ItalyItaly is a country located in southern Europe. Italy occupies a boot-shaped peninsula that extends into the Mediterranean sea from southern Europe.
The country also includes two large islands, Sicily and Sardinia. The HistoryItaly has had a long and colorful history. For much of its history,Italy has been divided into many small and often warring city states. Thisoccurred after the break up of the Roman Empire when much of Europe becamefeudal.
In 476, Odoacer defeated the last emperor of ancient Rome, RomulusAugustulus. Odoacer ruled for 13 years after gaining control. He was thenattacked and defeated by Theodoric, the king of a Germanic tribe named theOstrogoths. Both kings, Theodoric and Odoacer ruled jointly until Theodoricmurdered Odoacer.Order now
Theodoric continued to rule Italy with a government comprisedmostly of Italians and an army composed of Ostrogoths. During his rule, hebrought peace to the country but after his death in 526, the kingdom began togrow weak. In 553, Justinian, the Byzantine emperor who ruled the eastern partof the Roman Empire, defeated the Ostrogoths and expelled them. For a time, theOld Roman Empire was united again.
Byzantine rule in Italy collapsed asincreased attacks fr om Germanic tribes weakened the empire. Byzantine rulecollapsed in 572 when the Lombards invaded. In the 400’s and 500’s the popes increased their influence in bothreligious and political matters in Italy and elsewhere. The popes were usuallythe ones who made attempts to protect Italy from foreign invasion or to softenforeign rule. The popes for almost 200 years had opposed attempts by theLombards, who controlled most of Italy, to take over Rome.
The popes defeatedthe Lombards with the aid of two Frankish kings, Charlemagne and Pepin the Short. The papal states were created out of land won for the popes by Pepin. From the 10th century on, Italian cities began to grow rapidly andbecame increasingly independent of one another. They flourished because oftheir access to the Mediterranean trade routes and almost had a completemonopoly on all spice and silks coming into Europe. They became centers ofpolitical life, foreign trade and banking. At this time, the church grew inpower also.
The Italian popes became increasingly more involved in the Europeanpolitical scene. Many of these city states became extremely wealthy andpowerful and resisted the attempts of noblemen and emperors to control them. During the 1300’s, one of the greatest eras in human history occurred,The Renaissance. The Renaissance occurred primarily in Italy in the variouscity states. Many great artists and philosophers lived during this period andenhanced Italy’s prestige.
The kingdom of Italy was formed in 1861. Five years later, in 1866,Venetia became a part of that kingdom. Rome became its capital in 1871. Benito Mussolini became premier in 1922. In 1940, Italy entered WorldWar II on the side of the Germans. Italy surrendered in 1943 and established anew republic in 1946.
Culture and CustomsThe population of Italy is approximately 58 million people, most of whomlive in the urban cities. The four largest cities in Italy, in order ofpopulation are Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin. The most densely populated areasof the country are the industrialized regions of Lombardy and Liguria in thenorthwest region of Campania in the south. The areas with the lowest populationdensity are the mountains of both the north and south.
More than two thirds of Italy’s population reside in cities. Most livein large, concrete apartment buildings. A few of the more wealthy people livein single-family homes. The oldest sections of an Italian city are made up olow buildings that have apartments around a central courtyard.
Newer parts ofthe city often have larger apartment buildings. Poor neighborhoods are usuallyfound on the outskirts of the city. Most unmarried children live with their parents. Parents often help anadult son or daughter purchase an apartment near their own.
Many young womenwork outside the home, and grandparents often help care for the children ofworking mothers. Many urban areas provide public child-care centers. City growth and the increased use of the automobile have led to someserious problems with urban pollution in Italy. In large cities, the airpollution poses a health hazard and has damaged priceless architecture. Manycities have banished private cars from the city centers. Most rural communities in the past consisted of a compact settlementsurrounded by a large area of agricultural land.
The farmers usually lived intown and traveled to work in the fields each day. This pattern of living wasespecially common in southern Italy, in northern Italy the farmers usually livedon their land. Italians take great pride in the quality of their cooking. Theytraditionally eat their main meals at midday. Large meals usually consist of apast course, followed by a main course of meat or fish. Italian foods varygreatly by region.
In the north, flat, ribbon-shaped pastas served with creamsauces are most popular. In the south, macaroni served with tomato-based saucesis the favorite type of pasta. Italians enjoy a wide variety of sports. Soccer is the most popularsport in Italy.
Every major city has a professional soccer team. But soccer isnot just a spectator sport- on weekends Italy’s parks are filled with childrenand adults playing the game. Basketball is also very popular, and some citieshave more than one professional basketball team. Other popular sports includefishing, hunting, cycling, roller skating, and baseball. Major ReligionsAbout 95 percent of the population in Italy is Roman Catholic.
