Italy is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe, formally known as the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana). Italy, which is located in the Mediterranean Sea, has open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, and the Vatican City. Italy has a mainly temperate seasonal climate or Mediterranean climate and is often referred to in Italy as lo Stivale owing to its shape (the Boot). It is the third most populous EU member state, with 61 million people.
Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Celts have inhabited the southern, central, and northern parts of the Italian Peninsula, with various Italic peoples dispersed throughout the country alongside other ancient Italian tribes and Greek, Carthaginian, and Phoenician colonies. The Latins, an Italic tribe, founded the Roman Kingdom, which ultimately expanded across Italy, absorbing and conquering other surrounding civilisations and establishing the Roman Republic. Rome eventually established itself as the dominating force, conquering a large portion of the ancient world and establishing itself as the primary cultural, political, and religious center of Western civilisation. The Roman Empire’s impact is worldwide, as shown by the global spread of civic law, republican governments, Christianity, and the Latin alphabet.
Italy experienced societal collapse throughout the Middle Ages as a result of barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, many competing city-states and maritime republics had achieved enormous wealth via shipping, trade, and banking, laying the foundation for capitalism. These autonomous city-states and regional republics, serving as Europe’s primary port of entry for Asian and Near Eastern imports, frequently enjoyed a higher degree of democracy than the monarchies and feudal states prevalent throughout Europe at the time, though much of central Italy remained under the theocratic Papal States’ control, while southern Italy remained largely feudal.
With the dawn of the modern period, the Renaissance started in Italy and expanded across Europe, reviving interest in humanism, science, exploration, and art. Italian culture thrived throughout this period, producing luminaries like as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli. Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Giovanni da Verrazzano paved the way for the European Age of Discovery by charting new routes to the Far East and the New World. Nonetheless, Italy’s importance as a commercial and political power center diminished significantly with the opening of New World trade routes, as New World imports and trade routes gained greater influence in Europe and bypassed the East Asian and Mediterranean trade routes dominated by Italian city-states. Additionally, the Italian city-states were continuously at odds with one another, culminating in the Italian Conflicts of the 15th and 16th centuries, a series of wars and foreign invasions that exposed the Italian republics to absorption by neighboring European powers. Italy would remain politically divided and fall victim to European powers like as France, Spain, and Austria, eventually entering a lengthy period of decline.
By the mid-19th century, a growing movement in favor of Italian nationalism and independence from foreign control precipitated a period of revolutionary political upheaval known as the Risorgimento, which sought to restore Italy’s cultural and economic prominence through the liberation and consolidation of the Italian peninsula and insular Italy into an independent and unified nation-status. After many failed efforts, the Italian Wars of Independence, the Thousand-Year Expedition, and the conquest of Rome eventually culminated in the unification of the country, which is today a major power after centuries of foreign rule and political fragmentation. Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the new Kingdom of Italy industrialized swiftly, particularly in the so-called Industrial Triangle of Milan, Turin, and Genoa in the north, and quickly gained a tiny colonial empire. However, the country’s southern regions remained mainly poor and undeveloped, fostering a sizable and powerful diaspora. Italy experienced a period of economic catastrophe and social upheaval after World War I, paving the stage for the establishment of a Fascist dictatorship in 1922. Following Italy’s entry into World Conflict II on the Axis side, the strife ended in military loss, economic devastation, and civil war as a result of the emergence of the Italian resistance movement. Italy abolished the monarchy, restored democracy, experienced a lengthy economic boom, and, despite sociopolitical upheaval (e.g. Anni di piombo, Mani pulite, Second Mafia War, and Maxi Trial), became one of the world’s most developed countries in the years that followed.
Italy is the Eurozone’s third biggest economy and the world’s eighth largest. Its human development is very advanced, and it has the greatest life expectancy in the EU. Italy is a significant player in regional and global economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic issues, serving as both a regional and a great power. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union, as well as a member of a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the World Trade Organization, the G7/G8, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, and Uniting for Consensus. Italy is home to 51 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is one of the most visited nations, a reflection of its enormous cultural richness.