Want to know everything about Italy? Then read this general information about Italy. Italy (official name: the Italian Republic), is a country in Southern Europe that belongs to the European Union. To the north, Italy borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The rest of the country is surrounded by the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea.

General information about Italy

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All about Italy

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Important Cities, Islands and Independent States within Italy

The islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Elba and several smaller islands also belong to Italy. The capital of Italy is Rome (Roma). It contains the independent Vatican of which the Pope is the head. A second independent enclave within the Italian borders is San Marino.

Important cities in Italy are:

  • Milan (Milano)
  • Turin (Torino)
  • Genoa (Genoa)
  • Venice (Venezia)
  • Florence (Firenze)
  • Bologna, Verona
  • Naples (Napoli)
  • Ancona
  • Bari
  • Perugia
  • Cagliari
  • Catania
  • Messina
  • Palermo (the capital of Sicily)

Autonomous Regions

5 regions or regions have an autonomous status and can therefore decide on more matters themselves. Italy is responsible for, among other things, defense and environmental matters.

The independent regions are:

  • Sicily
  • Sardinia
  • Aosta Valley (Valle d'Aosta)
  • Trentino-South Tyrol
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The Formation of the Republic of Italy

After the collapse of the fascist regime the monarchy also fell, especially because of the attitude of the royal family during the fascist regime. In a referendum held on June 2, 1946, a large majority of the population opted for a democratic republic as a form of government. The Democratic Republican Constitution came into effect on January 1, 1948. This stipulates, among other things, that male descendants of the royal family were no longer allowed to enter Italy and they were stripped of the royal title.

King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in military uniform in 1936 (Photo: Wikimedia)

This provision was deleted by the Berlusconi government in the years 2002-2006 after the descendants of the royal family invoked the European right of freedom of movement.

The fascist party (PNF) is also banned and it is stipulated that the republic form of the state cannot be changed. The Italian Republic has a president (currently Sergio Mattarella) which mainly performs a ceremonial function. At times it appears that the president certainly does have some form of power, for example during the transition in the fall of 2011 from the Berlusconi government to Monti's technocrat cabinet.

June 2 is now a public holiday, celebrating the founding of the republic. Italy has been a member of NATO since the 50s, it has been a member of the European Community since its foundation, the predecessor of the EU.

➡️You can read more about Italian history here.

Demographic Development of Italy

From the mid-90s, Italy was one of the first European countries to have negative population growth. The number of births is smaller than the number of people who die. The aging is one of the major problems facing the country. Italian women only have one child on average, and thanks to the Mediterranean lifestyle and healthy diet Italians get very old.


Illegal immigration through southern Italian ports and beaches, including from Albania and Turkey, is seen as a cause of rising crime, particularly in northern Italy. It is also primarily a cross-border problem, as countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are the final destination for many of these migrants.

Although the Italian regulations, in the context of Schengen, are now up to standard, there are still gaps in their implementation along the extensive Italian coast. In April 2000, the Italian and Albanian governments reached an agreement on the annual admission of 5.000 Albanians to Italy. Italy has previously concluded similar agreements with Tunisia and Morocco.

Italy also has a large influx of migrants via the island of Lampedusa. In the spring of 2012, an Italian film was shown in the cinemas, which beautifully portrays the problem of African immigrants: Terraferma.

Criticism of migration policy

Although Italy is calling for more cooperation, there are also voices that put Italy in a different light. Amnesty International reports that there is no specific law protecting asylum seekers and that current immigration laws are not an improvement. She also disapproved of building detention camps in Libya during Gaddafi's time. More than 1.425 immigrants have been deported to Libya, according to Amnesty International.

From 2004, Libya received financial aid from Italy and military equipment in exchange for stopping migrants. In this way, Italy helped establish refugee camps in Libya for illegal immigrants. Furthermore, according to Amnesty, Italy has a defective asylum procedure, which means that asylum seekers are even deported before their appeal procedure against a rejection starts.

This happened, for example, with the refugees on the German ship Cap Anamur. Initially, Italy argued that it was not responsible for processing the asylum applications, as the ship had first visited Malta. But this was not the case, according to Amnesty, because the refugees had not had the opportunity to apply for asylum in Malta.

The first country where the refugees have the opportunity to apply for asylum is seen as the country that treats them. And then checks whether it is responsible for processing the asylum application. Even today, Italy is under critical scrutiny when it comes to admitting asylum seekers and refugees.

The Italian economy

De economy of Italy is a barrel full of contradictions. After Germany and France, Italy is the 3rd largest economy in the Eurozone and the 7th largest economy of all countries in the world. Italy produces luxury items that are a household name worldwide. In addition, Italy has the most cultural heritage in the world and special landscapes that attract 50 million tourists every year.

But at the same time, Italy faces major problems: the divide between north and south, major contradictions between rich and poor, enormous unemployment, low productivity, corruption and bureaucracy and a sky-high public debt. Added to this is the ongoing political unrest with no clear continuation of policy.

The Italian language

The vast majority of the population speaks Italian (including several dialects). There are German, French, Slovenian, Greek, Friulan and Croatian speaking minorities. Italian comes from Latin (the language the Romans spoke). The German-speaking minority in northern Italy is called 'Zimbern'.


Almost all Italians are Roman Catholic (although not all of them are practicing). There are Protestant minorities, such as the Waldenses, including a congregation in Rome. Saints Bernardine of Siena, Catherine of Siena and Francis of Assisi are the patron saints of Italy.

Italy Political Map
Italy Political Map

Administrative division

The country is divided into 20 regions, which are subdivided into a total of 107 provinces. Prime Minister Monti wanted to make drastic cuts in this cost-consuming layer of government between regions and municipalities. However, this met a lot of resistance. Italians attach great value to the area in which they grew up and provinces are part of their identity.

Click on the map below with Italian provinces to enlarge (Anglo-Saxon names).

Provinces of Italy
Map showing all provinces of Italy

De 20 Italian regions also have parliaments and governments. After a 2001 referendum, regional powers were increased. The federal government is responsible for foreign relations and national defense, public order and justice, electoral law, and environmental issues.

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