Geography of Italy

Learn Information about the European Nation of Italy

Italy Flag
The Italy flag has three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and red; similar to the flags of Ireland and Cote d'Ivoire. Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007

Population: 61,016,804 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Rome
Bordering Countries: Austria, France, Vatican City, San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland
Area: 116,348 square miles (301,340 sq km)
Coastline: 4,722 miles (7,600 km)
Highest Point: Mont Blanc de Courmayeur at 15,577 feet (4,748 m)

Italy is a country located in south-central Europe between the Alps mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea. Rome is its capital and largest city but other major cities in Italy include Milan, Naples, Turin and Palermo.

Italy is known for its long history, historic architecture and political, social and economic importance within Europe.

History of Italy

Italy has a very long history that dates back to the 8th and 7th century B.C.E. when Greeks settled the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. At the same time the central portion of the peninsula was settled by the Romans and Etruscans. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire the region was invaded several times and conflicts developed between the various foreign powers controlling the area (U.S. Department of State). By the 11th century the northern part of the peninsula began to regain stability and during the Renaissance the identification of a single Italian nationality and culture developed (U.S. Department of State). By the 16th century however, Italy again began to decline in power.

By the 19th century Italy underwent a period of reunification and in 1861 Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy became the King of Italy.

In 1870, Rome was incorporated into Italy and from 1870 to 1922 Italy was ruled as a constitutional monarchy. In 1922 Benito Mussolini came to power and Italy's political parties and personal liberties were eventually eliminated under his dictatorship called the Corporate State.

In 1940 Italy, along with Germany, declared war on the United Kingdom and France to begin World War II.

One year later in 1941 it and the other Axis powers declared war on the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1943 the Allies invaded Sicily and Mussolini was dismissed from power and Marshal Pietro Badoglio was appointed as Premier. Shortly thereafter the Badoglio government declared war on Germany and in April 1945 German forces were driven from Italy (U.S. Department of State). A referendum in 1946 ended Italy's monarchy and an election was held to choose a constituent assembly to aid in creating a new republic (U.S. Department of State).

In 1947 a WWII peace treaty shifted Italy's borders and its eastern border region was given to Yugoslavia and the area around the city of Trieste became a free territory (U.S. Department of State). In 1954 however, the area was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia. In addition, the WWII treaty also resulted in Italy giving up its overseas territories and several islands within the Mediterranean.

In 1957 Italy became a founding member of the European Economic Community (which later became the European Union). Throughout the 1960s and into the early 1980s Italy was plagued by an economic crisis which led to severe social instability. By the late 1980s however, Italy's government began to recover and since then it has become one of the most important nations in Europe and one of the world's largest industrial nations.

Government of Italy

Today Italy's government is considered a republic. It has an executive branch of government consisting of a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister). Its legislative branch is made up of a bicameral Parliament that includes a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. Italy's judicial branch consists of a Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Cassation. Italy is divided into 15 different regions for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Italy

Italy's economy is relatively strong and diversified. The north is highly industrialized while the south is less developed and more dependent on agriculture. In general Italy's economy is driven by manufacturing. The main industries in Italy are tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear and ceramics (CIA World Factbook).

The main agricultural products of Italy are fruits, vegetables, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, grain, olives, beef, dairy products and fish (CIA World Factbook).

Geography and Climate of Italy

Italy is located in Southern Europe on a peninsula that extends south from the Alps Mountains into the Mediterranean Sea. Its total area is 116,348 square miles (301,340 sq km). Italy's area consists of the main Italian Peninsula as well as several islands, including Sicily and Sardinia. It has a varied topography that is mostly rugged and mountainous. There are also some areas of plains and some coastal lowlands. The highest point in Italy is Mont Blanc de Courmayeur at 15,577 feet (4,748 m).

The climate of Italy is mostly Mediterranean, but the far north is alpine and the south is hot and dry. For example Palermo, located in the south on the island of Sicily has an average July high temperature of 83˚F (28˚C) and a January average low of 47˚F (8˚C). By contrast Turin, located on the northern part of the Italian Peninsula has an average July high of 82˚F (27.6˚C) and a January low of 26˚F (-3˚C).


Central Intelligence Agency. (16 August 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Italy. Retrieved from: (n.d.). Italy: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Retrieved from:

United States Department of State. (12 May 2011). Italy. Retrieved from:

(17 August 2011). Italy - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: