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  • Italienische Republik
  • Italian Republic
  • República Italiana
  • République italienne
  • Итальянская Республика

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Repubblica Italiana

Italy

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  Summary  

Italy , officially the Italian Republic , 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 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 and religious centre of Western civilisation as the capital of the Roman Empire and site of the Holy See. After the decline of the Roman Empire, 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 Maritime republics and 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 , 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 as the world's 24th most-developed country and its Quality-of-life index has been ranked in the world's top ten. 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 third-largest gold reserves, eighth-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP 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.


==Etymology==
The assumptions on the etymology of the name "Italia" are very numerous and the corpus of the solutions proposed by historians and linguists is very wide. According to one of the more common explanations, the term Italia, from , was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning "land of young cattle" (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf"). The bull was a symbol of the southern Italian tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Samnite Wars. Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, mentioned also by Aristotle and Thucydides.

The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy–according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula . But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was not until the time of the Roman conquests that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula.

  History  

 Prehistory and antiquity

Excavations throughout Italy reveal a modern human presence dating back to the Paleolithic period, some 200,000 years ago. The Italic tribes of pre-Roman Italy, such as the Umbrians, the Latins , Volsci, Samnites, the Celts and the Ligures which inhabited northern Italy, and many others are most of Indo-European stock; main historic peoples of non-Indo-European heritage include the Etruscans, the Elymians and Sicani in Sicily and the prehistoric Sardinians.

Between the 17th to the 11th century BC Mycenaean Greeks established contacts with Italy and in the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula became known as Magna Graecia. Also the Phoenicians established colonies on the coasts of Sardinia and Sicily.

Ancient Rome was at first a small agricultural community founded c. the 8th century BC, that grew over the course of the centuries into a colossal empire encompassing the whole Mediterranean Sea, in which Ancient Greek and Roman cultures merged into one civilization. This civilization was so influential that parts of it survive in modern law, administration, philosophy and arts, forming the ground that Western civilization is based upon. In a slow decline since the late 4th century AD, the empire finally broke into two parts in 395 AD: the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The western part, under the pressure of the Franks, the Vandals, the Huns, the Goths and other populations from Eastern Europe, finally dissolved, leaving the Italian peninsula divided into small independent kingdoms and feuding city states for the next 1,300 years. The eastern part became the sole heir to the Roman legacy.

 Middle Ages


In the 6th century the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I reconquered Italy from the Ostrogoths. The invasion of a new wave of Germanic tribes and the Lombards late in the same century reduced the Byzantine presence to the Exarchate of Ravenna and other lands in southern Italy.

The Lombard reign of northern and central Italy was absorbed into the Frankish Empire by Charlemagne in the late 8th century. The Frankish kings also helped the formation of the Papal States in central Italy, extending from Rome to Ravenna, although for most of the Middle Ages the Papacy only effectively controlled Latium. Until the 13th century, Italian politics was dominated by the relationship between the German Holy Roman Emperors and the popes, with most of the Italian states siding for one or another depending from momentary convenience.

It was during this vacuum of authority that the region saw the rise of institutions such as the Signoria and the medieval commune. In the anarchic conditions that often prevailed in medieval Italian city-states, people looked to strong men to restore order and disarm the feuding elites. Despite the devastation of the numerous wars, Italy maintained, especially in the north, a relatively developed urban civilization, which later evolved in the peculiar phenomenon of its merchant Republics. These city-states, oligarchical in reality, had a dominant merchant class which under relative political freedom nurtured academic and artistic advancement. Notable amongst them, in northern Italy, was the Duchy of Milan: in the 12th century it led the Lombard League in the defeat of the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, leading to a process granting effective independence to most of northern and central Italian cities.

During the same period, Italy saw the rise of numerous Maritime Republics, the most notable being Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi. These maritime republics were also heavily involved in the Crusades, taking advantage of political and trading opportunities. Venice and Genoa soon became Europe's main gateways to trade with the East, establishing colonies as far as the Black Sea and often controlling most of the trade with the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic Mediterranean world. The county of Savoy expanded its territory into the peninsula in the late Middle Ages, while Florence developed into a highly organized commercial and financial city, becoming for many centuries the European capital of silk, wool, banking and jewelry.

Sicily had become an Islamic emirate in the 9th century, thriving until the Italo-Normans conquered it in the late 11th century together with most of the Lombard and Byzantine states of southern Italy. Through a complex series of events, southern Italy remained an unified kingdom, first under the House of Hohenstaufen, then under the Capetian House of Anjou and, from the 15th century, the house of Aragon . In Sardinia, the former Byzantine provinces became independent states known as giudicati, although most of the island was under Genoese or Pisan control until the Aragonese conquered it in the 15th century.

 Early Modern


The Black Death pandemic in 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing one third of the population. However, the recovery from the disaster of the Black Death led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which greatly stimulated the successive phases of Humanism and Renaissance.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, Northern and upper Central Italy were divided into a number of warring city-states, the rest of the peninsula being occupied by the larger Papal States and Naples. Warfare between the states was common, invasion from outside Italy confined to intermittent sorties of Holy Roman Emperors. These wars were primarily fought by armies of mercenaries known as condottieri, bands of soldiers drawn from around Europe, but especially Germany and Switzerland, led largely by Italian captains.

