Italian Republic

Repubblica Italiana

CAPITAL: Rome (Roma)

FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of green, white, and red vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy).

MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the lira as the official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. 1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = 0.79697) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; Liberation Day, 25 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; All Saints' Day, 1 November; National Unity Day, 5 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December; St. Stephen's Day, 26 December. Easter Monday is a movable holiday. In addition, each town has a holiday on its Saint's Day.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Situated in southern Europe, the Italian Republic, including the major islands of Sicily (Sicilia) and Sardinia (Sardegna), covers a land area of 301,230 sq km (116,306 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Italy is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. The boot-shaped Italian mainland extends into the Mediterranean Sea with a length of 1,185 km (736 mi) senw and a width of 381 km (237 mi) nesw. It is bordered on the n by Switzerland and Austria, on the ne by Slovenia, on the e by the Adriatic and Ionian seas, on the w by the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas, and on the nw by France, with a total land boundary length of 1,932 km (1,200 mi) and a coastline of 7,600 km (4,712 mi).

Situated off the toe of the Italian boot, Sicily has a surface area of 25,708 sq km (9,926 sq mi). Sardinia, which is about 320 km (200 mi) nw of Sicily, covers an area of some 24,090 sq km (9,300 sq mi). Within the frontiers of Italy are the sovereign Republic of San Marino, with an area of 61.2 sq km (23.6 sq mi), and the sovereign state of Vatican City, which covers 44 hectares (108.7 acres).

The long-disputed problem of Trieste, a 518 sq km (200 sq mi) area situated at the head of the Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Yugoslavia, was resolved in 1954, when Italy assumed the administration of Zone A, the city and harbor of Trieste, and Yugoslavia of Zone B, the rural hinterlands of the Istrian Peninsula. A treaty of October 1975 made the partition permanent.

Italy's capital city, Rome, is located in the west-central part of the country.


Except for the fertile Po River Valley in the north and the narrow coastal belts farther south, Italy's mainland is generally mountainous, with considerable seismic activity. During Roman times, the city of Pompeii, near present-day Naples (Napoli), was devastated first by an earthquake in ad 63 and then by the famed eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (1,277 m/4,190 ft) in ad 79. In the last century, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Calabrian-Sicilian region occurred in December 1908 that leveled the cities of Reggio di Calabria and Messina and left about 100,000 dead. A quake in the south on 23 November 1980 (and subsequent aftershocks) claimed at least 4,500 lives.

The Alpine mountain area in the north along the French and Swiss borders includes three famous lakesComo, Maggiore, and Gardaand gives rise to six small rivers that flow southward into the Po. Italy's highest peaks are found in the northwest in the Savoy Alps, the Pennines, and the Graian chain. They include Mont Blanc (4,807 m/15,771 ft), on the French border; Monte Rosa (Dufourspitze, 4,634 m/15,203 ft) and the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino, 4,478 m/14,692 ft), on the Swiss border; and Gran Paradiso (4,061 m/13,323 ft). Marmolada (3,342 m/10,965 ft), in northeast Italy, is the highest peak in the Dolomites.

At the foot of the Alps, the Po River, the only large river in Italy, flows from west to east, draining plains covering about 17% of Italy's total area and forming the agricultural and industrial heartland. The Apennines, the rugged backbone of peninsular Italy, rise to form the southern border of the Po Plain. Numerous streams and a few small rivers, including the Arno and the Tiber (Tevere), flow from the Apennines to the west coast. The highest peak on the peninsula is Corvo Grande (2,912 m/9,554 ft). Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland.

While altitudes are lower in southern Italy, the Calabrian coast is still rugged. Among the narrow, fertile coastal plains, the Plain of Foggia in northern Apulia, which starts along the Adriatic, and the more extensive lowland areas near Naples, Rome, and Livorno (Leghorn) are the most important. The mountainous western coastline forms natural harbors at Naples, Livorno, La Spezia, Genoa (Genova), and Savona, and the low Adriatic coast permits natural ports at Venice (Venezia), Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto.

Sicily, separated from the mainland by the narrow Strait of Messina, has the Madonie Mountains, a continuation of the Apennines, and the Plain of Catania, the largest plain on the island. Mount Etna (3,369 m/11,053 ft) is an isolated and active volcano in the northeast.

Sardinia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is generally mountainous and culminates in the peak of Gennargentu (1,834 m/6,017 ft). The largest and most fertile plains are the Campidano in the south and the Ozieri in the north. The principal bay is Porto Torres in the Gulf of Asinara.


Climate varies with elevation and region. Generally, however, Italy is included between the annual isotherms of 11°c and 19°c (52°f and 66°f). The coldest period occurs in December and January, the hottest in July and August. In the Po Plain, the average annual temperature is about 13°c (55°f); in Sicily, about 18°c (64°f); and in the coastal lowlands, about 14°c (57°f). The climate of the Po Valley and the Alps is characterized by cold winters, warm summers, and considerable rain, falling mostly in spring and autumn, with snow accumulating heavily in the mountains. The climate of the peninsula and of the islands is Mediterranean, with cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Mean annual rainfall varies from about 50 cm (20 in) per year, on the southeast coast and in Sicily and Sardinia, to over 200 cm (80 in), in the Alps and on some westerly slopes of the Apennines. Frosts are rare in the sheltered western coastal areas, but severe winters are common in the Apennine and Alpine uplands.


Plants and animals vary with area and altitude. Mountain flora is found above 1,980 m (6,500 ft) in the Alps and above 2,290 m (7,500 ft) in the Apennines. The highest forest belt consists of conifers; beech, oak, and chestnut trees grow on lower mountain slopes. Poplar and willow thrive in the Po Plain. On the peninsula and on the larger islands, Mediterranean vegetation predominates: evergreens, holm oak, cork, juniper, bramble, laurel, myrtle, and dwarf palm.

Although larger mammals are scarce, chamois, ibex, and roe deer are found in the Alps, and bears, chamois, and otters inhabit the Apennines. Ravens and swallows are characteristic birds of Italy. Abundant marine life inhabits the surrounding seas.

As of 2002, there were at least 90 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, and over 5,900 species of plants throughout the country.


Italy has been slow to confront its environmental problems. Central government agencies concerned with the environment are the Ministry for Ecology (established in 1983), the Ministry of Culture and Environmental Quality, the National Council for Research, and the Ministry for Coordination of Scientific and Technological Research. Localities also have responsibility for environmental protection, but most of the burden of planning and enforcement falls on regional authorities. The principal antipollution statute is Law No. 319 of 1976 (the Merli Law), which controls the disposal of organic and chemical wastes; enforcement, however, has proved difficult.

Air pollution is a significant problem in Italy. United Nations sources estimate that carbon monoxide emissions increased by 12% in the period between 1985 and 1989. In the 1990s Italy had the world's 10th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 407.7 million metric tons per year, a per capita level of 7.03 metric tons. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 428.2 million metric tons.

Water pollution is another important environmental issue in Italy. The nation's rivers and coasts have been polluted by industrial and agricultural contaminants and its lakes contaminated by acid rain. In 2001 the nation had 160 cu km of renewable water resources with 53% used in farming activity and 33% used for industrial purposes. Facilities for the treatment and disposal of industrial wastes are inadequate.

In July 1976, the city of Seveso, north of Milan (Milano), gained international attention after an explosion at a small Swiss-owned chemical plant released a cloud of debris contaminated by a toxic by-product, dioxin. More than 1,000 residents were evacuated, and pregnant women were advised to have abortions.

The long-term threat posed by flooding, pollution, erosion, and sinkage to the island city of Venice was highlighted by a disastrous flood in November 1966, which damaged priceless art treasures and manuscripts in Florence (Firenze). The digging of artesian wells in the nearby mainland cities of Mestre and Marghera so lowered the water table that the Venetian islands sank at many times the normal annual rate of 4 mm (0.16 in) a year between 1900 and 1975; with the wells capped as a protective measure, Venice's normal sinkage rate was restored. As of the mid-1980s, however, little effort had been made to control the number and speed of powerboats on the Grand Canal (the churning of whose waters causes buildings to erode), nor had the national government begun to implement a master plan for Venice approved in principle three years earlier. Rome has implemented a project designed, in part, to protect the Roman Forum and other ancient monuments from the vibration and pollution of motor vehicles.

In 2003, only about 7.9% of the total land area was protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 15 species of birds, 4 types of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians, 17 species of fish, 16 types of mollusks, 42 species of other invertebrates, and 3 species of plants. Threatened species include the Sicilian fir, the black vulture, the spotted eagle, the wild goat, the great white shark, and the red-breasted goose. The Sardinian pika is extinct.


The population of Italy in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 58,742,000, which placed it at number 23 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 19% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 14% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 94 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be stagnant at 0.0%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 57,630,000. The population density was 195 per sq km (505 per sq mi), with the Po Valley being one of the most densely populated areas of the country.

The UN estimated that 90% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that population in urban areas was declining at an annual rate of -0.04%. The capital city, Rome (Roma), had a population of 2,665,000 in that year. Other major cities and their estimated populations include Milan, 4,007,000; Naples, 2,905,000; Turin (Torino), 1,182,000; Genoa, 803,000; Florence, 778,000; Palermo, 721,164; and Bologna, 369,955.


Emigration, which traditionally provided relief from overpopulation and unemployment, now represents only a fraction of the millions of Italians who emigrated during the two decades prior to 1914. From 1900 to 1914, 16 of every 1,000 Italians left their homeland each year; by the late 1970s, that proportion had declined to about 1.5 per 1,000. Of the 65,647 Italians who emigrated in 1989, some 26,098 went to Germany; 16,347 to Switzerland; 5,277 to France; 4,076 to the United States; and 23,849 to other countries. Immigration in 1989 totaled approximately 81,201 people, of whom West Germans accounted for 13,198. In 1990, 781,100 immigrants lived in Italy. This figure did not include some 600,000 who were believed to be illegal immigrants.

The overall impetus to emigrate has been greatly reduced by economic expansion within Italy itself and by the shrinking job market in other countries, especially Germany. Nevertheless, Germany had 560,100 Italian residents at the end of 1991, and France had 253,679 in 1990. Particularly significant in the first two decades after World War II was the considerable migration from the rural south to the industrial north, but by the mid-1980s, this flow had become insignificant.

In 1998, Italy received a total of 7,112 asylum applications, an increase of over 380% over the 1,858 applications lodged in 1997. The main countries of origin were Serbia and Montenegro, Iraq, and Turkey. Refugee status was granted in 29.6% of decisions on the applications made in 1998. Italy also hosted 5,816 people who arrived in 1999 from Macedonia under the UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme. However, in 2004 there were no asylum seekers in Italy, but 15,604 refugees and 886 stateless persons of concern to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 2.07 migrants per 1,000 population.


Italy has been the home of various peoples: Lombards and Goths in the north; Greeks, Saracens, and Spaniards in Sicily and the south; Latins in and around Rome; and Etruscans and others in central Italy. For centuries, however, Italy has enjoyed a high degree of ethnic homogeneity. The chief minority groups are the German-speaking people in the Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region and the Slavs of the Trieste area.


Italian, the official language, is spoken by the vast majority of people. While each region has its own dialect, Tuscan, the dialect of Tuscany, is the standard dialect for Italian. French is spoken in parts of Piedmonte and in Valle d'Aosta, where it is the second official language; Slovene is spoken in the Trieste-Gorizia area. German is widely used in Bolzano Province, or South Tyrol (part of the Trentino-Alto Adige region), which was ceded by Austria in 1919; under agreements reached between Italy and Austria in 1946 and 1969, the latter oversees the treatment of these German-speakers, who continue to call for greater linguistic and cultural autonomy.


Roman Catholicism, affirmed as the state religion under the Lateran Treaty of 1929, lost that distinction under a concordat with the Vatican ratified in 1985. However, the Catholic Church continues to hold a privileged status with the state. An estimated 87% of native-born Italian citizens claim to be members of the Roman Catholic faith; however, only about 20% are active participants. Jehovah's Witnesses form the second-largest denomination among native-born Italian citizens, with about 400,000 adherents. However, if immigrants are counted, the second-largest religion is Islam, with an estimated one million followers. About 100,000 people are Scientologists, 60,000 are Buddhists, 30,000 are Waldensians (a Calvinist sect), 30,000 are Jewish, and 20,000 are Mormons. The Orthodox and Protestant churches have small communities. Hinduism and Bahaism are also represented. About 14% of the population claim to be atheists or agnostics.


