. Average population density is 198.01 people per square kilometer. The length of the country's border with France in the northwest is 488 km. The northern border with Switzerland and Austria is 740 and 430 km long, respectively. Italy also borders with Slovenia in the northeast. The length of this border is 232 km. The coastline is about 7,600 km long. Italy is washed by the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian and Ligurian Seas. There are two microscopic enclaves on Italian territory with the status of independent states—San Marino (border length: 32 km) and Vatican City (border length: 3.2 km). The capital of Italy is Rome, a city founded in 753 B. C. The country is divided into twenty regions, which, in turn, are subdivided into 110 provinces that include 8101 municipalities. Most of Italy's terrain is mountainous. The Apennines stretch along the major part of the peninsula, and the north of the country lies near the southern slopes of the Alps (the greater part of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps and the European Union at 4,808 m, is located in Italy, as well as the enormous active volcanoes Vesuvius and Mount Etna (the latter is the tallest volcano in Europe at 3,350 m.

Italy’s history is among the richest and most ancient in the world. Even before Ancient Rome it was populated by the Italic tribes. The tribe with the best organization was known as the Latins. The north of the peninsula was inhabited by the Etruscans, whom historians believe related to the Trojans. By 290 B. C. Rome managed to conquer all of its competitor nations in the wake of the Samnite Wars. The growing power of this state did not go unnoticed by the Carthaginians, the dominant power in North Africa and the Mediterranean region around that time. The three Punic Wars fought in 264-241. 218-202, and 149-146 B. C. resulted in a considerable expansion of the Roman territory and the growth of the Roman influence in the Mediterranean. This was followed by the conquest of Macedon and Greece; by the beginning of the Christian era, Roman legions marched through the lands of Egypt, Spain and Gaul, subjugated Cappadocia and Judea, and washed their feet in the Euphrates as they battled the Parthian Kingdom. By the second century, Britain fell to the Roman conquerors, and it seemed as though the glory of Rome would last for eternity. However, internal strife, the ambitions of the aristocracy and the military leaders, growing dissent among the conquered nations and constant wars against the neighboring countries have led to the partitioning of the Empire into the Western and the Eastern Roman Empire in 395. In 476, the Western Roman Empire fell under the onslaught of the northern tribes led by Odoacer of the Rugii. The influence of the Western Roman Empire and the city of Rome started to diminish around that time.

By the seventh century the country transformed into an agglomeration of independent and semi-independent regions ruled by powerful counts and hierarchs of the Catholic Church. In the late eighth and the early ninth century Roman provinces were briefly united as part of Charlemagne’s empire, but after his death the fragmentation of the country resumed at a much greater pace. The flux of the national borders and the occupation of Italian territories by foreign armies only ended in 1870 when Italy was united and the foreign invaders were driven back. In 1935 Benito Mussolini, leader of the Fascist party, declared that he would revive the Roman Empire in all of its former glory, but his plans fell through when his country was defeated in WWII and the hapless tyrant was hanged upside down from a petrol station's roof girders. Italy has been trying to avoid participation in military expeditions ever since inasmuch as its international obligations have allowed.

Italy has the greatest number of important historical sites and artifacts in the world—forty-one of those are classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A further 162 of them have been classified European Heritage Sites. Virtually every Italian city is a veritable museum. The country also has an enormous number of religious sites visited annually by over 13 million tourists—the most popular ones include St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, ruins of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and countless museums abundant throughout Italy. In the north of Italy, in Milan, we find the largest Gothic cathedral in the world—its construction began as early as 1386. The oldest Triumphal Arch in the world is in Rimini—it is dated to 27 B. C. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is a true gem—it houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of Italian art in the world. Europe’s oldest university, founded in the eleventh century, is in Bologna.

Apart from its countless cultural sites and the abundant ruins of the Ancient Roman civilization, Italy’s natural marvels are in a league of their own. The southernmost point of Italy is the Lampedusa Island, which is also one of the contenders for the title of the southernmost point of Europe. Italy is where we find the white slopes of the Alps, the sunny beaches of its Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts, and the amazing lakes of the north. The uniquely romantic city of love and a thousand canals, Venice, will impress even the most weathered tourist. There is also a veritable multitude of islands and alpine resorts that offer lots of opportunities for all sorts of outdoor activities). A few locations off the beaten track have been becoming increasingly popular as of late—according to travel agency estimates, such towns as Taormina, Lucca and Siena are among the hottest tourist destinations today

Some facts about Italy

Population of country 60,340,328 people
Area of Italy 301,230 sq. kilometers
Located on the continent Europe (EU)
Capital of Italy Rome
Currency at Italy Euro (EUR)
Domain Zone .it
Phone country code 39
FIPS code of Italy IT

Gallery of Italy


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Italy video guide

More information about Italy

Climate of Italy:
  • predominantly Mediterranean
  • Alpine in far north
  • hot, dry in south
Terrain of Italy:
  • mostly rugged and mountainous
  • some plains, coastal lowlands
Italy also has such useful resources as: coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land.

Top cities of Italy

City Name Population State Coordinates
1 Roma 2,563,241 people Latium 41.89474 x 12.4839
2 Milano 1,306,661 people Lombardy 45.46427 x 9.18951
3 Napoli 988,972 people Campania 40.83333 x 14.25
4 Torino 865,263 people Piedmont 45.07049 x 7.68682
5 Palermo 672,175 people Sicily 38.11582 x 13.35976
6 Genova 601,951 people Liguria 44.40632 x 8.93386
7 Florence 371,517 people Tuscany 43.76667 x 11.25
8 Bologna 371,217 people Emilia-Romagna 44.49381 x 11.33875
9 Bari 316,532 people Apulia 41.11773 x 16.85118
10 Catania 313,110 people Sicily 37.50213 x 15.08719
11 Venice 270,816 people Veneto 45.43861 x 12.32667
12 Verona 253,208 people Veneto 45.43419 x 10.99779
13 Messina 252,026 people Sicily 38.19327 x 15.54969
14 Trieste 211,184 people Friuli Venezia Giulia 45.64861 x 13.78
15 Padova 204,870 people Veneto 45.41519 x 11.88181
16 Taranto 202,033 people Apulia 40.47611 x 17.22972
17 Brescia 187,567 people Lombardy 45.52478 x 10.22727
18 Reggio di Calabria 180,353 people Calabria 38.11047 x 15.66129
19 Mestre 176,000 people Veneto 45.49028 x 12.2425
20 Modena 175,502 people Emilia-Romagna 44.64783 x 10.92539
21 Prato 172,499 people Tuscany 43.88425 x 11.09092
22 Cagliari 164,249 people Sardinia 39.20738 x 9.13462
23 Parma 163,457 people Emilia-Romagna 44.80266 x 10.32898
24 Livorno 156,274 people Tuscany 43.54264 x 10.316
25 Foggia 155,203 people Apulia 41.46093 x 15.54925
26 Perugia 149,125 people Umbria 43.09674 x 12.38286
27 Reggio nell'Emilia 141,877 people Emilia-Romagna 44.69825 x 10.63125
28 Salerno 138,188 people Campania 40.67797 x 14.76599
29 Ravenna 134,631 people Emilia-Romagna 44.4175 x 12.20111
30 Ferrara 130,992 people Emilia-Romagna 44.82678 x 11.62071

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