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Italy

Overview

Flag of Italy
Flag of Italy

Photo on Wikimedia Commons

Emblem of Italy

Map of Italy
Map of Italy

Photo by Miller on Mapswire

Italy is one of the most influential countries not just in Europe and in the world, with a long and rich history that has had enormous impact on our modern-day science, culture, art, fashion, music, cuisine, cinematography, and so many more areas over the centuries. Great Italian artists like Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo, or famous fashion houses Armani, Versace, Valentino, and Dolce&Gabbana are household names. Famous Italian musicians like Verdi, Vivaldi, and Rossini are renowned the world over. And we all enjoy Italian cuisine regularly from pizza, pasta, and gelato, the famous dense and rich Italian style ice cream. (I still dream about the pistachio gelato I had in Florence!) Italy's government is a parliamentary republic. Italy's National Day is June 2, called the "Festa della Repubblica" ("Republic Day"), which commemorates the day in 1946 when, following a national referendum, Italy was declared a republic. The official language is Italian and the currency currently used is the Euro. The country's telephone code is +39. Italy's economy is primarily based around its maritime machine and shipbuilding industry, electronics, electrotechnics, machinery and equipment, textiles, food, agriculture (primarily olives, grapes and wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals), trade, and tourism. Its main cultural centers are Rome, the Vatican (the smallest state in the world, led by the Pope), Florence, Pisa, Venice, Verona, Milan, Rimini, Turin, Naples, and Sorrento. The predominant religion in Italy is Catholicism, followed by Islam, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism.

History

Italy's rich and remarkable history is known to be one of the most inspiring, interesting, and influential. It was the homeland of the Romans and the Roman Empire, the origin of the Renaissance (which began in Florence and transformed art, science, philosophy), and the heart of Roman Catholicism. The land that now forms central Italy was originally inhabited by the Etruscans. The North was ruled by the Celts, and Greeks migrated to Southern Italy to escape famine and overcrowding in their homeland. Rome was founded in 753 BC first as a kingdom, but later became a republic in 509 BC when a government of the Senate and the People replaced the monarchy. Caesar Augustus became the first Roman Emperor in 27 BC. Various Emperors followed, some great rulers and some despots. During this time, Italy became the core of global technology of that period (mining, sanitation, monumental constructions), economy, and art. In 756 AC the Papal State was established and became the center of the Christian world, with its residence in Rome. Italy had a central role during the Renaissance period. The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, and spread to the rest of Europe. It extended from the 14th century to the 17th century and was a period of fervent European cultural, artistic, political, and economic "rebirth" that marked the transition from the Middle Ages to modern civilization. It promoted the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature, and art. Some of the greatest thinkers, authors, statesmen, scientists, and artists in human history thrived during this era, while global exploration opened up new lands and cultures to European commerce. Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Donatello, Titian in Venice, Giotto di Bondone, Filippo Brunelleschi, Leon Battista Alberti, and Niccolo Machiavelli are only a few of the well-known Italian artists, writers, and architects from this period. After World War I, Benito Mussolini (the head of government at the time) instituted the fascist regime, which ended in 1945. In 1946, Italy was declared Republic following the popular referendum held on June 2, 1946. With such a rich history, Italy has over three thousand museums and the largest number of cultural archaeological sites recognized by UNESCO.

Mythology

The Roman Empire was a polytheistic society, worshipping multiple gods and goddesses. Their gods were adopted from Greek mythology and renamed with Roman names. Some Italians practiced monotheistic religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, but they comprised a minority of the population. The majority of people thought the gods and goddesses had a role in the foundation of the Roman civilization and served day to day roles. The main god and goddesses in Roman culture were:

They greatly influenced Roman culture, art, and architecture, being frequently represented in art works (most often statues and paintings), and having buildings and temples dedicated to them. Many planets from our solar system are also names after the Roman gods.

Geography

Italy is located in southern Europe. It is a peninsula shaped like a boot, and surrounded on three sides by the salt waters of the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Ionica, Tyreniana, and Ligurica Seas. Within these seas are located the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, the latter being French territory. To its North, Italy is neighbored by Slovenia (capital Ljubljana), Austria (capital Vienna), Switzerland (capital Bern), and France (capital Paris). Within Italy, there are two large mountain ranges that run across the country. The Apennine Mountains from North to South, almost like a backbone. The Corno Grande (meaning "Great Horn" in English) is the highest peak of this range at 2,912 metres (9,554 ft) and is located in Abruzzo, in central Italy. The Apennine range is made up of a number of volcanoes, most of which are extinct, but further South at the Eolie islands there remain some volcanoes that are still active, including Mount Vesuvius and Mouth Etna. The latter two are known for their eruption in 79 AD, which was one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in European history and which buried several Roman settlements including Pompeii and Herculaneum. The second mountain range, the Italian Alps, runs along Italy's Northern borders. Its peak is Gran Paradiso, which reaches a height of 4,061m. Mont Blanc, which spans the French-Italian border, is the highest mountain in the Alps at 4,810m (15,781 ft). The Northern inland areas of Italy, such as Turin, Milan, and Bologna, have a humid subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and cold winters, while the South has a Mediterranean climate with dry summers and mild, wet winters. Italy has an area of 300 000 sq. km and its capital is Rome. As of 2019, its population is 58,600,000 inhabitants. The largest cities by population are Rome (2,800,000 inhabitants), Milan (1,430,000), and Naples (1,200,000), followed by Turin, Palermo, Geneva, Bologna, Florence, Catania, Bari, Venice, which all currently have below 1,000,000 inhabitants.