This article is about the republic. For other uses, see Italy (disambiguation).
"Italia" and "Italian Republic" redirect here. For the short-lived 19th-century state, see Italian Republic (Napoleonic). For other uses, see Italia (disambiguation).

Italian Republic
Repubblica italiana  ( Italian)
Flag of Italy
Emblem of Italy
Flag Emblem
Anthem:  Il Canto degli Italiani  ( Italian)
"The Song of the Italians"
Location of  Italy  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Italy  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [ Legend]

and largest city
41°54′N 12°29′E / 41.900°N 12.483°E / 41°54′N 12°29′E / 41.900; 12.483
Official languages Italiana
Demonym Italian
Government Unitary parliamentary republic
•  President
Sergio Mattarella
Paolo Gentiloni
Pietro Grasso
Laura Boldrini
Legislature Parliament
Senate of the Republic
Chamber of Deputies
17 March 1861
•  Republic
2 June 1946
•  Founded the EEC (now the European Union)
1 January 1958
• Total
301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) ( 72nd)
• Water (%)
• 2015 estimate
60,674,003 [2] ( 23rd)
• 2011 census
59,433,744 [3] ( 23rd)
• Density
201.3/km2 (521.4/sq mi) ( 63rd)
GDP ( PPP) 2016 estimate
• Total
$2.213 trillion [4] ( 12th)
• Per capita
$36,191 [4] ( 31st)
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
• Total
$1.852 trillion [4] ( 8th)
• Per capita
$30,294 [4] ( 25th)
Gini (2014) 32.7 [5]
HDI (2014) Steady 0.873 [6]
very high ·  27th
Currency Euro ( )b ( EUR)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
• Summer ( DST)
Drives on the right
Calling code +39c
ISO 3166 code IT
Internet TLD .itd
  1. French is co-official in the Aosta Valley; Slovene is co-official in the province of Trieste and the province of Gorizia; German and Ladin are co-official in South Tyrol.
  2. Before 2002, the Italian Lira. The euro is accepted in Campione d'Italia, but the official currency there is the Swiss Franc. [7]
  3. To call Campione d'Italia, it is necessary to use the Swiss code +41.
  4. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Italy ( Italian: Italia [iˈtaːlja]), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica italiana), [8] [9] [10] [11] is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe. [note 1] Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal climate; due to its shape, it is often referred to in Italy as lo Stivale (the Boot). [12] [13] With 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous EU member state.

Since classical times, ancient Carthaginians, Phoenicians, and Greeks established settlements in the south of Italy, with Etruscans and Celts inhabiting the centre and north of Italy respectively and various different ancient Italian tribes and Italic peoples dispersed throughout the Italian Peninsula and insular Italy. The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom, which eventually became a republic that conquered and assimilated other nearby civilisations. Rome ultimately emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean basin, conquering much of the ancient world and becoming the leading cultural, political, and religious centre of Western civilisation. The legacy of the Roman Empire is widespread and can be observed in the global distribution of civilian law, republican governments, Christianity and the Latin script.

During the Middle Ages, Italy suffered sociopolitical collapse amid calamitous barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce, and banking, laying down the groundwork for modern capitalism. [14] These independent statelets, acting as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoyed a greater degree of democracy and wealth in comparison to the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe at the time, though much of central Italy remained under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and Bourbon conquests of the region. [15]

The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration and art. Italian culture flourished at this time, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of the Atlantic trade route and the route to the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope, that bypassed the Mediterranean. [15] [16] [17] Furthermore, the Italian city-states constantly engaged one another in bloody warfare, culminating in the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, that left them exhausted, with no one emerging as a dominant power. The weakened sovereigns soon fell victim to conquest by European powers such as France, Spain, and Austria, subsequently entering a long period of decline.

By the mid-19th century, a rising movement in support of Italian nationalism and independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval known as the Risorgimento, which sought the formation of a unified nation-state. After various unsuccessful attempts, the Italian Wars of Independence and the Expedition of the Thousand resulted in the eventual unification of the country in 1861, now a great power after centuries of foreign domination and political division. [18] From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the new Kingdom of Italy rapidly industrialised, although mainly in the north, and aquired a colonial empire, [19] while the south remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. [20] Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading the way to the rise of a Fascist dictatorship in 1922. The subsequent participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction, and civil war. After the Liberation of Italy by the Allies and the Resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil (e.g. Anni di piombo, Mani pulite, the Second Mafia War, the Maxi Trial and subsequent assassinations of anti-mafia officials), became a major developed country. [21] [22] [23]

Today, Italy has the third largest economy in the Eurozone and the eighth largest in the world. It has a very high level of human development and is ranked sixth in the world for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is both a regional power [24] [25] and a great power. [26] [27] Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7/ G8, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, and many more. As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to 51 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is the fifth most visited country.


Main article: Name of Italy

The assumptions on the etymology of the name "Italia" are very numerous and the corpus of the solutions proposed by historians and linguists is very wide. [28] According to one of the more common explanations, the term Italia, from Latin: Italia, [29] was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning "land of young cattle" (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf"). [30] The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War. Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, [31] mentioned also by Aristotle [32] and Thucydides. [33]

The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy – according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria: province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia). But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was during the reign of Emperor Augustus (end of the 1st century BC) that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula until the Alps. [34]