Italy en-us-Italy.ogg /'?t?li/ (help•info) (Italian: Italia, [i'talja]), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana), is a country located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
The land known as Italy today has been the cradle of European cultures and peoples, such as the Etruscans and the Romans. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the center of Western civilization. Later it became the birthplace of the Renaissance and also played a major role in the development of modern science and astronomy, particularly heliocentrism, as well as the University, and opera. Throughout the Middle Ages, Italy was divided into numerous kingdoms and city-states (such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the duchy of Milan), but was unified in 1861, a period in history known as the "Risorgimento". In the late 19th century to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Italian Somalialand, Ethiopia, Albania, Rhodes, Dodecaneses and the Tientsin part of China. Today, the cultural significance of Italy is reflected in the fact that it has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (44) in the world, and that it is rich in art, culture and literature from many periods. The country has boasted many people of excellence in all the arts and sciences, polymaths, artists and geniuses, such as Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Enrico Fermi.
Italy has a global influence in politics, culture, science, education, fashion, art, archaeology, religion, cuisine, business, healthcare, sport, architecture, design, cinema, finance and music. Many regard Milan, Italy's centre of finance and industry, as the world's fashion capital, according to the 2009 Global Language Monitor. Italy also receives the fifth highest number of tourists every year, and Rome is the EU's third most visited city, and is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the world. Venice is also considered the most beautiful city in the world, according to the New York Times, which describe the city as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". The country also has 2009's sixth best international reputation.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the eighth-highest quality of life index rating in the world. Italy enjoys a high standard of living, and is the world's 18th most developed country. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union, having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and it is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8 and G20, having the world's seventh-largest nominal GDP, and is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, and the Central European Initiative. Italy is a Schengen state. It has the world's eight-largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons. Italy, especially Rome, has a major global impact in politics and culture, with worldwide organizations such as FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Glocal Forum, World Food Programme (WFT), and the NATO Defence College being headquartered in the country and the city. The country's European political, social and military infleunce make it a major regional power, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia. The country has a high public education level, high labour force, high charitability, and is a globalised nation. Italy also has the world's 19th highest life expectancy, after New Zealand and Bermuda.http://findarticles.com/?tag=wrapper;widt