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Flag of Italy
Map of Italy
Introduction Italy
Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the European Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, the ravages of organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.
Geography Italy
Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia
Geographic coordinates:
42 50 N, 12 50 E
Map references:
total: 301,230 sq km
note: includes Sardinia and Sicily
water: 7,210 sq km
land: 294,020 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundaries:
total: 1,932.2 km
border countries: Austria 430 km, France 488 km, Holy See (Vatican City) 3.2 km, San Marino 39 km, Slovenia 232 km, Switzerland 740 km
7,600 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 12 NM
predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a secondary peak of Mont Blanc)
Natural resources:
mercury, potash, marble, sulfur, natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, coal, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 28.07%
permanent crops: 9.25%
other: 62.68% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
26,980 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from industrial emissions such as sulfur dioxide; coastal and inland rivers polluted from industrial and agricultural effluents; acid rain damaging lakes; inadequate industrial waste treatment and disposal facilities
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe
People Italy
57,715,625 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.1% (male 4,198,569; female 3,954,159)
15-64 years: 67.3% (male 19,334,208; female 19,492,048)
65 years and over: 18.6% (male 4,436,073; female 6,300,568) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.05% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
8.93 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
10.13 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
1.73 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
5.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.25 years
female: 82.63 years (2002 est.)
male: 76.08 years
Total fertility rate:
1.19 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.35% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
95,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Italian(s)
adjective: Italian
Ethnic groups:
Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)
predominately Roman Catholic with mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community
Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d'Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98% (1998)
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Italy
Country name:
conventional long form: Italian Republic
conventional short form: Italy
local long form: Repubblica Italiana
former: Kingdom of Italy
local short form: Italia
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
20 regions (regioni, singular - regione); Abruzzi, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardia, Marche, Molise, Piemonte, Puglia, Sardegna, Sicilia, Toscana, Trentino-Alto Adige, Umbria, Valle d'Aosta, Veneto
17 March 1861 (Kingdom of Italy proclaimed; Italy was not finally unified until 1870)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 2 June (1946)
1 January 1948
Legal system:
based on civil law system; appeals treated as new trials; judicial review under certain conditions in Constitutional Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal (except in senatorial elections, where minimum age is 25)
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Carlo Azeglio CIAMPI (since 13 May 1999)
elections: president elected by an electoral college consisting of both houses of Parliament and 58 regional representatives for a seven-year term; election last held 13 May 1999 (next to be held NA May 2006); prime minister appointed by the president and confirmed by Parliament
head of government: Prime Minister (referred to in Italy as the president of the Council of Ministers) Silvio BERLUSCONI (since 10 June 2001)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and approved by the president
election results: Carlo Azeglio CIAMPI elected president; percent of electoral college vote - 70%
note: a five-party government coalition includes Forza Italia, National Alliance, Northern League, Democratic Christian Center, United Christian Democrats
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Parlamento consists of the Senate or Senato della Repubblica (315 seats elected by popular vote of which 232 are directly elected and 83 are elected by regional proportional representation; in addition, there are a small number of senators-for-life including former presidents of the republic; members serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camera dei Deputati (630 seats; 475 are directly elected, 155 by regional proportional representation; members serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 13 May 2001 (next to be held NA 2006); Chamber of Deputies - last held 13 May 2001 (next to be held NA 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - House of Liberties 177 (Forza Italia 82, National Alliance 46, CCD-CDU 29, Northern League 17, others 3), Olive Tree 128 (Democrats of the Left 62, Daisy Alliance 42, Sunflower Alliance 16, Italian Communist Party 3, independents 5), non-affiliated with either coalition 10, senators for life 9; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - House of Liberties 367 (Forza Italia 189, National Alliance 96, CCD-CDU 40, Northern League 30, others 12), Olive Tree 248 (Democrats of the Left 138, Daisy Alliance 76, Sunflower Alliance 18, Italian Communist Party 9, independents 7), non-affiliated with either coalition 15
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court or Corte Costituzionale (composed of 15 judges: one-third appointed by the president, one-third elected by Parliament, one-third elected by the ordinary and administrative Supreme Courts)
Political parties and leaders:
Center-Left Olive Tree Coalition [Francesco RUTELLI] - Democrats of the Left, Daisy Alliance (including Italian Popular Party, Italian Renewal, Union of Democrats for Europe, The Democrats), Sunflower Alliance (including Green Federation, Italian Democratic Socialists), Italian Communist Party; Center-Right Freedom House Coalition [Silvio BERLUSCONI] (formerly House of Liberties and Freedom Alliance) - Forza Italia, National Alliance, The Whiteflower Alliance (includes Christian Democratic Center, United Christian Democrats), Northern League; Christian Democratic Center or CCD [Marco FOLLINI]; Communist Party or PdCI [Oliviero DILIBERTO]; Democrats of the Left or DS [Piero FASSINO]; Forza Italia or FI [Silvio BERLUSCONI]; Green Federation [Alfonso Pecoraro SCANIO]; Italian Communist Party or PdCI [Oliviero DILIBERTO]; Italian Popular Party or PPI [Pierluigi CASTAGNETTI]; Italian Renewal or RI [Lamberto DINI]; Italian Social Democrats or SDI [Enrico BOSELLI]; Socialist Movement-Tricolor Flame or MS-Fiamma [Pino RAUTI]; National Alliance or AN [Gianfranco FINI]; Northern League or NL [Umberto BOSSI]; Southern Tyrols People's Party or SVP (German speakers) [Siegfried BRUGGER]; Sunflower Alliance (includes Green Federation, Italian Social Democrats); The Daisy Alliance (includes Italian Popular Party, Italian Renewal, Union of Democrats for Europe, The Democrats); The Democrats [Arturo PARISI]; The Radicals (formerly Pannella Reformers and Autonomous List) [Marco PANNELLA]; The Whiteflower Alliance (includes Christian Democratic Center, United Christian Democrats); Union of Democrats for Europe or UDEUR [Clemente MASTELLA]; United Christian Democrats or CDU [Rocco BUTTIGLIONE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Italian manufacturers and merchants associations (Confindustria, Confcommercio); organized farm groups (Confcoltivatori, Confagricoltura); Roman Catholic Church; three major trade union confederations (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro or CGIL [Sergio COFFERATI] which is left wing, Confederazione Italiana dei Sindacati Lavoratori or CISL [Savino PEZZOTTA] which is Roman Catholic centrist, and Unione Italiana del Lavoro or UIL [Pietro LARIZZA] which is lay centrist)