Italy's highway system, one of the world's best, in 2002 totaled 479,688 km (298,366 mi), all of which were paved, and included 6,620 km (4,117 mi) of expressways. These expressways carry heavy traffic along such routes as Milan-Como-Varese, Venice-Padua, Naples-Salerno, and Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples. A major highway runs through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, connecting France and Italy. In 2003, there were an estimated 34,310,446 passenger cars and 4,166,033 commercial vehicles.

In 2004, Italy maintained a total of 19,319 km (12,016 mi) of standard and narrow gauge rail lines. Of that total, standard gauge accounts for 18,001 km (11,196 mi) of which 11,333 km (7,049 mi) are electrified, while 280 km (174 mi) of narrow gauge lines are electrified. The government owns and operates 80% of the rail system, the Italian State Railway (Ferrovie dello Stato-FS), including the principal lines. Connections with French railways are made at Ventimiglia, Tenda, and Mont Cenis; with the Swiss, through the Simplon and St. Gotthard passes; with the Austrian, at the Brenner Pass and Tarvisio; and with the Slovenian, through Gorizia.

The navigable inland waterway system, totaling about 2,400 km (1,490 mi), is mainly in the north and consists of the Po River, the Italian lakes, and the network of Venetian and Po River Valley canals. There is regular train-ferry and automobile-ferry service between Messina and other Sicilian ports. Freight and passengers are carried by ship from Palermo to Naples. Sardinia and the smaller islands are served by regular shipping. Regular passenger service is provided by hydrofoil between Calabria and Sicily, and between Naples, Ischia, and Capri.

As of 2005, Italy had 565 merchant vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 8,970,017 GRT. Genoa and Savona on the northwest coast and Venice on the Adriatic handle the major share of traffic to and from the northern industrial centers. Naples, second only to Genoa, is the principal port for central and southern Italy, while Livorno is the natural outlet for Florence, Bologna, and Perugia. Messina, Palermo, and Catania are the chief Sicilian ports, and Cagliari handles most Sardinian exports.

In 2004 there were an estimated 134 airports. As of 2005, a total of 98 had paved runways, and there were also three heliports. Italy's one national airline, Alitalia, which is almost entirely government-owned, maintains an extensive domestic and international network of air routes. Rome's Fiumicino and Milan's Malpensa and Linate are among the most important airports, being served by nearly every major international air carrier. In 2003, Italian civil aviation performed a total of 1,359 million freight ton-km and carried about 34.953 million passengers on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


The Italian patrimony, based on Roman antecedentswith a tradition that extends over 2,500 yearsis the oldest in Europe, next to Greece's. The Ligurians, Sabines, and Umbrians were among the earliest-known inhabitants of Italy, but in the 9th century bc they were largely displaced in central Italy by the Etruscans, a seafaring people, probably from Asia Minor. Shortly thereafter there followed conquests in Sicily and southern Italy by the Phoenicians and the Greeks. By 650 bc, Italy was divided into ethnic areas: the Umbrians in the north, the Ligurians in the northwest, the Latins and Etruscans in the central regions, and the Greeks and Phoenicians in the south and Sicily. The Etruscan civilization, a great maritime, commercial, and artistic culture, reached its peak about the 7th century, but by 509 bc, when the Romans overthrew their Etruscan monarchs, its control in Italy was on the wane. By 350 bc, after a series of wars with both Greeks and Etruscans, the Latins, with Rome as their capital, gained the ascendancy, and by 272 bc, they managed to unite the entire Italian peninsula.

This period of unification was followed by one of conquest in the Mediterranean, beginning with the First Punic War against Carthage (264241 bc). In the course of the century-long struggle against Carthage, the Romans conquered Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. Finally, in 146 bc, at the conclusion of the Third Punic War, with Carthage completely destroyed and its inhabitants enslaved, Rome became the dominant power in the Mediterranean. From its inception, Rome was a republican city-state, but four famous civil conflicts destroyed the republic: Sulla against Marius and his son (8882 bc), Julius Caesar against Pompey (4945 bc), Brutus and Cassius against Mark Antony and Octavian (43 bc), and Mark Antony against Octavian. Octavian, the final victor (31 bc), was accorded the title of Augustus ("exalted") by the Senate and thereby became the first Roman emperor. Under imperial rule, Rome undertook a series of conquests that brought Roman law, Roman administration, and Pax Romana ("Roman peace") to an area extending from the Atlantic to the Rhine, to the British Isles, to the Iberian Peninsula and large parts of North Africa, and to the Middle East as far as the Euphrates.

After two centuries of successful rule, in the 3rd century ad, Rome was threatened by internal discord and menaced by Germanic and Asian invaders, commonly called barbarians (from the Latin word barbari, "foreigners"). Emperor Diocletian's administrative division of the empire into two parts in 285 provided only temporary relief; it became permanent in 395. In 313, Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, and churches thereafter rose throughout the empire. However, he also moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople, greatly reducing the importance of the former. From the 4th to the 5th century, the Western Roman Empire disintegrated under the blows of barbarian invasions, finally falling in 476, and the unity of Italy came to an end. For a time, Italy was protected by the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, but a continuing conflict between the bishop of Rome, or pope, and the Byzantine emperor culminated in a schism during the first half of the 8th century.

After the fall of the Roman Empire and the reorganization of the peninsula, from the 6th to the 13th century, Italy suffered a variety of invaders and rulers: the Lombards in the 6th century, the Franks in the 8th century, the Saracens in the 9th, and the Germans in the 10th. The German emperors (of the Holy Roman Empire), the popes, and the rising Italian city-states vied for power from the 10th to the 14th century, and Italy was divided into several, often hostile, territories: in the south, the Kingdom of Naples, under Norman and Angevin rule; in the central area, the Papal States; and in the north, a welter of large and small city-states, such as Venice, Milan, Florence, and Bologna.

By the 13th century, the city-states had emerged as centers of commerce and of the arts and sciences. Venice, in particular, had become a major maritime power, and the city-states as a group acted as a conduit for goods and learning from the Byzantine and Islamic empires. In this capacity, they provided great impetus to the developing Renaissance, which between the 13th and 16th centuries led to an unparalleled flourishing of the arts, literature, music, and science. However, the emergence of Portugal and Spain as great seagoing nations at the end of the 15th century undercut Italian prosperity. After the Italian Wars (14941559), in which France tried unsuccessfully to extend its influence in Italy, Spain emerged as the dominant force in the region. Venice, Milan, and other city-states retained at least some of their former greatness during this period, as did Savoy-Piedmont, protected by the Alps and well defended by its vigorous rulers.

Economic hardship, waves of the plague, and religious unrest tormented the region throughout the 17th century and into the 18th. The French Revolution was brought to the Italian peninsula by Napoleon, and the concepts of nationalism and liberalism infiltrated everywhere. Short-lived republics and even a Kingdom of Italy (under Napoleon's stepson Eugene) were formed. But reaction set in with the Congress of Vienna (1815), and many of the old rulers and systems were restored under Austrian domination. The concept of nationalism continued strong, however, and sporadic outbreaks led by such inveterate reformers as Giuseppe Mazzini occurred in several parts of the peninsula down to 184849. This Risorgimento ("resurgence") movement was brought to a successful conclusion under the able guidance of Count Camillo Cavour, prime minister of Piedmont. Cavour managed to unite most of Italy under the headship of Victor Emmanuel II of the house of Savoy, and on 17 March 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed with Victor Emmanuel II as king. Giuseppe Garibaldi, the popular republican hero of Italy, contributed much to this achievement and to the subsequent incorporation of the Papal States under the Italian monarch. Italian troops occupied Rome in 1870, and in July 1871, it formally became the capital of the kingdom. Pope Pius IX, a longtime rival of Italian kings, considered himself a "prisoner" of the Vatican and refused to cooperate with the royal administration.

The 20th Century

The new monarchy aspired to great-power status but was severely handicapped by domestic social and economic conditions, particularly in the south. Political and social reforms introduced by Premier Giovanni Giolitti in the first decade of the 20th century improved Italy's status among Western powers but failed to overcome such basic problems as poverty and illiteracy. Giolitti resigned in March 1914 and was succeeded by Antonia Salandra. During World War I, Italy, previously an ally of the Central Powers, declared itself neutral in 1914 and a year later, in April 1915, joined the British and French in exchange for advantages offered by the secret Treaty of London. At the Versailles Peace Conference, Italy, which had suffered heavy losses on the Alpine front and felt slighted by its Western allies, failed to obtain all of the territories that it claimed.

This disappointment, coupled with the severe economic depression of the postwar period, created great social unrest and led eventually to the rise of Benito Mussolini, who, after leading his Fascist followers in a mass march on Rome, became premier in 1922. He established a Fascist dictatorship, a corporate state, which scored early successes in social welfare, employment, and transportation; in 1929, he negotiated the Lateran Treaties, under which the Holy See became sovereign within the newly constituted Vatican City State and Roman Catholicism was reaffirmed as Italy's official religion (the latter provision was abolished in 1984). The military conquest of Ethiopia (193536) added to Italy's colonial strength and exposed the inability of the League of Nations to punish aggression or keep the peace.

Italy joined Germany in World War II, but defeats in Greece and North Africa and the Allied invasion of Sicily toppled Mussolini's regime on 25 July 1943. Soon Italy was divided into two warring zones, one controlled by the Allies in the south and the other (including Rome) held by the Germans, who had quickly moved in, rescued Mussolini, and established him as head of the puppet "Italian Social Republic." When German power collapsed, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian partisans.

The conclusion of the war left Italy poverty-stricken and politically disunited. In 1946, Italy became a republic by plebiscite; in the following year, a new constitution was drafted, which went into effect in 1948. Under the peace treaty of 10 February 1947, Italy was required to pay $360 million in reparations to the USSR, Yugoslavia, Greece, Ethiopia, and Albania. By this time, the Italian economy, initially disorganized by Mussolini's dream of national self-sufficiency and later physically devastated by the war, was in a state of near collapse. By the early 1950s, however, with foreign assistance (including $1,516.7 million from the United States under the Marshall Plan), Italy managed to restore its economy to the prewar level. From this point, the Italian economy experienced unprecedented development through the 1960s and 1970s.

Politically, postwar Italy has been marked by a pattern of accelerating instability, with 48 different coalition governments through 15 March 1988. In May 1981, the coalition of Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani was brought down after it was learned that many government officials, including three cabinet ministers, were members of a secret Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due (P-2), that had reportedly been involved in illegal right-wing activities. Left-wing terrorism, notably by the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), also plagued Italy in the 1970s and early 1980s. In January 1983, 23 Red Brigade members were sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978; another 36 members received sentences of varying lengths for other crimes, including 11 murders and 11 attempted murders, committed between 1976 and 1980. By the mid-1980s, the Mafia actively engaged in extortion, government corruption, and violent crime, as well as a central role in global heroin trafficking.

By 1986, however, internal security had improved. A major effort against organized crime was under way in the mid-1980s; over 1,000 suspects were tried and the majority convicted in trials that took place in Naples beginning in February 1985 and in Sicily beginning in February 1986.

Revelations of corruption and scandals involving senior politicians, members of the government administration, and business leaders rocked Italy in the early 1990s. Hundreds of politicians, party leaders, and industrialists were either under arrest or under investigation. The scandals discredited the major parties that had governed Italy since 1948, and the instability gave impetus to new reformist groups.

In August 1993, Italy made significant changes in its electoral system. Three-fourths of the seats in both the Chamber and the Senate would be filled by simple majority voting. The remainder would be allocated by proportional representation to those parties securing at least 4% of the vote. The first elections under the new system in March 1994 resulted in a simplification of electoral alliances and brought a center-right government to power. Silvio Berlusconi, founder of the "Go Italy" (Forza Italia) movement, emerged as prime minister. Berlusconi, a successful Italian businessman, was a newcomer to Italian politics. He was supported by the Alliance for Freedom coalition, which had received over 42% of the vote and 366 seats.

Berlusconi's government, however, became victim to charges of government corruption and on 22 December 1994 he was forced to resign in the face of a revolt by the Northern League, one of the parties in his ruling coalition. Three weeks after Berlusconi's resignation, his treasury minister, Lamberto Dini was named prime minister. He formed a government of technocrats and set about to enact fiscal and electoral reforms. Pragmatism and a lack of viable alternatives kept him in power until supporters of his main political rival, Silvio Berlusconi, presented a motion that he step down. When Dini learned that two splinter groups in his center-left coalition (the Greens and the Communist Refounding party) would not vote in his favor, he resigned on 11 January 1996 rather than face a no-confidence vote.

