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Italy Facts

Italy MapOverview and Location

Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito Mussolini established a Fascist dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.


Official Country Name: Italian Republic
Government Type: Republic
Established: 1861
Capital: Rome
Independence: 1870 (Kingdom of Italy unification)
National holiday: Republic Day, 2 June (1946)
Constitution: 1 January 1948


Italy sits in southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia. It is the 78th largest country (in terms of landmass) in the world.

Total Area: 301,340 sq km
Comparative Area: Slightly larger than Arizona
Coastline: 7,600 km  (4723 mi)
Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Terrain: Mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
Elevation Extremes: Mediterranean Sea 0 m — Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (15,577ft)
Natural Resources: Coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land
Land Use: Arable land: 26.41% Permanent crops: 9.09% Other: 64.5%
Natural Hazards: Regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice

Weather (Rome)

Average Temperature:
Hottest Month: Jul (88F)
Coolest Month: Jan (35F)
Average Number of Days With Precip: 154
Average Number of Days With Snow: 2
Highest Recorded Temperature Since 1988: 104F
Lowest Recorded Temperature Since 1988: 10F

Monetary & Taxation

Currency: Euro (€)
Value Added Tax: 20%, with reduced rates of 4% or 10% on some basic goods
Exchange Rate: $1 USD = 0.68€  (9/2009)
Time Zone: UTC+1


Population: 458,126,212 (2009 est)  24th largest in the world
Median Age: 43 years
Life Expectancy: 80 years
Ethnic Groups: Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)
Religions: Roman Catholic 90% (approximately; about one-third practicing), other 10% (includes mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community)
Languages: Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
Literacy: 98.4%

Industrial Output

Labor Force: Agriculture: 4.2%. Industry: 30.7%. Services: 65.1%
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (2008 est.)
Population Below Poverty Line: NA
Agriculture: Fruits, vegetables, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, grain, olives; beef, dairy products; fish
Industries: Tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics


Military Branches: Italian Army (Esercito Italiano, EI), Italian Navy (Marina Militare Italiana, MMI), Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, AMI), Carabinieri Corps (Arma dei Carabinieri, CC)
Military Service Age: 18-27 year of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished January 2005; women may serve in any military branch; 10-month service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 45 (Army and Air Force) or 39 (Navy)

Information Courtesy: US Central Intelligence Agency

Last modified: July 26, 2010