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Coordinates: 43°N 12°E / 43°N 12°E / 43; 12

Italian Republic
Repubblica Italiana (Italian)
Anthem: "
Location of Italy (dark green)

– in Europe (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (light green)  –  [Legend]

and largest city
41°54′N 12°29′E / 41.900°N 12.483°E / 41.900; 12.483
Official languagesItaliana
Native languagesSee main article
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
• President
Sergio Mattarella
Giorgia Meloni
Ignazio La Russa
Lorenzo Fontana
Senate of the Republic
Chamber of Deputies
17 March 1861
• Republic
2 June 1946
1 January 1948
• Founded the EEC (now EU)
1 January 1958
• Total
301,230 km2 (116,310 sq mi) (71st)
• Water (%)
1.24 (2015)[2]
• 2022 estimate
61,095,551[3] (24th)
• Density
201.3/km2 (521.4/sq mi) (74th)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $3.022 trillion[4] (12th)
• Per capita
Increase $51,062[4] (31st)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $2.058 trillion[4] (10th)
• Per capita
Increase $34,777[4] (31st)
Gini (2020)Positive decrease 32.5[5]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.895[6]
very high · 30th
CurrencyEuro ()b (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
yyyy-mm-dd (AD)[7]
Driving sideright
Calling code+39c
ISO 3166 codeIT
Internet TLD.itd
  1. German is co-official in South Tyrol and Friuli Venezia Giulia; French is co-official in the Aosta Valley; Slovene is co-official in the province of Trieste, the province of Gorizia, and Friuli Venezia Giulia; Ladin is co-official in South Tyrol, in Trentino and in other northern areas; Friulian is co-official in Friuli Venezia Giulia; Sardinian is co-official in Sardinia.[8][9]
  2. Before 2002, the Italian lira. The euro is accepted in Campione d'Italia but its official currency is the Swiss franc.[10]
  3. To call Campione d'Italia, it is necessary to use the Swiss code +41.
  4. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Italy (Italian: Italia [iˈtaːlja] (listen)), officially the Italian Republic[11][12] (Italian: Repubblica Italiana [reˈpubblika itaˈljaːna]),[13][14] is a country located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, in Southern Europe;[15][16][17] its territory largely coincides with the homonymous geographical region.[18] Italy is also considered part of Western Europe.[19][note 1] A unitary parliamentary republic with Rome as its capital and largest city, the country covers a total area of 301,230 km2 (116,310 sq mi) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland, Campione. With over 60 million inhabitants,[20] Italy is the third-most populous member state of the European Union.

Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and

technology, economy, art, and literature developed.[23][24]

During the

science, exploration, and art. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean.[27] Centuries of rivalry and infighting between the Italian city-states, and the invasions of other European powers during the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left parts of Italy politically fragmented.[28][29]

By the mid-19th century, rising

liberation of Italy, the country abolished its monarchy, established a democratic Republic, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, and became a highly developed country.[34]

Italy has an advanced economy, being the

Cultural Superpower[41] and has long been a global centre of art, music, literature, philosophy, science and technology, tourism and fashion, as well as having greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields including cinema, cuisine, sports, jurisprudence, banking, and business.[42] 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.[43] One is that it was borrowed via Ancient Greek from the Oscan Víteliú 'land of calves' (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf").[44] Ancient Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus,[45] mentioned also by Aristotle[46] and Thucydides.[47]

According to

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[48] In addition to the "Greek Italy" in the south, historians have suggested the existence of an "Etruscan Italy" covering variable areas of central Italy.[49]

The borders of

Italian geographical region.[59] All its inhabitants were considered Italic and Roman.[60]

The Latin term Italicus was used to describe "a man of Italy" as opposed to a provincial. For example, Pliny the Elder notably wrote in a letter Italicus es an provincialis? meaning "are you an Italian or a provincial?".[61] The adjective italianus, from which are derived the Italian (and also French and English) name of the

medieval and was used alternatively with Italicus during the early modern period.[62]

After 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.[63]


