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Italy profile
strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe
Italy history
Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy is a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include sluggish economic growth, high youth and female unemployment, organized crime, corruption, and economic disparities between southern Italy and the more prosperous north.
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Conventional long form: Italian Republic
Conventional short form: Italy
Local long form: Repubblica Italiana
Local short form: Italia
former: Kingdom of Italy
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Italy's capital city is Rome
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Italy Constitution:

passed 11 December 1947, effective 1 January 1948; amended many times
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Italy population growth rate: 0.34%
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Italy highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a secondary peak of Mont Blanc)
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Italy lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
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About 23% of Italy's land is arable.
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Po River is the Longest River in Italy
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Italy birth rate is 9 births/1,000 population
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Italy infant mortality rate is 3 deaths/1,000 live births
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Italy fertility rate is 1.41 children born/woman
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Italy climate:

predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
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Top 10 cities of Italy with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Rome: 2,641,930
2. Milan: 1,245,956
3. Naples: 960,521
4. Turin: 872,158
5. Palermo: 655,604
6. Genoa: 583,089
7. Bologna: 373,010
8. Florence: 362,389
9. Bari: 314,258
10. Catania: 293,112
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Italy ethnic groups:

Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)
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Italy Exports:

engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; food, beverages and tobacco; minerals, nonferrous metals
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Italy Imports:

engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing; food, beverages, and tobacco
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bicameral Parliament or Parlamento consists of the Senate or Senato della Repubblica (315 seats; members elected by proportional vote with the winning coalition in each region receiving 55% of seats from that region; members to serve five-year terms; and up to 5 senators for life appointed by the president of the Republic) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camera dei Deputati (630 seats; members elected by popular vote with the winning national coalition receiving 54% of chamber seats; members to serve five-year terms); note - it has not been clarified if each president has the power to designate up to five senators or if five is the number of senators for life who might sit in the Senate

Administrative Divisions:
15 regions (regioni, singular - regione):
1. Abruzzo
2. Basilicata
3. Calabria
4. Campania
5. Emilia-Romagna
6. Lazio (Latium)
7. Liguria
8. Lombardia
9. Marche
10. Molise
11. Piemonte (Piedmont)
12. Puglia (Apulia)
13. Toscana (Tuscany)
14. Umbria
15. Veneto (Venetia)

5 autonomous regions
(regioni autonome, singular - regione autonoma):

1. Friuli-Venezia Giulia
2. Sardegna (Sardinia)
3. Sicilia (Sicily)
4. Trentino-Alto Adige (Trentino-South Tyrol) or Trentino-Suedtirol (German)
5. Valle d'Aosta (Aosta Valley) or Vallee d'Aoste (French)
Political parties and leaders:
Center-right coalition - Silvio BERLUSCONI:
People of Freedom (PdL) - Silvio BERLUSCONI
Northern League (LN) - Roberto MARONI
Brothers of Italy (Fdl) - Giorgia MELONI and Ignazio LA RUSSA
The Right (LD) - Francesco STORACE
other minor parties

Italy Common Good (Center-Left) - Pier Luigi BERSANI:
Democratic Party (PD) - Pier Luigi BERSANI
Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) - Nichi VENDOLA
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) - Riccardo NENCINI
Democratic Centre (CD) - Bruno TABACCI and Massimo DONADI
South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) - Luis DURNWALDER

With Monti for Italy (Centrist):
Civic Choice (SC) - Mario MONTI
Union of the Center (UdC) - Pier Ferdinando CASINI
Future and Freedom for Italy (FLI) - Gianfranco FINI

other coalitions and parties:
Civil Revolution (RC) - Antonio INGROIA
Act to Stop the Decline (FiD) - Oscar GIANNINO
Five Star Movment (M5S) - Beppe GRILLO