منتديات محمد أيمن ترحب بكم

مرحباً بكم فى منتديات مرحباً بك فى منتدى محمد ايمن يرحب بكم ويتمنى لكم قضاء وقت سعيد معنا دائماً....
هذا المنتدى يهتم بالرحلات والسفارى عبر العالم كما انه يهتم بتاريخ اهم دول العالم وكل مايخصها...





مع تحياتى Exclamation محمد ايمن

المنتدى يهتم بالسفر والرحلات عبر العالم كما انه يحتوى على العديد من الاخبار التاريخيه عن دول العالم

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احداث منتدى مجاني

    Italia

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    Italia

    مُساهمة  محمد ايمن في الثلاثاء أغسطس 24, 2010 6:21 am

    ((بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم))
    Idea I love you Suspect tongue

    Like a Star @ heaven ياجماعه الاخبار اللى انا كاتبها عن ايطاليا فى الاول بالعربي دى ترجمتها بالانجليزي....بالتعاون مع موقع

    [أنت زائر يتوجب عليك التسجيل بالمنتدى لمشاهده الرابط]

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    This is the latest accepted revision, accepted on 23 August 2010.Jump to: navigation, search
    "Italia" redirects here. For other uses, see Italia (disambiguation).
    This article is about the republic. For other uses, see Italy (disambiguation).
    Italian Republic
    Repubblica italiana[1]

    Flag Coat of arms

    Anthem: Il Canto degli Italiani
    (also known as Inno di Mameli)
    The Song of the Italians


    Location of Italy (dark green) – on the European continent (light green & dark grey)
    – in the European Union (light green) — [Legend]

    Capital
    (and largest city) Rome
    41°54′N 12°29′E / 41.9°N 12.483°E / 41.9; 12.483
    Official language(s) Italian
    Demonym Italian
    Government Parliamentary republic
    - President Giorgio Napolitano
    - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (PdL)
    Legislature Parliament
    - Upper House Senate of the Republic
    - Lower House Chamber of Deputies
    Formation
    - Unification 17 March 1861
    - Republic 2 June 1946
    EU accession 25 March 1957 (founding member)
    Area
    - Total 301,338 km2 (71st)
    116,346 sq mi
    - Water (%) 2.4
    Population
    - 2009 estimate 60,200,060[2] (23rd)
    - 2001 census 56,995,744
    - Density 199.8/km2 (54th)
    517.4/sq mi
    GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
    - Total $1.740 trillion[3]
    - Per capita $29,109[3]
    GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
    - Total $2.118 trillion[3]
    - Per capita $35,435[3]
    Gini (2006) 32[4]
    HDI (2007) ▲ 0.951[5] (very high) (18th)
    Currency Euro (€)2 (EUR)
    Time zone CET (UTC+1)
    - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
    Drives on the Right
    Internet TLD .it3
    Calling code 394
    1 French is co-official in the Aosta Valley; Slovene is co-official in the province of Trieste and the province of Gorizia; German and Ladin are co-official in the province of Bolzano-Bozen.
    2 Before 2002, the Italian Lira. The euro is accepted in Campione d'Italia, but the official currency is the Swiss Franc.[6]
    3 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
    4 To call Campione d'Italia, it is necessary to use the Swiss code +41.
    Italy (pronounced /ˈɪtəli/ ( listen); Italian: Italia [iˈtaːlja]), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica italiana), is a country located partly on the European Continent and partly on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers 301,338 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.2 million inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the twenty-third most populous in the world.

    Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation, as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Normans and later, the Byzantines, among others. Centuries later, Italy would become the birthplace of the Renaissance,[7] an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.

    Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous kingdoms and city-states (such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Duchy of Milan), but was unified in 1861,[8] following a tumultuous period in history known as the "Risorgimento". In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia, Albania, Rhodes, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.[9]

    Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It has been ranked the world's eighteenth most-developed country[5] and its Quality-of-Life Index has been ranked in the top ten in the world.[10] Italy enjoys a very high standard of living, and has a high nominal GDP per capita.[11][12] It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Italy is also a member of the G7, G8 and G20. It has the world's seventh-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP)[13] and the fifth highest government budget in the world.[14] It is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the United Nations. Italy has the world's ninth-largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons.

    Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is affiliated with worldwide organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Glocal Forum,[15] and the NATO Defence College, which are headquartered in Rome. The country's European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia,[16][17][18][19][20] and Italy has been classified in a study, measuring hard power, as being the eleventh greatest worldwide national power.[21] The country has a high public education level, high labour force,[22] is a globalised nation,[23] and also has 2009's sixth best international reputation.[24] Italy also has the world's nineteenth highest life expectancy,[25] and in 2000 its healthcare system was ranked the second best in the world by the World Health Organization Report.[26][27] In 2007 it was the world's fifth most visited country, with over 43.7 million international arrivals,[28] and boasts a long tradition in the arts, science and technology, including the world's highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to date (44).[29][30]

    2.1 Prehistory and antiquity
    [edit] Etymology
    The origin of the term Italia, from Latin: Italia,[31] came from the ancient tribe name Itali.[32] According to one of the more common explanations, the term was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning "land of young cattle" (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf").[33] The bull was a symbol of the southern Italian tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Samnite Wars.

    The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy—according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria). But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was not until the time of the Roman conquests that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula.[34]

    [edit] History
    Main article: History of Italy
    See also: Historical states of Italy
    [edit] Prehistory and antiquity

    Emperor Augustus, who ruled Rome from 16 January 27 BC to 19 August AD 14.Main articles: Prehistoric Italy, Ancient Italic peoples, History of Italy under Greek rule, Ancient Rome, History of Italy during Roman times, Roman Empire, and Italia (Roman Empire)
    Excavations throughout Italy reveal a modern human presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period, some 200,000 years ago.[35] In the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula became known as Magna Graecia.

    Ancient Rome was at first a small agricultural community founded circa the 8th century BC that grew over the course of the centuries into a colossal empire encompassing the whole Mediterranean Sea, in which Ancient Greek and Roman cultures merged into one civilization. This civilization was so influential that parts of it survive in modern law, administration, philosophy and arts, forming the ground that Western civilization is based upon.

    In its twelve-century existence it transformed itself from monarchy to republic and finally to autocracy. In steady decline since the 2nd century AD, the empire finally broke into two parts in 285 AD: the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire in the East. The western part under the pressure of Goths finally dissolved, leaving the Italian peninsula divided into small independent kingdoms and feuding city states for the next 14 centuries, and leaving the eastern part sole heir to the Roman legacy.

    [edit] Middle Ages
    Main articles: Regnum Italicum, Kingdom of the Lombards, Italy in the Middle Ages, Medieval commune, Republic of Florence, Republic of Venice, Republic of Genoa, and Years of the 12th - 14th century in Italy

    The Iron Crown with which Lombard rulers were crowned.In the 6th century the Byzantine Emperor Justinian reconquered Italy from the Ostrogoths. The invasion of a new wave of Germanic tribes, the Lombards, doomed his attempt to resurrect the Western Roman Empire but the repercussions of Justinian's failure resounded further still. For the next thirteen centuries, whilst new nation-states arose in the lands north of the Alps, the Italian political landscape was a patchwork of feuding city states, petty tyrannies, and foreign invaders.

    For several centuries the armies and Exarchates led by the Exarchate of Ravenna, Justinian's successors, were a tenacious force in Italian affairs - strong enough to prevent other powers such as the Arabs, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Papacy from establishing a unified Italian Kingdom, but too weak to unify and control the region.


    Italy was divided for centuries into small city-states.Italy's regions were eventually subsumed by their neighbouring empires with their conflicting interests and would remain divided up to the 19th century. It was during this vacuum of authority that the region saw the rise of the Signoria and the Comune. In the anarchic conditions that often prevailed in medieval Italian city-states, people looked to strong men to restore order and disarm the feuding elites. In times of anarchy or crisis, cities sometimes offered the Signoria to individuals perceived as strong enough to save the state, most notably the Della Scala family in Verona, the Visconti in Milan and the Medici in Florence.

    Italy during this period became notable for its merchant Republics. These city-states, oligarchical in reality, had a dominant merchant class which under relative freedom nurtured academic and artistic advancement. The four classic Maritime Republics in Italy were Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi. Venice and Genoa were Europe's gateways to trade with the East, with the former producer of the renowned venetian glass. Florence was the capital of silk, wool, banks and jewelry. The Maritime Republics were heavily involved in the Crusades, taking advantage of the new political and trading opportunities, most evidently in the conquest of Zara and Constantinople funded by Venice.

    During the late Middle Ages Italy was divided into smaller city-states and territories: the kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States the centre, the Genoese and the Milanese the north and west, and the Venetians the east.

    [edit] Renaissance
    Main articles: Italian Renaissance, Italian Renaissance literature, Latin translations of the 12th century, and Renaissance humanism

    Botticelli's Birth of Venus (Uffizi, Florence).The unique political structures of late Middle Ages Italy and its dynamic social climate and florescent trade allowed the emergence of a unique cultural efflorescence. Italy never regained the unity it once had in the days of the Roman Empire and throughout the Middle Ages was divided into smaller city states and territories: the kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States the center, the Genoese and the Milanese the north and west, and the Venetians the east.

    Fifteenth century Italy was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe. Most historians agree that the ideas that characterized the Renaissance and their earliest apologists and supporters had their origin in late 13th century Florence or gravitated in or around Florence, as well as the other rival city-states. The Renaissance achieved its epitome, in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Francesco Petrarch (1304–1374), Bocaccio, as well as the paintings of great masters starting with Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). The Renaissance was an extremely important period in Italian history, and in European history, and brought along numerous political, philosophical, literary, cultural, social and religious reforms.[36]


    Michelangelo's David, a common symbol of the Italian Renaissance (Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence).The Renaissance was so called because it was a "rebirth" of many classical ideas that had long been buried in the chapters of classical Antiquity. One could argue that the fuel for this rebirth was the rediscovery of ancient texts that had been almost 'forgotten' by Western civilization, but were preserved in some monastic libraries or private libraries of powerful and wealthy patrons (see the Medici). Some would argue that there were translations of Greek and Arabic texts into Latin from the Islamic world that found their way into Italy and contributed to the Italian/European Renaissance. However, most of the manuscripts were either already in the Italian Peninsula or in 'Greece' and were taken to Italy in the centuries preceding the Renaissance by the Italians themselves (by the traders who travelled regularly to the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece) and by Byzantine Greeks who migrated to Italy during the onslaught of the Ottoman empire, against the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century, and specially after 1453, once the Ottomans had conquered the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. These Byzantines fled the Turks, sometimes carrying precious manuscripts and their knowledge (Greek and Ancient Greek) and while fixating themselves in Italy made a discreet but crucial contribution to the Renaissance.

    Renaissance scholars such as Niccolò de' Niccoli and Poggio Bracciolini scoured the libraries in search of works by such classical authors as Plato, Cicero and Vitruvius. The works of ancient Greek and Hellenistic writers (such as Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Ptolemy) and Muslim scientists were diffused in the Christian world, providing new intellectual material for European scholars.

    The Black Death pandemic in 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing one third of the population.[37][38] However, the recovery from the disaster of the Black Death led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which greatly stimulated the successive phase of the Humanism and Renaissance (15th-16th centuries) when Italy again returned to be the center of Western civilization, strongly influencing the other European countries with Courts like Este in Ferrara and De Medici in Florence.

    Florence became Italy's main centre of the Renaissance. Numerous artists, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli[39] worked in the city. Its economy flourished, and according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Florence from the 14th to the 16th centuries was one of Europe's greatest cities, and its numerous museums, palazzi and churches, such as the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi have been described by the encyclopedia as works of art themselves.[40]

    Rome was also a city particularly affected by the Renaissance. This period of reform changed the city's face dramatically, with works like the Pietà by Michelangelo and the frescoes of the Borgia Apartment. Rome reached the highest point of splendour under Pope Julius II (1503–1513) and his successors Leo X and Clement VII, both members of the Medici family. In this twenty-years period Rome became one of the greatest centres of art in the world. The old St. Peter's Basilica built by Emperor Constantine the Great, was re-built mainly by Michelangelo,[41] who in Rome became one the most famous painters of Italy creating frescos in the Cappella Niccolina, the Villa Farnesina, the Raphael's Rooms, plus many other famous paintings. Michelangelo started the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and executed the famous statue of the Moses for the tomb of Julius. Rome lost in part its religious character, becoming increasingly a true Renaissance city, with a great number of popular feasts, horse races, parties, intrigues and licentious episodes. Its economy was rich, with the presence of several Tuscan bankers, including Agostino Chigi, who was a friend of Raphael and a patron of arts. Before his early death, Raphael also promoted for the first time the preservation of the ancient ruins.

