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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 II. 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, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.

Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia

Geographic coordinates: 42 50 N, 12 50 E

Map references: Europe

  • 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

    Coastline: 7,600 km
    Maritime claims:
  • territorial sea: 12 nm
  • continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

    Climate: predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south

    Terrain: 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: coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorospar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land

    Land use:
  • arable land: 27.79%
  • permanent crops: 9.53%
  • other: 62.68% (2001)

    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-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants

    Geography - note: strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe

    58,057,477 (July 2004 est.)

    Age structure:
  • 0-14 years: 14% (male 4,181,946; female 3,935,565)
  • 15-64 years: 66.9% (male 19,590,497; female 19,256,747)
  • 65 years and over: 19.1% (male 4,608,479; female 6,484,243) (2004 est.)

    Median age:
  • total: 41.4 years
  • male: 39.8 years
  • female: 43 years (2004 est.)

    Population growth rate: 0.09% (2004 est.)

    Birth rate: 9.05 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)

    Death rate: 10.21 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)

    Net migration rate: 2.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)

    Sex ratio:
  • at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
  • under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
  • 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
  • 65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
  • total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2004 est.)

    Infant mortality rate:
  • total: 6.07 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 5.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
  • male: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births

    Life expectancy at birth:
  • total population: 79.54 years
  • male: 76.61 years
  • female: 82.66 years (2004 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 1.27 children born/woman (2004 est.)

    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2001 est.)

    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 100,000 (2001 est.)

    HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,100 (2001 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)

    Religions: predominately Roman Catholic with mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community

    Languages: 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: 98.6%
  • male: 99%
  • female: 98.3% (2003 est.)

    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: republic

    Capital: Rome

    Administrative divisions: 16 regions (regioni, singular - regione) and 4 autonomous regions* (regioni autonome, singular - regione autonoma); Abruzzo, 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

    Independence: 17 March 1861 (Kingdom of Italy proclaimed; Italy was not finally unified until 1870)

    National holiday: Republic Day, 2 June (1946)

    Constitution: passed 11 December 1947; effective 1 January 1948; amended many times

    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

    Suffrage: 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 four-party government coalition includes Forza Italia, National Alliance, Northern League, and Union of Christian Democrats and Democrats of the Center

    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 2006); Chamber of Deputies - last held 13 May 2001 (next to be held May 2006)
  • election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - House of Liberties 172 (Forza Italia 77, National Alliance 47, UDC 31, Lega Padana 17), Olive Tree 108 (Democrats of the Left 63, Daisy Alliance 35, Greens 10), Per le Autonomie 10, other 25; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - House of Liberties 337 (Forza Italia 176, National Alliance 97, UDC 36, Northern League 28), Olive Tree 214 (Democrats of the Left 135, Daisy Alliance 79), Rifondazione Communista 11, other 68

    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; Democrats of the Left or DS [Piero FASSINO]; Forza Italia or FI [Silvio BERLUSCONI]; Green Federation [Alfonso Pecoraro SCANIO]; Italian Communist Party or PdCI [Armando COSSUTTA]; Italian Renewal or RI [Lamberto DINI]; merged with PPI and I Democratici to form La Margherita (or The Daisy Alliance); Italian Social Democrats or SDI [Enrico BOSELLI]; Lega Padana [Roberto BERNARDELLI]; National Alliance or AN [Gianfranco FINI]; Northern League or NL [Umberto BOSSI]; Socialist Movement-Tricolor Flame or MS-Fiamma [Luca ROMAGNOLI]; South Tyrol People's Party or SVP (German speakers) [Elmar Pichler ROLLE]; Sunflower Alliance (includes Green Federation, Italian Social Democrats); The Daisy Alliance (includes Italian Popular Party, Italian Renewal, Union of Democrats for Europe, The Democrats) [Francesco RUTELLI]; The Democrats [Arturo PARISI]; The Radicals (formerly Pannella Reformers and Autonomous List) [Marco PANNELLA]; Union of Democrats for Europe or UDEUR [Clemente MASTELLA]; Union of Christian and Center Democrats or UDC [Marco FOLLINI]

    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 [Guglielmo EPIFANI] 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 [Luigi ANGELETTI] which is lay centrist)

    International organization participation: AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CDB, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMEE, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNTSO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO, ZC

    Diplomatic representation in the US:
  • chief of mission: Ambassador Sergio VENTO
  • 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 F. 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 - 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, welfare-dependent 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. Italy 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.

    GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.55 trillion (2003 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate:
  • 0.4% (2003 est.)

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $26,700 (2003 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
  • agriculture: 2.2%
  • industry: 28.9%
  • services: 68.9% (2003 est.)

    Investment (gross fixed): 19.1% of GDP (2003)

    Population below poverty line: NA

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
  • lowest 10%: 2.1%
  • highest 10%: 26.6% (2000)

    Distribution of family income - Gini index: 27.3 (1995)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.7% (2003 est.)

