Euro (€) (EUR)
Facts about Italy
Italy is a unitary parliamentary republic in south-central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia—the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea—and many other smaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, whilst Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.6 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.
Rome, the capital of Italy, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy endured numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy became the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous kingdoms and city-states (such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Duchy of Milan), but was unified in 1861, following a tumultuous period in history known as "Il Risorgimento" ("The Resurgence"). In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Albania, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It has been ranked the world's twenty-third most-developed country and its Quality-of-life index has been ranked in the top ten in the world. Italy enjoys a very high standard of living, and has a high nominal GDP per capita. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and part of the Eurozone. Italy is also a member of the G8, G20 and NATO. It has the world's eighth-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP) and the sixth highest government budget in the world. It is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the United Nations. Italy has the world's ninth-largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons.
Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. The country's European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power. The country has a high public education level and is a highly globalised nation.