    [edit] Foreign domination and Enlightenment (16th–19th centuries)

    A map depicting Western Europe's borders after the Treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt.
    During the 18th century, Italy was one of the main centres of the Grand Tour, when many foreign aristocrats came to appreciate Italian culture and art.Main articles: History of Italy during foreign domination and the unification, Early Modern Italy, Italian Wars, and Italian Baroque
    After a century where the fragmented system of Italian states and principalities were able to maintain a relative independence and a balance of power in the peninsula, in 1494 the French king Charles VIII opened the first of a series of invasions, lasting half of the 16th century, and a competition between France and Spain for the possession of the country. Ultimately Spain prevailed (the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559 recognised the Spanish possession of the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples) and for almost two centuries became the hegemon in Italy.

    The holy alliance between Habsburg Spain and the Holy See resulted in the systematic persecution of any Protestant movement, with the result that Italy remained a Catholic country with marginal Protestant presence. During its long rule on Italy, the Spanish Empire systematically spoiled the country and imposed heavy taxation. It interfered and held a tight grip over the affairs of the Vatican. Moreover, Spanish administration was slow and inefficient, and its social consequences in the long term, in Southern Italy, where Spanish rule was effective, have lasted till the current age.

    Austria succeeded Spain as hegemon in Italy after the Peace of Utrecht (1713), having acquired the State of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. The Austrian domination, thanks to the Enlightenment embraced by Habsburgic emperors, somewhat improved the situation. The northern part of Italy, under the direct control of Vienna, gained economic dynamism and intellectual fervour. The main Italian cities, such as Milan, Rome, Turin, Venice, Florence and Naples became fertile grounds for intellectual discussion and thought, and several Italian philosophers and literary figures were active at the time, such as the Milanese Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria-Bonesana, better known as Cesare Beccaria, or Antonio Genovesi. Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany or also known as Leopold II of the Holy Roman Empire, abolished the death penalty and torture in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.[42][43][44]

    Italy in the 18th century was an important stop in the European Grand Tour, a period in which foreign, mostly British, aristocrats toured France, Italy and Greece to appreciate their arts and cultures, and their monuments. With the discovery of the classical ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1748, and the restoration of the derelict parts of the surviving ancient monuments in Rome, figures such as Goethe, Shelley, Keats and Byron toured the country. Cities such as Venice and Rome were the major attractions, and Naples, Florence, Turin, Sicily, and to some extent, Milan, were popular too.[45][46] Keats famously said that "Italy is the paradise of exiles".[47]

    The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815) stirred the ideas of equality, democracy, law and nation which many in Italy endorsed and even supported as the basis on which they could and eventually would build national unity in Italy. This unity, or creation of modern Italy was yet to come in the second half of the 19th century (see Risorgimento and Italian Unification). The plague repeatedly returned to haunt Italy throughout the 14th to 17th centuries.[48] Italy's last major epidemic occurred in 1656 in Naples.[49] In northern Italy, a report of 1767 noted that there had been famine in 111 of the previous 316 years and only sixteen good harvests.[50] Italy’s population between 1700 and 1800 rose by about one-third, to 18 million.[51]

    [edit] Italian unification and Liberal Italy (1861-1922)
    Main articles: Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), Italian unification, History of Italy as a monarchy and in the World Wars, Italian Campaign (World War I), Italian fascism, Italian Social Republic, and Military history of Italy during World War II
    The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. In the context of the 1848 liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful war was declared on Austria.


    Giuseppe Garibaldi leading the Expedition of the Thousand.Giuseppe Garibaldi led the Italian republican drive for unification in southern Italy,[52] while the northern Italian monarchy of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia whose government was led by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour, had the ambition of establishing a united Italian state under its rule. The kingdom successfully challenged the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence with the help of Napoleon III, liberating the Lombardy-Venetia. It established Turin as capital of the newly formed state. In 1865 the capital was moved to Florence.

    In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II aligned the kingdom with Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, waging the Third Italian War of Independence which allowed Italy to annex Venice. In 1870, as France during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War abandoned its positions in Rome, Italy rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal State from French sovereignty. Italian unification finally was achieved, and shortly afterwards Italy's capital was moved from Florence to Rome. Whilst keeping the monarchy, the government became a parliamentary system, run by liberals.

    As Northern Italy became industrialized and modernized, Southern Italy and agricultural regions of the north remained under-developed and stagnant, forcing millions of people to migrate to the emerging Industrial Triangle or abroad. The Sardinian Statuto Albertino of 1848, extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, provided for basic freedoms, but the electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. The Italian Socialist Party increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative organisations. The high point of Italian emigration was 1913, when 872,598 persons left Italy.[53]

    Starting from the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing Somalia, Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule.[54] During World War I, Italy at first stayed neutral but in 1915 signed the Treaty of London, entering Entente on the promise of receiving Trento, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia and parts of Ottoman Empire. During the war, 600,000 Italians died, and the economy collapsed. Under the Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain, Italy obtained just Bolzano-Bozen, Trento, Trieste and Istria in a victory described as "mutilated" by the public.

    [edit] Fascist Italy (1922-1945)

    Fascist stamp promoting a colonial art exhibition, 1934.The turbulence that followed the devastation of World War I, inspired by the Russian Revolution, led to turmoil and anarchy. The liberal establishment, fearing a socialist revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini. In October 1922 the fascists attempted a coup (the Marcia su Roma, "March on Rome"), but king Victor Emmanuel III ordered the army not to intervene, instead forming an alliance with Mussolini. Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship.

