Coordinates: 43 ° N 12 ° E / 43 ° N 12 ° E / 43; 12
Italy (Italian: Italy (listen)), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Italian Republic [reˈpubblika itaˈljaːna]), is a European country consisting of a peninsula bordered by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy is located in central-southern Europe, and is also considered a part of western Europe. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 square miles) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the engraved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime enclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the third most populous member state of the European Union. The capital and largest city is Rome; other important cities are Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo, Genoa, Bologna, Florence and Venice.
Thanks to its central geographical position in southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been the home of a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient populations dispersed in what is today modern Italy, the most predominant is the Italian-Indo-European population that gave the peninsula its name, starting from the classical era, Phoenicians and Carthaginians founded colonies mainly in island Italy, The Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Grecia of southern Italy, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively. An Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which eventually became a republic with a government of the Senate and People. The Roman Republic initially conquered and assimilated its neighbors on the Italian peninsula, expanding and conquering parts of Europe, North Africa and Asia. In the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as a dominant power in the Mediterranean basin and became an important cultural, political and religious center, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of over 200 years during which law, technology, economics, development of art and literature. Italy remained the homeland of the Romans and the metropolis of the empire, whose legacy can also be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments, Christianity and Latin characters.
During the High Middle Ages, Italy suffered socio-political collapse and barbarian invasions, but in the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, achieved great prosperity through trade , trade and banks, lay the foundations for modern capitalism. These mostly independent statets served as Europe's main trade hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating across Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocratic papal state, while southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, in part following a succession of Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Angevins, Aragonese and other foreign conquests in the region. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymers. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to inaugurate the European Age of Discovery. However, Italy's commercial and political power has significantly diminished with the opening of trade routes which have bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of rivalry and fighting between Italian city-states, such as the Italian wars of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, left Italy fragmented and susceptible to foreign domination, and was subsequently conquered, exploited and further divided by European powers such as the France, Spain and Austria.