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ferdinando SALLEO
consulate(s): Detroit
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 518-2151
telephone: [1] (202) 612-4400
chancery: 3000 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Melvin SEMBLER
embassy: Via Vittorio Veneto 119/A, 00187-Rome
mailing address: PSC 59, Box 100, APO AE 09624
telephone: [39] (06) 46741
FAX: [39] (06) 488-2672, 4674-2356
consulate(s) general: Florence, Milan, Naples
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and red; similar to the flag of Ireland, which is longer and is green (hoist side), white, and orange; also similar to the flag of the Cote d'Ivoire, which has the colors reversed - orange (hoist side), white, and green
note: inspired by the French flag brought to Italy by Napoleon in 1797
Economy Italy
Economy - overview:
Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Rome has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions.
purchasing power parity - $1.438 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.4% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $25,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 30%
services: 68% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 27% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
27 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.4% (2002)
Labor force:
23.6 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 63%, industry 32%, agriculture 5% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
9.1% (2002 est.)
revenues: $504 billion
expenditures: $517 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics
Industrial production growth rate:
-2.8% (2002)
Electricity - production:
257.41 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 80%
hydro: 17%
other: 3% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
283.74 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
484 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
44.831 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
fruits, vegetables, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, grain, olives; beef, dairy products; fish
$259.2 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; food, beverages and tobacco; minerals and nonferrous metals
Exports - partners:
EU 53.8% (Germany 14.5%, France 12.2%, UK 6.7%, Spain 6.1%), US 9.7% (2001)
$238.2 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing; food, beverages and tobacco
Imports - partners:
EU 56.5% (Germany 17.7%, France 11.1%, Netherlands 6.2%, UK 5.1%), US 4.9% (2001)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $1 billion (2002 est.)
euro (EUR); Italian lira (ITL)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); Italian lire per US dollar - 1,688.7 (January 1999), 1,736.2 (1998), 1,703.1 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Italy
Telephones - main lines in use:
25 million (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
20.5 million (1999)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern, well developed, fast; fully automated telephone, telex, and data services
domestic: high-capacity cable and microwave radio relay trunks
international: satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (with a total of 5 antennas - 3 for Atlantic Ocean and 2 for Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region), and NA Eutelsat; 21 submarine cables
Radio broadcast stations:
AM about 100, FM about 4,600, shortwave 9 (1998)
50.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
358 (plus 4,728 repeaters) (1995)
30.3 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
93 (Italy and Holy See) (2000)
Internet users:
19.25 million (2001)
Transportation Italy
total: 19,786 km
standard gauge: 18,761 km 1.435-m gauge (11,251 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 113 km 1.000-m gauge (113 km electrified); 912 km 0.950-m gauge (192 km electrified) (2001)
total: 668,669 km
paved: 668,669 km (including 6,460 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (2001)
2,400 km
note: serves various types of commercial traffic, although of limited overall value (2002)
crude oil 1,703 km; petroleum products 2,148 km; natural gas 19,400 km
Ports and harbors:
Augusta (Sicily), Bagnoli, Bari, Brindisi, Gela, Genoa, La Spezia, Livorno, Milazzo, Naples, Porto Foxi, Porto Torres (Sardinia), Salerno, Savona, Taranto, Trieste, Venice (2001)
Merchant marine:
total: 467 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 8,499,248 GRT/10,383,988 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Croatia 1, Denmark 4, France 1, Greece 3, Man, Isle of 1, Monaco 7, Netherlands 6, Norway 1, Panama 2, Spain 1, Switzerland 1, Taiwan 15, Turkey 1, United Kingdom 6, United States 12 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 45, cargo 41, chemical tanker 91, combination ore/oil 4, container 24, liquefied gas 37, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 15, petroleum tanker 80, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 70, short-sea passenger 27, specialized tanker 12, vehicle carrier 16
135 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 96
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 30
under 914 m: 12 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 38
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 18 (2002)
4 (2002)
Military Italy
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Carabinieri
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 14,184,307 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 12,157,753 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 304,369 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$20.2 billion (2002)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.64% (2002)
Transnational Issues Italy
Disputes - international:
Croatia and Italy are still trying to resolve bilateral property and ethnic minority rights dating from World War II
Illicit drugs:
important gateway for and consumer of Latin American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin entering the European market; money laundering by organized crime and from smuggling

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003