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Italia facts for kids

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Italy map 1584
Old Italy map 1584
Flag of Italy
Flag of Italy

The Italian Republic or Italy is a country in the south of Europe, consisting mainly of a boot-shaped peninsula together with two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea: Sicily and Sardinia. To the north it is bound by the Alps, where it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.

Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Union, and hence joined the growing political and economic unification of Western Europe, including the introduction of the Euro in 1999.

History

Italy's history is perhaps the most important one for the cultural and social development of the Mediterranean area as a whole. The country has been host to important human activities in prehistoric times, and thusly archaeological sites of note can be found in many regions: Latium and Tuscany, Umbria and Basilicata.

After Magna Graecia, the Etruscan civilisation and especially the Roman Empire that came to dominate this part of the world for many centuries, came the medieval Humanism and the Renaissance that further helped to shape European philosophy and art. The city of Rome contains some of the most important examples of the Baroque.

Geography

Italy consists predominantly of a large peninsula that extends into the Mediterranean Sea, where together with its two main islands Sicily and Sardinia it creates distinct bodies of water, such as the Adriatic Sea to the north-east, the Ionian Sea to the south-east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the south-west and finally the Ligurian Sea to the north-west.

The Appennine mountains form the backbone of this peninsula, leading north-west to where they join the Alps, the mountain range that then forms an arc enclosing Italy from the north. Here is also found a large plain, the Po-Venetian plain, drained by the Po River and its many tributaries flowing down from the Alps, Appennines and Dolomites. Other well-known rivers include the Tiber, Adige and Arno.

Its highest point is the Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) at 4,810 m, but Italy is more typically associated with two famous volcanoes: the currently dormant Vesuvius near Naples and the very active Etna on Sicily.

Culture

Italy is well-known for its art, culture, and several monuments, among them the leaning tower of Pisa and the Roman Colosseum, as well as for its food (pizza, pasta, etc.), wine, lifestyle, elegance, design, cinema, theatre, literature, poetry, visual arts, music (notably Opera), holidays, and generally speaking, for taste.

Europe's Renaissance period began in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries. Literary achievements, such as the poetry of Petrarch, Tasso, and Ariosto and the prose of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Castiglione exerted a tremendous and lasting influence on the subsequent development of Western culture, as did the painting, sculpture, and architecture contributed by giants such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, and Michelangelo.

Football is the main national sport. Italy has won the Football World Cup three times: in 1934, 1938 and 1982. Italian football has produced some of world's best football players and teams.

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