Area: 301,225 sq. km.
(116,303 sq. mi.); about the size of Georgia and Florida combined.
Capital--Rome (pop. 2.8 million). Other cities--Milan, Naples, Turin.
Mostly rugged and mountainous.
Climate: Generally mild Mediterranean; cold
Noun and adjective--Italian(s).
Population: 57.8 million.
growth rate: .28%.
Ethnic groups: Primarily Italian, but there are small groups
of German-, French-, Slovene-, and Albanian-Italians.
Religion: Roman Catholic
Language: Italian (official).
Education: Years compulsory--18.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.76/1,000 live
births. Life expectancy--76.08 for men; 83.0 for women.
Work force (23.8
million): Services--57.6%; industry and commerce--28.9%; agriculture--4.2%;
Republic since June 2, 1946.
Constitution: January 1, 1948.
(chief of state), Council of Ministers (cabinet), headed by the president of the
council (prime minister). Legislative--bicameral parliament: 630-member
Chamber of Deputies, 315-member Senate (plus a varying number of "life" Senators).
Judicial--independent constitutional court and lower magistracy.
94 provinces, 20 regions.
Political parties: Forza Italia, Democratic Party
of the Left, National Alliance, Northern League, United Christian Democrats, Democrats,
Italian People's Party, Christian Democratic Center, Socialist, Communist Renewal,
Social Democratic, Republican, Liberal, Greens, Italian Renewal.
Vote for House; universal over 18; vote for Senate; universal over 18.
(2002): $1.2 trillion.
Per capita income (2002): $21,500.
GDP growth: 0.9%
(2003 est.); 0.4% (2002); 1.8% (2001).
Natural resources: Fish, natural
Agriculture: Products--wheat, rice, grapes, olives, citrus fruits.
Industry: Types--automobiles, machinery, chemicals, textiles, shoes.
(2002): Exports--$263.6 billion. Partners--EU 53%, U.S. 10%, OPEC
4%; mechanical products, textiles and apparel, transportation equipment, metal
products, chemical products, food and agricultural products. Imports--$254.5
billion. Partners--EU 56%, OPEC 6%, U.S. 5%; machinery and transport equipment,
foodstuffs, ferrous and nonferrous metals, wool, cotton, energy products.
Italy is largely homogeneous linguistically and religiously
but is diverse culturally, economically, and politically. Italy has the fifth-highest
population density in Europe--about 200 persons per square kilometer (490 per
sq. mi.). Minority groups are small, the largest being the German-speaking people
of Bolzano Province and the Slovenes around Trieste. Other groups comprise small
communities of Albanian, Greek, Ladino, and French origin. Immigration has increased
in recent years, however, while the Italian population is declining overall due
to low birth rates. Although Roman Catholicism is the majority religion--85% of
native-born citizens are nominally Catholic--all religious faiths are provided
equal freedom before the law by the constitution.
settled in the southern tip of the Italian Peninsula in the eighth and seventh
centuries B.C.; Etruscans, Romans, and others inhabited the central and northern
mainland. The peninsula subsequently was unified under the Roman Republic. The
neighboring islands also came under Roman control by the third century B.C.; by
the first century A.D., the Roman Empire effectively dominated the Mediterranean
world. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century
A.D., the peninsula and islands were subjected to a series of invasions, and political
unity was lost. Italy became an oft-changing succession of small states, principalities,
and kingdoms, which fought among themselves and were subject to ambitions of foreign
powers. Popes of Rome ruled central Italy; rivalries between the popes and the
Holy Roman Emperors, who claimed Italy as their domain, often made the peninsula
The commercial prosperity
of northern and central Italian cities, beginning in the 11th century, and the
influence of the Renaissance mitigated somewhat the effects of these medieval
political rivalries. Although Italy declined after the 16th century, the Renaissance
had strengthened the idea of a single Italian nationality. By the early 19th century,
a nationalist movement developed and led to the reunification of Italy--except
for Rome--in the 1860s. In 1861, Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy was
proclaimed King of Italy. Rome was incorporated in 1870. From 1870 until 1922,
Italy was a constitutional monarchy with a parliament elected under limited suffrage.
War I, Italy renounced its standing alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary
and, in 1915, entered the war on the side of the Allies. Under the postwar settlement,
Italy received some former Austrian territory along the northeast frontier. In
1922, Benito Mussolini came to power and, over the next few years, eliminated
political parties, curtailed personal liberties, and installed a fascist dictatorship
termed the Corporate State. The king, with little or no effective power, remained
titular head of state.