    In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia. This resulted in international alienation and along with other factors, led to Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations. A first pact with Nazi Germany was concluded in 1936, and a second in 1938. Italy strongly supported Franco in the Spanish civil war. The country was opposed to Adolf Hitler's annexations of Austria, but did not interfere with it. Italy supported Germany's annexation of Sudetenland, however.[citation needed]

    On 7 April 1939, Italy occupied Albania, a de facto protectorate for decades, and entered World War II in 1940, taking part in the late stages of the Battle of France. Mussolini, wanting a quick victory like Hitler's Blitzkriegs in Poland and France, invaded Greece in October 1940 via Albania but was forced to accept a humiliating defeat after a few months. At the same time, Italy, after initially conquering British Somalia, saw an allied counter-attack lead to the loss of all possessions in the Horn of Africa. Italy was also defeated by British forces in North Africa and was only saved by the urgently dispatched German Africa Corps led by Erwin Rommel.

    Italy was invaded by the Allies in June 1943, leading to the collapse of the fascist regime and the arrest of Mussolini. In September 1943, Italy surrendered. The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the allies were moving up from the south as the north was the base for loyalist Italian fascist and German Nazi forces. The whole picture became more complex by the activity of the Italian partisans; see Italian resistance movement. The Nazis left the country on 25 April 1945 and the remaining Italian fascist forces eventually disbanded. Nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) died between June 1940 and May 1945. An estimated 200,000 partisans took part in the Resistance, and German or fascist forces killed some 70,000 Italians (including both partisans and civilians) for Resistance activities.[55] At least 54,000 Italian prisoners of war died in the Soviet Union.[citation needed]

    [edit] Italian Republic (1946–present)
    Main articles: Birth of the Italian Republic, History of the Italian Republic, Years of lead (Italy), and Tangentopoli

    Partisans parading in Milan after the liberation of the city in 1945.In 1946, Victor Emmanuel III's son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate. Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was also the first time in Italy that Italian women were entitled to vote.[56] The Republican Constitution was approved and came into force on 1 January 1948. Under the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, the eastern border area was lost to Yugoslavia, and, later, the free territory of Trieste was divided between the two states.

    Fears in the Italian electorate of a possible Communist takeover proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on the 18th of April 1948 when the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, won the election with 48 percent of the vote. In the 1950s Italy became a member of NATO and allied itself with the United States. The Marshall Plan helped revive the Italian economy which, until the 1960s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the "Economic Miracle". In 1957, Italy was a founder member of the European Economic Community (EEC), which became the European Union (EU) in 1993.

    From the late 1960s till late 1980s the country experienced a hard economic crisis and the Years of Lead, a period characterized by widespread social conflicts and terrorist acts carried out by extra-parliamentary movements. The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978, bringing to an end the "Historic Compromise" between the DC and the Communist Party. In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: a republican (Giovanni Spadolini) and a socialist (Bettino Craxi); the Christian Democrats remained, however, the main force supporting the government. The Socialist Party (PSI), led by Bettino Craxi, became more and more critical of the Communists and of the Soviet Union; Craxi himself pushed in favour of US president Ronald Reagan's positioning of Pershing missiles in Italy, a move the Communists hotly contested.


    The 1957 Treaties of Rome signing ceremony.From 1992 to 2009, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters, disenchanted with past political paralysis, massive government debt and extensive corruption (collectively called Tangentopoli after being uncovered by Mani pulite – "Clean hands"), demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: between 1992 and 1994 the Christian Democrats underwent a severe crisis and was dissolved, splitting up into several pieces, while the Socialists and the other governing minor parties also dissolved.

    The 1994 elections put media magnate Silvio Berlusconi into the Prime Minister's seat. However, he was forced to step down in December of that year when the Lega Nord Party withdrew its support. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a centre-left coalition under the leadership of Romano Prodi. Prodi's first government became the third-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence, by three votes, in October 1998. A new government was formed by Massimo D'Alema, but in April 2000 he resigned.

    In 2001, national elections led to the victory of a centre-right coalition under the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi, who became prime minister once again. Mr. Berlusconi was able to remain in power for a complete five-year mandate, but with two different governments. The first one (2001–2005) became the longest-lived government in post-war Italy. Under that government, Italy joined the US-led military coalition in Iraq. The elections in 2006 were won by the centre-left, allowing Prodi to form his second government, but in early 2008 he resigned after losing a confidence vote in Parliament. Mr. Berlusconi

    Main article: Geography of Italy
    See also: List of Italian regions by area
    [edit] Topography
    See also: Glaciers of Italy, List of lakes in Italy, List of rivers of Italy, List of valleys of Italy, and List of islands of Italy
    Italy is located in Southern Europe and comprises the boot-shaped Italian Peninsula and a number of islands including the two largest, Sicily and Sardinia. Although the country occupies the Italian peninsula and most of the southern Alpine basin, some of Italy's territory extends beyond the Alpine basin and some islands are located outside the Eurasian continental shelf. These territories are the comuni of: Livigno, Sexten, Innichen, Toblach (in part), Chiusaforte, Tarvisio, Graun im Vinschgau (in part), which are all part of the Danube's drainage basin, while the Val di Lei constitutes part of the Rhine's basin and the island comune of Lampedusa e Linosa is on the African continental shelf.


    Satellite image of Italy.
    Lake Garda, the largest lake in the country.The country's total area is 301,230 km², of which 294,020 km² is land and 7,210 km² is water.

    Including the islands, Italy has a coastline and border of 7,600 km on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas (740 km), and borders shared with France (488 km), Austria (430 km), Slovenia (232 km) and Switzerland; San Marino (39 km) and Vatican City (3.2 km), both enclaves, account for the remainder.

    The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone, the Alps form its northern boundary. The Po, Italy's longest river, flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea. The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size:[57]

    Garda (367.94 km2/142 sq mi)
    Maggiore (212.51 km2/82 sq mi)
    Como (145.9 km2/56 sq mi)
    Trasimeno (124.29 km2/48 sq mi)
    Bolsena (113.55 km2/44 sq mi)

    A volcanic eruption in Stromboli, one of Italy's active volcanoes.The country is situated at the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate, leading to considerable seismic and volcanic activity. There are 14 volcanoes in Italy, three of which are active: Etna (the traditional site of Vulcan’s smithy), Stromboli and Vesuvius. Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is most famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculanum. Several islands and hills have been created by volcanic activity, and there is still a large active caldera, the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples.

