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Italy - Overview
Official Name: Italy (Italia) or the Italian Republic
Capital: Rome (Roma)
Area: Around 116,305 square miles or 301,230 square kilometers (about 1.23 times the size of the UK)
Population: Italy’s population is approximately 60,923,964 (in 2014), making it the 5th most populous country in Europe and the 23rd most populous nation across the globe. Around 67% of the Italian population resides in and around the major cities.
Language: The official language is Italian; the other minority languages recognized by Law Number 482 include Sicilian, Sardinian, Catalan, German, French, Friulian and Slovene. Only about 34% of the population can speak English.
Religion: The main religion is Christianity (77%), but other religions like Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism are practiced too.
Time-zone: GMT/ UTC + 1, During Daylight Saving or Summer Time – GMT / UTC + 2. Daylight Saving time across Italy begins on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October.
Often referred to as the boot-shaped peninsula, Italy is situated in the southern region of Europe. This country is surrounded by sea on all sides except the northern side. The northern part of Italy is separated from the borders of Austria, France, Slovenia and Switzerland by the Alps chain of mountains. To the south, it includes the entire Italian Peninsula as well as the two large Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Sicily.
The Italian landscape comprises of 98% land and 2% water. The total area of Italy is 116,305 square miles (301,230 square km) of which 113,522 square miles (294,020 square km) is land and 2,784 square miles (7210 square km) is water. The Po is Italy’s longest river, which flows through 5 cities: Torino, Cremona, Rovigo, Piacenza and Ferrara. Five of the largest lakes in the country are Garda, Maggiore, Como, Trasimeno and Bolsena.
Though Italy comprises of the Italian peninsula as well as a major part of the Southern Alpine basin, some of this country’s territory extends beyond the basin. Certain Italian islands and territories, like Livigno, Tarvisio, Sexten, Val de Lei, Innichen, Chiuasaforte and Toblach (part) are located outside of the Eurasian continental shelf. The Italian territory comprises of the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, along with several other small islands. The sovereign states of the Vatican City and San Marino are enclaves within the nation; Campione d’Italia is an Italian enclave, which is located in Switzerland.
Italy has been divided into 20 regions, which are Abruzzo, Aosta Valley, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piedmont, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Trentino-Alto Adige, Umbria and Veneto. Each region has been further divided into provinces; Italy has a total of 110 provinces. Five regions (Aosta Valley, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Sardinia, Sicily and Trentino-Alto Adige) have autonomous status, which enables them to enact legislation on their own on local issues. These five regions can make or alter their local laws a lot more easily than the others.
Rome is Italy’s capital and largest city. For centuries now, this city has been the leading religious and political center of the Western world, acting as the capital of Christianity and the Roman Empire. Rome is home to the Vatican as well as the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope. Other major cities are Milan, Naples, Florence, Bologna, Venice, Catania, Genoa, Turin and Modena.
Italy is located at the meeting point of the Eurasian and African Plates, which leads to a significant amount of volcanic and seismic activity, especially in the southern part of the country. Of the 14 volcanoes in Italy, 4 are active: Mount Etna, Mount Stromboli, Mount Vesuvius and Mount Vulcano. Many of the Italian hills and islands have been formed as a result of volcanic activity.
The southern part of Italy (especially Sardinia and Sicily) is mountainous and warm, while the northern part of the country is flat and cool. The Alps form an arch, which runs along the borders of France, Austria and Slovenia. Most of Italy’s northern border is formed by the Alps and the peninsula’s backbone is formed by the Apennine Mountains. Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) is the highest point of this country. As Italy is surrounded by the sea on all 3 sides, it has several thousand kilometers of coastline.
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