The elections, held on 21 April 1996, saw a center-left coalition, dominated by the former communists (DS), take control of the country for the first time in 50 years. Romano Prodi, an economics professor with little political experience, was chosen to serve as prime minister on 16 May. His coalition government collapsed after it failed to win a vote of no-confidence over the budget. President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro asked Massimo D'Alema, the leader of the DS and of the largest party in the Olive Tree, to form a new administration. His cabinet retained the same members from the left and center as before. This government also continued to pursue fiscal consolidation to join European economic and monetary union in 1999. Prodi left for Brussels to take up the presidency of the European Commission in May 1999. D'Alema reshuffl ed his cabinet in 1999 but it finally fell in April 2000. The immediate cause was the dismal performance in regional elections. The center-left won 7 out of 15 regions while the right, under the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi, took 8 regions.

The coalition of 12 discordant political blocs backed the Treasury Minister, Giuliano Amato, to become the new prime minister (appointed by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, in office since May 1999). Prior to the fall of the D'Alema administration, the government had scheduled an important referendum to scrap the last remaining vestiges of direct proportional representation in the electoral system. Only one-third of the electorate bothered to vote on 21 May 2000, not enough to validate the referendum outcome.

Berlusconi's House of Liberties coalition, led by Go Italy, secured 368 seats in the Chamber of Deputies in the May 2001 parliamentary elections, to the Olive Tree coalition's 242 seats. (The House of Liberties coalition also won a majority in the Senate.) After becoming Italy's 59th postwar prime minister, Berlusconi faced long-standing charges of criminal wrongdoing, including bribery; he became the first sitting Italian prime minister to appear at his own trial. It was not until December 2004 that Berlusconi was cleared of all charges.

Italy offered the use of its airspace and military bases to the US-led coalition in its war with Iraq, which began on 19 March 2003, although Italy did not send troops to the region and did not allow coalition forces to launch a direct attack on Iraq from Italy. Some 75% of Italians opposed the use of military force against the Saddam Hussein regime, but Berlusconi adopted a position of solidarity with the US-led coalition.


In a plebiscite on 2 June 1946, the Italian people voted (12,700,000 to 10,700,000) to end the constitutional monarchy, which had existed since 1861, and establish a republic. At the same time, a constituent assembly was elected, which proceeded to draft and approve a new constitution; it came into force on 2 January 1948. Under this constitution, as amended, the head of the Italian Republic is the president, who is elected for a seven-year term by an electoral college consisting of both houses of parliament and 58 regional representatives. Elections for a new president must be held 30 days before the end of the presidential term. Presidential powers and duties include nomination of the prime minister (referred to as president of the Council of Ministers) who, in turn, chooses a Council of Ministers (cabinet) with the approval of the president; the power to dissolve parliament, except during the last six months of the presidential term of office; representation of the state on important occasions; ratification of treaties after parliamentary authorization; and the power to grant pardons and commute penalties. Although the constitution limits presidential powers, a strong president can play an important political as well as ceremonial role.

Legislative power is vested in the bicameral parliament, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Members of the 630-seat lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, must be at least 25 years old and are elected for five-year terms. The 315 elective members of the Senate must be at least 40 years old and are elected for five-year terms. Former presidents of the republic are automatically life senators, and the president may also appoint as life senators persons who have performed meritorious service. Citizens must be at least 25 years of age to vote for senators; otherwise, those over the age of 18 may vote in all other elections.

In August 1993, Italy made significant changes in its electoral system. Three-fourths of the seats in both the Chamber and the Senate would be filled by simple majority voting. The remainder would be allocated by proportional representation to those parties securing at least 4% of the vote. The first elections under the new system in March 1994 resulted in a simplification of electoral alliances and brought a center-right government to power. Silvio Berlusconi, founder of the "Go Italy" (Forza Italia) movement, emerged as prime minister.

The constitution gives the people the right to hold referenda to abrogate laws passed by the parliament; a referendum requires at least 500,000 signatures. Four referenda had been held by 1987 (against the legalization of divorce in 1974, against increased police powers and state financing of the political parties in 1978, and against government cuts in wage indexation in 1985), and in all of them, the voters approved the parliamentary decisions.

In May 1999, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was elected by the parliament as president of the Republic of Italy.

On 21 May 2000, Italian voters were asked to decide on electoral reform by increasing the number of lower house seats filled on the basis of a nonproportional system to 100%, effectively scrapping the last remaining element of pure proportional representation. The referendum needed to secure a quorum of 50% of the electorate to gain validity. The final turnout of 32% was much lower than expected and was an alarming sign of voter fatigue and popular disaffection.

On 13 May 2001, Silvio Berlusconi was again elected as head of state, this time as the leader of the five-party "Freedom House" political coalition of Forza Italia, the National Alliance, the Northern League, the Christian Democratic Center, and the United Christian Democrats. Although this coalition government was the longest running in Italy's postwar history, after a low showing in regional elections, Berlusconi was forced to resign and form a new government in April 2005. Italy's 60th government since liberation was formed on 23 April 2005.


Italy has a complex system of political alignments in which the parties, their congresses, and their leaders often appear to wield more power than parliament or the other constitutional branches of government.

Basic party policy is decided at the party congressesgenerally held every second yearwhich are attended by locally elected party leaders. At the same time, the national party leadership is selected.

The most important political party traditionally had been the Christian Democratic Party (Partito Democrazia CristianaDC), which stood about midway in the political spectrum. In the 1983 national elections, the DC commanded 32.9% of the vote and won 225 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, down from 38.3% and 262 seats in 1979; in 1987, however, its electoral strength increased again, to 34.3% and 234 seats. From 1948 until 1981, the prime minister of Italy was consistently drawn from the ranks of the DC, whose religious and anti-class base constitutes both its strength and its weakness. Its relationship with the Church gave it added strength but also opened it to criticism, as did its popular association with the Mafia. In 1992, massive investigations uncovered widespread corruption, leading to many arrests and resignations of senior government officials. As a result of these scandals and corruption charges, the DC disbanded in 1994.

To the right and the left of the DC stood a wide range of parties, the most prominent of which was the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista ItalianoPCI), the largest Communist party in Western Europe at the time. The PCI had been second in power and influence only to the DC, but in the 1980s, its electoral base declined, despite the fact that it effectively severed its ties with both the former USSR and Marxism-Leninism.

Of all the parties of the mid to late 20th century, the most powerful were, in addition to the DC and PCI, were Italian Socialist Party (Partito Socialista ItalianoPSI), the Italian Socialist Democratic Party (Partito Socialista Democratico ItalianoPSDI), the Italiant Republican Party (Partito Repubblicano ItalianoPRI), the Italian Liberal Party (Partito Liberale ItalianoPLI), the Radical Party (Partito Radicale), the Italian Social Movement, (Movimento Sociale ItalianoMSI), the Proletarian Democracy (Democrazia ProletariaDP), and the enviornmentalist Greens party. However, the 1990s saw the demise, creation, and restructuring of many Italian political parties. As of 2005, only the PRI and the Greens parties exist. Partly due to the end of the Cold War, in part due to the Mafia crackdown in the 1990s, and primarily due to the related corruption scandals that involved most of the major parties, the overhaul of the political party system was so significant that, although there has been little actual constitutional change, the post-1992 period is often referred to as the "Second Republic."

With the rise in political parties, government functioning was dominated by coalition party formations. The April 1996 election saw a resurgence of the left as the Olive Tree coalition, anchored by former communists calling themselves the Party of the Democratic Left (PDS), gained 284 seats in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies and 157 seats in the 315-seat Senate. The Refounded Communists won 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the separatist Northern League 59, the center-right Freedom Alliance 246, and others 6. The elections of April 1992 failed to resolve Italy's political and economic problems. The election of March 1994 under new voting rules resulted in the following distribution of seats in the Chamber (lower house): Alliance for Freedom, 42.9% (Forza Italia, Northern League, National Alliance366 seats); Progressive Alliance, 32.2% (Democratic Party of the Left, Communist Refounding, Democratic Alliance, Greens, Reformers213 seats); and Pact for Italy, 15.7% (Popular Party, others46 seats).

The domination of the center-left came to an end in the May 2001 election when Berlusconi's right-leaning coalition, Freedom House (formerly the House of Liberties), was comprised of his Forza Italia (Go Italy) party; the National Alliance, Northern League, Christian-Democratic Center Party; United Christian Democrats; and the New Italian Socialist Party. This coalition won 368 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 177 in the Senate. The Olive Tree coalitioncomposed of the Democrats of the Left, the Daisy Alliance (including the Italian Popular Party, Italian Renewal, Union of Democrats for Europe, and the Democrats), the Sunflower Alliance (including the Greens and the Italian Democratic Socialists), and the Italian Communist Partycame in second with 242 seats in the lower house (128 in the Senate). The Communist Refounding took 11 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and the Olive-Southern Tyrols People's Party of German speakers secured 5 seats in the lower house.


Under the terms of the 1948 constitution, Italy is divided into 20 regions. Five of these regions (Sicily, Sardinia, TrentinoAlto Adige, FriuliVenezia Giulia, and the Valle d'Aosta) have been granted semiautonomous status, although the powers of self-government delegated from Rome have not been sufficient to satisfy the militant separatists, especially in Alto Adige. Legislation passed in 1968 granted the remaining 15 regions an even more limited degree of autonomy. All the regions elect a regional council. The councils and president are elected by universal franchise under a proportional system analogous to that of the parliament at Rome.

The regions are subdivided into a total of 94 provinces, which elect their own council and president, and each region is in turn subdivided into communestownships, cities, and townsthat constitute the basic units of local administration. Communes are governed by councils elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. The council elects a mayor and a board of aldermen to administer the commune. A commissioner in each region represents the federal government.


Minor legal matters may be brought before conciliators, while civil cases and lesser criminal cases are tried before judges called pretori. There are 159 tribunals, each with jurisdiction over its own district; 90 assize courts, where cases are heard by juries; and 26 assize courts of appeal. The Court of Cassation in Rome acts as the last instance of appeal in all cases except those involving constitutional matters, which are brought before the special Constitutional Court (consisting of 15 judges). For many years, the number of civil and criminal cases has been increasing more rapidly than the judicial resources to deal with them.

The Italian legal system is based on Roman law, although much is also derived from the French Napoleonic model. The law assuring criminal defendants a fair and public trial is largely observed in practice. The 1989 amendments to the criminal procedure law both streamlined the process and provide for a more adversarial (as opposed to inquisitorial) system along the American model.

By law the judiciary is autonomous and independent of the executive branch. In practice, there has been a perception that magistrates were subject to political pressures and that political bias of individual magistrates could affect outcomes. Since the start of "clean hands" investigations of the government, including the judiciary, in 1992 for kickbacks and corruption, magistrates have taken steps to distance themselves from political parties and other pressure groups.


Since 1949 Italy, as a member of NATO, has maintained large and balanced modern forces. The total strength in 2005 was 191,875 active personnel, with reserves numbering 56,500. Army personnel numbered 112,000, and whose equipment included 320 main battle tanks, 300 reconnaissance vehicles, 122 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 2,036 armored personnel carriers, 14 amphibious assault vehicles, and 1,562 artillery pieces. Navy personnel in 2005 totaled 33,100, including 2,000 Marines. Major Italian naval vessels included 1 aircraft carrier, 2 destroyers, 12 frigates, 8 corvettes, 14 patrol/coastal vessels, 13 mine warfare ships, 3 amphibious ships, and 94 logistics/support vessels. The navy also operated six tactical submarines. The air force had a total strength of 44,743 personnel with 199 combat capable aircraft, in addition to various electronic warfare, antiair defense, transport and training aircraft. In 2005, Italy also had a paramilitary force of 254,300 active personnel, of which 111,367 were Carabinieri. Italian armed forces were deployed among 19 countries or regions in various peacekeeping, training or active military missions. Italy's military budget for 2005 was $17.2 billion.


Italy has been a member of the United Nations since 14 December 1955 and participates in the ECE and several UN nonregional specialized agencies, such as FAO, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNHCR, IFC, WHO, and the World Bank. It is a member of the Council of Europe, the European Union, NATO, and the OECD. Italy held the EU presidency from July to December 2003. Italy also participates in the Asian, African, Caribbean, European, and the Inter-American development banks, and is a part of G-7, G-8, and G-10. The country holds observer status in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, the OAS, and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA).

