OFFICIAL NAME: Italian Republic
POPULATION: 59.83 million (as of 2013)
LAND AREA: 301,277 square kilometers (116,324 square miles)
LOCATION: Italy is located in Southern Europe, on a peninsula that extends out into the central Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders to the north with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
CAPITAL: Rome (with approximately 2.6 million inhabitants is also Italy’s largest city)
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Italian
OTHER LANGUAGES: German, French, Slovene and Ladin
RELIGION: Predominately Roman Catholics (84%)
CURRENCY: Euro (before 2002 it was the Italian Lira)
FLAG: The colors of the Italian flag and their representations are GREEN (land and hope), WHITE (mountains and wisdom), RED (blood of those that died for their country)
MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Alps, Apennines
MAJOR RIVERS: Po, Adige, Arno, Tiber
REGIONS: The country is divided into 20 regions, each of which speak in their own unique dialect and celebrate independent cultures & cuisines.
Northern: Valle d’Aosta (Aosta Valley), Piemonte (Piedmont), Liguria, Lombardia (Lombardy), Trentino Alto-Adige (Trentino-South Tyrol), Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Central: Emilia-Romagna, Toscana (Tuscany), Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzi (Abruzzo)
Southern: Molise, Campania, Puglia (Apulia), Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia (Sicily), Sardegna (Sardinia)
HISTORY: Rome (its capital city today) was founded in 753 B.C. After the Roman Empire broke down in 395 A.D. there were many separate kingdoms and city states. Italy became a united country in 1861 and (then including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia). It was transformed into a Republic on June 2nd, 1946 (following World War II). Italy is a founding member of the European Union (EU) and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).