Introduction to Italy – Crash Course from Journalist Traveler

Before we set out on our journey to Italy let’s get some basic facts first (data as of 2014  [1] ). This is the basic information you need to know about Italy, whether you’re planning to visit Italy or you just like to have a quick overview of the country.

General Info about Italy

Capital City: Rome (Population: 2.7 million)

Biggest Cities: Rome (2.7m), Milan (1.2m), Naples (950k), Turin (900k), Palermo (650k)

Population: 61 million (World ranking: 23rd) [2]

Languages: Italian (official), French (official in Aosta Valley), German (official in Trentino-Alto Adige), Slovene (official in some communes in Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
62% of the population in Italy does not speak any foreign language.  [3]
Most common foreign languages: English, French, Spanish, German

Italy Political Map

Economy of Italy

Currency: Euro (€)

Size of Economy: GDP (PPP): $1.8 trillion (World ranking: 11th; European ranking: 5th; Compare: USA: $16 trillion, $Germany: 3.2 trillion)  [4]

GDP per person per year: $30,000 (World ranking: 22nd; Compare: USA:$52,000, Germany: $40,000)

Unemployment Rate: 12% (Compare: USA: 7%, Germany: 7%)

Youth Unemployment Rate: 43% (Compare: USA: 15%, Germany: 8%)

Inflation Rate: 1.5% (Compare: USA: 1.5%, Germany: 1.5%)

History of Italy

Italian Unification (Risorgimento): 1871. Notable Figures: Garibaldi, Mazzini, Cavour, Emmanuel II

Oldest Cities/Towns [5]  : RomeVolterra (Tuscany), Matera (Basilicata)

Ancient Civilisations: Etruscans (8th-3rd century BC), Roman Republic (4th century BC – 1st century BC), Roman Empire (1st century BC, 5th century AD),

Some notable Italians in history:
Marco Polo (Trader and Explorer from Venice) 1254-1324
Medici Family (Grand Duchy of Tuscany, produced four Popes, commissioned works from Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael) 14th-18th century
Leonardo da Vinci (Inventor, Painter, Scientist) 1452-1519
Niccolò Machiavelli (Historian, Diplomat, Writer of The Prince) 1469-1527
Guglielmo Marconi (Inventor, Work on Radio Transmission, Nobel Prize in Physics) 1874-1937

Political System of Italy

System:  Democratic Republic since 1946; Bicameral System, Parliament composed of two houses: Chamber of Deputies and Senate

Head of State: President (Elected by Parliament)

Executive Power: Prime Minister and Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister

Regions: Italy is divided into 20 administrative regions which are all (except for Aosta) divided into provinces. 5 of the regions are autonomous: Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige, Aosta Valley and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. San Marino and Vatican are enclaves surrounded by Italy, though they are both independent states.

 

  1. Figures are rounded and sometimes averaged from different sources to give a general idea. Accuracy not guaranteed.
  2. CIA World Factbook, Istat
  3. Eurobarometer
  4. CIA World Factbook, Worldbank
  5. Each over 2,500 years old

 

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