Prehistory and antiquity

Thousands of Lower Paleolithic artefacts have been recovered from Monte Poggiolo, dating as far back as 850,000 years.[65] Excavations throughout Italy revealed a

Ceprano, and Gravina in Puglia.[68]


Ötzi the Iceman, determined to be 5,000 years old (between 3400 and 3100 BCE, Copper Age), was discovered in the Similaun glacier of South Tyrol in 1991.[70]

The first foreign colonisers were the Phoenicians, who initially established colonies and founded various emporiums on the coasts of Sicily and Sardinia. Some of these soon became small urban centres and were developed parallel to the ancient Greek colonies; among the main centres there were the cities of Motya, Zyz (modern Palermo), Soluntum in Sicily, and Nora, Sulci, and Tharros in Sardinia.[71][72]

Between the 17th and the 11th centuries BC

Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, that became known as Magna Graecia.[76]

Greek colonization places the Italic peoples in contact with democratic forms of government and with high artistic and cultural expressions.[77]

Ancient Rome

Tarquinius Superbus. In 509 BC, the Romans expelled the last king from their city, favouring a government of the Senate and the People (SPQR) and establishing an oligarchic republic

The Italian Peninsula, named Italia, was consolidated into a single entity during the Roman

Mediterranean basin, in which Greek and Roman and many other cultures merged into a unique civilisation. The long and triumphant reign of the first emperor, Augustus, began a golden age of peace and prosperity. Roman Italy remained the metropole of the empire, and as the homeland of the Romans and the territory of the capital, maintained a special status which made it Domina Provinciarum ("ruler of the provinces", the latter being all the remaining territories outside Italy).[78][79][80] More than two centuries of stability followed, during which Italy was referred to as the Rectrix Mundi ("governor of the world") and Omnium Terrarum Parens ("parent of all lands").[81]

The Roman Empire was among the most powerful economic, cultural, political and military forces in the world of its time, and it was one of the

calendar, and the emergence of Christianity as a major world religion.[84] The Indo-Roman trade relations, beginning around the 1st century BCE, testify to extensive Roman trade in far away regions; many reminders of the commercial trade between the Indian subcontinent and Italy have been found, such as the ivory statuette Pompeii Lakshmi from the ruins of Pompeii

In a slow

half of the Empire survived for another thousand years.

Middle Ages

Iron Crown of Lombardy, for centuries a symbol of the Kings of Italy

After the

Guelphs) for momentary convenience.[88]

Marco Polo, explorer of the 13th century, recorded his 24 years-long travels in the Book of the Marvels of the World, introducing Europeans to Central Asia and China.[89]

The Germanic Emperor and the Roman Pontiff became the

investiture controversy (a conflict between two radically different views of whether secular authorities such as kings, counts, or dukes, had any legitimate role in appointments to ecclesiastical offices) and the clash between Guelphs and Ghibellines led to the end of the Imperial-feudal system in the north of Italy where city-states gained independence. It was during this chaotic era that Italian towns saw the rise of a peculiar institution, the medieval commune. Given the power vacuum caused by extreme territorial fragmentation and the struggle between the Empire and the Holy See, local communities sought autonomous ways to maintain law and order.[90] The investiture controversy was finally resolved by the Concordat of Worms. In 1176 a league of city-states, the Lombard League, defeated the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa at the Battle of Legnano
, thus ensuring effective independence for most of northern and central Italian cities.

Italian city-states such as Milan, Florence and Venice played a crucial innovative role in financial development, devising the main instruments and practices of banking and the emergence of new forms of social and economic organization.