    [edit] Climate
    Main article: Climate of Italy
    The climate of Italy is highly diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate, depending on location. Most of the inland northern regions of Italy, for example Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, have a humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). Conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.

    [edit] Environment
    See also: List of national parks of Italy and List of regional parks of Italy

    Cape Palinuro, in the Cilento National Park.After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront its environmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in the world for ecological sustainability.[58] and the Italian national parks cover about five percent of the country[59] In the last decade, Italy also became one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy, ranking as the world’s fifht largest solar energy producer in 2009.[60][61] and the sixth largest producer of wind power in 2008[62]

    However, air pollution is still a severe problem, especially in the industrialised north, reaching the tenth worldwide highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s.[63] Italy is the twelfth largest carbon dioxide producer.[64][65] Extensive traffic and congestion in the largest metropolitan areas continue to cause severe environmental and health issues, even if smog levels have decreased dramatically since the 1970s and 80s, and the presence of smog is becoming an increasingly rarer phenomenon and levels of sulphur dioxide are decreasing.[66]

    Many watercourses and coastal stretches have also been contaminated by industrial and agricultural activity, while due to rising water levels Venice has been regularly flooded throughout recent years. Waste from industrial activity is not always disposed of by legal means and has led to permanent health effects on inhabitants of affected areas, as in the case of the Seveso disaster. The country has also operated several nuclear reactors between 1963–1990 but, after the Chernobyl disaster and a referendum on the issue the nuclear program was terminated, a decision that was overturned by the government in 2008. A deal was signed with France in 2009 for the construction of up to four new nuclear plants. Deforestation, illegal building developments and poor land management policies have led to significant erosion all over Italy's mountainous regions, leading to major ecological disasters like the 1963 Vajont Dam flood, the 1998 Sarno[67] and 2009 Messina mudslides.

    [edit] Government and politics
    Main article: Politics of Italy
    See also: List of Prime Ministers of Italy, List of Presidents of the Italian Republic, History of Italian citizenship, Constitution of Italy, Parliament of Italy, Senate of Italy, Referendums in Italy, List of political parties in Italy, List of legislatures of the Italian Republic, Italian Chamber of Deputies, Elections in Italy, and Constitutional Court of Italy

    President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano.The politics of Italy take place in a framework of a parliamentary, democratic republic, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised collectively by the Council of Ministers, which is led by a President (Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri), informally referred to as "premier" or primo ministro (that is, "prime minister"). Legislative power is vested in the two houses of Parliament primarily, and secondarily in the Council of Ministers. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative. Italy has been a democratic republic since 2 June 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum (see "birth of the Italian Republic"). The constitution was promulgated on 1 January 1948.

    Giorgio Napolitano is the President of the Italian Republic, whilst Silvio Berlusconi is the nation's Prime Minister (President of the Council of Ministers).

    The President of the Italian Republic (Presidente della Repubblica) is elected for seven years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. As the head of state, the President of the Republic represents the unity of the nation and has many of the duties previously given to the King of Italy. The president serves as a point of connection between the three branches of power: he is elected by the lawmakers, he appoints the executive, he is the president of the judiciary and he is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.


    The Quirinal Palace, official residence of the President of the Italian Republic.The president nominates the Prime Minister, who proposes the other ministers (formally named by the president). The Council of Ministers must obtain a confidence vote from both houses of Parliament. Legislative bills may originate in either house and must be passed by a majority in both.

    Italy elects a parliament consisting of two houses, the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati), which has 630 members and the Senate of the Republic (Senato della Repubblica), comprising 315 elected members and a small number of senators for life). Legislation may originate in either house and must be passed in identical form by a majority in each. The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected through a complex electoral system (latest amendment in 2005) which combines proportional representation with a majority prize for the largest coalition. All Italian citizens 18 years of age and older can vote. However, to vote for the Senate, the voter must be 25 or older.

    The electoral system for the Senate is based upon regional representation. As of 17 august 2010 there are six life senators (of which two are former Presidents). Both houses are elected for a maximum of five years, but both may be dissolved by the President before the expiration of their normal term if the Parliament is unable to elect a stable government. In post-war history, this has happened in 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1994, 1996, and 2008.

    A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad (about 2.7 million people). Among the 630 Deputies and the 315 Senators there are respectively 12 and 6 elected in four distinct overseas constituencies. These members of Parliament were elected for the first time in April 2006, and they have the same powers as those of members elected in Italy.

    [edit] Law
    Main article: Judiciary of Italy
    See also: Law enforcement in Italy, Nationality law of Italy, and Capital punishment in Italy
    The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the court of last resort for most disputes. The Constitutional Court of Italy (Corte Costituzionale) rules on the conformity of laws with the Constitution and is a post-World War II innovation.

    [edit] Foreign relations
    Main article: Foreign relations of Italy
    See also: Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs

    US President Barack Obama meets with Italian Prime Minister Silvio BerlusconiItaly was a founding member of the European Community—now the European Union (EU). Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955 and is a member and strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and the Central European Initiative. Its recent turns in the rotating Presidency of international organisations include the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), the forerunner of the OSCE, in 1994; G8; and the EU in 2001 and from July to December 2003.

    Italy supports the United Nations and its international security activities. Italy deployed troops in support of UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Mozambique, and East Timor and provides support for NATO and UN operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Italy deployed over 2,000 troops to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in February 2003. Italy still supports international efforts to reconstruct and stabilize Iraq, but it has withdrawn its military contingent of some 3,200 troops as of November 2006, maintaining only humanitarian workers and other civilian personnel. In August 2006 Italy sent about 2,450 soldiers to Lebanon for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission UNIFIL.[68] Furthermore, since 2 February 2007 an Italian, Claudio Graziano, is the commander of the UN force in the country.

