Italy is a country in southern Europe. It is known for its cultural heritage,
which is rich and varied, and the natural beauty of its landscape. Its cities
have spectacular churches and large central squares.
Their museums contain some of the world's best-known art. The countryside has
warm, sandy beaches; high, glacier-topped mountain peaks; and rolling hills
covered with green fields and vineyards.
A Short Background
Italy became a nation-state belatedly - in 1861 when the city-states of the
peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor
An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when
Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance
with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic
replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed.
Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It
has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification,
joining the European Monetary Union in 1999.
Persistent problems include illegal immigration, the ravages of organized crime,
corruption, high unemployment, and the low incomes and technical standards of
southern Italy compared with the more prosperous north.
||Southern Europe, a peninsula
extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia
||42 50 N, 12 50 E
||57,679,825 (July 2001 est.)
||predominately Roman Catholic
with mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant
||Italian (official),regional dialect and languages (siciliano-lombardo-campano-toscano-sardo
ecc..) German (parts
of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small
French-speaking minority in Valle
d'Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking
minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
1 EURO to US Dollar : 1,1962 (April 2004)
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