Italy is a guest in the Nonaligned Movement. The country has supplied troops for UN operations and missions in Kosovo (est. 1999), Lebanon (est. 1978), India and Pakistan (est. 1949), and Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), among others. Italy belongs to the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

In environmental cooperation, Italy is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; CITES; the London Convention; International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


As the Italian economy, the world's sixth-largest, has expanded since the 1950s, its structure has changed markedly. Agriculture, which in 1953 contributed 25% of the GNP and employed 35% of the labor force, contributed in 1968 only 11% of the GNP and employed only 22% of the active labor forcedespite continued increases in the value of agricultural production. Agriculture's contribution to the GDP further declined to 8.4% in 1974, 5% in 2001, and 2.3% in 2004. Conversely, the importance of industry has increased dramatically. Industrial output almost tripled between 1953 and 1968 and generally showed steady growth during the 1970s; in 2004, industry (including fuel, power, and construction) contributed 28.8% to the GDP. Precision machinery and motor vehicles have led the growth in manufacturing, and Italy has generally been a leader in European industrial design and fashion. Services in 2004 accounted for 68.9% of the economy. However, apart from tourism and design, Italy is not internationally competitive in most service sectors.

Despite this economic achievement, a number of basic problems remain. Natural resources are limited, landholdings often are poor and invariably too small, industrial enterprises are of minimal size and productivity, and industrial growth has not been translated into general prosperity. The rise in petroleum prices during the mid-1970s found Italy especially vulnerable, since the country is almost totally dependent on energy imports. In addition, because economic activity is centered predominately in the north, Italians living in the northern part of the country enjoy a substantially higher standard of living than those living in the south.

Partly because of increased energy costs, inflation increased from an annual rate of about 5% in the early 1970s to an annual average of 16.6% during 197581, well above the OECD average. Inflation was brought down to 14.6% in 1983 and to between 4 and 6% during most of the 1990s. In 1997 it was reduced to under 2%, its lowest level in 30 years. The inflation rate was estimated at 2.3% in 2004.

From 1981 through 1983, Italy endured a period of recession, with rising budget deficits, interest rates above 20%, virtually no real GDP growth, and an unemployment rate approaching 10%. Unemployment hovered around the 10 to 12% range for most of the 1990s and at 9% into the 2000s. Between 1985 and 1995, GDP growth averaged 1.9% a year. It was quite low in 2003, at 0.7%. The GDP growth rate stood at an estimated 1.3% in 2004, and was flat in 2005. Economic growth was expected to pick up to a still disappointing 11.2% in 200607.

Italy's large public debt, public sector deficit, low productivity growth, and burdensome and complex tax system, are generally blamed for the poor state of the economy. A rigid labor market and generous pension system are also seen as responsible for a sluggish economy. The Silvio Berlusconi administration by 2002 had abolished an inheritance tax, a move which was popular among affluent Italians. The 2005 budget included substantial tax cuts and a reduction in the number of tax rates from five to four. The corporate tax rate was reduced from 36% to 33% in 2004. Berlusconi also attempted to loosen labor laws to increase temporary work contracts and to ease hiring and firing practices. The government in the early 2000s was geared toward implementing spending cuts to spur consumer spending and corporate research and development. Pension reform, called a "financial time bomb" by economists, was proposed by the government and resulted in strikes in parts of Italy in mid-2003. Italy spends a massive 14% of GDP on pensions. In 2004, Italy raised the minimum age for state pensions from 57 to 60, but only beginning in 2008.

One of Italy's strengths is the thriving state of its small firms, which are often family owned. In 2003, the average number of workers per enterprise was just over four, the second-lowest figure in the EU. These small businesses are able to succeed in niche markets. However, the high proportion of small businesses has meant that Italy spends less on research and development than other European countries: in 2003, Italian spending on R&D as a share of GDP was barely half of the EU average. This causes Italy to experience a loss of competitiveness, and sluggish growth. In 2004, the economy grew by less than the euro-area average for the eighth time in nine years. Many Italian firms are still in traditional manufacturing areas that should have been abandoned when competition from Southeast Asia and China grew in the 1990s.

Italians spend more than other Europeans on clothes and shoes, and are second only to Spaniards in spending in bars, restaurants, and hotels. Because many Italians rent their living spaces, expenditure on housing is low.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $1.6 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $28,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 0%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 1.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.1% of GDP, industry 28.8%, and services 69.1%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $2.137 billion or about $37 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.1% of GDP.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Italy totaled $887.34 billion or about $15,405 per capita based on a GDP of $1.5 trillion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 1.6%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 23% of household consumption was spent on food, 12% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 17% on education.


Italy's labor force in 2005 was estimated at 24.49 million. In 2003 the occupational breakdown had 4.9% in agriculture, 32.2% in industry, 62.8% in the services sector, and 0.1% in undefined occupations. The estimated unemployment rate in 2005 was 7.9%.

The law provides the right to form and join unions, and many workers exercise this right. According to union claims, between 35% and 40% of the nation's workforce was unionized as of 2005. About 35% of the labor force was covered by collective bargaining agreements, which also included nonunion employees. The right to strike is constitutionally protected, and workers engage in collective bargaining. Employers may not discriminate against those engaged in union activity.

As of 2005, the legal workweek was set at 40 hours, with overtime not to exceed two hours per day or an average of 12 hours per week. However, in the industrial sector, maximum overtime was set at no more than 80 hours per quarter and 250 hours annually, unless limited by a collective bargaining agreement. Minimum wages in Italy are not set by law, but through collective labor contracts, which establish wages and salaries in every major field. In most industries these minimum rates offered a worker and family a decent standard of living. Labor contracts may also call for additional compulsory bonuses, and basic wages and salaries are adjusted quarterly to compensate for increases in the cost of living. With some limited exceptions, children under age 15 are prohibited by law from employment.


Of Italy's total land area of 29.4 million hectares (72.6 million acres), 10.7 million hectares (26.4 million acres), or 36.4% of the land, were under annual or permanent crops in 2003. Small, individually owned farms predominate, with the majority three hectares (7.4 acres) or less. In 2001, about 5% (1.4 million persons) of the economically active population was in the agricultural sector.

Despite government efforts, the agricultural sector has shown little growth in recent decades. The imports of agricultural products increased from $19.6 billion in 1987 to $31.6 billion in 2004. Italy has to import about half of its meat. The land is well suited for raising fruits and vegetables, both early and late crops, and these are the principal agricultural exports. Although yields per hectare in sugar beets, tomatoes, and other vegetable crops have increased significantly, both plantings and production of wheat declined between 1974 and 1981. Thus, although Italy remains a major cereal-producing country, wheat must be imported. The government controls the supply of domestic wheat and the import of foreign wheat.

Production of major agricultural products in 2004 (in thousands of tons) included sugar beets, 10,100; wheat, 8,628; corn, 10,983; tomatoes, 7,497; oranges, 2,064; potatoes, 1,809; apples, 2,069; barley, 1,167; and rice, 1,496. In 2004, Italy produced 8,692,000 tons of grapes, and 4,531,000 tons of olives, and 879,000 tons of olive oil. In 2003, Italy had 1,680,000 tractors (third in the world) and 37,500 harvester-threshers.


Some 4,377,000 hectares (10,816,000 acres) are meadows and pastures. Both a growing need for fodder and insufficient domestic production compel Italy to import large amounts of corn. In 2005, the country had 6,314,000 head of cattle, 9,272,000 hogs, 8,020,000 sheep, 1,985,000 goats, 300,000 horses, and an estimated 100 million chickens. That year, total meat production from hogs, cattle, sheep, and goats was 4,099,000 tons. Of the meat produced, 38% was pork, 29% was beef, 24% was poultry, 2% was mutton, and 7% was from other sources. Meat production falls short of domestic requirements, and about half of all meat consumed must be imported. Although Italy produced 10.5 million tons of cow milk in 2005, dairy farming remains comparatively undeveloped. Both dairy and beef cattle are raised mainly in the north. The value of animal output in 2003 exceeded 14.3 billion, third highest in the EU after France and Germany.


Italy's geography provides abundant access to marine fishing. Peninsular Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia together have over 8,000 km (4,900 mi) of coastline and over 800 landing ports equipped for fishing boats. There are also 1,500 sq km (580 sq mi) of lagoons and 1,700 sq km (650 sq mi) of marine ponds. Although coastal and deep-sea fishing in the Mediterranean engage over 50,000 fishermen, the fishing industry is unable to meet domestic needs. As of 2003 there were 15,915 Italian fishing vessels with a fishing capacity (gross tonnage) of 178,334 tons. Since the extension of the 200-mile limit zones and the consequent drop in the total catch, Italy's fishing industry has declined because their deep-sea vessels were not suited to Mediterranean fishing. Also, about 1,700 vessels (10% of the fleet) went out of service during 200002 as a result of EU-funded policies for the reduction of fishing in the Mediterranean. The total catch in 2003 was 314,807 tons, 98% from marine fishing, with a value of about 1.4 billion. Anchovies, sardines, hake, mullets, and swordfish together accounted for 44% of the volume in 2003. In 2003, Italy produced 89,000 tons of canned tuna and 20,000 tons of canned anchovies. The majority of the Italian fish harvest (up to 50%) is not officially recorded but sold directly to restaurants, wholesalers, and fish-mongers. Anchovy, rainbow trout, sardine, and European hake are the main finfish species caught. Sponges and coral are also commercially important. The main commercial fishing ports are Mazara del Vallo, Palermo, San Benedetto del Tronto, Chioggia-Venezia, and Genoa.

There are over a thousand intensive production fish farms that belong to the Italian Fish Farming Association, with 60% located in northern Italy. Total Italian aquaculture production in 2003 was 244,000 tons, valued at 250 million.


The major portion of the 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of forest is in the Alpine areas of northern Italy; few extensive forests grow in central or southern Italy or on the islands. Italy has more softwood than hardwood growth and extensive coppice (thicket and small shrub) stands. The overall forest structure consists of 42% coppice stands, 26% softwoods, and 25% hardwood high stands. The only species that are commercially important are chestnut, beech, oak, and poplar. Chestnut and beech stands account for 31% of the hardwood forest and for over 40% of Italian wood production; oak comprises 8% of wood production. Poplar is the only species grown using managed forestry practices. Poplar plantations account for only 1% of the total forest area but for 50% of domestic wood output. Forest resources are stable and meet about 19% of annual demand. Italian wood output in 2003 consisted of 9 million cu m (318 million cu ft). Approximately 90% of Italian forest product exports consist of wooden furniture, semifinished wood products, and other finished wood products. The Italian furniture industry accounted for 37,987 firms with 229,054 employees in 2002, with an industry turnover of almost 22.8 billion. The diversity in species composition, ownership patterns, topographic constraints, and conflicting resource management strategies have all contributed to limiting the productivity of Italian forest resources. Italy is a major importer of hardwood and softwood lumber, since its rugged terrain and disjointed forestland restrict domestic production. In 2002, the Italian wood and wood product sectors employed 412,815 workers in 87,906 companies with a total turnover of about $36 billion. Some 80% of the raw materials used for manufacturing furnished wooden products are imported. Imports of forest products in 2004 were valued at $9.5 billion, while exports totaled $4.3 billion.


Although Italy was relatively poor in mineral resources, it was, nevertheless, a major producer of feldspar, pumice and related materials, as well as of crude steel, cement (second-largest in the EU), and a leading producer of dimension stone and marble. The country also continued to supply a significant portion of its own need for some minerals. Industrial mineral production in 2003, including construction materials, was the most important sector of the economy. Italy has been a significant processor of imported raw materials, and a significant consumer and exporter of mineral and metal semi-manufactured and finished products.

Production totals for the leading minerals in 2003 were: feldspar, estimated at 2,500 metric tons; barite, estimated at 30,000 metric tons, unchanged from 1999; fluorspar (acid-grade and metallurgical-grade), estimated at 45,000 tons; hydraulic cement, estimated at 40 million tons; pumice and pumiceous lapilli, estimated at 600,000 tons (from Lipari Island, off the northern coast of Sicily); and pozzolan, estimated at 4 million tons (from Lipari). Alumina production (calcined basis) in 2003 was estimated at 925,000 metric tons. In addition, Italy produced antimony oxides, gold (from Sardinia), mine lead, mine manganese, bromine, crude clays (including bentonite, refractory, fuller's earth, kaolin, and kaolinitic earth), diatomite, gypsum, lime, nitrogen, perlite, mineral pigments, salt (marine, rock, and brine), sand and gravel (including volcanic and silica sands), soda ash, sodium sulfate, stone (alabaster, dolomite, granite, limestone, marble, marl, quartz, quartzite, sandstone, serpentine, and slate), sulfur, and talc and related materials.