Amalfi; the others were Ancona, Gaeta, Noli, and Ragusa.[93][94][95] Each of the maritime republics had dominion over different overseas lands, including many Mediterranean islands (especially Sardinia and Corsica), lands on the Adriatic, Aegean, and Black Sea (Crimea), and commercial colonies in the Near East and in North Africa. Venice maintained enormous tracts of land in Greece, Cyprus, Istria, and Dalmatia until as late as the mid-17th century.[96]

Amalfi, the most prominent maritime republics
Right: Trade routes and colonies of the Genoese (red) and Venetian
(green) empires

Venice and Genoa were Europe's main gateways to trade with the East, and producers of fine glass, while

Dante and Giotto were active around 1300.[25]

In the south, Sicily had become an

House of Hohenstaufen, then under the Capetian House of Anjou and, from the 15th century, the House of Aragon. In Sardinia, the former Byzantine provinces became independent states known in Italian as Judicates, although some parts of the island fell under Genoese or Pisan rule until eventual Aragonese annexation in the 15th century. The Black Death pandemic of 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing perhaps one third of the population.[98][99] However, the recovery from the plague led to a resurgence of cities, trade, and economy, which allowed the blossoming of Humanism and Renaissance
that later spread to Europe.

Early Modern

The Italian states before the beginning of the Italian Wars
in 1494

Italy was the birthplace and heart of the


Renaissance man, in a self-portrait (ca. 1512, Royal Library, Turin

Following the conclusion of the

Cosimo the old de Medici. In 1453, Italian forces under Giovanni Giustiniani were sent by Pope Nicholas V to defend the Walls of Constantinople but the decisive battle was lost to the more advanced Turkish army equipped with cannons, and Byzantium fell to Sultan Mehmed II

The fall of Constantinople led to the migration of

Renaissance Humanism, in which he stressed the importance of free will in human beings. The humanist historian Leonardo Bruni was the first to divide human history in three periods: Antiquity, Middle Ages and Modernity.[105] The second consequence of the Fall of Constantinople was the beginning of the Age of Discovery

Christopher Columbus leads an expedition to the New World, 1492. His voyages are celebrated as the discovery of the Americas from a European perspective, and they opened a new era
in the history of humankind and sustained contact between the two worlds.

Italian explorers and navigators from the dominant maritime republics, eager to find an alternative route to the Indies in order to bypass the Ottoman Empire, offered their services to monarchs of Atlantic countries and played a key role in ushering the Age of Discovery and the European colonization of the Americas. The most notable among them were: Christopher Columbus, colonizer in the name of Spain, who is credited with discovering the New World and the opening of the Americas for conquest and settlement by Europeans;[106] John Cabot, sailing for England, who was the first European to set foot in "New Found Land" and explore parts of the North American continent in 1497;[107] Amerigo Vespucci, sailing for Portugal, who first demonstrated in about 1501 that the New World (in particular Brazil) was not Asia as initially conjectured, but a fourth continent previously unknown to people of the Old World (America is named after him);[108] and Giovanni da Verrazzano, at the service of France, renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick in 1524.[109]

Following the fall of Constantinople, the

advanced the interests of their family. In 1559, at the end of the French invasions of Italy and of the Italian wars, the many states of northern Italy remained part of the Holy Roman Empire, indirectly subject to the Austrian Habsburgs, while all of Southern Italy
(Naples, Sicily, Sardinia) and Milan were under Spanish Habsburg rule.

The Papacy remained a powerful force and launched the

Lyncean Academy of the Papal States, of which the main figure was Galileo Galilei (later put on trial); the final phases of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) during the pontificates of Urban VIII and Innocent X; and the formation of the last Holy League by Innocent XI during the Great Turkish War

The Italian economy declined during the 1600s and 1700s, as the peninsula was excluded from the rising

political upheavals
that characterised the first part of the 19th century.

Italian national colours appeared for the first time on a tricolour cockade in 1789,[114] anticipating by seven years the first green, white and red Italian military war flag, which was adopted by the Lombard Legion in 1796.[115]


Giuseppe Mazzini (left), highly influential leader of the Italian revolutionary movement; and Giuseppe Garibaldi (right), celebrated as one of the greatest generals of modern times[116] and as the "Hero of the Two Worlds",[117]
who commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led to Italian unification


Young Italy
in the early 1830s, who favoured a unitary republic and advocated a broad nationalist movement. His prolific output of propaganda helped the unification movement stay active.