    [edit] Military
    Main article: Military of Italy
    See also: Military history of Italy and List of wars involving Italy
    The Italian armed forces are under the command of the Supreme Defence Council, presided over by the President of the Italian Republic. In 2008 the military had 186,798 personnel on active duty, along with 114,778 in the national gendarmerie.[69] As part of NATO's nuclear sharing strategy Italy also hosts 90 United States nuclear bombs, located in the Ghedi Torre and Aviano air bases.[70] Total military spending in 2007 was $33.1 billion, equal to 1.8% of national GDP.[71]

    The Italian armed forces are divided into four branches:

    [edit] Army
    Main article: Italian Army

    Dardo IFV on exercise.The Italian Army (Esercito Italiano) is the ground defence force of the Italian Republic. It has recently become a professional all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 109,703 in 2008. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, recently deployed in UN missions. The Esercito Italiano also has at its disposal a large number of Leopard 1 and M113 armored vehicles.

    [edit] Navy
    Main article: Marina Militare

    The new aircraft carrier Cavour.The Italian Navy (Marina Militare) in 2008 had a strength of 43,882 and ships of every type, such as aircraft carriers, destroyers, modern frigates, submarines, amphibious ships, and other smaller ships such as oceanographic research ships[72] The Marina Militare is now equipping itself with a bigger aircraft carrier, (the Cavour), new destroyers, submarines and multipurpose frigates. In modern times the Italian Navy, being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations around the world.

    [edit] Air Force
    Main article: Aeronautica Militare

    The Eurofighter is built by a consortium of Italy and three other countries.The Italian Air Force in 2008 has a strength of 43,882 and operates 585 aircraft, including 219 combat jets and 114 helicopters. As a stopgap and as replacement for leased Tornado ADV interceptors, the AMI has leased 30 F-16A Block 15 ADF and four F-16B Block 10 Fighting Falcons, with an option for more.

    The coming years also will see the introduction of 121 EF2000 Eurofighter Typhoons, replacing the leased F-16 Fighting Falcons. Further updates are foreseen in the Tornado IDS/IDT and AMX fleets. A transport capability is guaranteed by a fleet of 22 C-130Js and Aeritalia G.222s of which 12 are being replaced with the newly developed G.222 variant called the C-27J Spartan.

    [edit] Gendarmerie
    Main article: Carabinieri
    An autonomous corps of the military, the Carabinieri are the gendarmerie and military police of Italy, policing the military and civilian population alongside Italy's other police forces. While the different branches of the Carabinieri report to separate ministries for each of their individual functions, the corps reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs when maintaining public order and security.[73] At the Sea Islands Conference of the G8 in 2004, the Carabinieri were given the mandate to establish a Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) to spearhead the development of training and doctrinal standards for civilian police units attached to international peacekeeping missions.[74]

    [edit] Administrative divisions
    Main articles: Regions of Italy, Provinces of Italy, and Municipalities of Italy
    Italy is subdivided into 20 regions (regioni, singular regione). Five of these regions have a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters; these are marked by an asterisk (*) in the table below. The country is further divided into 110 provinces (province) and 8,100 municipalities (comuni).

    ApuliaBasilicataCalabriaSicilyMoliseCampaniaAbruzzoLazioUmbriaMarcheTuscanySardiniaEmilia-RomagnaLiguriaPiedmontFriuli
    Venezia GiuliaAosta
    ValleyTrentino
    Alto AdigeVenetoLombardyAdriatic SeaIonian SeaMediterranean SeaTyrrhenian SeaLigurian Sea

    [edit] Demographics
    Main article: Demography of Italy
    [edit] Population
    Main article: List of Italian regions by population

    Population 1960–2006. Number of inhabitants in thousands.At the end of 2008, the Italian population surpassed 60 million.[75] Italy has the fourth-largest population in the European Union and the 23rd-largest population worldwide. Italy's population density, at 199.2 persons per square kilometre, is the fifth highest in the European Union. The highest density is in Northern Italy, as that one-third of the country contains almost half of the total population. After World War II, Italy enjoyed a prolonged economic boom which caused a major rural exodus to the cities, and at the same time transformed the nation from a massive emigration country to a net immigrant-receiving country. High fertility persisted until the 1970s, when it plunged below the replacement rates, so that as of 2008, one in five Italians was over 65 years old.[76]

    Despite this, thanks mainly to the massive immigration of the last two decades, in the 2000s, Italy experienced a growth in the crude birth rate (especially in the northern regions) for the first time in many years.[77] The total fertility rate has also significantly grown in the past few years, thanks to rising births among both in foreign-born and Italian women, as it climbed from 1.32 children per woman in 2005 to 1.41 in 2008.[78]

    [edit] Cities and metropolitan areas
    See also: Metropolitan areas in Italy, List of cities in Italy by population, and Main cities of Italy
    Rank City Region Pop. Rank City Region Pop. view • talk • edit
    1 Rome Lazio 2,724,347 11 Venice Veneto 270,098
    2 Milan Lombardy 1,295,705 12 Verona Veneto 265,368
    3 Naples Campania 963,661 13 Messina Sicily 243,381
    4 Turin Piedmont 908,825 14 Padua Veneto 211,936
    5 Palermo Sicily 659,433 15 Trieste Friuli-Venezia Giulia 205,341
    6 Genoa Liguria 611,171 16 Taranto Apulia 194,021
    7 Bologna Emilia-Romagna 374,944 17 Brescia Lombardy 190,844
    8 Florence Tuscany 365,659 18 Reggio Calabria Calabria 185,621
    9 Bari Apulia 320,677 19 Prato Tuscany 185,091
    10 Catania Sicily 296,469 20 Parma Emilia-Romagna 182,389
    Figures are ISTAT estimates for 31 December 2008 and represent the population of the communes, rather than of the urban areas.
    According to Censis Foundation,[79] the largest Metroplexes in Italy are:

    N° Metroplex/ Metropolitan area Population
    Area
    (in km²) Density
    (people/km²)
    1 Milan metropolitan area (Lombardy mega region) 8,047,125 8,362.1 965.6
    2 Naples metropolitan area 4,996,084 3,841.7 1,300.5
    3 Rome metropolitan area 4,339,112 4,766.3 910.4
    4 Venice–Padova–Verona (Veneto mega region) 3,267,420 6,679.6 489.2
    5 Bari–Taranto–Lecce (Low adriatic linear system) 2,603,831 6,127.7 424.9
    6 Rimini–Pesaro–Ancona (High adriatic linear system) 2,359,068 5,404.8 436.5
    7 Turin metropolitan area 1,997,975 1,976.8 1,010.7
    8 Greater Bologna–Piacenza 1,944,401 3,923.6 495,6
    9 Florence 1,760,737 3,795.9 629.8
    10 Messina–Catania–Siracusa (Eastern Sicilian linear system) 1,693,173 2,411.7 702.1

