| GENERAL INFORMATION
IOC Code: ITA
President: Giorgio Napolitano
Largest City: Milan, Naples, Turin,
Palermo, Genoa, Bologna,
Florence, Catania, Bari, Venice,
Messina, Verona, Taranto,
Currency: Euro (€)
Official languages: Italian
Population: 58 594 278
GDP/inhabitant (in US $): 25 000
Density (inhabitants/km2): 192.54
Average age (in years): 41
Life expectancy (in years): 79.4
Internet code: .it
Calling code: +39
Italy, officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Italia or Repubblica Italiana), is a Southern European country. It comprises the Italian peninsula, the Po River valley, and two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, and shares its northern alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. The country also shares a sea border with Croatia, and France. The independent countries of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italian territory. It is shaped like a boot, and for this reason it is commonly called lo stivale (Italian for boot).
Italy was home to many of well-known and influential European civilizations, including the Etruscans, Greeks and the Romans. For more than 3,000 years Italy experienced migrations and invasions from Germanic, Celtic, Frankish, Byzantine Greek, Saracen, Norman, and the French Angevin, and Lombard peoples, and was divided into many independent states until 1861 when Italy became a nation-state.
Italy is called "il Belpaese" (Italian for beautiful country) by its inhabitants, due to the beauty and variety of its landscapes and for having the world's largest artistic patrimony; The country is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (40 as of January 1, 2006).
Today, Italy is a highly developed country with the 8th highest GDP in 2006, a member of the G8 and a founding member of what is now the European Union, having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
Inhabitants of Italy are referred to as Italians.