Italy facts and figures


Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the city-states
of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King
Victor EMMANUEL. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the
early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His
disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s defeat in World War
II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival
followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community
(EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification,
joining the European Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include
illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, and
the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with
the prosperous north.

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


total: 301,230 sq km

note: includes Sardinia and Sicily

water: 7,210 sq km

land: 294,020 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 1,932.2 km

border countries: Austria 430 km, France 488 km, Holy See (Vatican City)
3.2 km, San Marino 39 km, Slovenia 232 km, Switzerland 740 km


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


mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands

Land use:

arable land: 28.07%

permanent crops: 9.25%

other: 62.68% (1998 est.)


57,998,353 (July 2003 est.)


noun: Italian(s)

adjective: Italian


Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly
German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta
region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)