    [edit] Immigration
    Main article: Immigration to Italy

    Estimated foreign-born population by country of birth, 2006 figures.At the start of 2010 there were 4,279,000 foreign nationals resident in Italy and registered with the authorities.[80] This amounted to 7.1% of the country’s population and represented a year-on-year increase of 388,000.[81] These figures include more than half a million children born in Italy to foreign nationals—second generation immigrants are becoming an important element in the demographic picture—but exclude foreign nationals who have subsequently acquired Italian nationality; this applied to 53,696 people in 2008.[82] They also exclude illegal immigrants, the so-called clandestini whose numbers are difficult to determine. In May 2008 The Boston Globe quoted an estimate of 670,000 for this group.[83]

    Since the expansion of the European Union, the most recent wave of migration has been from surrounding European nations, particularly Eastern Europe, and increasingly Asia,[84] replacing North Africa as the major immigration area. Some 950,000 Romanians, around 10 percent of them being Gypsies,[85] are officially registered as living in Italy, replacing Albanians and Moroccans as the largest ethnic minority group. The number unregistered Romanians is difficult to estimate, but the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network suggested that in 2007 that there might half been half a million or more.[86]

    As of 2009, the foreign born population origin of Italy was subdivided as follows: Europe (53.5%), Africa (22.3%), Asia (15.8%), the Americas (8.1%) and Oceania (0.06%). The disribution of foreign born population is largely uneven in Italy: 87.3% of immigrants live in the northern and central parts of the country (the most economically developed areas), while only 12.8% live in the southern half of the peninsula.

    Origin Population
    Italian &0000000056153773.00000056,153,773 93.52%
    Romanian &0000000000796477.000000796,477 1.32%
    North African &0000000000606556.000000606,556 1.01%
    Albanian &0000000000441396.000000441,396 0.73%
    Chinese &0000000000170265.000000170,265 0.28%
    Ukrainian &0000000000153998.000000153,998 0.26%
    Asian (non-Chinese) &0000000000445795.000000445,795 0.74%
    Latin American &0000000000298860.000000298,860 0.50%
    Sub-Saharan African &0000000000264570.000000264,570 0.44%
    Other &0000000000713378.000000713,378 1.19%
    *Percentage of total Italy population as of 1 January 2009

    Little Italy in New York, ca.1900[edit] Italian diaspora
    Main article: Italian diaspora
    Italy became a country of mass emigration soon after national reunification in the late 19th century. Between 1898 and 1914, the peak years of Italian diaspora, approximately 750,000 Italians emigrated each year.[87] Italian communities once thrived in the former African colonies of Eritrea (nearly 100,000 at the beginning of World War II),[88] Somalia and Libya (150,000 Italians settled in Libya, constituting about 18% of the total population).[89] All of Libya's Italians were expelled from the North African country in 1970.[90]

    In the decade after World War II, up to 350,000 ethnic Italians left Yugoslavia (see Istrian exodus).[91] Large numbers of people with full or significant Italian ancestry are found in Brazil (25 million),[92] Argentina (20 million),[93] United States (17.8 million),[94] France (5 million),[95] Uruguay (1.5 million),[96] Canada (1.4 million),[97] Venezuela (900,000)[98] and Australia (800,000).[99]

    [edit] Languages
    Main article: Languages of Italy

    "Italophone" world. Dark blue:official language; green: secondary, widely spoken or understood; light blue: understood by some due to former colonisation.Italy's official language is Italian. Ethnologue has estimated that there are about 55 million speakers of the language in Italy and a further 6.7 million outside of the country.[100] However, between 120 and 150 million people use Italian as a second or cultural language, worldwide.[101]

    Italian, adopted by the state after the unification of Italy, is based on the Florentine variety of Tuscan and is somewhat intermediate between the Italo-Dalmatian languages of the South and the Gallo-Romance Northern Italian languages. Its development was also influenced by the Germanic languages of the post-Roman invaders.

    Unlike most other Romance languages, Italian has retained the contrast between short and long consonants which existed in Latin. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive. Among the Romance languages, Italian is considered to be the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary.[102]

    Italy has numerous dialects spoken all over the country and some Italians cannot speak Italian language at all.[103] However, the establishment of a national education system has led to decrease in variation in the languages spoken across the country. Standardisation was further expanded in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to economic growth and the rise of mass media and television (the state broadcaster RAI helped set an Italian standard).

    Other historic Romance languages spoken in Italy include Emiliano-Romagnolo, Friulian, Ladin, Ligurian, Lombard, Neapolitan, Piedmontese, Sardinian, Sicilian, Venetian and Romansh.

    Minority languages include Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, Franco-Provençal, French, Friulian, German, Greek, Ladin, Occitan, Sardinian, and Slovene. A law enacted in 1999 recognises the existence of twelve linguistic minorities, guaranteeing them protection.

    [edit] Recognized ethnic minorities and minority languages
    Several ethnic groups are legally recognized,[citation needed] and a number of minority languages have co-official status alongside Italian in various parts of the country. French is co-official in the Valle d’Aosta—although in fact Franco-Provencal is more commonly spoken there. German has the same status in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen as, in some parts of that province and in parts of the neighbouring Trentino, does Ladin. Slovene is officially recognised in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udine in Venezia Giulia.

    In these regions official documents are bilingual (trilingual in Ladin communities), or available upon request in either Italian or the co-official language. Traffic signs are also multilingual, except in the Valle d’Aosta where—with the exception of Aosta itself which has retained its Latin form in Italian as in English—French toponyms are generally used, attempts to Italianise them during the Fascist period having been abandoned. Education is possible in minority languages where such schools are operating.

    [edit] Religion
    Main article: Religion in Italy
    See also: Freedom of religion in Italy, List of Italian religious minority politicians, and Witchcraft in Italy
    Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although the Catholic Church is no longer officially the state religion. Fully 87.8% of Italians identified themselves as Roman Catholic,[104] although only about one-third of these described themselves as active members (36.8%).

