The Italian culture is one of great flamboyance, passion, energy, enthusiasm and color. With more than 55 million consumers, famous for their sophistication and high levels of brand awareness, the Italian market is replete with opportunities for an expanding business. Italy is one of the most advanced and dynamic countries in the world and the 7th world economic power in terms of GDP.
Italy is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, in the heart of the biggest and richest single market of the world: the European Union. Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. Land boundaries are also the Holy See (Vatican City) and San Marino. The country is surrounded by four seas: the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
:: Background of Italy ::
As Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.
:: Geography of Italy ::
Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia.
Geographic coordinates: 42 50 N, 12 50 E
Area: total: 301,230 sq km land: 294,020 sq km water: 7,210 sq km. Note: includes Sardinia and Sicily.
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundaries: total: 1,899.2 km; border countries: Austria 430 km, France 488 km, Holy See (Vatican) 3.2 km, San Marino 39 km, Slovenia 199 km, Switzerland 740 km
Coastline: 7,600 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m;
highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a secondary peak of Mont Blanc)
Natural resources: coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land
Land use: arable land: 26.41% permanent crops: 9.09% other: 64.5% (2005)
Natural hazards: regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice
Environment – current issues: Air pollution from industrial emissions such as sulfur dioxide; coastal and inland rivers polluted from industrial and agricultural effluents; acid rain damaging lakes; inadequate industrial waste treatment and disposal facilities.
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreement.
:: People of Italy ::
Population: 58,145,320 (July 2008 est.)
0-14 years: 13.6% (male 4,086,951/female 3,842,765)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 19,534,247/female 19,024,776)
65 years and over: 20% (male 4,864,189/female 6,792,393) (2008 est.)
total: 42.9 years
male: 41.4 years
female: 44.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.019% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 8.36 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.61 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.19 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.07 years
male: 77.13 years
female: 83.2 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.3 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.5% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Italian(s) adjective: Italian
Ethnic groups: Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians: south)
Religions: Roman Catholic 90% (approximately; about one-third practicing), other 10% (includes mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community
Languages: Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
female: 98% (2001 census)