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ITALY

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ABOUT ITALY 

Italy is a country located in Southern Europe, that comprises the Po River valley, the Italian Peninsula and the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. It is also called by Italians lo Stivale ("the Boot", due to its boot-like shape), il Bel Paese ("the Beautiful Country") or la Penisola ("the Peninsula" as an antonomasia). Italy shares its northern alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent countries of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italian territory, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Italy was home to many well-known and influential European cultures, including the Etruscans, Greeks, and the Romans. Its capital Rome has been a historically important world city, especially as the core of ancient Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. For more than 3,000 years Italy experienced migrations and invasions from Germanic, Celtic, Frankish, Lombard, Byzantine Greek, Saracen and Norman peoples during the Middle Ages, followed by the Italian Renaissance period, in which the Italian Wars took place and various city-states were noted for their cultural achievements. Italy was divided into many independent states and often experienced foreign domination before the Italian unification, that created Italy as an independent nation-state for the first time in its history, took place. During the period under the Italian monarchy and during the world wars Italy experienced much conflict, but stability was restored after the creation of the Italian Republic.
Today, Italy is a highly-developed country with the 7th-highest GDP and the 17th-highest Human Development Index rating in the world. It is a member of the G8 and a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), of the Council of Europe and of the Western European Union. It is considered by some as a great power. Starting from January 1, 2007, Italy is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Inhabitants of Italy are referred to as Italians.

  • Capital:
    - Rome
  • Area:
    - Total: 301,318 km² (71st)
    116,346.5 sq mi 
    - Water(%): 2.4
  • Official languages:
    - Italian (de facto)
  • Population:
    - July 2006 estimate: 58,883,958 (22nd)
    - October 2001 census: 7,110,144
    - Density: 195/km² (54th)
    499.4/sq mi
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