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  Introduction Back To Top

Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional 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 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 Economic and 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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 41.98 cu km/yr (18%/37%/45%)
per capita: 723 cu m/yr (1998)

Total renewable water resources:
175 cu km (2005)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,899.2 km
border countries: Austria 430 km, France 488 km, Holy See (Vatican City) 3.2 km, San Marino 39 km, Slovenia 199 km, Switzerland 740 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, 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: none of the selected agreements

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

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
42 50 N, 12 50 E

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

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)

mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands

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

total: 301,230 sq km
land: 294,020 sq km
water: 7,210 sq km
note: includes Sardinia and Sicily

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

7,600 km

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Arizona

Irrigated land:
27,500 sq km (2003)

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

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Natural hazards:
regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice

Land use:
arable land: 26.41%
permanent crops: 9.09%
other: 64.5% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.3 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.5% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
140,000 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.07 years
male: 77.13 years
female: 83.2 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.8%
female: 98% (2001 census)

Net migration rate:
2.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)

Median age:
total: 42.9 years
male: 41.4 years
female: 44.4 years (2008 est.)

58,145,320 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
4.5% of GDP (2005)

Population growth rate:
-0.019% (2008 est.)

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)

Death rate:
10.61 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.19 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.6% (male 4,086,951/female 3,842,765)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 19,534,247/female 19,024,776)
65 years and over: 20% (male 4,864,189/female 6,792,393) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
8.36 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Roman Catholic 90% (approximately; about one-third practicing), other 10% (includes mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community)

noun: Italian(s)
adjective: Italian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ronald P. SPOGLI; note - may resign in 2009
embassy: Via Vittorio Veneto 121, 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

National holiday:
Republic Day, 2 June (1946)

18 years of age; universal (except in senatorial elections, where minimum age is 25)

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
manufacturers and merchants associations - Confcommercio; Confindustria; 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 [Raffaele BONANNO], which is Roman Catholic centrist; Unione Italiana del Lavoro or UIL [Luigi ANGELETTI] which is lay centrist)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Giovanni CASTELLANETA
chancery: 3000 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 612-4400
FAX: [1] (202) 518-2151
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco
consulate(s): Detroit

International organization participation:
ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CDB, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G-20, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Parlamento consists of the Senate or Senato della Repubblica (315 seats; members elected by proportional vote with the winning coalition in each region receiving 55% of seats from that region; to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camera dei Deputati (630 seats; members elected by popular vote with the winning national coalition receiving 54% of chamber seats; to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 13-14 April 2008 (next to be held April 2013); Chamber of Deputies - last held 13-14 April 2008 (next to be held in April 2013)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - S. BERLUSCONI coalition 174 (PdL 147, LN 25, MpA 2), W. VELTRONI coalition 132 (PD 118, IdV 3), UdC 3, other 6; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - S. BERLUSCONI coalition 344 (PdL 276, LN 60, MpA 8), W. VELTRONI coalition 246 (PD 217, IdV 29), UdC 36, other 4

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

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; inspired by the French flag brought to Italy by Napoleon in 1797

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

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Italian Republic
conventional short form: Italy
local long form: Repubblica Italiana
local short form: Italia
former: Kingdom of Italy

Political parties and leaders:
Silvio BERLUSCONI coalition: People of Freedom or PdL [Silvio BERLUSCONI]; Lega Nord or LN [Umberto BOSSI]; Movement for Autonomy or MpA [Raffaele LOMBARDO]
Walter VELTRONI coalition: Democratic Party or PD [Walter VELTRONI]; Italy of Values or IdV [Antonio DI PIETRO]
other non-allied parties: Union of the Center or UdC [Savino PEZZOTTA]

name: Rome
geographic coordinates: 41 54 N, 12 29 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

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

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Giorgio NAPOLITANO (since 15 May 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Silvio BERLUSCONI (referred to in Italy as the president of the Council of Ministers) (since 8 May 2008) note - in Italy the prime minister is referred to as the president of the Council of Ministers
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and approved by the president
elections: president elected by an electoral college consisting of both houses of parliament and 58 regional representatives for a seven-year term (no term limits); election last held 10 May 2006 (next to be held in May 2013); prime minister appointed by the president and confirmed by parliament
election results: Giorgio NAPOLITANO elected president on the fourth round of voting; electoral college vote - 543