    Most Italians believe in God, or a form of a spiritual life force. According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005:[105]

    74% of Italian citizens responded that they believe there is a God;
    16% answered that they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force;
    6% answered that they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force.
    [edit] Christianity
    Main article: Christianity in Italy

    A montage showing four Roman Catholic churches in Italy: Milan Cathedral, Florence Cathedral, St Mark's Basilica (Venice Cathedral) and Syracuse Cathedral.The Italian Catholic Church is part of the global Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the Conference of Italian Bishops. In addition to Italy, two other sovereign nations are included in Italian-based dioceses, San Marino and Vatican City. There are 225 dioceses in the Italian Catholic Church, see further in this article and in the article List of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Italy. Even though by law Vatican City is not part of Italy, it is in Rome, and along with Latin, Italian is the most spoken and second language of the Roman Curia.[106]

    Italy has a rich Catholic culture, especially as numerous Catholic saints, martyrs and popes were Italian themselves. Roman Catholic art in Italy especially flourished during the Middle-Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods, with numerous Italian artists, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Raphael and Giotto. Roman Catholic architecture in Italy is equally as rich and impressive, with churches, basilicas and cathedrals such as St Peter's Basilica, Florence Cathedral and St Mark's Basilica. Roman Catholicism is the largest religion and denomination in Italy, with around 87.8% of Italians considering themselves Catholic. Italy is also home to the greatest number of cardinals in the world,[107] and is the country with the greatest number of Roman Catholic churches per capita.[108]

    Even though the main Christian denomination in Italy is Roman Catholicism, there are some minorities of Protestant, Waldensian, Eastern Orthodox and other Christian churches.

    In the 20th century, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostalism, non-denominational Evangelicalism, and Mormonism were the fastest-growing Protestant churches. Immigration from Western, Central, and Eastern Africa at the beginning of the 21st century has increased the size of Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal and Evangelical communities in Italy, while immigration from Eastern Europe has produced large Eastern Orthodox communities.

    In 2006, Protestants made up 2.1% of Italy's population, and members of Eastern Orthodox churches comprised 1.2%. Other Christian groups in Italy include more than 700,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians including 180,000 Greek Orthodox,[109] 550,000 Pentecostals and Evangelists (0.8%), of whom 400,000 are members of the Assemblies of God, 235,685 Jehovah's Witnesses (0.4%),[110] 30,000 Waldensians,[111] 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists, 22,000 Mormons, 15,000 Baptists (plus some 5,000 Free Baptists), 7,000 Lutherans, 4,000 Methodists (affiliated with the Waldensian Church).[112]

    [edit] Other religions
    Main articles: Islam in Italy, Jews in Italy, Hinduism in Italy, Buddhism in Italy, and Bahá'í Faith in Italy
    See also: History of the Jews in Italy and History of Islam in Southern Italy
    The longest-established religious faith in Italy is Judaism, Jews having been present in Ancient Rome before the birth of Christ. Italy has seen many influential Italian-Jews, such as Luigi Luzzatti, who took office in 1910, Ernesto Nathan served as mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913 and Shabbethai Donnolo (died 982). During the Holocaust, Italy took in many Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. However, with the creation of the Nazi-backed puppet Italian Social Republic, about 15% of Italy's Jews were killed, despite the Fascist government's refusal to deport Jews to Nazi death camps. This, together with the emigration that preceded and followed the Second World War, has left only a small community of around 45,000 Jews in Italy today.

    Due to immigration from around the world, there has been an increase in non-Christian faiths. In 2009, there were 1.0 million Muslims in Italy[113] forming 1.6 percent of population although, only 50,000 hold Italian citizenship. Independent estimates put the Islamic population in Italy anywhere from 0.8 million[114] to 1.5 million.[115]

    There are more than 200,000 followers of faith originating in the Indian subcontinent woth some 70,000 Sikhs with 22 gurdwaras across the country,[116] 70,000 Hindus, and 50,000 Buddhists.[117] There are an estimated some 4,900 Bahá'ís in Italy in 2005.[118]

    [edit] Economy
    Main article: Economy of Italy
    See also: Financial history of Italy and Industry in Italy

    The Milan Stock Exchange, Italy's main.Italy has a capitalist economy with high GDP per capita and developed infrastructure. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2008 Italy was the seventh-largest economy in the world and the fourth-largest in Europe. Italy is member of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, the European Union and the OECD.

    In the post-war period, Italy was transformed from a weak, agricultural based economy which had been severely affected by the consequences of World War II, into one of the world's most industrialized nations.[119] and a leading country in world trade and exports, even so that in 1987, the Italian economy surpassed the British economy, by GDP (nominal), an event known as 'il sorpasso'[120]

    According to the World Bank, Italy has high levels of freedom for investments, business and trade. Italy is a developed country, and, according to The Economist, has the world's 8th highest quality of life.[10] The country enjoys a very high standard of living, and is the world's 18th most developed country, surpassing Germany, the UK and Greece.[5] According to the last Eurostat data, Italian per capita GDP at purchasing power parity remains approximately equal to the EU average.[121]

    Italy has the world's 4th largest gold reserve.[122] The country is also well-known for its influential and innovative business economic sector,[123] an industrious and competitive agricultural sector,[123] and for its creative and high-quality automobile, industrial, appliance and fashion design.[123]

    Despite this, the country's economy suffers from many problems. After a strong GDP growth of +8% from 1964 onwards,[124] the last decade's average annual growth rate lagged with 1.23% in comparison to an average EU annual growth rate of 2.28%.[125] In addition, Italian living standards have a considerable north-south divide. The average GDP per capita in Northern Italy can far exceed the EU average (an example of this could be the Province of Bolzano-Bozen, with a 2006 average GDP per capita of €32,900 (US$ 43,861), which is 135.5% of EU average),[126] whilst some regions and provinces in Southern Italy can be considerably below the EU average (such as Campania, which has an average GDP per capita of € 16,294, or US$ 21,722). Italy has often been referred the sick man of Europe,[127][128] characterised by economic stagnation, political instability and problems in pursuing reform programs.
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