In this context, in 1847, the first public performance of the song Il Canto degli Italiani, the Italian national anthem since 1946, took place.[118][119] Il Canto degli Italiani, written by Goffredo Mameli set to music by Michele Novaro, is also known as the Inno di Mameli, after the author of the lyrics, or Fratelli d'Italia, from its opening line.

Holographic copy of 1847 of Il Canto degli Italiani, the Italian national anthem
since 1946

The most famous member of Young Italy was the revolutionary and general Giuseppe Garibaldi, renowned for his extremely loyal followers,[120] who led the Italian republican drive for unification in Southern Italy. However, the Northern Italy monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia, whose government was led by Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state. In the context of the 1848 liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful first war of independence was declared on Austria. In 1855, the Kingdom of Sardinia became an ally of Britain and France in the Crimean War, giving Cavour's diplomacy legitimacy in the eyes of the great powers.[121][122] The Kingdom of Sardinia again attacked the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence of 1859, with the aid of France, resulting in liberating Lombardy. On the basis of the Plombières Agreement, the Kingdom of Sardinia ceded Savoy and Nice to France, an event that caused the Niçard exodus, that was the emigration of a quarter of the Niçard Italians to Italy.[123]

In 1860–1861, Garibaldi led the drive for unification in Naples and Sicily (the

Victor Emmanuel II, last King of Sardinia, in which Garibaldi shook Victor Emanuel's hand and hailed him as King of Italy; thus, Garibaldi sacrificed republican hopes for the sake of Italian unity under a monarchy. Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy allowing it to join the union with the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1860. This allowed the Sardinian government to declare a united Italian kingdom on 17 March 1861.[125]
Victor Emmanuel II then became the first king of a united Italy, and the capital was moved from Turin to Florence.

In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II allied with Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, waging the Third Italian War of Independence which allowed Italy to annexe Venetia. Finally, in 1870, as France abandoned its garrisons in Rome during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War to keep the large Prussian Army at bay, the Italians rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal States. Italian unification was completed and shortly afterwards Italy's capital was moved to Rome. Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi, Cavour, and Mazzini have been referred as Italy's Four Fathers of the Fatherland.[116]

Liberal period

The new Kingdom of Italy obtained

Great Power status. The Constitutional Law of the Kingdom of Sardinia the Albertine Statute of 1848, was extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, and provided for basic freedoms of the new State, but electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. The government of the new kingdom took place in a framework of parliamentary constitutional monarchy dominated by liberal forces. As Northern Italy quickly industrialised, the South and rural areas of the North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad and fuelling a large and influential diaspora. The Italian Socialist Party
constantly increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative establishment.

Starting in the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a

concession in Tientsin was ceded to the country, and on 7 June 1902, the concession was taken into Italian possession and administered by a consul. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. The pre-war period dominated by Giovanni Giolitti
, Prime Minister five times between 1892 and 1921, was characterised by the economic, industrial, and political-cultural modernization of Italian society.

The Victor Emmanuel II Monument in Rome, a national symbol of Italy celebrating the first king of the unified country, and resting place of the Italian Unknown Soldier since the end of World War I. It was inaugurated in 1911, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy

Italy entered into the

Fourth Italian War of Independence,[127] in a historiographical perspective that identifies in the latter the conclusion of the unification of Italy, whose military actions began during the revolutions of 1848 with the First Italian War of Independence.[128][129]

Italy, nominally allied with the

Occupation of Constantinople

During the war, more than 650,000 Italian soldiers and as many civilians died,

liberal Italy in the aftermath of World War I.[134] Italy also gained a permanent seat in the League of Nations
's executive council.

