Italy, officially the Italian Republic or Repubblica Italiana, IPA, is a Southern European country. It comprises the Italian peninsula, the Po River valley, and two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, and shares its northern alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. The country also shares a sea border with Croatia, and France. The independent countries of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italian territory. It is shaped like a boot, and for this reason it is commonly called lo stivale (Italian for boot).
Italy was home to many well-known and influential European civilizations, including the Etruscans, Greeks and the Romans. For more than 3,000 years Italy experienced migrations and invasions from Germanic, Celtic, Frankish, Byzantine Greek, Saracen, Norman, and the French Angevin, and Lombard peoples, and was divided into many independent states until 1861 when Italy became a nation-state.
Italy is called "il Belpaese" (Italian for beautiful country) by its inhabitants, due to the beauty and variety of its landscapes and for having the world's largest artistic patrimony; The country is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (40 as of January 1, 2006).
Today, Italy is a highly developed country with the 8th highest GDP in 2006, a member of the G8 and a founding member of what is now the European Union, having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
Inhabitants of Italy are referred to as Italians (Italian: Italiani or poetically Italici).
Italy consists predominantly of a large peninsula (the Italian peninsula) with a distinctive boot shape that extends into the Mediterranean Sea, where together with its two main islands Sicily and Sardinia it creates distinct bodies of water, such as the Adriatic Sea to the north-east, the Ionian Sea to the south-east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the south-west and finally the Ligurian Sea to the north-west.
The Apennine mountains form the backbone of this peninsula, leading north-west to where they join the Alps, the mountain range that then forms an arc enclosing Italy from the north. Here is also found a large alluvial plain, the Po-Venetian plain, drained by the Po River — which is Italy's biggest river with 652 Km — and its many tributaries flowing down from the Alps (Dora Baltea, 160 Km, Sesia, 138 Km, Ticino, 248 Km, Adda, 313 Km, Oglio, 280 Km, Mincio), 194 Km, and Apennines (Tanaro, 276 Km, Trebbia, 115 Km, Taro, 115 Km, Secchia, 172 Km, Panaro, 148 Km).
Other well-known or importants rivers include the Tiber (405 Km), Adige (410 Km), Arno (241 Km), Piave (220 Km), Reno (212 Km), Volturno (175 Km), Tagliamento (170 Km), Liri-Garigliano (158 Km), Isonzo (136 Km).
Its highest point is Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) at 4,810 metres (15,781 feet), but Italy is more typically associated with two famous volcanoes: the currently dormant Vesuvius near Naples and the very active Etna on Sicily. Sicily and Sardinia are the two major islands of Italy.
This article is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia