Italy Country Profile

Southern Republic of Europe; it borders on the north with Switzerland and Austria, on the east with Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea, on the south with the Ionian Seas and the Mediterranean, on the west with the Tyrrhenian, Ligurian and Mediterranean Seas and on the northwest with France .

Also belonging to Italy are the Mediterranean islands of Elba, Sardinia and Sicily, as well as other smaller islands. Within Italy are the states of San Marino and the Vatican. It has a surface area of ​​301,309 km2. Rome is the capital of the country.


According to, more than half of the territory corresponds to the Italian peninsula, a long arm of the European continent that enters the Mediterranean Sea. At the northern border are the Alps and between these and the Apennine hills the plain of Lombardy extends.

The northern coast of the Adriatic is low, with sandy beaches and shallow waters. The southern one has an irregular profile due to the Apennines’ extensions that reach the sea. The western region has numerous bays and gulfs, and the central one has three branches of low and swampy land: the Rome campaign, the Pontina plain and the Maremma.

The mountain system of the Apennines extends until it crosses the Strait of Messina, ending on the island of Sicily, where the Etna volcano is located. On the island of Stromboli, which is part of the islands Lípari or Eolias, located northeast of the Strait of Messina, there is another active volcano.

The main rivers are Po, Adige, Arno, and Tíber. The most important lakes are Garda, Maggiore, Como and Lugano.

The climate is characterized by its diversity, which varies from the glacial cold, in the highest peaks of the Alps and the Apennines, to the semitropical climate of the coastal areas of the Ligurian Sea and the lower coasts of the western part of the peninsula.

Population and government

The country is divided into the northern, more urban region (it occupies the area between the northern border and the port of Ancona, in the southern part of Rome), and the southern region, which is more rural. Almost the entire population speaks Italian, one of the Romance languages ​​derived from Indo-European. German is spoken in the northern areas, close to the Austrian border, and French in the Aosta Valley.

The population in 1993 was 57,138,489 inhabitants, with about 189.6 inhabitants / km2. The capital and main city is Rome. Other important cities are Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Catania, Bari and Venice.

The predominant religion is Catholic, professed by more than 80% of the population. The constitution guarantees freedom of worship for religious minorities, who are Protestant, Muslim and Jewish.

It is a republic whose president is elected by Parliament. The prime minister is the chief executive, who in turn is elected by the president of the republic. The bicameral Parliament is elected by universal suffrage.


It has a diversified industrial park, which is the basis of economic activity. In 1992, the gross domestic product was just over one billion dollars, that is, it had a per capita income of 12,857 dollars. Most of the industrial activity is in the hands of the private sector, although the government exercises control over large industrial and commercial companies. The currency unit is the lira.

Almost 60% of Italy’s area is cultivated or has pastures. It is among the world’s leading producers of grapes and wine, olives and olive oil. Other important agricultural products are: wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, beets, corn and rice. The dairy industry is one of the most outstanding, reaching up to fifty different types of cheese (gorgonzola, pecorino and parmesan, among others).

The main industries are textiles, chemicals and the automotive, metallurgical, plastic, heavy machinery, electrical (especially household goods) and food sectors, which revolve around pasta and pasta.


The 1933 appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany was met with caution by the censored Italian press. Hitler, in turn, expressed his sympathy for Italian fascism . However, the German – Italian axis was not formed immediately.

In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia. The Society of Nations has accused Italy of violating its acquired commitments and imposed economic sanctions for its aggression. However, the Society of Nations was unable to effect such sanctions, which contributed to Mussolini achieving its purpose and officially occupying Ethiopia, proclaiming King Victor Emmanuel III of that country. Within a month, together with Eritrea and Italian Somalia, Ethiopia formed the colony of Italian East Africa. In 1936, after the German recognition of the conquest of Italy, Hitler and Mussolini signed a joint action agreement in order to achieve their common goals.

In the course of the Munich Pact negotiations (1938), and the subsequent German invasion of the Sudetes, Mussolini fully supported Hitler’s demands. In May 1939, they signed a military aid pact.

In World War II, Germany’s successes during the first year of the conflict led Mussolini to join the war with Germany and Japan. See Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.

After the Allied bombing of Rome, the Council withdrew its trust to Mussolini. King Victor Emmanuel III requested his resignation and placed him under military detention. In addition to commissioning Marshal Pietro Badoglio to form a new government, which, among other measures, decreed the complete abolition of fascist organizations in Italy.

After the fascist defeat in the war and the execution of Mussolini, the National Liberation Committee decided to appoint as prime minister Alcide de Gasperi, leader of the Christian Democracy Party, who took office in 1945. In 1946, voters were supporters of the republic , and King Humberto abdicated.

Christian Democrats won the elections to the Constituent Assembly and became Italy’s first party. Enrico de Nicola, of the Liberal Party, was elected provisional president of the Republic. De Gasperi continued as chairman of the Council.

The Peace Conference held in Paris in July 1946 decided for the internationalization of Trieste, for the assignment of several territories and for the payment of reparations to the USSR and other nations, and for Great Britain to be in charge of the government of Italian East Africa. Despite the protests of the Italians, the Constituent Assembly ratified it with the abstention of the communist and socialist delegates.

In early 1947, De Gasperi formed a new coalition government with communists and socialists; however, relations between the moderates and the radicals soon deteriorated. In the framework of the Cold War, the extreme right, formed for the most part by former followers of Mussolini and monarchists, became increasingly violent. Immediately, the persecution of members of the left parties who held important public offices began to persecute.

The Constituent Assembly drafted the draft Constitution that came into force on January 1, 1948. The election campaign that followed its approval, coinciding with an intensification of the Cold War, brought Italy to the brink of civil war.

In 1949, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it established the independence of Italian Somalia after a period of ten years of Italian government under the supervision of the organization. In addition to approving Libya’s independence for 1952 and the study by a special commission in the case of Eritrea.

In 1963, the moderate elements of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) under Nenni’s leadership, agreed to take part in a center-left government, a fact that had not occurred since 1947. Christian Democrat Aldo Moro then formed a coalition government with the participation of four parties and he himself assumed the post of prime minister.

The late 1960s and early 1970s were characterized by a succession of short-lived coalition governments under the direction of Christian Democrats. The worsening economic situation and the wave of kidnappings and political violence that plagued the country meant the loss of confidence in the government and support for the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and its secretary general Enrico Berlinguer.

Violence and anarchy, which had flogged Italian society during the 1970s, took on more virulent tones by the end of it. The far-left terrorists, outraged by the PCI’s decision to ally themselves with the government, began a series of attacks. See Red Brigades.

In 1981, Giovanni Spadolini, leader of the Republican Party, became the Christian Democratic prime minister after World War II. The 1983 government crises led to the formation of a new government under the direction of Bettino Craxi, the socialist prime minister since the war. In 1984, under his direction, the government signed an agreement with the Vatican with which the Catholic religion was no longer the country’s official religion. From that moment until 1994, numerous short-term governments succeeded one another.

The early 1990s were characterized by a number of factors, such as the economic recession, the high rate of unemployment, the knowledge of numerous cases of political corruption and the enormous influence exerted by the Mafia.

In the 1994 elections, a right-wing coalition, the Freedom Alliance, took power. The Freedom Alliance is formed by the Northern League (formerly known as the Lombarda League), the National Alliance and the Força Italy party, created by the media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, who served as prime minister. In the general elections held in early 1996, the center-left coalition O Olivo won, which led Romano Prodi to the presidency of the Council.

Italy Country Profile