Italy, officially the Italian Republic,
is a country located in south-central 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,
whilst Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. Italy is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.
Italy's capital, Rome,
was for centuries the political centre of Western civilization as the capital
of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would
endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic, to the Byzantines
and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy would
become the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual
movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of
Through much of its post-Roman history,
was fragmented into numerous kingdoms and city-states, but was unified in 1861,
following a tumultuous period in history known as "Il Risorgimento"
("The Resurgence"). In the late 19th century, through World War I,
and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule
to Libya, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Albania, Rhodes, the Dodecanese and a
concession in Tianjin, China. Italy
jointed the Axis in the IIWW and was defeated by the Allies.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It
has been ranked the world's twenty-third most-developed country and its Quality-of-Life
Index has been ranked in the top ten in the world. It is a founding member of
what is now the European Union and part of the Euro zone.