Mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Population: 61,680,122 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German-speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
Christian 80% (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic with very small groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Protestants), Muslim (about 800,000 to 1 million), Atheist and Agnostic 20%
Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, highly subsidized, agricultural south, where unemployment is higher. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family-owned. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 17% of GDP.
ECONOMIC CHALLENGES (1:31)
Throughout the country there are differences in living conditions between large cities and the smaller towns that dot the Italian landscape. In the cities, people live in apartments and condominiums. In most towns, the average family lives in two-story homes. The standard of living is comparable to industrialized countries such as France, England, and the United States. Thousands of middle-class Italians who live in large cities also own summer homes.
POLITICAL FRAGMENTATION (:57)
US Military Presence/Support
The American-Italian relationship was terminated during WWII after Italy declared war on the United States. After defeating the Axis powers of Italy, Germany and Japan, America later re-established diplomatic relations with Italy in 1944. Today, the U.S. and Italy are key allies that work together on terrorism, democracy, illicit trafficking, peacekeeping and military efforts throughout the globe.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1:07)
U.S. NATO Involvement (1:38)