Mostreligious ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings and funeral services are held inchurch. Only about 30 percent of all Italians attend church regularly. Manyothers occasionally attend church. An agreement called the Lateran Pact governsthe relationship between Italy and the Roman Catholic Church.
For example, thepact exempts priests and other members of religious orders from military serviceand gives tax exemptions to Catholic organizations. The Roman Catholic Church has had a strong influence on laws in the past,but that influence has weakened. For example, until 1970, the church was ableto block attempts to legalize divorce in Italy. Vatican City, the spiritual and governmental center of the RomanCatholic Church, lies entirely within the city of Rome.
But Vatican City isindependent from Italy and has its own diplomatic corps. There are several small religious groups in Italy. The other groupsinclude Protestants, Muslims and Jews. Political SystemsItaly set up its present form of government in 1946. That year, thepeople voted to change their nation from a monarchy ruled by a king to arepublic headed by a president.
King Humbert II immediately left the throne. The president of Italy is elected to a seven-year term by both houses ofParliament. The president must be at least 50 years old. He or she appointsthe premier, who forms a government. The president has the power to dissolveparliament and call new elections. The president is the commander of theItalian armed forces, and can declare war.
The premier determines national policy and is the most important personin the Italian government. The premier is selected by the president from themembers of Parliament and must be approved by Parliament. The premier has nofixed term of office, and can be voted out by office by Parliament at any time. Members of the Cabinet are chosen by the premier and are usually chosen fromamong the Parliament. The Parliament consists of a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. Both ofthese houses have equal power in passing laws.
The Senate has 315 electedmembers and the Chamber of Deputies has 630 members. All former presidentsbecome Senators for life. In elections for the Chamber of Deputies, the country is divided into 32constituencies. The number of Deputies to be elected from each constituency isdetermined by its population.
Each political party presents a list ofcandidates for the position of deputy from the district. The deputies selectedfrom a party are chosen in the order of number of preference votes each receives. Senators are chosen in much the same way, but are elected from twenty regionsinstead. Italy has a complicated system of election to parliament based onproportional representation. In the Parliament, the percentage of seats held byeach political party is about the same as the percentage of the total votesreceived by the party’s candidates.
Since 1948, Italy has experienced frequent Cabinet changes. MostCabinets have lasted less than a year, but many members of one Cabinet haveremain in the new one. If some of the parties in the Cabinet are disagreeingwith the Cabinets policies, they may withdraw support and require the formationof a brand new Cabinet. The fascist government that once ruled Italy is on the rise again. Thefascist party grows in membership each year.
Italy has also been reluctant totalk about the joining of the European nations into one large economic superpower. Economic SystemsSince World War II, Italy has shifted from a predominantly agriculturaleconomy to one based on modern industries. As recently as the 1950’s, morethan a third of all Italians were employed in agriculture. From 1953 to 1968,industrial production almost tripled.
By the late 1980’s, only about 10percent of employed Italians worked in agriculture. The transformation has beenmost complete in northern Italy, which is now one of the most advancedindustrial areas of Western Europe. Southern Italy remains poorer and lessindustrialized, despite long-term efforts of the Italian government to improvethe region’s industry and agriculture. In 1957, Italy became a member in the European Economic Community.
Thisunion of Western European nations, also called the European Common Market, hasabolished tariffs on trade among its members. This membership has helpedstrengthen the economy of Italy. Service industries account for about two-thirds of Italy’s grossdomestic product. Trade ranks as Italy’s most important type of service industry.
It accounts for a larger percentage of the country’s gross domestic product andemploys a greater share of workers than any other service industry. Manufacturing accounts for almost a fourth of Italy’s gross domestic product. LanguagesThe language of Italy is Italian. Like French and Spanish, Italian is aromance language – one of several languages that evolved from Latin. There areonly a few communities in Italy in which Italian is not spoken as the firstlanguage. German is the first language of many of the Terntino-Alto Adigeregion.
French is spoken as a first language in portions of the northwesternpart of Italy. Solvene, a Slavic language, and Ladin, a language similar to theRomanasch of the Swiss, are spoken in northern sections of Italy. The Land, Environment and Growth PotentialItaly has eight different regions. The first one is the Alpine Slope. The Alpine Slope runs across the northernmost part of Italy. Its landscapeincludes huge mountains and deep valleys.
Forests are found in the lower areas,in the higher areas, there are grasslands and conifer forests. The melting snowfeeds many rivers. Many hydroelectric plants have been built along these riversand help to power the factories of the north. The second region of Italy is the Po Valley. This area is also referredto as the North Italian Plain. It is a broad plain that stretches between theAlps in the north and the Apennine mountains in the south.
