» Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
» 301,338 km2 (72nd)
» $2.066 trillion (12th)
» 60,782,668 (23rd)
» Per capita $34,455 (31st)
» $2.13 trillion (8th)
» Per capita $35,512 (27th)
» Euro (€) (EUR)
» CET (UTC+1)
Italy is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe. Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and has a largely temperate climate; due to its shape, it is often referred to in Italy as lo Stivale (the Boot).
With 61 million inhabitants, it is the5th most populous country in Europe. Italy is a very highly developed country and has the third largest economy in the Eurozone and the eighth-largest in the world.
Since ancient times, Etruscan, Magna Graecia and other cultures have flourished in the territory of present-day Italy, being eventually absorbed by Rome, that has for centuries remained the leading political and religious centre of Western civilisation, capital of the Roman Empire and Christianity.
During the Dark Ages, the Italian Peninsula faced calamitous invasions by barbarian tribes, but beginning around the 11th century, numerous Italian city-states rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking (indeed, modern capitalism has its roots in Medieval Italy).
Especially during The Renaissance, Italian culture thrived, producing scholars, artists, and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
Italian explorers such as Polo, Columbus, Vespucci, and Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery.
Nevertheless, Italy would remain fragmented into many warring states for the rest of the Middle Ages, subsequently falling prey to larger European powers such as France, Spain, and later Austria. Italy would thus enter a long period of decline that lasted until the mid 19th century.
Italy has a capitalist mixed economy, ranking as the third-largest in the Eurozone and the eighth-largest in the world. The country is a founding member of the G7, G8, the Eurozone and the OECD.
Italy is regarded as one of the world’s most industrialised nations and a leading country in world trade and exports. It is a highly developed country, with the world’s 8th highest quality of life and the 25th Human Development Index.
In spite of the recent global economic crisis, Italian per capita GDP at purchasing power parity remains approximately equal to the EU 27average, while the unemployment rate (12.6%) stands slightly above the Eurozone average.
The country is well known for its creative and innovative business, a large and competitive agricultural sector (Italy is the world’s largest wine producer), and for its influential and high-quality automobile, machinery, food, design and fashion industry.
Italy is the world’s sixth largest manufacturing country, characterised by a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size and a large number of dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises, notoriously clustered in several industrial districts, which are the backbone of the Italian industry.
This has produced a manufacturing sector often focused on the export of niche market and luxury products, that if on one side is less capable to compete on the quantity, on the other side is more capable of facing the competition from China and other emerging Asian economies based on lower labour costs, with higher quality products.
Italy is ranked 19 with an Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of 1.31207
Top 5 Products exported by Italy
- Refined Petroleum (5.2%),
- Packaged Medicaments (4.2%),
- Vehicle Parts (2.7%),Cars (2.0%),
- Gold (1.9%)
Top 5 Export destinations of Italy
- Germany (12%),
- France (10%),
- United States (7.4%),
- Switzerland (5.7%),
- United Kingdom (4.7%)
Top 5 Products imported by Italy
- Crude Petroleum (11%),
- Petroleum Gas (6.4%),
- Cars (4.3%),
- Packaged Medicaments (3.1%),
- Refined Petroleum (2.5%)
Top 5 Import origins of Italy
- Germany (14%),
- France (7.9%),
- China (6.7%),
- Netherlands (5.4%),
The French may rightfully brag about Paris, but Italy’s showstopping cities include Venice, Florence and Rome. Epicentre of the Roman Empire and birthplace of the Renaissance, this sun-kissed overachiever groans under the weight of its cultural catalogue: it’s in Italy that you’ll find Michelangelo’s David and Sistine Chapel frescoes, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, da Vinci’s.
The Last Supper, and the classic villas of Andrea Palladio. And we haven’t even mentioned the chariot-grooved streets of Pompeii, the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna or Giotto’s revolutionary frescoes in Padua.
In few places do art and life intermingle so effortlessly. This may be the land of Dante, Titian and Verdi, but it’s also the home of Prada, Gualtiero Marchesi and Renzo Piano. Beauty, style and flair furnish every aspect of daily life, from those immaculately knotted ties and perfect espressos, to the flirtatious smiles of striking strangers.
The root of Italian pathology is a dedication to living life well and, effortless as it may seem, driving that dedication is a reverence for the finer things. So slow down, take note, and indulge in a little Bella vita.
The secret: superlative ingredients and strictly seasonal produce. And while Italy’s culinary soul might be earthy and rustic, it’s equally ingenious and sophisticated.
Expect some of the world’s top fine-dining destinations, from San Pellegrino ‘world’s best 50’ hotspots to Michelin-starred musts. So whether you’re on a degustation odyssey in Modena, truffle hunting in Piedmont, or simply swilling powerhouse reds at Rome’s International Wine Academy, prepare to swoon.
- Etruscan Italy – If you have limited time and no potential to travel outside the main cities, then don’t miss the amazing collection at the Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia in Rome.
- The Greek Influence – Well-preserved Greek temples at Agrigento in the southwest of Sicily and at Paestum, just south of Naples, give a good understanding of the extent of Greek influence on Italy.
- Roman ruins – From the south, in Sicily, to the north of the country Italy is full of reminders of the Roman empire. In Taormina, Sicily check out the Roman theatre, with excellent views of Mt. Etna on a clear day.
- Christian Italy – The Vatican is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Although inside Rome it has the status of a separate state. Don’t miss St Peter’s and the Vatican Museum
- The Byzantine Cities – The Byzantines controlled northern Italy until kicked out by the Lombards in 751. Venice is of course world famous and nearby Chioggia, also in the Lagoon, is a smaller version.
- The Renaissance – Start with a visit to Piazza Michelangelo in Florence to admire the famous view. Then set about exploring the many museums, both inside and outside Florence, that house Renaissance masterpieces. The Renaissance, or Rebirth, (Rinascimento in Italian) lasted between 14th and 16th centuries and is generally believed to have begun in Florence.
- The Streets and squares – You could visit Italy’s cities, never go in a church, museum or Roman ruin, and still have a great time. Just wander around, keeping your eyes open. Apart from in the northern Po and Adige valleys most of Italy (including the cities) is hilly or mountainous, giving some great views.
- Operas – If you are interested in the famous Italian Operas, they are on play in various cities: Milan, Verona, Parma, Rome, Venice, Turin, Spoleto, Florence, Palermo, Genoa.