• Capital: Roma, with 2.6mil inhabitants and Italy’s biggest city
• Name: Repubblica Italiana
• Government: Democracy, Republic
• Language: Italian as well as German, French and Ladin in some regions in Northern Italy.
• Literacy: More than 98% can read and write
• Religion: mainly Christians (Roman Catholics 90%)
• Currency: Euro
• History: Italy became one nation only in 1861 and since then includes the islands of Sicilia and Sardegna. It became a Republic in 1946 after the second World War
• Flag: The colors represent these virtues: hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).
Land and People
- The name "Italy" comes from Greek "italos", which means calf
- Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, welcoming some 46 million foreign visitors annually.
- There are 15 minority languages officially recognised in Italy, including native languages such as Sardinian and Friulian, and neighbouring countries' languages (Catalan, Occitan, French, Slovenian, Croatian, Albanian and Greek).
- Italy now has one of the lowest birthrate and fertility rate in the world.
- Two of Europe's smallest countries, San Marino and the Vatican, are enclaved within Italy.
- Europe's only three active volcanoes, the Etna, the Stromboli and the Vesuvius, are all in the South of Italy. Mount Etna also happens to be the world's most active volcano.
- Italy did not become a completely unified country until 1861. Italians have retained a strong attachment to their native region or province, and most still find it hard to identify with Italy as a single nation.
- The Colosseum in Rome is the largest ancient building dedicated to entertainment. The second and third largest Roman amphitheatres in Italy are respectively those of Capua and Verona.
- The oldest European university in continuous operation is the University of Bologna, founded in 1088. 13 other Italian universities are over 500 years old.
- St Peter's Basilica in Rome is the largest Christian edifice in the world. Its construction took 120 years (1506-1626).
- There are over 140 types of pasta, and even more names. Some pasta varieties are only produced regionally, while others are known under a different name in various regions.
- Each Italian consumes in average 25kg of pasta each year. However, pasta consumption is considerably higher in the centre and south of the country than in the north, where risotto and polenta are more common.
- There are thousands of traditional and regional Italian desserts. However, the most famous one abroad, the tiramisù, was only invented in the 1970's. The name literally means "pick-me-up" (metaphorically, "make me happy"), due to two of its ingredients : coffee and cocoa.
- Many of the world's most famous artists were Italian, with such names as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Bernini, Raffaello, among many others.
- The Italians invented the viol, violin, cello and piano, and were the greatest representative of Baroque music (Vivaldi, Corelli, Monteverdi, Albinoni...).
- The mechanical clock, the barometer, the thermometer, optical glasses and the telephone are all Italian inventions.
Economy and technology
- It is estimated that Italy has the biggest "black economy" in Western Europe.
- Italy has more famous fashion designers than any other country, including Gucci, Prada, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gianfranco Ferré, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi, Valentino….
- Many of the world's most prestigious sports cars are Italian, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Bugatti.
- Italian Members of Parliament are the highest paid in Europe, receiving 11,000 € per month, more than twice the average in Western Europe. They receive many extra perks such as life pension, subsidised meals, chauffeured cars, and free mobile phones.
- Italy is one of the most overlegislated countries on Earth. The country is estimated to have 5 to 12 times more laws than France or Germany.