Decades of fighting eventually saw Florence, Milan and Venice emerge as the dominant players, that agreed to the Peace of Lodi in 1454, which saw relative calm brought to the region for the first time in centuries. This peace would hold for the next forty years, and Venice's unquestioned hegemony over the sea also led to unprecedented peace for much of the rest of the 15th century. The Italian Renaissance peaked in the mid-16th century as foreign invasions plunged the region into the turmoil of the Italian Wars. However, the ideas and ideals of the Renaissance endured and even spread into the rest of Europe, setting off the Northern Renaissance, and the English Renaissance.

Following the Italian Wars , Italy saw a long period of relative peace, first under Habsburg Spain and then under Habsburg Austria . The plague repeatedly returned to haunt Italy throughout the 14th to 17th centuries. In the first half of the 17th century a plague claimed some 1.7 million victims, or about 14% of Italy’s population. As Spain declined in the 17th century, so did its Italian possessions in Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Milan. Southern Italy was impoverished, stagnant, and cut off from the mainstream of events in Europe.

In the 18th century, as a result of the War of Spanish Succession, Austria replaced Spain as the dominant foreign power, while the House of Savoy emerged as a major regional power expanding to Piedmont and Sardinia. During the Napoleonic Wars, the northern part of the country was invaded and reorganized as a new Kingdom of Italy, essentially a client state of the French Empire, while the southern half of the peninsula was administered by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother in law, who was crowned as King of Naples. The 1814 Congress of Vienna restored the situation of the late 18th century.

 Italian unification and Liberal Italy


The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united state encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. In the context of the 1848 liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful war was declared on Austria. The Kingdom of Sardinia again attacked the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence of 1859, with the aid of France, resulting in liberating Lombardy. In 1860-61, Giuseppe Garibaldi led the drive for unification in Naples and Sicily, allowing the Sardinian government led by the Count of Cavour to declare a united Italian kingdom on 17 March 1861. In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II allied with Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, waging the Third Italian War of Independence which allowed Italy to annex Venetia. Finally, as France during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870 abandoned its garrisons in Rome, the Savoy rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal States.

The Sardinian Albertine Statute of 1848, extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, provided for basic freedoms, but electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. The government of the new kingdom took place in a framework of parliamentary constitutional monarcy dominated by liberal forces. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. As Northern Italy quickly industrialized, the South and rural areas of North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad, while the Italian Socialist Party constantly increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative establishment.

Starting from the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing Somalia, Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule. During World War I, Italy at first stayed neutral but in 1915 signed the Treaty of London, entering the Entente on the promise of receiving Trento, Trieste, Gorizia and Gradisca, Istria and northern Dalmatia from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as parts of the Ottoman Empire. During the war, more than 650,000 Italian soldiers died, and the economy collapsed. Under the Peace Treaties of Saint-Germain, Rapallo and Rome, Italy obtained most of the promised territories, including the Croatian town of Fiume. Nevertheless, the victory was described as "mutilated" by the nationalists, since most of Dalmatia was assigned to the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

 Fascist regime

The turbulence that followed the devastation of World War I, inspired by the Russian Revolution, led to turmoil and anarchy. The liberal establishment, fearing a socialist revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini. In October 1922 the fascists attempted a coup (the "March on Rome"), supported by king Victor Emmanuel III. Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship. In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, resulting in an international alienation and leading to Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations. Consequently, Italy allied with Nazi Germany and Empire of Japan and strongly supported Franco in the Spanish civil war. In 1939, Italy occupied Albania, a de facto protectorate for decades, and entered World War II in 1940 on the side of the Axis powers. Mussolini, wanting a quick victory like Hitler's Blitzkriegs in Poland and France, invaded Greece in October 1940 but was forced to accept a humiliating stalemate after a few months. At the same time, Italy, after initially conquering British Somalia and parts of Egypt, saw an allied counter-attack lead to the loss of all possessions in the Horn of Africa and in North Africa.

Italy was then invaded by the Allies in July 1943, leading to the collapse of the Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini. In September 1943, Italy surrendered. The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the allies were moving up from the south as the north was the base for loyalist Italian fascist and German Nazi forces, fought also by the Italian resistance movement. The hostilities ended on 2 May 1945. Nearly half a million Italians died in the conflict, and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in 1944 was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century.

 Italian Republic

Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote. Victor Emmanuel III's son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate and exiled. The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January 1948. Under the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, the eastern border area was lost to Yugoslavia, and, later, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided between the two states. Fears in the Italian electorate of a possible Communist takeover proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on 18 April 1948, when the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, obtained a landslide victory. Consequently, in 1949 Italy became a member of NATO. The Marshall Plan helped to revive the Italian economy which, until the late 1960s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the "Economic Miracle". In 1957, Italy was a founding member of the European Economic Community , which became the European Union in 1993.

From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the country experienced the Years of Lead, a period characterized by economic crisis , widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US intelligence. The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978, an event that deeply affected the whole country. In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one liberal and one socialist ; the Christian Democrats remained, however, the main government party. During Craxi's government, the economy recovered and Italy became the world's fifth largest industrial nation, gaining entry into the G7 Group. However, as a result of his spending policies, the Italian national debt skyrocketed during the Craxi era, soon passing 100% of the GDP.

In the early 1990s, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters, disenchanted with political paralysis, massive government debt and the extensive corruption system uncovered by the 'Clean Hands' investigation, demanded radical reforms. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: the Christian Democrats, who ruled for almost 50 years, underwent a severe crisis and eventually disbanded, splitting up into several factions. The Communists reorganized as a social-democratic force. During the 1990s and the 2000s , centre-right and centre-left coalitions alternatively governed the country.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Italia", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.