Marble and travertine quarrying from the famous mines in the Massa and Carrara areas was still significant. Marble was quarried at hundreds of locations from the Alps to Sicily. The most important white-marble-producing area was in the Apuan Alps, near Carrara, and accounted for one-third of the country's 100,000 tons of white marble. Important colored-marble-producing areas included the Lazio region, Lombardy, the Po Valley, Puglia, Sicily, Venice, and Verona-Vincenza. Reserves of several types were considered to be unlimited; half of the country's output was in block form and half was exported.


Italy's proven oil and natural gas reserves are each the fourth-largest in the European Union (EU). The country has completely stopped the production of coal. Still, Italy must rely heavily on foreign sources to meet its energy needs.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Italy has proven oil reserves estimated at 622 million barrels, as of 1 January 2005. Estimated production in 2004 averaged 147,000 barrels daily, of which crude oil accounted for 104,000 barrels per day, of which about 89% was accounted for by the National Hydrocarbon Agency (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), or ENI, Italy's largest oil and natural gas company of which the Italian government holds a controlling 35% stake. However, domestic demand far outstrips production, with consumption in 2004 estimated at 1.90 million barrels per day. Net imports for that year are estimated at 1.75 million barrels per day. In 2004, the former Soviet Union was Italy's largest supplier at 28%, followed by Libya (24%), Saudi Arabia (13%), and Iran (10%).

More than 70% of ENI's production comes from the Val d'Agri project in the south of Italy, the Villafortuna project in the north, and from the Aquila project off the Adriatic coast in the southeast. Development of the Tempa Rossa field, with an estimated 200 million barrels of oil, is being led by France's Total, and is expected to enter production by 2007 with a peak output of 50,000 barrels per day.

Oil has been partly replaced by natural gas, whose consumption is expected to continue rising in the future, driven largely by the construction of combined-cycle, gas-fired turbines. Italy has proven natural gas reserves of 8.0 trillion cu ft, as of 1 January 2005, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. Natural gas production in 2004, according to Eurostat totaled 440 billion cu ft. Combined with declining field output, Italy's reliance on natural gas imports has increased. In 2004, imported natural gas accounted 84% of the country's demand vs. 59% in 1985, according to Eurostat. Algeria (38%), Russia (32%), and the Netherlands (14%) were Italy's largest natural gas suppliers in 2004.

In 2001, Italy completely closed down its domestic coal production industry, when it shuttered its last production facility. In 2002, coal met only 6.8% of Italy's energy needs. In that year, demand for coal amounted to 21.8 million short tons, of which most was used to provide electricity. In the first half of 2004, South Africa supplied 26% of the coal consumed by Italy, followed by Colombia (12%) and the United States (11%).

Italy's total electric generating capacity was estimated at 69.1 GW in 2002, with thermal accounting for 78% of capacity, hydropower at 19% and other renewable sources at 3%. In 2002, it was estimated that output totaled 262 billion kWh, with consumption totaling an estimated 294 billion kWh, and net imports totaling an estimated 32 billion kWh.


Characterized both by a few large industrial concerns controlling the greater part of industrial output and by thousands of small shops engaged in artisan-type production, Italian industry expanded rapidly in the postwar period. Industrial production almost tripled between 1955 and 1968 and has generally showed continued growth, although the global recession that began in 2001 slowed industrial production and the economy as a whole. The lack of domestic raw materials and fuels represents a serious drag on industrial expansion. Industry accounted for 28.8% of GDP in 2004, and employed 32% of the labor force. Manufacturing accounts for approximately 90% of total merchandise exports.

Three state-holding companies have played a large role in industry: ENI (National Hydrocarbon Agency), IRI (Industrial Reconstruction Institute), and EFIM (Agency for Participation and Financing of Manufacturing Industry). IRI was the 16th-largest industrial company in the world in 1993, with sales of $50.5 billion; it had shareholdings in over 100 companies (including banks, electronics, engineering, and shipbuilding) and 333,600 employees in 1992. EFIM controlled armaments and metallurgy industries. Debt-ridden EFIM was liquidated, IRI became dismantled through sell-offs, and as of 2005, the state had reduced its stake in ENI and Enel (Ente Nazionale per l'Energia Elettrica), the national electricity company. Major private companies are the Fiat automobile company; the Olivetti company (office computers and telecommunications); the Montedison chemical firm; and the Pirelli rubber company. The bulk of heavy industry is concentrated in the northwest, in the Milan-Turin-Genoa industrial triangle. The government has made concerted efforts to attract industry to the underdeveloped southeast.

With the drive toward greater European integration in full gear, Italy, along with its fellow EU member-states, is liberalizing its economic and commercial legislation. These promise a marked change in the Italian business scene as mergers and foreign investment increase. In early 1999, Olivetti mounted a successful hostile takeover for Telecom Italia.

Italy has become known for niche products, including fashion eye-wear, specialized machine tools, packaging, stylish furniture, kitchen equipment, and other products featuring high design. The "made in Italy" stamp is associated with quality and style. Traditional industries are iron and steel, machinery, chemicals, food processing (including olive oil, wine, and cheese), textiles, clothing, footwear, motor vehicles, and ceramics. The construction industry stands to gain in importance in the early 2000s, as Italy's less-developed regions are slated for infrastructure development.

Foreign competition has cut into the Italian textile industry. Following the expiration of the World Trade Organization's longstanding system of textile quotas at the beginning of 2005, the EU signed an agreement with China in June 2005, imposing new quotas on 10 categories of textile goods, limiting growth in those categories to between 8% and 12.5% a year. The agreement runs until 2007, and was designed to give European textile manufacturers time to adjust to a world of unfettered competition. Nevertheless, barely a month after the EU-China agreement was signed, China reached its quotas for sweaters, followed soon after by blouses, bras, T-shirts, and flax yarn. Tens of millions of garments piled up in warehouses and customs checkpoints, which affected both retailers and consumers.


The still-standing aqueducts, bathhouses, and other public works of both ancient republic and empire testify to the engineering and architectural skills of the Romans. The rebirth of science during the Renaissance brought the daring speculations of Leonardo da Vinci (including discoveries in anatomy, meteorology, geology, and hydrology, as well as a series of fascinating though ultimately impractical designs for a "flying machine"), advances in physics and astronomy by Galileo Galilei, and the development of the barometer by Evangelista Torricelli. To later Italian scientists and inventors the world owes the electric battery (1800), the electroplating process (1805), and the radiotelegraph (1895).

In 2001, Italy had 1,156 scientists and engineers per million people engaged in research and development (R&D). In that same year, expenditures on R&D totaled $16.7 trillion or 1.11% of GDP. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $19.730 billion, or 9% of the country's manufactured exports.

The National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheCNR), founded in 1923, is the country's principal research organization. CNR institutes and associated private and university research centers conduct scientific work in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, technology, engineering, medicine, biology, and agriculture. Especially noteworthy are the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, in Rome, and the Enrico Fermi Center for Nuclear Studies, in Milan.

Italy has 47 universities offering courses in basic and applied sciences. The Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenzo, founded in 1930, is located in Florence. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 30% of university enrollment. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 25.8% were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, and engineering)


Milan is the principal commercial center, followed by Turin, Genoa, Naples, and Rome. Genoa, the chief port of entry for Milan and Turin, handles about one-third of Italy's trade; Naples is the principal entrepôt for central and southern Italy. Adriatic as well as Middle Eastern trade is carried through Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi. Although small retail units predominate, department stores and supermarkets are playing an increasingly important role. In 2000, Italy ranked second in Europe in franchise business operations with about 562 companies and over 31,400 franchises.

Advertising in all forms is well developed, and the usual mass media (billboards, neon signs, newspapers and magazines, radio, cinema, and television) are used extensively. Market research is handled by over 100 firms.

Usual business hours in northern Italy are from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm and from 3:30 to 6:30 pm. In central and southern Italy, customary hours are 8:30 am to 12:45 pm and 4:30 or 5 to 7:30 or 8 pm. Most firms are closed in August. In general, banking hours are 8:30 am to 1:30 pm and 3 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Retail establishments are generally closed on Sundays.


Industrial products, textiles and apparel, shoes, and foodstuffs are Italy's most important exports. However, the textile industry has been hit hard by foreign competition in recent years, especially from China. Fuels, meat, grain products, and various raw materials are among the major imports. Trade deficits were substantial between the end of World War II and 1955, but between 1956 and 1968 the deficit gradually declined, and Italy's trade balance continued in relative equilibrium through 1972. Then, as prices of crude oil and other raw-material imports rose, Italy again began registering growing trade deficits. In 1993, however, a large surplus was recorded because of an export boom that followed the devaluation of the lira in September 1992, and Italy has had a trade surplus ever since. In 2004, the value of exports of goods was $352.2 billion, and imports were $341.3 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $10.9 billion.

The bulk of manufactured imports come from EU countries and the United States, which are also the leading customers for Italian exports. The big commodity exports from Italy in 2004 included industrial and automobile machinery and parts (40.3%), textiles, clothing, and leather (13.5%), chemicals (9.6%), and metal products (9.5%). The major imports included machinery and transportation equipment (34.5%), chemicals (13.4%), energy minerals (10.3%), and metals and metal products (10.3%). Italy's leading markets in 2004 were Germany (14.1% of all exports), France (12.5%), the United States (8.3%), and the United Kingdom (7.1%). Italy's leading suppliers in 2004 were Germany (18.1% of all imports), France (11.4%), the Netherlands (5.8%), and the United Kingdom (4.8%).


Italy did not have serious balance of payments problems after the mid-1970s. Exports soared after 1992, turning Italy's balance of payments positive. The growth in exports was extremely strong in the northeast, where small and medium-sized companies produce high-quality and low-cost productsranging from industrial machinery to ski bootsfor French, German, Japanese, and Indian customers.

Italy had current account surpluses from 1993 to 1999, but in 2000 the country registered a $5.6 billion deficit, after an $8.2 billion surplus in 1999. Italy experienced weak economic growth in the period 200105. In 2004, the current account balance showed a deficit estimated at $15.1 billion (0.9% of GDP).

Current Account -21.9
   Balance on goods 9.7
     Imports -283.6
     Exports 293.3
   Balance on services -1.4
   Balance on income -22.1
   Current transfers -8.2
Capital Account 3.1
Financial Account 19.4
   Direct investment abroad -9.9
   Direct investment in Italy 17.3
   Portfolio investment assets -58.5
   Portfolio investment liabilities 61.4
   Financial derivatives -5.4
   Other investment assets -29.8
   Other investment liabilities 44.3
Net Errors and Omissions 0.6
Reserves and Related Items -1.1
() data not available or not significant.


The Banca d'Italia, the central bank, was the sole bank of issue and exercised credit control functions until Italy's accession to the European Central Bank, which now controls monetary policy and the euro, the EU's common currency (excepting the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden). La Banca d'Italia is still responsible for controlling domestic inflation and balance of payments pressures.

In March 1979, Italy became a founder member of the European Monetary System (EMS) and its Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). During the first 10 years of its membership, the lira was allowed to diverge by up to 6% against other member currencies before action had to be taken, compared with 2.25% for other ERM currencies. Uncertainty about Italy's ability to meet the convergence targets of the 1992 Treaty for European Union (Merastricht) for inflation, interest rates, and participation to stabilize the rate, the lira was withdrawn from the ERM in September 1992, after which the lira declined to just under DM1:L1,000. At the beginning of 1996 it began to appreciate again, and immediately after the April election it rose to L1,021:DM1. The introduction of the euro in 2002, however, made all that irrelevant.

In 2002, five banks are of nationwide standing: Intesa-Bci, San Paolo-IMI, the Banca di Roma, Unicredito Italiano, and the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. There are many major international banks with branches in Italy. Among the more important are Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, HSBC, and others. The Istituto Mobiliare Italiano is the leading industrial credit institution; it also administers important government industrial investments. In 1987, the government privatized Mediobanca, another major industrial credit institution.

Two major banks, formally part of the Instituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) group, were privatized in 199394: Unicredito Italiano (CREDIT) and Banca Commerciale Italiana (COMIT). The privatization of another IRI bank specializing in medium- and long-term lending, the Instituto Mobiliare Italiano (IMI), was completed in 1996.

