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 was 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 illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.
Facts about Italy
Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia.
Area: 116,348 square miles (301,340 square kilometers). Slightly larger than Arizona.
Population: 61,016,804 (July 2011 est.)
Geography: Strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe.
Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south.
Head of State: President Giorgio Napolitano (since 15 May 2006)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (since 8 May 2008)
Language: 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).
Religion: Roman Catholic 90% (approximately; about one-third practicing), other 10% (includes mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community).
Time Zone: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October.
Electricity: Electricity in Italy is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC). For comparison, in the United States it is 110 volts, 60 cycle AC current. Italy uses a two or three round-pin plug. There can be a combination of socket types within the same room or property. Generally low voltage appliances use two pin plugs with higher voltage appliances (televisions, washing machines, kettles) using the three pin plug which has an earthed (or grounding) third pin.
Emergency numbers: 112 – Carabinieri (Police)
115 – Fire Department
116 – A.C.I. (Italian Automobile Club) road assistance.
118 – Medical Emergencies
Smoking: Smoking in Italy has been banned in public places including bars, restaurants, discotheques and offices since 2005.
Learn more about Italy and other countries in our daily postcard e-letter. Simply enter your email address below and we’ll send you a FREE REPORT – Italy: Europe’s Most Seductive Country.
This special guide covers covers real estate, retirement and more in Italy and is yours free when you sign up for our IL postcards below. (We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time).
Enter your email address below