Italy, officially the Italian Republic or the Republic of Italy (Italian: Repubblica italiana), is a unitary parliamentary republic in south-central Europe. To the north, it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia–the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea–and many othersmaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campion d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.6 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.Rome, the capital of Italy, was for centuries a political and religious centre of Western civilization as the capital of the empire and site of the Holy See. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Italy endured numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombard’s and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy became thebirthplace of Maritime republics and the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous city and regional states (such as the Republic of Venice and the Church State), but was unified in 1861, following a tumultuous period inhistory known as "Il Risorgimento" ("The Resurgence"). In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Albania, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It has been ranked as the world's 24th most-developed country andits Quality-of-life index has been ranked in the world's top ten in 2005. Italy enjoys a very high standard of living, and has a high GDP per capita. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and part of the Euro zone. Italy is also a member of the G8, G20 and NATO. It has the world's third-largest gold reserves, eighth-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP) and the sixth highest governmentbudget in the world. It is also a member state of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the United Nations. Italy has the world's ninth-largest defense budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons.
Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. Thecountry's European political, social and economic influence makes it a major regional power. The country has a high public education level and is a highly globalised nation.
The climate of Italy is highly diverse and can be quite different from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate. Most of the inland northern regions of Italy,for example Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, have a climate variously described as humid continental or temperate. The climate of the "Po valley region [is] continental ... with harsh winters and hot summers". The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). Conditions on peninsularcoastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.
Italy has a free market...