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||Area: 116,303 square miles
(July 2014 est.)
Population density: 522.4/sq. mile
Capital: Roma (4,336,915)
Other important cities of Italy:
Located south of the alps in southern
Mediterranean Europe, Italy
is a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea,
northeast of Tunisia. It
has land borders with France in the north-west, Switzerland and Austria
in the north and Slovenia in the north-east. The peninsula is surrounded by the Mediterranean sea, made up of the
Ligurian Sea, the Sardinian Sea and the Tyrrhenian
Sea in the west, the Sicilian Sea and the Ionian Sea in the south and the Adriatic Sea in the east.
the official language spoken by the majority of the population with minorities speaking
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).
Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed, welfare-dependent agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions.
There is a great deal of variety in the landscape in Italy that
is characterized predominantly by two mountain chains: the Alps and the Apennines. The Alps extend over 600
miles from east to west. It consists of great massifs in the western sector, with peaks rising to over 14,000 feet,
including Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), Monte Rosa and Cervino (the Matterhorn). The chain is lower in the eastern
sector, although the mountains, the Dolomites, are still of extraordinary beauty.
At the foot of the Alpine arc stretches the vast Po Valley plain, cut down the
middle by the course of the Po river, the longest in Italy (390 miles), which has its source in the Pian de Re
(Monviso) and flows into the Adriatic through a magnificent delta. The Alpine foothills are characterized by large
lakes: Lake Maggiore and the lakes of Como, Iseo and Garda. The Apennines form the backbone of the peninsula, stretching
in a wide arc concave to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Corno Grande (Gran Sasso d'Italia) is the highest peak. A large
part of central Italy is characterized by a green hilly landscape, through which the Arno and Tevere (Tiber) rivers
run. The southern section of the chain pushes out to the east forming the Gargano promontory and, sloping down
further south, the Salentine peninsula. It then proceeds to the west with the Calabrian and Peloritano massif stretching
across the Strait of Messina into Sicilia. The principal islands are Sicilia, rising up to the great volcanic cone
of Etna (10,860 feet) and Sardegna. The main archipelagos are the Tremiti Islands in the Adriatic Sea, the Tuscan
Archipelago, the Pontine Islands, the Aeolian Islands and the Egadi Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast
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