Fun and Interesting Facts About Italy

Population: 61,855,120 (July 2015 est.)

Area: 301,340 sq km

Capital City: Rome

Time Zone: (UTC+01:00)

Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia

Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south

Currency: Euro. Euros (EUR) per US dollar – 0.7489 (2014 est.)

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)

System of Government: Republic

Head of State: President Sergio MATTARELLA (3 February 2015)

Telephone Country Code: 39

Emergency numbers: 112 (SOS – All services)

Electricity: 230v

Religion: 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%

Life Expectancy at Birth: 82.12 years

History: After World War II, Italy abolished the monarchy and was declared a republic. With the strong support of the U.S., Italy rebuilt its economy using loans from the Marshall Plan. The country joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and became a strong supporter of what is now the European Union. Today, despite the current economic turmoil and austerity measures, Italy is one of the most prosperous and democratic nations in Europe.

Economy: Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with higher unemployment. 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. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors.

Italy is the third-largest economy in the euro-zone, but high public debt burdens and structural impediments to growth have rendered it vulnerable to scrutiny by financial markets. Public debt has increased steadily since 2007, reaching 133% of GDP in 2007, but investor concerns about Italy and the broader euro-zone crisis eased in 2013, bringing down Italy’s borrowing costs on sovereign government debt from euro-era records.

The government still faces pressure from investors and European partners to sustain its recent efforts to address Italy’s long-standing structural impediments to growth, such as labor market inefficiencies and widespread tax evasion. In 2013, economic growth and labor market conditions deteriorated, with growth at -1.8% and unemployment rising to 12.4%, with youth unemployment around 40%. The government has undertaken several reform initiatives designed to increase long-term economic growth. Italy’s GDP is now 8% below its 2007 pre-crisis level.

Exports: $454.6 billion (2015 est.)

Imports: $389.2 billion (2015 est.)

Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity): $2.174 trillion (2015 est.)

GDP per Capita: $35,800 (2015 est.)

Inflation Rate: 0.3% (2015 est.)

Source: CIA The World Factbook

The famous boot-shaped peninsula nation of Italy is surrounded by three seas: the Mediterranean, the Adriatic and the Ionian.

There are 20 regions, which are then subdivided into administrative provinces.

Italian is the official language. German is widely spoken in Trentino; Slovene is spoken in Friuli-Venezia Giulia; French is used in addition to Italian in Valle d’Aosta and the border area of Liguria. There are dozens of regional dialects that are still widely used throughout the country.

There are two independent city-states within the borders of Italy: the Vatican State and the Republic of San Marino. San Marino is the world’s oldest republic.

The oldest university in Europe is in Italy – The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and has been in operation ever since. The first formal medical school was the Schola Medica Salernitana in Salerno, founded in the 9th century. It combined Greek, Herbrew, Arabic and Latin medical texts for the most comprehensive medical studies available at the time.

Italy has a national healthcare system that provides affordable universal coverage. Legal residents can enroll for full accessible coverage with an affordable annual fee; employed residents have their healthcare contributions provided by their employers. There are also private clinics, hospitals and specialists options available with fees for service. Private health insurance for these providers is also available.