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Italy country profile

27 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 22 June 2012

Italy is a founding Member State of the European Community, now the EU.


Repubblica Italiana

Italy is mainly mountainous, except for the Po plain in the Emilia-Romagna region, and runs from the Alps to the central Mediterranean Sea. It includes the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Elba and about 70 other smaller ones. There are two small independent states within peninsular Italy: the Vatican City in Rome, and the Republic of San Marino.

Italy has a two-chamber parliament, consisting of the Senate (Senato della Repubblica) of upper house and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati). Elections take place every five years.

The country’s main economic sectors are tourism, fashion, engineering, chemicals, motor vehicles and food. Italy is a member of the G8 group of industrialised countries and it is the world's seventh largest economy. Italy's northern regions are per capita amongst the richest in Europe.

Already the centre of a vast Roman empire which left a huge archaeological, cultural and literary heritage, the Italian peninsula saw the birth of medieval humanism and the Renaissance. This further helped to shape European political thought, philosophy and art via figures like Machiavelli, Dante, Leonardo and Galileo.

The list of famous Italian artists is long, including Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Caravaggio. The country has also produced opera composers such as Verdi and Puccini and film-maker Federico Fellini.

Italian cuisine is one of the most refined and varied in Europe, from the piquant flavours of Naples and Calabria, the pesto dishes of Liguria to the cheese and risotto dishes of the Italian Alps.

Official name: Italian Republic

Area (km2): 301 263

Population: 61.3 million (July 2011 est.)

Capital: Rome

National holiday: 02 June

Currency: Euro (€)

Date of joining: 23 July 1952

Head of state: Giorgio Napolitano, since May 2006

Head of government: Prime Minister Mario Monti (since 16 November 2011)

GDP (millions €): 1 572 243.1 (2008); 1 532 521.7 (forecast for 2009)

GDP per capita in PPS: € 25 200 (2008); € 23 400 (forecast for 2009)

Real growth rate of GDP: 0.4% (2011 est.); 1.3% (2010 est.), -5.2% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate: 8.4% (2011 est.), 8.4% (2011 est.)

National debt as % of GDP: 120.1% (2011 est.)

Inflation: 2.8% (2011 est.), 1.7% (2010)

Public deficit/surplus as % of GDP: -3.6% (2011 est.)

Source: Eurostat

Head of State:
Head of Government:
Foreign Minister:

Map of Italy

Source: European Commission, Spanish EU Presidency

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