Lombardy (/ ˈlɒmbərdi, ˈlʌm- / LOM-bər-dee, LUM -; Italian: Lombardy ; Lombard: Lombardy, western Lombard: , or Lombardéa, eastern Lombard: [lombarˈde. a]) is one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy, in the north-west of the country, with an area of 23,844 square kilometers (9,206 square miles). About 10 million people, who make up one sixth of the Italian population, live in Lombardy and about one fifth of the Italian GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest regions in Europe. Milan, the capital of Lombardy, is the second largest city and the largest metropolitan area in Italy.
The word Lombardy derives from Lombard, which in turn derives from the late Latin Longobardus, Langobardus ("a Lombard"), derived from the Proto-Germanic elements * langaz + * bardaz; long beard equivalent. Some sources derive instead from the second element from the proto-Germanic * bardǭ, * barduz ("ax"), relative to the German barte ("ax").
During the early Middle Ages "Lombardy" referred to the Kingdom of the Lombards (Latin: Regnum Langobardorum), a kingdom ruled by the Germanic Lombards who had controlled most of Italy since their invasion of Byzantine Italy in 568. As such "Lombardy "and" Italy "was almost interchangeable; in the mid-8th century the Lombards ruled everywhere, except for the papal possessions around Rome (approximately modern Lazio and northern Umbria), Venice and some Byzantine possessions in the south (southern Puglia and Calabria; some coastal settlements including Amalfi , Gaeta, Naples and Sorrento; Sicily and Sardinia). The kingdom was divided between Longobardia Maggiore in the north and Langobardia minor in the south, which until the 8th century were separated from the Byzantine exarchate of Ravenna (roughly Romagna and the northern Marche, and initially also Emilia and Liguria) and the Papacy (which was initially part of the Exarchate). During the late Middle Ages, after the fall of the northern part of the Kingdom to Charlemagne, the term moved to northern Italy. (See: Kingdom of Italy (Holy Roman Empire)). The term was also used until about 965 in the form Λογγοβαρδία (Longobardia) as a name for the territory which covered approximately modern Puglia which the Byzantines had recovered from the Lombard rump Ducato di Benevento.
With an area of 23,861 km2 (9,213 square miles), Lombardy is the fourth largest region in Italy. It borders with Switzerland (to the north: Ticino and Cantone dei Grigioni) and with the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige / Südtirol and Veneto (east), Emilia-Romagna (south) and Piedmont (west). Three distinct natural areas can be easily distinguished in Lombardy: mountains, hills and plains, the latter divided into Alta (high plain) and Bassa (low plain).
The orography of Lombardy is characterized by the presence of three distinct belts: a northern mountainous belt formed by the Alpine relief, a central Piedmont area of land mainly of pebbles of alluvial origin, and the Lombard section of the Po valley in the southernmost part of the region.
The most important mountainous area is an alpine area which includes the Lepontine and Rhaetian Alps (Piz Bernina, 4,020 m), the Bergamo Alps, the Ortles Alps and the Adamello massif; it is followed by an Alpine foothill area Prealpi, which includes the main peaks are the Grigna Group (2,410 m), Resegone (1,875 m) and Presolana (2,521 m).
The Lombard plain, formed by alluvial deposits, can be divided into Alta - an upper and permeable land area to the north and a lower area - and the Bassa - dotted with the so-called line of fountains, the spring waters that arise from the impermeability of the land. In contrast to the three distinctions made above is the small sub-region of Oltrepò Pavese, formed by the Apennine hills beyond the river Po.
The mighty Po River marks the southern border of the region for a length of approximately 210 km (130 mi). With its progress it receives the waters of the Ticino river, which rises in the Bedretto valley (Switzerland) and joins the Po near Pavia. The other rivers that contribute to the great river are Olona, Lambro, Adda, Oglio and Mincio.
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lombardy