Our world in the 21st century is an extremely interconnected place. Despite our growing connections to each other, few of us know much about our fellow human beings from other nation
s around the globe. Italy is one of the worldâ€™s most influential countries, yet few people probably know more than a handful of facts about one of the worldâ€™s oldest cultures.
When most people think of Italy, they think of the city of Rome and the nationâ€™s history with the Roman Empire. Italyâ€™s history is much deeper than simply being the home of the Roman Empire. Important facts from Italyâ€™s history include:
- Earliest human presence in Italy dates back 200,000 years to the Paleolithic period
- Early inhabitants of Italy included cultures of Indo-European heritage, namely the Umbrians, Latins (who would form the Roman Empire), Volsci, Samnites, Celts, and Ligures
- Long before the Roman Empire emerged, Mycenaean Greeks established contact with Italy and eventually created the colonies of Magna Graecia.
- The Phoenicians also established colonies in Italy before the birth of the Roman Empire
Italyâ€™s history is more than one of conquest, domination, and empire building. The nation has left a lasting impression on others in Europe as well as nations across the globe. Some important facts regarding Italyâ€™s impact include:
- The Renaissance Period in human history began in Florence, Italy in the Late Middle Ages.
- Italian poets lead the charge during the Renaissance, while Italian painters left an indelible mark that would influence European painting for centuries to come.
- Italy is home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites (45) than any other nation.
- There are an estimated 100,000 monuments, such as museums, palaces, statues, and churches, in Italy.
- Tourism benefits from Italyâ€™s rich history. 43.7 million tourists brought $42.7 billion into Italy.
- Italy earns the 4th highest amount in tourism dollars and is the 5th most visited country in the world.
- The Colosseum and ruins of Pompeii bring four and two and half million visitors, respectively, to Italy each year. This makes them the 39th and 48th most visited sites in the world.
Despite a rich history, Italy as we know it today has only existed since 1861 when unification was completed. Modern Italy is characterized by the following:
- The country is divided in 20 regions. Five of these regions have autonomous power to enact legislation for their constituents.
- Rome is not only the nationâ€™s capital city, but also its largest and most populated city with some 2.7 million residents.
- Since 1946 when the Italian monarchy was abolished, the country has been governed as a unitary parliamentary republic.
- Italyâ€™s President serves as the head of state, while a Prime Minister serves as the head of government.
- Italy has two bicameral houses in its parliament. They are the Chamber of Deputies and Senate of the Republic.
Modern Italy remains on the world stage much like the Roman Empire of ancient times. Consider these final facts regarding Italy:
- Italy is the 23rd most populous country in the world.
- Italy is the 23rd most developed country in the world.
- The country is a founding member of the European Union and is part of the Eurozone.
- Member of the G8, G20, NATO, and World Trade Organization.
- 8th largest nominal GDP and 10th highest GDP in the world.