Italy (officially Italian Republic; Italian Italia, officially Repubblica Italiana) is an independent country in Southern Europe, which includes the Po River Valley, the Apennine Peninsula and the two largest islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, as well as several smaller islands. It is bordered by France to the northwest, Switzerland and Austria to the north, Slovenia to the northeast, the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian and Mediterranean seas to the south, and the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas to the west. There are two enclaves on its territory, San Marino and the Vatican, but Italy also has an exclave in Switzerland called Campione d'Italia.
Italians refer to their country by these names: lo Stivale (the Boot), il Belpaese (the Beautiful Country) or la Penisola (the Peninsula).
Italy was home to many well-known and influential European cultures, such as the Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans. Its capital, Rome, is a historic world city as the cradle of ancient Rome and the Catholic Church. For more than 3,000 years, the peoples living here suffered migrations and invasions, e.g. in ancient times by the Celts, in the early Middle Ages by the Germans, Franks, and then by the Saracens and Normans. Before the unification of Italy (1870), it consisted of several duchies (e.g. Florence, Milan, Pisa) and republics (e.g. Venice, Genoa, Amalfi) as well as the papal state, with the participation of these city-states destroyed by wars. During the Italian monarchy and the world wars, the state went through many conflicts before the present-day Italian Republic was established.
Today, Italy is among the highly developed countries with the 8th largest GDP in the world and the 28th largest Human Development Index. It is a member of the G7, one of the founders of the European Union and NATO.
Italy is located in Southern Europe, on a boot-shaped peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean basin, the Apennine Peninsula, including two large islands, Sicily and Sardinia, as well as many smaller islands in the area. The country is surrounded by various inland and marginal seas of the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, the Ionian Sea to the south and the Ligurian Sea to the northwest. The northern border of the country is the Alps. In the north, it borders France (488 km), Switzerland (740 km), Austria (430 km) and Slovenia (232 km). The Vatican Papal State and San Marino, which is the world's oldest republic, lie as an enclave on the territory of Italy. The Italian exclave of Campione d'Italia is located in the Swiss canton of Ticino. The total area of the country is 301,230 square kilometers, making it the 72nd largest state on Earth, of which 294,020 km2 is land and 7,210 km2 is water. In terms of topography, Italy can be divided into five large landscapes, namely the Alps (consisting of the Western and Eastern Alps), the Po Plain, the Apennines and the Islands.
The chains of the Western Alps begin at the French border. Its highest peaks are on the edge of the Italian-French and Italian-Swiss borders, such as Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc in French,) 4,807 m, Cervino or Matterhorn, 4,478 m and Monte Rosa with their height of 4,633 m. Mountain ranges have been crossed for centuries by passes. The most beautiful ranges of the Eastern Alps are mountain ranges made of limestone and dolomite. The chain of the Dolomites is fabulously beautiful, the highest point of which is Marmolada (3342 m). At the southern foot of the Alps, glacial lakes such as Lake Garda, Lago Maggiore, Lake Como or Lake Lugano lie behind the end moraines of Ice Age glaciers. The Pó plain was formed by Tertiary and Quaternary sea, lake and river filling. Wide plains and basins were created on its southwestern side. This is Italy's most fertile, carefully cultivated area, and at the same time the country's