A Place I’d Like to Visit Italy
Italia, officially Italian Republic, republic (1995 est. pop. 58,262,000), 116,303 sq mi (301,225 sq km), S Europe. It borders on France in the northwest, the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Ionian Sea in the south, the Adriatic Sea in the east, Slovenia in the northeast, and Austria and Switzerland in the north. The country includes the large Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia and several small islands, notably Elba, Capri, Ischia, and the Liipari Islands. Vatican City (see under Vatican) and San Marino are two independent enclaves on the Italian mainland. Rome is Italy’s capital and largest city.
Land and People
About 75% of Italy is mountainous or hilly, and roughly 20% of the country is forested. There are narrow strips of low-lying land along the Adriatic coast and parts of the Tyrrhenian coast. In addition to Rome, other important cities include Milan, Naples, Turin, Genoa, Palermo, Bologna, Florence, Catania, Venice, Bari, Trieste, Messina, Verona, Padua, Cagliari, Taaranto, Brescia, and Livorno.
Northern Italy, made up largely of a vast plain that is contained by the Alps in the north and drained by the Po River and its tributaries, comprises the regions of Liguria, Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta (see Aosta, Va
The Italian peninsula, bootlike in shape and traversed in its entire length by the Apennines (which continue on into Sicily), comprises central Italy (Marche, Tuscany, Umbria, and Latium regions) and southern Italy (Campania, Baasilicata, Abruzzi, Molise, Calabria, and Apulia regions). Central Italy contains great historic and cultural centers such as Rome, Florence, Pisa, Siena, Perugia, Assisi, Urbino, Bologna, Ravenna, Rimini, Ferrara, and Parma. The major cities of S Italy, generally the poorest and least developed part of the country, include Naples, Bari, Brindisi, Foggia, and Taranto.
Except for the Po and Adige, Italy has only short rivers, among which the Arno and the Tiber are the best known. Most of Italy enjoys a Mediterranean cl
The great majority of the population speaks Italian (including several dialects); there are small German-, French-, and Slavic-speaking minorities. Nearly all Italians are Roman Catholic. There are numerous universities in Italy, including ones at Bari, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Turin, Padua, Palermo, and Rome.
Under the 1948 constitution, legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament consisting of the 630-member chamber of deputies, which is popularly elected, and the senate, made up of 315 members elected by region, plus 11 life members. The chamber is the more important body. The council of ministers, led by the premier, is the country’s executive; it must have the confidence of parliament. The head of state is the president, chosen in a joint session by parliament. The country is divided into 20 regions, which are subdivided into a total of 94 provinces. The country’s 20 regions also have parliaments and go
Italy began to industrialize late in comparison to other European nations, and until World War II was largely an agricultural country. However, after 1950 industry was developed rapidly so that by the 1990s industry contributed about 35% of the annual gross domestic product and agriculture less than 4%. The principal farm products are fruits, sugar beets, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, soybeans, grain, olives and olive oil, and livestock (especially cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats). In addition, much wine is produced from grapes grown throughout the country. There is a small fishing industry.
Industry is centered in the north, particularly in the golden triangle of Milan-Turin-Genoa. Italy’s economy has been gradually diversifying, shifting from food and textiles to engineering, steel, and chemical products. The chief manufactures of the country include iron, steel, and other metal products; refined petroleum; chemicals; electrical and nonelectrical machinery; motor vehicles; textiles and clothing; printed materials; and plastics. Although many of Italy’s important industries are state-owned, the trend in recent years has been toward privatization. The service sector has growing importance in Italy; by the ea
Italy has only limited mineral resources and has consistently increased its mineral imports; the chief minerals produced are petroleum (especially in Sicily), lignite, iron ore, iron pyrites, bauxite, sulfur, mercury, and marble. There are also large deposits of natural gas (methane), and much hydroelectricity is generated. Italy, however, is still greatly dependent on oil to meet its energy requirements, and most of it must be imported.
Italy has a large foreign trade, facilitated by its sizable commercial shipping fleet. The leading exports are textiles and wearing apparel, metals, machinery, motor vehicles, and chemicals; the main imports are machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, food and food products, and minerals (especially petroleum). Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange. The chief trade partners are Germany, France, the United States, and Great Britain. The nation has greatly improved its highway system in the postwar years, especially in the South.
Italy’s economy has deceptive strength because it is supported by a substantial underground economy that functions outside government controls. Despite significant government progress in the 1990s in its war against organized crime, the mafia continues to exert a strong influence in S Italy, often hindering governmental programs aimed at integrating the region more fully economically and politically into the national scene. The spread of drugs has become a major problem in Italy, which has the highest incidence of drug addiction in Europe.
Roma, city (1991 pop. 2,775,250), capital of Italy and see of the pope, whose residence, Vatican City (see under Vatican), is a sovereign state within the city of Rome. Rome is also the capital of Latium, a region of central Italy, and of Rome prov. It lies on both banks of the Tiber and its affluent, the Aniene, in the Campagna di Roma, between the Apennine Mts. and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Called the Eternal City, it is one of the world’s richest cities in history and art and one of its great cultural, religious, and intellectual centers.