Italy (Italia) is a republic in the south of Europe. It is a boot-shaped peninsula together with two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea: Sicily and Sardinia. It is one of the countries that uses the Euro currency. The capital is Rome (Roma), but the economic capital is Milan (Milano) in the north. Other important cities include (in decreasing order of population) Naples (Napoli), Turin (Torino), Palermo, Genoa (Genova), Bologna, Florence (Firenze), Venice (Venezia).
Italy became a nation-state belatedly - in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula and Sicily were united under King Victor Emmanuel II (Vittorio Emanuele II), of the Savoy dinasty. Rome itself became part of the Kingdom of Italy only in 1870. The Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini that took over in 1922 led to a disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany and Italian defeat in World War II. Revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC) and joined the growing political and economic unification of Western Europe, including the introduction of the euro in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, the ravages of organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the more prosperous north.
Italy has a diversified industrial economy with approximately the same total and per capita output as France and the United Kingdom. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed agricultural south, with more than 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. For several years Italy has adopted budgets compliant with the requirements of the European Monetary Union (EMU); representatives of government, labor, and employers also agreed to an update of the 1993 "social pact," which has been widely credited with having brought Italy's inflation into conformity with EMU requirements. Italy must work to stimulate employment, promote wage flexibility, hold down the growth in pensions, and tackle the informal economy. Growth was 1.3% in 1999 and should edge up to 2.6% in 2000, led by investment and exports.
Italy has won the Football World Cup three times: 1934, 1938 and 1982. Some of world's best football teams come from Italy. The latter include A.C. Milan, Inter Milano FC, A.S. Roma, S.S. Lazio (also from Rome), Juventus (from Turin), and Fiorentina (from Florence).
From the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the U.S. Department of State website. Not Wikified.