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Italy (Italian: Italia, Italian: [iˈtaːlja] ⓘ), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana, Italian: [reˈpubblika itaˈljaːna]), is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it consists of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. It has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and an archipelago in the African Plate (Pelagie Islands). Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), with a population of nearly 60 million; it is the tenth-largest country by land area in the European continent and the third-most populous member state of the European Union. Its capital and largest city is Rome.
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Repubblica Italiana (Italian)
|Anthem: "Il Canto degli Italiani"
"The Song of the Italians"
and largest city
|See main article
|Unitary parliamentary republic
|Ignazio La Russa
|Senate of the Republic
|Chamber of Deputies
|17 March 1861
|12 June 1946
|1 January 1948
|1 January 1958
|301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) (71st)
• Water (%)
• 2022 estimate
|201.3/km2 (521.4/sq mi) (71st)
|$3.193 trillion (13th)
• Per capita
|$2.186 trillion (8th)
• Per capita
very high · 30th
|Euro (€)b (EUR)
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code
The Italian peninsula was historically the native place and destination of numerous ancient peoples. The Latin city of Rome in central Italy, founded as a Kingdom, became a Republic that conquered the Mediterranean world and ruled it for centuries as an Empire. With the spread of Christianity, Rome became the seat of the Catholic Church and of the Papacy. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy experienced the fall of the Western Roman Empire and inward migration from Germanic tribes. By the 11th century, Italian city-states and maritime republics expanded, bringing renewed prosperity through commerce and laying the groundwork for modern capitalism. The Italian Renaissance flourished in Florence during the 15th and 16th centuries and spread to the rest of Europe. Italian explorers also discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. However, centuries of rivalry and infighting between the Italian city-states among other factors left the peninsula divided into numerous states until the late modern period. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Italian economic and commercial importance significantly waned.
After centuries of political and territorial divisions, Italy was almost entirely unified in 1861 following Wars of independence and the Expedition of the Thousand, establishing the Kingdom of Italy. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy rapidly industrialised, mainly in the north, and acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large immigrant diaspora. From 1915 to 1918, Italy took part in World War I on the side of the Entente and against the Central Powers. In 1922, following a period of crisis and turmoil, the Italian fascist dictatorship was established. During World War II, Italy was first part of the Axis until it surrendered to the Allied powers (1940–1943) and then, as part of its territory was occupied by Nazi Germany with fascist collaboration, a co-belligerent of the Allies during the Italian resistance and the liberation of Italy (1943–1945). Following the end of the war, the country replaced the monarchy with a republic via referendum and enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, becoming a major advanced economy.
Italy has the eighth-largest nominal GDP in the world, the second-largest manufacturing industry in Europe (7th-largest in the world). The country has a significant role in regional and global economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union, and it is in numerous international institutions including NATO, the G7, the Mediterranean Union, and the Latin Union. The source of many inventions and discoveries, the country is considered a cultural superpower and has long been a global centre of art, music, literature, cuisine, science and technology, and fashion. It has the world's largest number of World Heritage Sites (58), and is the world's fifth-most visited country.
Hypotheses for the etymology of the name "Italia" are numerous. One is that it was an Ancient Greek term used to describe the land of the Italói, a tribe living in what is now Calabria, the tip of the Italian peninsula; they were perhaps originally named Vituli, as some scholars have suggested that their totemic animal was the calf (Lat vitulus, Umbrian vitlo, Oscan Víteliú). Several ancient authors (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiochus of Syracuse, Aristotle) give instead the account that Italy was named after a local ruler named Italus.
According to Antiochus of Syracuse, the term Italy was used by the ancient Greeks to initially refer only to the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula corresponding to the modern province of Reggio and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia in southern Italy. Nevertheless, by his time the larger concept of Oenotria and "Italy" had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. According to Strabo's Geographica, before the expansion of the Roman Republic, the name was used by ancient Greeks to indicate the land between the strait of Messina and the line connecting the gulf of Salerno and gulf of Taranto, corresponding roughly to the current region of Calabria. The ancient Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region In addition to the "Greek Italy" in the south, historians have suggested the existence of an "Etruscan Italy" covering variable areas of central Italy.
The borders of Roman Italy, Italia, are better established. Cato's Origines, the first work of history composed in Latin, described Italy as the entire peninsula south of the Alps. According to Cato and several Roman authors, the Alps formed the "walls of Italy". In 264 BC, Roman Italy extended from the Arno and Rubicon rivers of the centre-north to the entire south. The northern area of Cisalpine Gaul was occupied by Rome in the 220s BC and became considered geographically and de facto part of Italy, but remained politically and de jure separated. It was legally merged into the administrative unit of Italy in 42 BC by the triumvir Octavian as already planned by Julius Caesar. The islands of Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and Malta were added to Italy by Diocletian in 292 AD, coinciding with the whole Italian geographical region. All its inhabitants were considered Italic and Roman.
The Latin term Italicus was used to describe "a man of Italy" as opposed to a provincial, or one from the Roman province. For example, Pliny the Elder notably wrote in a letter Italicus es an provincialis? meaning "are you an Italian or a provincial?". The adjective italianus, from which are derived the Italian (and also French and English) name of the Italians, is from medieval Latin and was used alternatively with Italicus during the early modern period.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Italy was created. After the Lombard invasions, Italia was retained as the name for their kingdom, and for its successor kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire, which nominally lasted until 1806, although it had de facto disintegrated due to factional politics pitting the empire against the ascendant city republics in the 13th century.