Italy allied with
Germany and declared war on the United Kingdom and France in 1940. In 1941, Italy--with
the other Axis powers, Germany and Japan--declared war on the United States and
the Soviet Union. Following the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, the King dismissed
Mussolini and appointed Marshal Pietro Badoglio as Premier. The Badoglio government
declared war on Germany, which quickly occupied most of the country and freed
Mussolini, who led a brief-lived regime in the north. An anti-fascist popular
resistance movement grew during the last 2 years of the war, harassing German
forces before they were driven out in April 1945. A 1946 plebiscite ended the
monarchy, and a constituent assembly was elected to draw up plans for the republic.
Under the 1947 peace treaty, minor adjustments
were made in Italy's frontier with France, the eastern border area was transferred
to Yugoslavia, and the area around the city of Trieste was designated a free territory.
In 1954, the free territory, which had remained under the administration of U.S.-U.K.
forces (Zone A, including the city of Trieste) and Yugoslav forces (Zone B), was
divided between Italy and Yugoslavia, principally along the zonal boundary. This
arrangement was made permanent by the Italian-Yugoslav Treaty of Osimo, ratified
in 1977 (currently being discussed by Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia). Under the
1947 peace treaty, Italy also relinquished its overseas territories and certain
The Roman Catholic
Church's status in Italy has been determined, since its temporal powers ended
in 1870, by a series of accords with the Italian Government. Under the Lateran
Pacts of 1929, which were confirmed by the present constitution, the state of
Vatican City is recognized by Italy as an independent, sovereign entity. While
preserving that recognition, in 1984, Italy and the Vatican updated several provisions
of the 1929 accords. Included was the end of Roman Catholicism as Italy's formal
Italy's Cultural Contributions
Renaissance period began in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries. Literary
achievements--such as the poetry of Petrarch, Tasso, and Ariosto and the prose
of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Castiglione--exerted a tremendous and lasting influence
on the subsequent development of Western civilization, as did the painting, sculpture,
and architecture contributed by giants such as da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli,
Fra Angelico, and Michelangelo.
influence of Italian composers Monteverdi, Palestrina, and Vivaldi proved epochal;
in the 19th century, Italian romantic opera flourished under composers Gioacchino
Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Giacomo Puccini. Contemporary Italian artists, writers,
filmmakers, architects, composers, and designers contribute significantly to Western
been a democratic republic since June 2, 1946, when the monarchy was abolished
by popular referendum. The constitution was promulgated on January 1, 1948.
Italian state is centralized. The prefect of each of the provinces is appointed
by and answerable to the central government. In addition to the provinces, the
constitution provides for 20 regions with limited governing powers. Five regions--Sardinia,
Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige, Valle d'Aosta, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia--function
with special autonomy statutes. The other 15 regions were established in 1970
and vote for regional "councils." The establishment of regional governments throughout
Italy has brought some decentralization to the national governmental machinery,
and recent governments have devolved further powers to the regions. However, many
regional governments, particularly in the north of Italy, are seeking additional
The 1948 constitution established
a bicameral parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate), a separate judiciary,
and an executive branch composed of a Council of Ministers (cabinet), headed by
the president of the council (prime minister). The president of the republic is
elected for 7 years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional
delegates. The president nominates the prime minister, who chooses the other ministers.
The Council of Ministers--in practice composed mostly of members of parliament--must
retain the confidence of both houses.
houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected by a mixed majoritarian
and proportional representation system. Under 1993 legislation, Italy has single-member
districts for 75% of the seats in parliament; the remaining 25% of seats are allotted
on a proportional basis. The Chamber of Deputies has 630 members. In addition
to 315 elected members, the Senate includes former presidents and several other
persons appointed for life according to special constitutional provisions. Both
houses are elected for a maximum of 5 years, but either may be dissolved before
the expiration of its normal term. Legislative bills may originate in either house
and must be passed by a majority in both.
Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code
and subsequent statutes. There is only partial judicial review of legislation
in the American sense. A constitutional court, which passes on the constitutionality
of laws, is a post-World War II innovation. Its powers, volume, and frequency
of decisions are not as extensive as those of the U.S. Supreme Court.
President--Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Foreign Minister--Gianfranco Fini
Minister of Defense--Antonio
Minister of Economics--Giulio Tremonti
Minister of Justice--Roberto
Minister of the Interior--Giuseppe Pisanu
Ambassador to the United
an embassy in the United States at 3000
Whitehaven Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-612-4400).