This valley floodsperiodically, but a intricate system of dikes helps control the flooding. The third region is the Adriatic Plain. It is a small region north ofthe Adriatic Sea. Its eastern edge borders Yugoslavia. This area is not verywell suited for farming.
The fourth region is the Apennines. This region stretches almost theentire length of Italy. The mountains in this region have steep inclines ofsoft rock and are constantly eroding as a result of heavy rain. The northernApennines have some of the largest forests in the country and much pasture land.
The central part of the range has productive farmland and grazing. The southernApennines include the poorest part of Italy. This area has plateaus and highmountains, but few natural resources. The fifth and sixth regions are the Apulia and southeastern Plains.
These form the “heel” of the boot-shaped peninsula. This region is composed ofplateaus that end as cliffs at the Mediterranean Sea. The seventh region is the Western Uplands and Plains. This areastretches along the Tyrrhenian Sea from La Spezia, a port city just south ofGenoa, southward past Naples to Salerno.
It is a rich agricultural region,second only to the Po Valley in agricultural output. Sicily is the eight region. Sicily is the largest island in theMediterranean Sea. It is separated from mainland Italy by the Start of Messina.
The island has mountains and plains. Mount Etna, one of the largest activevolcanoes in the world, dominates the landscape of northeastern Silicy. Severerosion caused in part by the clearing of forests, has hampered agriculture andmade travel in many inland areas difficult during the wet season. The climate of Italy is temperate.
The spring, summer and fall aregenerally sunny, but winter is rainy and cloudy. In early spring, hot dry airfrom the Sahara expands and covers Italy. The summer climate of much of Italyis dry, with occasional rainstorms. TechnologyItaly’s technological level is equal to that of the U. S in certain areas.
The northern part of Italy uses some of the most advanced manufacturing methodsin its factories. One quarter of the countries power is supplied through stateof the art hydroelectric dams. More than 450 privately owned televisionstations and over 1000 private radio stations are operating in Italy. Italy has an excellent system of roads. Large, modern superhighways runthe length of the Italian peninsula. Tunnels though the Alps link the highwaysystem to those of neighboring countries.
Italy has an average of about 1 carfor ever 3 people. When compared to the United States, Italy is only slightly behind. TheUnited States has more advanced computers and telecommunications system. Inmedical technology, Italy is equal to the U. S but the technology is not aswidely available as it is in the United States.
Natural ResourcesItaly is limited in the number of natural resources and must rely onimports. Much of the mineral deposits in Italy are found on the islands ofSicily and Sardinia and in the regions of Lombardy, Tuscany and in the north–central and northwestern parts of the peninsula. The most important naturalresource of Italy is natural gas, which is found primarily in the Po Valley. Italy also produces abundant amounts of marble and granite. Other mineralsimportant to Italy are feldspar, pumice and sulfur.
For it its energy supply, Italy relies upon other countries. Petroleumimported from Libya provides more than half of the countries energy. Italyimports much of its oil from Iran and Libya. Italy produces very small amounts of petroleum. Most of Italy’spetroleum is found in Sicily. I found Italy to be an interesting country.
Many of the greatest andmost important eras in mankind occurred in Italy. The Renaissance, The RomanEmpire and some of World War II all happened in Italy. I believe the historicaland cultural significance of Italy is largely overlooked. Another reason I chose Italy is that it is a country we rarely study inschool. When we study European history, we mainly cover France or Germany, etc. We rarely get into countries that are just as important as Italy.
When we dostudy them, we blend them all together and just get a brief overview of thecountries history and culture. One of the things that fascinated me about this country was its place incurrent world economics. Italy has a high GDP and is heavily involved in tradeon the Mediterannean. Italy has the largest shipping fleet in the world. Whenthe news mentions the strongest economic nations, you never hear about Italy.
Yet I found that Italy is a significant player in world economics. The government and political system of Italy also fascinated me. Thepolitical system there seems more complex than the one in the United States. The House of Deputies has over 600 members and the Senate over 300. I alsofound It interesting that ex-presidents are given permanent positions in theirgovernment as Senators. One of the things that bothered me in researching this paper was that itwas difficult to summarize the history of the country.
Many of the books I hadwere long and covered the history in so much detail that it was hard to skimthrough and take out the important events and make them fit into this paper. When researching this paper at the library, many of the books were either travelguides or books about the art of Italy. There were quite a few about theculture and past but it took awhile to find them among all the travel guides. If I had a chance to visit this nation I definitely would. Italy seemslike a fun place to visit because of all the old historic sites. It would beinteresting to visit all the old Roman and middle age ruins that are located inItaly.