Population: 60,813,326 (est.)
- The Euro (€) is the official currency of Italy.
- Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although Catholicism is no longer officially the state religion. The proportion of Italians that identify themselves as Roman Catholic is around 87.8%.
- Most Italians believe in God, or a form of a spiritual life force. In a recent poll only 6% answered that ‘they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force’.
- With 60.8 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.
- It has the world’s third-largest gold reserves, eighth-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP) and the sixth highest government budget in the world.
- Italy did not become a united country until 1861.
- Italy has over 3,000 museums.
- Sixty percent of the world’s art treasures are in Italy.
- It’s believed that around €3,000 gets tossed into the Trevi Fountain in Rome everyday.
- Football (Soccer) the national sport, was introduced to Italians in the late 1800s by the British.
- Italy’s birth-rate is the second lowest in the Western world. Both political and church leaders have expressed concern and have offered rewards to couples who have more than one child.
- The Arabs brought dried pasta to Italy in the thirteenth century.
- Over 50 million tourists a year visit Italy.
- Ciao for “hello” or “goodbye” come from schiavo meaning “at your service”.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a unitary parliamentary republic in Southern Europe. To the north, it borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia–the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea–and many other smaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d’Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.8 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.
Rome, the capital of Italy, has for centuries been a political and religious centre of Western civilisation as the capital of the Roman Empire and site of the Holy See. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Italy endured numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy became the birthplace of Maritime republics and the Renaissance. Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous city and regional states (such as the Republic of Venice and the Church State), but was unified in 1861. In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It has been ranked as the world’s 24th most-developed country and its Quality-of-life Index has been ranked in the world’s top ten in 2005. Italy enjoys a very high standard of living, and has a high GDP per capita. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and part of the Eurozone. Italy is also a member of the G8, G20 and NATO. It has the world’s third-largest gold reserves, eighth-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP) and the sixth highest government budget in the world. It is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the United Nations. Italy has the world’s ninth-largest defence budget and shares NATO’s nuclear weapons.
Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. The country’s European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power. The country has a high public education level and is a highly globalised nation.