Rome, is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated municipality (central area), with over 2.7 million residents in 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi). While the population of the urban area was estimated by Eurostat to have been 3.46 million in 2004, the metropolitan area of Rome was estimated by OECD to have had a population of 3.7 million no later than 2006.
The city of Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river within the Lazio region of Italy. Rome's history spans over two and a half thousand years. It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant Power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea for over seven hundred years from the 1st Century BC until the 7th Century AD. Since the 2nd Century AD Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic. Since 1929 it is also the site of the Vatican City, an independent city-state presided over by the Pope.
After the Middle-Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence. The current-day version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Rome's influence on western Civilisation can hardly be overestimated, and the city is still recognised as a centre of the arts and education. Due to this centrality on many levels, and much of the city's past and present power and influence, Rome has been nicknamed "Caput Mundi" (Latin for "Capital of the World") and "The Eternal City". The city is, in addition, an important centre of pilgrimage in the Christian, notably the Roman Catholic Church, and St Peter's Basilica, found in the Holy See, is often called "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". Rome's architectural and archaeological sites, and its rich artistic and historical heritage, contribute to its historical centre being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its global influence in politics, literature, high culture, the arts, music, religion, education, fashion, cinema and cuisine lead it to being considered an Alpha- world city, according to Loughborough University and GaWC in 2008. Rome is also a hub of the cinematic and filming industry; for example, the Cinecittà Studios, Europe's biggest, which saw the filming of several internationally acclaimed movies as well as television programmes, are located in the city.
Since the 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community, the metropolis has served as a centre for international co-operative activities, with worldwide organizations such as World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the NATO Defence College being headquartered in the city. Rome is regarded as being one of the nation's principle centres of business, media and finance, along with Milan. The Rome metropolitan area has a GDP of €109.4 billion (US$ 149.14), and according to a 2008 study, the city is the world's 35th richest city by purchasing power, with a GDP of €94.376 billion (US$ 121.5 billion). Rome is also the world's 26th most expensive city (in 2010), and is the richest in Italy in terms of total earnings, and 30th globally. The city has been recognized, by different studies, to be a leading European business and economic centre.
The city hosted the 1960 Olympic Games, and is also an official candidate for the 2020 edition of this event.
In 2007 Rome was the 11th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the EU, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. The city is one of Europe's and the world's most successful city brands, both in terms of reputation and assets. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are amongst the world's 50 most visited tourist destinations (the Vatican Museums receiving 4.2 million tourists and the Colosseum receiving 4 million tourists every year).