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Country information - Italy
Country name - conventional long form : Italian Republic
Country name - conventional short form : Italy
Country name - local long form : Repubblica Italiana
Country name - local short form : Italia
Country name - former : Kingdom of Italy
Government type : republic
Capital - name : Rome
Capital - time difference : UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Republic Day, 2 June (1946)
Population : 58,145,320 (July 2008 est.)
Nationality - noun : Italian(s)
Nationality - adjective : Italian
Languages : 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)
Currency (code) : euro (EUR)
Currency code : EUR

Italy is located Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia. The climate is predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south. The terrain is mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands.


This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Background : Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.

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