A new banking law was passed in 1993, to bring Italy into conformity with the EU's Second Banking directive, and to introduce two major innovations which aim to move Italy toward a model of universal banking. It allows banks to hold shares in industrial concerns; and it eliminates the distinction between banks (aziende di credito) and special credit institutions (aziende di credito speciale), thus allowing all banks to perform operations previously limited to specific types of intermediary.

On 30 January 1997, the government drafted legislation to promote restructuring and consolidation in Italy's largely inefficient and highly fragmented banking sector. The bill is the latest in a series of attempts since 1990 to rationalize the sector. However, it comes just as Italy's two biggest banks, CARIPLO and what is now San Paolo-IMI, announced plans to begin privatization by the end of 1997, and other banks in the private sector begin to negotiate strategic alliances, notably between: the private sector bank Ambroveneto and CARIPLO; Cassa di Resparmia di Torino and the Cassa di Risparmio di Verona. Mergers are also changing the face of the Italian banking industry. In early 1999, four of the five largest Italian banks were involved in such deals. Unicredito Italiano and Banca Commerciale Italiana merged to form Eurobanca, while San Paolo-IMI and Banca di Roma also planned to combine their operations. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $458.4 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $628.9 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4.26%.

There are 10 stock exchanges in operation. The most important is that in Milan (established in 1808). The others, in order of importance, are Rome (1812), Turin (1850), Genoa (1855), Bologna (1861), Florence (1859), Naples (1813), Venice (1600), Trieste (1755), and Palermo (1876). Since 1974, the markets have been regulated by the National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange.

Radical reforms have been introduced in recent years in order to vitalize the stock market, which is greatly undercapitalized considering the size of the Italian economy. At the end of 1995, the capitalization of the Milan bourse was the equivalent of just 18% of GDP, compared with 32% in France and 122% in the United Kingdom. However, by 2002 market capitalization had increased to 41% of GDP.

In September 1991, stock market intermediation companies (SIM), a new form of stock broking and fund management firm, were introduced to accompany the shift from the open-outcry call auction system to a screen-based continuous auction market, which was completed in July 1994. In order to stimulate the demand for shares, in 1994 shareholders were given the option of paying a 12.5% flat tax rate instead of declaring dividends as part of taxable income. At the beginning of 1996, proposed Services Directive included the privatization of the stock market and the administrative bodies that run it as one of its main objectives.

Despite a certain amount of volatility, the Milan stock exchange index (MIB) has risen by 10.6% on 26 March 1997 since the end of 1996 and daily volume of transactions were up substantially. In early-mid-2000, the MIB index hovered between 31,70031,800. However, since the onset of the global recession, the index has dropped significantly. From January 2002 to January 2003, the MIB dropped 4.4%, down to 16,208, slightly more than half of its peak value. In 2004, the MIB-30 Index rose 16.9% from the previous year to 31,220. On the Borsa Italiana, a total of 269 companies were listed as of 2004, which had a market capitalization of $789.563 billion.


The insurance industry is government-supervised, and insurers must be authorized to do business. Automobile insurance was made compulsory in 1971, and coverage is also required for aircraft, powerboats, hunters, auditors, yachts, nuclear facilities, and insurance brokers. Among the most important nonlife insurance companies in Italy as of 2003 were Ras, Generali, Sai, and Assitalia. Leading life insurance companies as of 2003 included Alleanza, Creitras, Generali, and Sanpaolo. In 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $111.761 billion, with life premiums accounting for $71.694 billion. Italy's top nonlife insurer in 2003 was Fondiaria-SAI, with total written nonlife premiums (including personal accident and healthcare) of $4,272.6 million. In that same year, the country's leading life insurer was Creditras, with gross written life premiums of $5,977.6 million.

The insurance regulatory body is the Instituto per Viglanza sulle Assicurazioni Private di Interesse Collettivo (ISVAP-the Institute for Control of Private Insurance Companies). European Union reporting and other insurance directives are being implemented. A unique and helpful feature of Italian insurance company reports is the inclusion of financial statements of major subsidiary or affiliated companies.

The Italian insurance market was traditionally characterized by a relatively large number of insurers with no one organization dominating the industry, although there were some very large, old insurance organizations which date back to the early 19th century. There are a number of foreign insurance companies operating through subsidiaries in Italy: these are primarily French and German companies. Italy's market indicates moderately low penetration when compared to North America and Northern Europe, especially for life products. In recent years, the volume of life products has increased quite rapidly as the consumer has become aware that the Italian Social Security System benefits will have to be supplemented by individual savings and as insurance awareness has increased through advertising campaigns and the distribution of insurance products through the extensive branch banking system of the country. Foreign influence and industry consolidation in the Italian insurance industry is expected to rise due to the adoption of the euro and the emerging willingness of Italian companies to mount hostile takeover bids. Much of the new merger-mania expected to sweep Italian insurance is projected to come from the banking sector as banks continue to expand their interests in insurance sales.


Reflecting both increasing economic activity and the pressures of inflation, the Italian budget has expanded continually since 1950. The Italian economy has traditionally run a high government

Revenue and Grants 444.5 100.0%
   Tax revenue 278.47 62.6%
   Social contributions 147.51 33.2%
   Grants 0.47 0.1%
   Other revenue 18.06 4.1%
Expenditures 450.9 100.0%
   General public services
   Public order and safety
   Economic affairs
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities
   Recreational, culture, and religion
   Social protection
() data not available or not significant.

debt, but in recent years it has been quelled somewhat, despite lackluster growth. In 1995, the debt stood at 124% of GDP, but declined to 110.6% in 2000 and 109.4% in 2001. At that point the Italian government still had a long way to go to get down to the EU-imposed debt-to-GDP ration of 60%. Since 1996, Italy has maintained a primary budget surplus, net of interest payments, and has reduced its deficit in public administration from 1.7% of GDP in 2000 to 1.4% in 2001. However, given the high national debt, the EU remains concerned about Italy's budgetary policies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Italy's central government took in revenues of approximately $785.7 billion and had expenditures of $861.5 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$75.8 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 107.3% of GDP. Total external debt was $1.682 trillion.


The Italian tax system is considered among the most complicated in the world. Since the late 1990s, the government has been using tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. On 1 January 1998 the government introduced the Dual Income Tax (DIT) system designed to encourage investment by taxing income deemed to be derived from the increase in equity capital in a company at a lower rate than the standard corporate income tax rate. In 2003, the corporate income tax rate (IRPEG), at 36% in 2002, was reduced to 34%. As of 2005, the standard corporate rate was 33%, excluding a 4.25% regional tax (IRAP) on productive activities. Capital gains realized by companies are taxable as business income under the IRPEG and IRAP, and capital losses are deductible. Dividends are taxed at 27% with complete withholding ("payment at the source" or PAYE). This rate may be reduced to 12.5% if residents can show that they had a "nonsubstantial participation" in the firm. A 0% rate applies to dividends paid to resident companies. The PAYE rate for dividends paid to branches of companies from other EU countries is 12.5%

The schedule of personal income tax rates was reformed in 2003 to reduce tax rates and to increase the amount covered by the lowest income band. As of 2005, the individual tax rate progressively increases to a top rate of 39%. However, a solidarity contribution of 4% pushes the top rate to 43%. On 25 October 2001 Italy's gift and inheritance taxes were abolished by the Parliament.

Italy's main indirect tax is its value-added tax (VAT) introduced on 1 January 1973 with a standard rate of 12%, replacing a turnover tax on goods and services. Since 10 January 1997 the standard rate has been at 20% and is applicable to most goods and services. A reduced rate of 10% is applied to some foodstuffs, certain fuel supplies, some transport and some housing, consumers, catering services and live animals. A 4% rate is applied to some foodstuffs, books, newspapers and periodicals, agricultural inputs, and medical equipment. Basic medical and dental services, as well as financial and insurance services are exempt from VAT. A 0% rate is applied to supplies of unwrought gold and ferrous and nonferrous metal scrap, and land not suitable for buildings. Other taxes on transactions include stamp taxes, and contract registration tax.


Italy's membership in the European Union has greatly influenced its tariff structure. Duties on imports from then-European Community members and their dependencies were gradually reduced following the Rome Pact in 1957 and disappeared by 1969, more than a year ahead of schedule. Duties on goods from Greece, which entered the European Community in 1981, were reduced gradually and eliminated by 1986. Italy's adjustment of its tariff structure to that of the now-European Union also has resulted in a substantial reduction of duties on products imported from areas other than the European Union, including the United States.

Import duties on manufactured goods from non-EU countries range from 58%, while raw materials enter mostly duty-free. Other import taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) that ranges from 020% depending on the product and excise taxes on alcoholic beverages, tobacco, sugar and petroleum products.


Because of a lack of domestic venture capital, the government encourages foreign industrial investment through tax concessions on a case-by-case basis. Foreign ownership, however, is limited by law and includes the following regulations: foreign investment can be limited for "reasons essential to the national economy." As a consequence, foreign investment in banks is limited to less than 5% of an institution's capital without government consent. Although privatization is encouraging foreign investment, defense industries remain off limits to non-Italians. However, the extent of the state's direct involvement in the economy has been greatly reduced by the privatization program carried out by successive governments since 1993, encouraged by EU restrictions on state aid to industry and the need to reduce public-sector debt. In an effort to increase confidence of foreign investors in Italy's economic development, the government has enacted legislation providing special incentives, particularly for investments in the southSicily, Sardinia, and the peninsula south of Rome. In recent years, and in accordance with EU liberalization, foreign restrictions on foreign investment in Italy have eased. The corporate tax rate was cut from 36% to 33% in 2004.

Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) into Italy was $2.6 billion in 1998, down from $3.7 billion in 1997. Total FDI stock in Italy in 1998 was about $103 billion. Annual FDI inflow jumped to almost $7 billion in 1999 and continued to increase for the next three years: to $13.4 billion in 2000, $14.9 billion in 2001, and $15.2 billion in 2002, an average of $13.7 billion a year. Total FDI stock in Italy reached about $140 billion by 2002. Italy has remained an underachiever, however, in the attraction of FDI. For the period 1988 to 1990, Italy's share of world FDI inflows was 60% of its share of world GDP. For the period 1998 to 2000, Italy's share of world inward FDI had dropped to only 20% of its share of world GDP. About 63% of inward stock in the 1990s had come from EU countries, up from 55% in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, outward FDI had about equaled inward FDI in Italy, but in the 1990s Italy became a net outward investor. From 1999 to 2002, average annual outward FDI from Italy was $18.4 billion. As of 2001, FDI stock held by Italians in foreign countries totaled about $236 billion. Roughly 60% of Italian holdings of outward stock in the 1990s were in EU countries, the same as in the 1980s.

From 200004, FDI inflows averaged 1.2% of GDP. In 2004, Italy jumped from 12th to 9th most attractive FDI destination in the world, driven primarily by increased confidence among US and Asian investors, according to the FDI Confidence Index. In 2004, intra-EU-25 FDI inflows to Italy amounted to 10.2 billion; extra-EU-25 inflows amounted to 1.9 billion. That year, outward Italian FDI flows to the EU-25 amounted to 14.2 billion; outward FDI flows from Italy to non-EU-25 countries amounted to 0.5 billion. In all, inward FDI in 2004 totaled $16.8 billion; outward FDI totaled $19.3 billion.


Under Mussolini, business and labor were grouped into corporations that, in theory at least, jointly determined economic policy. Also, under the Fascist regime, direct government control over the economy was increased through the creation of powerful economic bodies, such as the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction. Although the corporative system disappeared after the fall of Mussolini, the concept of economic planning remained firmly implanted among the large Marxist parties, as well as among Christian Democratic leaders, whoby different means and for different reasonssought to create a society free from the class warfare associated with a strictly liberal economic system.

Principal government objectives following World War II were reconstruction of the economy; stabilization of the currency; and long-term, large-scale investment aimed at correcting the imbalance of the Italian economy and, in particular, the imbalance between northern and southern Italy. The first and second phases of this policy were accomplished by 1949. Then the government, supported by domestic financial and industrial groups and by foreign aid, principally from the United States, embarked on the third and most important phase, best known as the Vanoni Plan (after former finance minister Ezio Vanoni). Notable in this development effort was the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, a government agency set up to develop southern Italy and attract private investment to the region. Between 1951 and 1978, government spending on infrastructure in the south was $11.5 billion; additional low-cost loans totaled $13 billion, and outright grants amounted to $3.2 billion.