The U.S.-Italian bilateral economic relationship is
strong and growing. The United States and Italy cooperate closely on major economic
issues, including within the G-8. With a large population and a high per capita
income, Italy is one of the United States' most important trade partners. In 2002
the United States was the fifth-largest foreign supplier of the Italian market
and the largest supplier outside the European Union. Total trade between the United
States and Italy was $34.4 billion in 2002. The U.S. ran a $14.2 billion deficit
with Italy in 2002.
are occurring in the composition of this trade. More value-added products such
as office machinery and aircraft are becoming the principal U.S. exports to Italy.
The change reveals the growing sophistication of the Italian market, and bilateral
trade should expand further. In 2002 the United States imported about $24.3 billion
in Italian goods while exporting about $10.1 billion in U.S. goods to Italy. U.S.
foreign direct investment in Italy at the end of 2001 exceeded $23.9 billion.
is typical of the division between the agricultures of the northern and southern
countries of the European Union. The northern part of Italy produces primarily
grains, sugarbeets, soybeans, meat, and dairy products, while the south specializes
in producing fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat. Even though
much of its mountainous terrain is unsuitable for farming, Italy has a large work
force (1.4 million) employed in farming. Most farms are small, with the average
farm only seven hectares.
For further economic
and commercial information, please refer to the Country
Commercial Guide for Italy.
Italy was a founding member of the European Community--now the
European Union (EU). Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955 and is a
member and strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Council of Europe. It chaired
the CSCE (the forerunner of the OSCE) in 1994, the EU in 1996, and the G-8 in
2001 and served as EU president from July to December 2003.
firmly supports the United Nations and its international security activities.
Italy actively participated in and deployed troops in support of UN peacekeeping
missions in Somalia, Mozambique, and East Timor and provides critical support
for NATO and UN operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Albania. Italy deployed 1,000
Alpini troops to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in
February 2003. Italy also supports international efforts to reconstruct and stabilize
Iraq through its military contingent of some 2,800 troops, as well as humanitarian
workers and other officials. The troops remain in Iraq under UN mandate and
at the request of the sovereign Iraqi Government.
Italian Government seeks to obtain consensus with other European countries on
various defense and security issues within the EU as well as NATO. European integration
and the development of common defense and security policies will continue to be
of primary interest to Italy.
The United States enjoys warm and friendly relations with Italy.
Italy is a leading partner in the war against terrorism. The two are NATO allies
and cooperate in the United Nations, in various regional organizations, and bilaterally
for peace, prosperity, and security. Italy has worked closely with the United
States and others on such issues as NATO and UN operations as well as with assistance
to Russia and the New Independent States; the Middle East peace process; multilateral
talks; Somalia and Mozambique peacekeeping; and combating drug trafficking, trafficking
in women and children, and terrorism.
longstanding bilateral agreements flowing from NATO membership, Italy hosts important
U.S. military forces at Vicenza and Livorno (army); Aviano (air force); and Sigonella,
Gaeta, and Naples--home port for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet. The United States
has about 16,000 military personnel stationed in Italy. Italy hosts the NATO War
College in Rome.
Italy remains a strong
and active transatlantic partner which, along with the United States, has sought
to foster democratic ideals and international cooperation in areas of strife and
civil conflict. Toward this end, the Italian Government has cooperated with the
United States in the formulation of defense, security, and peacekeeping policies.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Ronald P. Spogli
Chief of Mission--Anna Borg
Economic Affairs--Scott Kilner
Affairs--Carolyn R. Huggins
Public Affairs--John P. Dwyer
Regional Security Affairs--Nancy Rolph-O’Donnell
Defense Attache--Col. Rolf Yngve
Consul General, Florence--William McIlhenny
Consul General, Milan--Deborah
Consul General, Naples--Suneta Halliburton
U.S. Embassy in Italy is located at
Via Veneto 119, Rome (tel. (39)(06) 46741.
AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information
Program provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements.
Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information
on entry requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability,
crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts
in the country. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends
that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Public Announcements
are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats
and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks
to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available
by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand
system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings also are
available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov/. Consular
Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are on the Internet and hard copies
can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office
of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators
for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time,
excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and
a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department’s travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
Department of State Web Site. Available on
the Internet at http://www.state.gov/, the Department
of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information, including Background Notes and
daily press briefings
along with the directory of key officers
of Foreign Service posts and more.
provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered
by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help
with the export process, and more.
a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic,
business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The
site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market
research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the
National Trade Data Bank.
Schengen Visa Info -- which contains detailed and very accurate information about Italy VISA. What's more, the website is also translated in 5 different languages and also gives free and very updated info for visa requirements and documents needed for those who are trying to go into Italy and need visa.