    Labor force: 24.15 million (2003 est.)

    Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 5%, industry 32%, services 63% (2001)

    Unemployment rate: 8.6% (2003 est.)

    Budget: revenues: $668 billion
    expenditures: $703.1 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2003)

    Public debt: 106.4% of GDP (2003)

    Agriculture - products: fruits, vegetables, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, grain, olives; beef, dairy products; fish

    Industries: tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics

    Industrial production growth rate: -0.5% (2003)

    Electricity - production: 258.8 billion kWh (2001)

    Electricity - consumption: 289.1 billion kWh (2001)

    Electricity - exports: 556 million kWh (2001)

    Electricity - imports: 48.93 billion kWh (2001)

    Oil - production: 79,460 bbl/day (2001 est.)

    Oil - consumption: 1.866 million bbl/day (2001 est.)

    Oil - exports: 456,600 bbl/day (2001)

    Oil - imports: 2.158 million bbl/day (2001)

    Oil - proved reserves: 586.6 million bbl (1 January 2002)

    Natural gas - production: 15.49 billion cu m (2001 est.)

    Natural gas - consumption: 71.18 billion cu m (2001 est.)

    Natural gas - exports: 61 million cu m (2001 est.)

    Natural gas - imports: 54.78 billion cu m (2001 est.)

    Natural gas - proved reserves: 209.7 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

    Current account balance: $-22.28 billion (2003)

    Exports: $278.1 billion f.o.b. (2003 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: Germany 13.8%, France 12.3%, US 8.5%, Spain 7%, UK 6.9% (2003)

    Imports: $271.1 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)

    Imports - commodities: engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing; food, beverages and tobacco

    Imports - partners: Germany 17.9%, France 11.2%,
    Netherlands 5.8%, Spain 4.8%, UK 4.7%, Belgium 4.3%, US 4% (2003)

    Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $63.26 billion (2003)

    Debt - external: $868.5 billion NA (2003)

    Economic aid - donor: ODA, $1 billion (2002 est.)

    Currency: euro (EUR)
  • 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: EUR

    Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

    Telephones - main lines in use:
    26.596 million (2003)

    Telephones - mobile cellular: 55.918 million (2003)

    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: country code - 39; 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)

    Radios: 50.5 million (1997)

    Television broadcast stations: 358 (plus 4,728 repeaters) (1995)

    Televisions: 30.3 million (1997)

    Internet country code: .it

    Internet hosts: 1,437,511 (2004)

    Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 93 (Italy and Holy See) (2000)

    Internet users: 18.5 million (2003)

  • total: 19,507 km (11,651 km electrified)
  • standard gauge: 18,070 km 1.435-m gauge (11,375 km electrified)
  • narrow gauge: 123 km 1.000-m gauge (88 km electrified); 1,314 km 0.950-m gauge (188 km electrified) (2003)

  • total: 479,688 km
  • paved: 479,688 km (including 6,621 km of expressways)
  • unpaved: 0 km (1999)

    Waterways: 2,400 km
  • note: used for commercial traffic; of limited overall value compared to road and rail (2004)

    Pipelines: gas 17,335 km; oil 1,136 km (2004)

    Ports and harbors: Augusta (Sicily), Bagnoli, Bari, Brindisi, Gela (Sicily), Genoa, La Spezia, Livorno, Milazzo (Sicily), Naples, Porto Foxi, Porto Torres (Sardinia), Salerno, Savona, Taranto, Trieste, Venice

    Merchant marine:
  • total: 475 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 8,970,017 GRT/10,354,685 DWT
  • foreign-owned: Denmark 4, France 3, Greece 5, Japan 1, Isle of Man 1, Monaco 22, Netherlands 4, Panama 2, Switzerland 2, Taiwan 10, United Kingdom 5, United States 13
  • registered in other countries: 144 (2003 est.)
    by type: bulk 39, cargo 40, chemical tanker 106, combination ore/oil 2, container 23, liquefied gas 43, livestock carrier 2, multi-functional large load carrier 1, passenger 13, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 74, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 62, short-sea/passenger 31, specialized tanker 11, vehicle carrier 23

    Airports: 134 (2003 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
  • total: 96
  • over 3,047 m: 6
  • 2,438 to 3,047 m: 32
  • 914 to 1,523 m: 30
  • under 914 m: 12 (2004 est.)
  • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 16

    Airports - with unpaved runways:
  • total: 38
  • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
  • 914 to 1,523 m: 18
  • under 914 m: 18 (2004 est.)

    Heliports: 4 (2003 est.)

    Military branches:
    Army, Navy, Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, AMI), Carabinieri

    Military manpower - military age and obligation: 18 years of age (2004 est.)

    Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 14,408,392 (2004 est.)

    Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 12,279,516 (2004 est.)

    Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 285,601 (2004 est.)

    Military expenditures - dollar figure: $28,182.8 million (2003)

    Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.9% (2003)

    Transnational Issues
    Disputes - international:

    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
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