Simultaneously, direct government control of the economy increased through such government agencies as ENI (National Hydrocarbon Agency), whose activities expanded rapidly in the postwar era. The nationalization of the electric industry, in order to lay the industrial base for a more highly planned economy, and the creation of the National Economic Planning Board composed of leaders from government, industry, and labor were further indications of the importance attached to the concept of a planned Italian economy.

The combined effects of inflation, increased energy prices, and political instability posed serious economic problems during the 1970s. With Italy mired in recession in the early 1980s, economic policy was directed at reducing the public sector deficit, tightening controls on credit, and maintaining a stable exchange rate, chiefly through a variety of short-term constraints. A period of recovery began in 1983, leading to expanded output and lower inflation but also to expanded unemployment. The economic policy aims in 1987 included the reduction of the public-sector deficit and unemployment. Furthermore, improvement in the external sector (due mainly to the fall of oil prices and depreciation of the dollar) led to liberalization of the foreign exchange market in 1987.

Priorities of the early 1990s were cutting government spending, fighting tax evasion to reduce public debt, and selling off state-owned enterprises. At the end of the decade the results of these policies were mixed. Liberalization provided the impetus for greater foreign investment, while the funds generated from privatization eased the public debt. Italy qualified for the first round of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and entered the euro zone in 1999. Tax evasion remains a problem; the underground economy is still estimated at nearly 25% of official GDP. Moreover, the economic disparities between the prosperous north and the impoverished south remain.

The strength of the economy rests on the back of small- and medium-sized family-owned companies, mostly in the north and center of the country. In 2005, the average Italian company employed 4 people, and industrial companies had an average of around 9 employees, compared with an average 15 employees in the EU. In mid-2000, Italy's largest state holding company, Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI), was liquidated.

Italy's public debt in 2004 was estimated at 105.6% of GDP. The EU's mandated debt to GDP ratio is 60%. The budget deficit was forecast to rise from about 3% of GDP in 2004 to 44.5% in 200506, before falling to just under 4% in 2007. GDP growth remained flat in 2005, but was expected to pick up to a still disappointing 11.2% in 200607. Reform of the pension system continues to be a controversial policy issue. The focus of economic policy has been on cutting taxes, fighting unemployment, enhancing competitiveness, and reducing both the budget deficit and debt. However, the only areas in which the government had made limited progress by 2005 were in the labor market and the pension system. Balancing fiscal austerity and policies to promote growth pose a major economic policy challenge.


Social welfare legislation in Italy, begun in 1898, was redesigned by law in 1952 and has subsequently been expanded. All workers and their families are covered and receive old-age, disability, and survivor pensions, unemployment and injury benefits, health and maternity coverage. The system is primarily funded by employer contributions, along with employee payments and some government subsidies. Family allowances are paid for primarily by employer contributions, and are determined by the size and income of the family. Conditions for old age pensions have varying conditions. The first maternity coverage was initiated in 1912, and was most recently updated in 2001.

Despite full legal rights under law, women face some social discrimination in Italy. On average, women earn less than men and are underrepresented in management, the professions, and other areas. Sexual abuse and violence remain a problem, although when reported, the authorities prosecute perpetrators and assist victims. Increased public awareness of sexual harassment and violence increased the number of reported abuses in 2004. The government is committed to protecting and promoting children's rights.

Human rights are generally respected in Italy. Lengthy pretrial detentions still occur due to the slow pace of the judicial system, and occasional cases of the mistreatment of prisoners were reported. Discrimination based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability, and language is prohibited by law.


A national health plan, begun in 1980, seeks to provide free health care for all citizens, but certain minimum charges remain. It is financed by contributions from salaries, by employers, and by the central government. Patients are still able to choose their own health care providers. Reform implementation in the 1980s and 1990s has been difficult. In 1994, the government announced plans to dismantle public universal insurance. Reforms in 1999 sought to integrate primary care with other health care programs, including home care, social services, and health education. Consistent health reforms are hampered by frequent political changes in administration. Most private hospitals have contracts with the national plan, but health care services are more highly concentrated in the northern regions of Italy. The shortage of medical personnel and hospital facilities in Italy's rural areas remains serious. Closure of a number of underutilized hospitals was planned and the government has been making efforts to curb the state deficit in health expenditures; budgets and estimates are repeatedly more than demand. Health care expenditures were 8.2% of GDP.

As of 2004, Italy had the highest number of physicians per capita at an estimated 606 per 100,000 people. In addition, there were approximately 446 nurses, 59 dentists and 110 pharmacists per 100,000 population. In the same year, Italy had 842 public hospitals and 539 private ones, for a total of approximately 276,000 beds.

The infant mortality rate, 72.1 per 1,000 live births in 1948, decreased to 5.94 per 1,000 by 2005, when average life expectancy was estimated to be 79.68 years. As of 2002, birth and death rates were estimated respectively at 8.9 and 10.1 per 1,000 people. Approximately 78% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception.

In 1999, immunization rates for children up to one year of age were: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 95%, and measles, 70%. The major causes of death were circulatory system diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, and accidents and violence. As of 2004, there were approximately 140,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.50 per 100 adults in 2003. There were an estimated 1,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Italy's housing and public building program was a major item in the general program of postwar reconstruction. Between 1940 and 1945, almost 20% of the habitable rooms in the country were destroyed. From June 1945 to June 1953, however, of the 6,407,000 rooms destroyed or severely damaged, 354,100 were rebuilt and 4,441,000 were repaired. Under a special housing program, originally instituted with funds from UNRRA and subsequently financed by employer and employee contributions, a total of 15 million rooms were constructed between 1953 and 1961, alleviating the nation's immediate housing problems.

In the 1980s 59% of all dwellings were owner occupied and 36% were rented. Almost 88% had indoor flush toilets, 99.5% had electricity, 59% had central heating, and 34% were heated by a stove or similar source. In 1999, 156,000 new dwellings were completed.


Education is free and compulsory for eight years (for students age 6 through 15), this includes five years of elementary school and three years of lower secondary school. Next, students may choose to attend a technical school, a vocational school, or one of several academic secondary schools, which offer a choice of specialized programs in classical, scientific, linguistic, and artistic studies. All secondary programs generally cover a five-year course of study.

In 2001, about 98% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 99% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 91% of age-eligible students. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 11:1 in 2003.

There are 55 state universities and 23 other universities, colleges, and higher learning institutes, including the University of Bologna (founded in the 11th century), the oldest in Italy, and the University of Rome, which is the country's largest. In 2003, about 57% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; with 49% for men and 65% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2003 was estimated at about 98.6%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.7% of GDP, or 10.3% of total government expenditures.


Italy, with its rich cultural heritage, is one of the world's great storehouses of books and art. Among its many of libraries, the most important are in the national library system, which contains two central libraries, in Florence (5.3 million volumes) and Rome (5 million), and four regional libraries, in Naples (1.8 million volumes), Milan (1 million), Turin (973,000) and Venice (917,000). The existence of two national central libraries, while most nations have one, came about through the history of the country, as Rome was once part of the Papal States and Florence was the first capital of the unified Kingdom of Italy. While both libraries are designated as copyright libraries, Florence now serves as the site designated for conservation and cataloging of Italian publications and the site in Rome catalogs foreign publications acquired by the state libraries. All of the national libraries are public. The Estense Library in Modena holds 425,600 volumes, including illuminated manuscripts from the 14th to 18th centuries. The university libraries in Bologna (1.1 million volumes) and Naples (750,000 volumes) each hold important collections. The Medici-Laurentian and Marucelliana (544,000) libraries in Florence and the Ambrosiana Library in Milan are also important research centers. Italy's public library system has about 84 branches and holds a total of 41 million volumes.

Italy, a world center of culture, history and art, has more than 3,000 museums. Among the more important are the Villa Giulia Museum and the National Gallery in Rome; the National Archeological Museum and the National Museum of San Martino in Naples; the National Museum in Palermo; the Galleria dell'Academia, and Uffizi, Medici, Pitti, Bargello, and St. Mark's Museums in Florence; the National Museum in Cagliari, Sardinia; the Brera Museum in Milan; the Museum of Siena; the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse (Siracusa); the National Museum of Urbino; and the Guggenheim Museum and the Academy and Libreria Sansoviniana in Venice. Venice also has the Jewish Museum, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, a Natural History Museum, an Archeological Museum, and the Museum of Byzantine Icons. The Campidoglio Museum, the Museum of Villa Borghese, and the Palazzo Barberini Museum, all in Rome, each contain important works of art by Italian masters. Naples hosts the Museum of Ethnoprehistory of Castel Dell'ovo and museums of paleontology, mineralogy, anthropology, and astronomy. The National Museum of Science and technology in Milan has an extensive exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci, including models of some of the machines designed by the Renaissance man. A Goethe museum, with manuscripts and illustrations describing Goethe's travels in Italy, opened in 1997 in Rome. Villa Torlonia, Mussolini's home, was renovated in 2001 and opened as a museum.


Communication systems in Italy, including telephone, telex, and data services, are generally considered to be modern, well developed, and fully automated. In 2003, there were an estimated 484 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 1,018 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), a government corporation, broadcasts on three channels. In 2004, there were an additional four national broadcast channels, three of which were operated by Mediaset, a company owned by Prime Minister Berlusconi. A 2004 media law initiated an intent to partially privatize RAI. Advertising appears on RAI television, two of the three RAI radio networks, and on many private stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 878 radios for every 1,000 people. The number of television sets was unavailable in the same survey. Also in 2003, there were 230.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 337 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 1,994 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

As of 2002, there were about 90 daily newspapers in the country, but not all of them had national circulation. The major daily newspapers (with their political orientations and estimated circulations) are: La Repubblica (Rome), left-wing, 754,300 in 2004; Corriere della Sera (Milan), independent, 582,500 in 2002; La Stampa (Turin), liberal, 536,233 in 2004; Il Sole-24 Ore (a financial news paper from Milan), 397,000 in 2002; Il Messaggero (Rome), left of center, 337,157 in 2004; Il Resto del Carlino (Bologna), 251,173 in 2004; Il Giornale (Milan), independent, 215,000 in 2002; and L'Unità (Rome-Milan), Communist, 200,760 in 2002. Panorama is the most popular news weekly with a circulation of 545,500 in 2002. The periodical press is becoming increasingly important. Among the most important periodicals are the pictorial weekliesOggi, L'Europeo, Epoca, L'Espresso, and Gente. Famiglia Cristiana is a Catholic weekly periodical with a wide readership.

Italy enjoys a free press, with vigorous expression of all shades of opinion. The majority of papers are published in northern and central Italy, and circulation is highest in these areas. Rome and Milan are the most important publication centers. A considerable number of dailies are owned by the political parties, the Roman Catholic Church, and various economic groups. In general, the journalistic level of the Italian papers is high, and two dailies, Milan's Corriere della Sera and Turin's La Stampa, enjoy international respect.

The law provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government is said to respect these rights in practice.


Italian society abounds with organizations of every description. Many of these are associated with or controlled by political parties, which have their ideological counterparts in labor organizations, agricultural associations, cultural groups, sports clubs, and cooperatives. Among the most important organizations are the National Confederation of Smallholders and the General Confederation of Italian Industry, which strongly influences economic policy. The General Confederation of Agriculture, the General Confederation of Trade, and the General Confederation of Master Craftsmen also are influential. There are chambers of commerce in most major cities. There are labor and trade unions and professional associations representing a wide variety of occupations. A large number of professional organizations are dedicated to research and education in specialized fields of medicine or for particular diseases and conditions.

Catholic Action and the Catholic Association of Italian Workers are the most prominent of the religious organizations. The international religious Order of St. Augustine and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) are based in Rome.

A number of political and religious organizations sponsor youth chapters. Scouting programs and chapters of the YMCA/YWCA are also active for youth. Sports associations are plentiful and include such a variety of pastimes as tennis, badminton, tae kwon do, cricket, and football (soccer). National women's organizations include the National Italian Women's Council, the Italian Association for Women in Development, and the Italian Women's Center, based in Rome.

International organizations within the country include Amnesty International, Caritas, and the Red Cross.


Among Italy's tourist attractions are the artistic and architectural treasures of Rome and Florence; the thousands of historic churches and galleries in smaller cities; the canals and palaces of Venice; the ruins of ancient Pompeii; the Shroud of Turin, reputed to be the burial cloth of Jesus; and the delicacies of northern Italian cooking, as well as the heartier fare of the south. Tourists are also lured by Italy's many beaches and by excellent Alpine skiing. Italians enjoy a wide variety of sports, including football (soccer), bowling, tennis, track and field, and swimming. Italy won the World Cup in soccer three times, in 1934 (as host), 1938, and 1982. Cortina d'Ampezzo, in the Dolomites, was the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. Rome hosted the Summer Olympics in 1960. Turin was the host the 2006 Winter Olympics.