Fascist regime

fascist dictator Benito Mussolini titled himself Duce and ruled the country from 1922 to 1943


Victor Emmanuel III refused to proclaim a state of siege and appointed Mussolini prime minister, thereby transferring political power to the fascists without armed conflict.[135][136] Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship. These actions attracted international attention and eventually inspired similar dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Francoist Spain

Italian Fascism is based upon Italian nationalism and imperialism, and in particular seeks to complete what it considers as the incomplete project of the unification of Italy by incorporating Italia Irredenta (unredeemed Italy) into the state of Italy.[137][138] To the east of Italy, the Fascists claimed that Dalmatia was a land of Italian culture whose Italians, including those of Italianized South Slavic descent, had been driven out of Dalmatia and into exile in Italy, and supported the return of Italians of Dalmatian heritage.[139] Mussolini identified Dalmatia as having strong Italian cultural roots for centuries, similarly to Istria, via the Roman Empire and the Republic of Venice.[140] To the south of Italy, the Fascists claimed Malta, which belonged to the United Kingdom, and Corfu, which instead belonged to Greece; to the north claimed Italian Switzerland, while to the west claimed Corsica, Nice, and Savoy, which belonged to France.[141][142] The Fascist regime produced literature on Corsica that presented evidence of the island's italianità.[143] The Fascist regime produced literature on Nice that justified that Nice was an Italian land based on historic, ethnic, and linguistic grounds.[143]


Mussolini promised to bring Italy back as a


During World War II,

Monigo, Renicci di Anghiari, and elsewhere. Yugoslav Partisans perpetrated their own crimes against the local ethnic Italian population (Istrian Italians and Dalmatian Italians) during and after the war, including the foibe massacres
. In Italy and Yugoslavia, unlike in Germany, few war crimes were prosecuted.[147][148][149][150]


for the rest of the war, with the Allies slowly moving up from the south.

In the north, the Germans set up the

Italian Fascist forces. As result, the country descended into civil war. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north,[151] but was captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.[152]

Hostilities ended on 29 April 1945, when the German forces in Italy surrendered. Nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) died in the conflict,[153] society was divided and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in 1944 was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century.[154] The aftermath of World War II left Italy also with an anger against the monarchy for its endorsement of the Fascist regime for the previous twenty years. These frustrations contributed to a revival of the Italian republican movement.[155]

Republican era

Italy became a republic after the

Istrian-Dalmatian exodus, which led to the emigration of between 230,000 and 350,000 of local ethnic Italians (Istrian Italians and Dalmatian Italians), the others being ethnic Slovenians, ethnic Croatians, and ethnic Istro-Romanians, choosing to maintain Italian citizenship.[159] Later, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided between the two states. Italy also lost all of its colonial possessions, formally ending the Italian Empire. In 1950, Italian Somaliland was made a United Nations Trust Territory under Italian administration until 1 July 1960. The Italian border that applies today has existed since 1975, when Trieste
was formally re-annexed to Italy.

Fears of a possible Communist takeover (especially in the United States) proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on

18 April 1948, when the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, obtained a landslide victory.[160][161] Consequently, in 1949 Italy became a member of NATO. The Marshall Plan helped to revive the Italian economy which, until the late 1960s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the "Economic Miracle". In the 1950's, Italy became one of the six founding countries of the European Communities, following the 1952 establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, and subsequent 1958 creations of the European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Community. In 1993, the former two of these were incorporated into the European Union

The signing ceremony of the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957, creating the European Economic Community, forerunner of the present-day European Union

From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the country experienced the Years of Lead, a period characterised by economic crisis (especially after the 1973 oil crisis), widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US and Soviet intelligence.[162][163][164] The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978 and the Bologna railway station massacre in 1980, where 85 people died.

In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one republican (

Group of Seven
in the 1970s. However, as a result of his spending policies, the Italian national debt skyrocketed during the Craxi era, soon passing 100% of the country's GDP.

Funerals of the victims of the Bologna bombing of 2 August 1980, the deadliest attack ever perpetrated in Italy during the Years of Lead

Italy faced several terror attacks between 1992 and 1993 perpetrated by the

Uffizi Gallery. The Catholic Church openly condemned the Mafia, and two churches were bombed and an anti-Mafia priest shot dead in Rome.[166][167][168]

European migrant crisis