What is Italy?
Italy is a country located in Western Europe. It is one of the few bicontinental countries: it has part of its continental territory in southern Europe and some islands belonging to the African continent.
Within its European part (99.97% of the total territory) is the Italian peninsula and the Po valley.
The villages of Tuscany are one of the tourist attractions of Italy.
Also, on the Mediterranean Sea, you can find two large islands that also belong to Europe and are Italian territories: Sicily and Sardinia.
As for its African territory, three major islands can be distinguished: Lampedusa, Lampione and Pantelaria.
Italy has been home to many European cultures such as the Etruscans, the Nuragas, the Greeks and the Romans.
Its capital is Rome, which is also considered a holy city for the Catholic religion. On the other hand, it has many important cities such as Milan (considered the fashion capital) and Turin (an important industrial and automotive production centre).
Other important cities are: Genoa, Bologna, Venice, Naples, Catania, Palermo, Florence and Bari.
Italian Folk – Mediterranean Music -Tarantella
Italian folk music has a deep and complex history. Because national unification came late to the Italian peninsula, the traditional music of its many hundreds of cultures exhibit no homogeneous national character.
Characteristics of Italy
In the northern part of Italy, the Alps border France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. To the west is the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the south the Mediterranean Sea. In the southeast, it borders on the Ionian Sea and to the east on the Adriatic Sea.
This country has two independent states or countries: Vatican City and San Marino.
From north to south Italy has an area of 1360 km but is not a country too wide: its largest width is 610 km. Its total territory occupies an area of 301,302 km2.
Relief and hydrography
Its relief is characterized by mountains and valleys.
As for its relief, you can see different mountain ranges accompanied by valleys. To the north are the Alps and below them, the Po Valley.
Heading south are the Apennines, the chain that runs like a backbone through the entire Italian peninsula.
Towards the sides of both mountain ranges, you can see hills and valleys that flow into the respective seas.
In the south of Italy is the island of Sicily, considered an extension of the Apennines, where Mount Etnaque, the highest active volcano in Europe (with a height of 3,345 meters above sea level) stands out.
Towards the west coast, Italy has many bays and gulfs that flow into the Ionian and Adriatic seas.
This country does not have a large number of river basins. The existing ones are in the Po valley and the vast majority (except those with headwaters in the Alps) have a minimum flow and even dry up during the month of August.
Climate and rainfall
In the Alps and the Apennines, the climate in Italy is cold. Towards the Ligurian coast (below the Alps towards the Ligurian Sea) the climate is semi-tropical, with summers here being warm and harsh winters with heavy rainfall.
The average temperatures in Italy are: in the Po Valley around 13º C, on the island of Sicily around 18º C and in the coastal area around 13.5º C.
In Italy, there is an annual average of 1049 mm of rainfall, more frequent during the summer season.
Flora and fauna
In the area of hills, valleys, and coasts there is a large amount of citrus trees, olive trees, and palms.
Towards the south, you can see fig trees, dates, pomegranates, sugar cane, cotton, and almonds.
The fauna of Italy presents little variety in comparison with other European countries. Bears, mountain goats, marmots, wolves, foxes, and wild boars are some of the species that can be found.
As for the birds, predators, hens, falcons, vultures, and eagles predominate. Some reptiles can also be found.
Economic resources and currency
Italy has a highly industrialized economy.
Its natural resources include natural gas, lignite, sulphur, pyrite, oil and marble deposits.
It is also a country that receives a large part of its income from tourism.
As Italy has within its territory the independent state of the Vatican City, it is not surprising that the predominant religion (84% of the population) is Catholic. However, there are also other religions with a certain percentage of followers such as Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.
Population and language
According to the 2008 census, Italy has more than 60 million inhabitants, making it the most populous country in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. Its population density is 198 people per square kilometer.
Towards the beginning of the 20th century, the population of Italy decreased as a result of the migrations that took place towards South America. Even today, Italy has a rather low birth rate (1.41 children per woman).
The main language is Italian, which is derived from Latin. However, some areas of Italy speak French, German, Catalan, Greek, and Croatian.
Education in this country is free and compulsory for ages 6 to 16.
It is divided into five levels:
- Primary school
- Secondary school
- Secondary school
The average life expectancy in France is 80 years for women and 74 years for men, while the infant mortality rate is quite low: 7 per 1000 births.
Italy’s current health system, in use since 1980, covers 100% of the population. The inhabitants attend the SSN (national health services), located in different parts of the country and receive appropriate treatment.
Because the waiting lists are very long, there are also private health coverage services that range from 50 to 80 euros.
Form of government
Italy is a democratic republic.
From 1946, when the monarchy was abolished, Italy became a democratic republic.
There is the executive branch, headed by the head of government and the council of ministers. The President of Italy is elected by Parliament and serves a seven-year term of office.
It also has a legislative power, under the responsibility of the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. The judiciary is independent of the other two powers.
It is a multi-party system, which means that all political parties can participate in both the executive and legislative branches of government.