A valid passport is necessary to travel to Italy. For stays of up to 90 days a visa is not required. Within eight days all travelers must register with local police and obtain a visitor's permit. Proof of sufficient funds for the visit may also be required.

Tourism, a major industry in Italy, brought in 39,604,118 visitors in 2003. There were 999,722 hotel rooms with 1,969,495 beds and an occupancy rate of 39%. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $32.5 billion.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily expenses for staying in Rome at $490; in Florence, $437; in Milan, $442; and in Venice, $341.


The Italian peninsula has been at the heart of Western cultural development at least since Roman times. Important poets of the Roman republic and empire were Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus, 96?55 bc), Gaius Valerius Catullus (84?54 bc), Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 7019 bc), Horace (Quintius Horatius Flaccus, 658 bc), and Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 bcad 18). Also prominent in Latin literature were the orator-rhetorician Marcus Tullius Cicero (10643 bc); the satirists Gaius Petronius Arbiter ( 66) and Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenalis, ad 60?140?); the prose writers Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, ad 2379), his nephew Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, ad 61?113?), and Lucius Apuleius (ad 124?170?); and the historians Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus, 8634 bc), Livy (Titus Livius, 59 bcad 17), Cornelius Tacitus (ad 55?117), and Suetonius (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, ad 69?140). Gaius Julius Caesar (100?44 bc), renowned as a historian and prose stylist, is even more famous as a military and political leader. The first of the Roman emperors was Octavian (Gaius Octavianus, 63 bcad 14), better known by the honorific Augustus. Noteworthy among later emperors are the tyrants Caligula (Gaius Caesar Germanicus, ad 1241) and Nero (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, ad 3768), the philosopher-statesman Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Annius Verius, ad 121180), and Constantine I (the Great; Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, b. Moesia, 280?337), who was the first to accept Christianity. No history of the Christian Church during the medieval period would be complete without mention of such men of Italian birth as St. Benedict of Nursia (480?543?), Pope Gregory I (St. Gregory the Great, 540?604), St. Francis of Assisi (1182?1226), and the philosopher-theologians St. Anselm (1033?1109) and St. Thomas Aquinas (122574).

No land has made a greater contribution to the visual arts. In the 13th and 14th centuries there were the sculptors Niccolò Pisano (122084) and his son Giovanni (12451314); the painters Cimabue (Cenni di Pepo, 12401302?), Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255?1319), and Giotto di Bondone (1276?1337); and, later in the period, the sculptor Andrea Pisano (1270?1348). Among the many great artists of the 15th centurythe golden age of Florence and Venicewere the architects Filippo Brunelleschi (13771446), Lorenzo Ghiberti (13781455), and Leone Battista Alberti (140472); the sculptors Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, 1386?1466), Luca della Robbia (14001482), Desiderio da Settignano (142864), and Andrea del Verrocchio (143588); and the painters Fra Angelico (Giovanni de Fiesole, 13871455), Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni, 13921450?), Uccello (Paolo di Dono, 13971475), Masaccio (Tomasso di Giovanni di Simone Guidi, 140128?), Fra Filippo Lippi (1406?69), Piero della Francesca (Pietro de' Franceschi, 1416?92), Giovanni Bellini (1430?1516), Andrea Mantegna (14311506), Antonio dei Pollaiuolo (143398), Luca Signorelli (1441?1523), Perugino (Pietro Vannucci, 14461524), Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi, 1447?1510), Ghirlandaio (Domenico Currado Bigordi, 144994), and Vittore Carpaccio (14501522).

During the 16th century, the High Renaissance, Rome shared with Florence the leading position in the world of the arts. Major masters included the architects Bramante (Donato d'Agnolo, 1444?1514) and Andrea Palladio (150880); the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini (15001571); the painter-designer-inventor Leonardo da Vinci (14521519); the painter-sculptor-architect-poet Michelangelo Buonarroti (14751564); and the painters Titian (Tiziano Vecelli, 14771576), Giorgione da Castelfranco (Giorgio Barbarelli, 1478?1510), Raphael (Raffaelo Sanzio, 14831520), Andrea del Sarto (14861531), and Correggio (Antonio Allegri, 14941534). Among the great painters of the late Renaissance were Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti, 151894) and Veronese (Paolo Cagliari, 152888). Giorgio Vasari (151174) was a painter, architect, art historian, and critic.

Among the leading artists of the Baroque period were the sculptor and architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (15981680) and the painters Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1560?1609), Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (16901770), Canaletto (Antonio Canal, 16971768), Pietro Longhi (170285), and Francesco Guardi (171293). Leading figures in modern painting were Umberto Boccioni (18821916), Amedeo Modigliani (18841920), Giorgio di Chirico (b.Greece, 18881978), and Giorgio Morandi (18901964). A noted contemporary architect was Pier Luigi Nervi (18911979).

Music, an integral part of Italian life, owes many of its forms as well as its language to Italy. The musical staff was either invented or established by Guido d'Arezzo (995?1050). A leading 14th-century composer was the blind Florentine organist Francesco Landini (132597). Leading composers of the High Renaissance and early Baroque periods were Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (152594); the madrigalists Luca Marenzio (153399) and Carlo Gesualdo, prince of Venosa (1560?1613); the Venetian organists Andrea Gabrieli (1510?86) and Giovanni Gabrieli (15571612); Claudio Monteverdi (15671643), the founder of modern opera; organist-composer Girolamo Frescobaldi (15831643); and Giacomo Carissimi (160574). Important figures of the later Baroque era were Arcangelo Corelli (16531713), Antonio Vivaldi (16781743), Alessandro Scarlatti (16601725), and his son Domenico Scarlatti (16831757). Italian-born Luigi Cherubini (17601842) was the central figure of French music in the Napoleonic era, while Antonio Salieri (17501825) and Gasparo Spontini (17741851) played important roles in the musical life of Vienna and Berlin, respectively. Composers of the 19th century who made their period the great age of Italian opera were Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (17921868), Gaetano Donizetti (17971848), Vincenzo Bellini (180135), and, above all, Giuseppe Verdi (18311901). Niccolò Paganini (17821840) was the greatest violinist of his time. More recent operatic composers include Ruggiero Leoncavallo (18531919), Giacomo Puccini (18581924), and Pietro Mascagni (18631945). Renowned operatic singers include Enrico Caruso (18731921), Luisa Tetrazzini (18741940), Titta Ruffo (18781953), Amelita Galli-Curci (18821963), Beniamino Gigli (18901957), Ezio Pinza (18921957), and Luciano Pavarotti (b.1935). Ferruccio Busoni (18661924), Ottorino Respighi (18791936), Luigi Dallapiccola (190475), Luigi Nono (1924-1990), and Luciano Berio (19252003) are major 20th-century composers. Arturo Toscanini (18671957) is generally regarded as one of the greatest operatic and orchestral conductors of his time; two noted contemporary conductors are Claudio Abbado (b.1933) and Riccardo Muti (b.1941). The foremost makers of stringed instruments were Gasparo da Salò (Bertolotti, 15401609) of Brescia, Niccolò Amati (15961684), Antonius Stradivarius (Antonio Stradivari, 16441737), and Giuseppe Bartolommeo Guarneri (del Gesù, 1687?1745) of Cremona. Bartolommeo Cristofori (16551731) invented the pianoforte.

Italian literature and literary language began with Dante Alighieri (12651321), author of The Divine Comedy, and subsequently included Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 130474), Giovanni Boccaccio (131375), Lodovico Ariosto (14741533), Pietro Aretino (14921556), and Torquato Tasso (154495). An outstanding writer of the Baroque period was Metastasio (Pietro Trapassi, 16981782), and Carlo Goldoni (170793) was the most prominent playwright of the 18th century. The time of Italy's rebirth was heralded by the poets Vittorio Alfieri (17491803), Ugo Foscolo (17781827), and Giacomo Leopardi (17981837). Alessandro Manzoni (17851873) was the principal Italian novelist of the 19th century, and Francesco de Sanctis (181783) the greatest literary critic. Among the Italian literary figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Giosuè Carducci (18351907; Nobel Prize winner, 1906), Giovanni Verga (18401922), Gabriele d'Annunzio (18631938), Luigi Pirandello (18671936; Nobel Prize winner, 1934), and Grazia Deledda (18751936; Nobel Prize winner, 1926) achieved international renown. Leading writers of the postwar era are Ignazio Silone (Secondo Tranquilli, 190078), Alberto Moravia (Pincherle, 19071990), Italo Calvino (192387), Umberto Eco (b.1932), and the poets Salvatore Quasimodo (190868; Nobel Prize winner, 1959) and Eugenio Montale (18961981; Nobel Prize winner, 1975). Outstanding film directors are Italian-born Frank Capra (18971991), Vittorio de Sica (190274), Luchino Visconti (190676), Roberto Rossellini (190677), Michelangelo Antonioni (b.1912), Federico Fellini (192093), Sergio Leone (19291989), Pier Paolo Pasolini (192275), Franco Zeffirelli (b.1923), Lina Wertmüller (Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg, b.1928), and Bernardo Bertolucci (b.1940). Famous film stars include Italian-born Rudolph Valentino (Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaele Pierre Philibert Guglielmi, 18951926), Marcello Mastroianni (19241996), and Sophia Loren (Scicoloni, b.1934).

In philosophy, exploration, and statesmanship, Italy has produced many world-renowned figures: the traveler Marco Polo (1254?1324); the statesman and patron of the arts Cosimo de' Medici (13891464); the statesman, clergyman, and artistic patron Roderigo Borgia (Lanzol y Borja, b. Spain, 1431?1503), who became Pope Alexander VI (r.14921503); the soldier, statesman, and artistic patron Lorenzo de' Medici, the son of Cosimo (144992); the explorer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto, 1450?98?); the explorer Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo or Cristóbal Colón, 14511506); the explorer Amerigo Vespucci (14541512), after whom the Americas are named; the admiral and statesman Andrea Doria (1468?1540); Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527), author of The Prince and the outstanding political theorist of the Renaissance; the statesman and clergyman Cesare Borgia (1475?1507), the son of Rodrigo; the explorer Sebastian Cabot (1476?1557), the son of John; Baldassare Castiglione (14781529), author of The Courtier; the historian Francesco Guicciardini (14831540); the explorer Giovanni da Verrazano (1485?1528?); the philosopher Giordano Bruno (1548?1600); the political philosopher Giovanni Battista Vico (16681744); the noted jurist Cesare Bonesana Beccaria (173594); Giuseppe Mazzini (180572), the leading spirit of the Risorgimento; Camillo Benso di Cavour (181061), its prime statesman; and Giuseppe Garibaldi (180782), its foremost soldier and man of action. Notable intellectual and political leaders of more recent times include the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1907, Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (18331918); the sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto (18481923); the political theorist Gaetano Mosca (18581941); the philosopher, critic, and historian Benedetto Croce (18661952); the educator Maria Montessori (18701952); Benito Mussolini (18831945), the founder of Fascism and dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943; Carlo Sforza (18731952) and Alcide De Gasperi (18811954), famous latter-day statesmen; and the Communist leaders Antonio Gramsci (18911937), Palmiro Togliatti (18931964), and Enrico Berlinguer (192284).

Italian scientists and mathematicians of note include Leonardo Fibonacci (1180?1250?), Galileo Galilei (15641642), Evangelista Torricelli (160847), Francesco Redi (1626?97), Marcello Malpighi (162894), Luigi Galvani (173798), Lazzaro Spallanzani (172999), Alessandro Volta (17451827), Amedeo Avogadro (17761856), Stanislao Cannizzaro (18261910), Camillo Golgi (18431926; Nobel Prize winner, 1906), Guglielmo Marconi (18741937; Nobel Prize winner, 1909), Enrico Fermi (190154; Nobel Prize winner, 1938), Giulio Natta (190379; Nobel Prize winner, 1963), Italian-American Emilio Gino Segrè (19051989; Nobel Prize winner, 1959), Daniel Bovet (19071992; Nobel Prize winner, 1957), Renato Dulbecco (b.1914; Nobel Prize winner, 1975), Carlo Rubbia (b.1934; Nobel Prize winner, 1984), and Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-1989; Nobel Prize winner, 1986), and Italian-American Riccardo Giacconi (b.1931; Nobel Prize winner, 2002).


Italy has no territories or colonies.


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