Administrative divisions:
15 regions (regioni, singular - regione) and 5 autonomous regions* (regioni autonome, singular - regione autonoma); Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia*, Lazio (Latium), Liguria, Lombardia, Marche, Molise, Piemonte (Piedmont), Puglia (Apulia), Sardegna* (Sardinia), Sicilia*, Toscana (Tuscany), Trentino-Alto Adige* (Trentino-South Tyrol), Umbria, Valle d'Aosta* (Aosta Valley), Veneto (Venetia)

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)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Germany 12.9%, France 11.4%, Spain 7.4%, US 6.8%, UK 5.8% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
316.3 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

Electricity - imports:
34.56 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$68.82 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$1.06 trillion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
6.8% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
616,700 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$31,000 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
20.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$3.084 trillion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.801 trillion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.399 trillion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
32 (2006)

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6689 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
0% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the Euro Area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 15 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Labor force:
25.09 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
Germany 16.9%, France 9%, China 5.9%, Netherlands 5.5%, Belgium 4.3%, Spain 4.2% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 26.7%
services: 71.3% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
2.223 million bbl/day (2005)

$566.1 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
84.89 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
euro (EUR)

Economy - overview:
Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with high unemployment. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 15% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, constuction, and service sectors. Italy has moved slowly on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system and these conditions will be exacerbated by the recent global financial crisis. The Italian government is seeking to rein in government spending, but the leadership faces a severe economic constraint: Italy's official debt remains above 100% of GDP, and the fiscal deficit - 1.5% of GDP in 2007 - could approach 3% in 2009 as political pressure to stimulate the economy and the costs of servicing Italy's debt rise. The economy will continue to contract through 2009 as the global demand for exports drop.

Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $3.641 billion (2006)

Natural gas - exports:
68 million cu m (2007 est.)

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

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

Electricity - exports:
1.916 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
10.93% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:

Electricity - production:
292.1 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$566.8 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
406.5 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 4.2%
industry: 30.7%
services: 65.1% (2005)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
94.15 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$104 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
1.702 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$547.7 billion (2008 est.)

Public debt:
103.7% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$374.8 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$1.073 trillion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 26.8% (2000)

Exports - commodities:
engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; food, beverages and tobacco; minerals, and nonferrous metals

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 78.6%
hydro: 18.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 3% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
73.95 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
9.706 billion cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $1.139 trillion
expenditures: $1.203 trillion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
166,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
32 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
26.89 million (2006)

30.3 million (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM about 100, FM about 4,600, shortwave 9 (1998)

50.5 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
78.571 million (2006)

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

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; a series of submarine cables provide links to Asia, Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and US; 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

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

Internet hosts:
17.702 million (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

2,400 km
note: used for commercial traffic; of limited overall value compared to road and rail (2008)

gas 18,863 km; oil 1,258 km (2007)

total: 19,460 km
standard gauge: 18,038 km 1.435-m gauge (11,354 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 123 km 1.000-m gauge (123 km electrified); 1,299 km 0.950-m gauge (161 km electrified) (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Augusta, Genoa, Livorno, Ravenna, Sarroch, Taranto, Trieste, Venice

5 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 609
by type: bulk carrier 60, cargo 47, carrier 2, chemical tanker 159, combination ore/oil 1, container 25, liquefied gas 27, passenger 22, passenger/cargo 154, petroleum tanker 35, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 33, specialized tanker 13, vehicle carrier 27
foreign-owned: 64 (Denmark 3, France 2, Greece 6, Japan 1, Lebanon 1, Nigeria 1, Norway 2, Portugal 1, Sweden 1, Switzerland 8, Taiwan 13, Turkey 1, UK 7, US 17)
registered in other countries: 208 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Bahamas 4, Belize 3, Cayman Islands 4, Cyprus 7, France 2, Liberia 41, Malta 50, Marshall Islands 3, Netherlands 1, Norway 4, Panama 28, Portugal 12, Russia 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 17, Singapore 5, Slovakia 2, Spain 2, Sweden 9, Turkey 3, UK 5) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 101
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 32
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 34
under 914 m: 13 (2007)

total: 487,700 km
paved: 487,700 km (includes 6,700 km of expressways) (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 31
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 19 (2007)

132 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18-27 year of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished January 2005; women may serve in any military branch; 10-month service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 45 (Army and Air Force) or 39 (Navy) (2006)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 13,884,079
females age 16-49: 13,158,378 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 11,285,488
females age 16-49: 10,680,672 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Italian Army (Esercito Italiano, EI), Italian Navy (Marina Militare Italiana, MMI), Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, AMI), Carabinieri Corps (Arma dei Carabinieri, CC) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 290,740
female: 273,569 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.8% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
Italy's long coastline and developed economy entices tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from southeastern Europe and northern Africa

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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