Italy shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa).
Campione is a part of Italy that is completely surrounded by Switzerland. Watch the video to see what’s it’s all about:
Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa, the European territory closest to Libya, has become a prime transit point for irregular migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe. By 2006, many African immigrants were paying people smugglers in Libya to help get them to Lampedusa by boat.
Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to myriad peoples and cultures and has a very interesting and rich history.
Take a look at the following two videos to travel through time from the founding of Rome to modern-day Italy’s switch to the Euro.
Over 35% of the Italian territory is mountainous. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula’s backbone, and the Alps form most of its northern boundary
The Po is Italy’s longest river, and the Po Valley is the largest plain in Italy. The yellow area in the map below represents the valley. Notice how it’s south of the Alps, in the North of Italy.
Milan is a famous Italian city in the Po River Valley that is the 2nd most populous in Italy, after Rome. It used to be the capital of the Western Roman Empire.
Italy has quite a few active volcanoes and many of the small islands and archipelagos in the south are volcanic. One of the most famous volcanoes is Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
The climate of Italy is very diverse. The Po Valley area has harsh winters and hot summers, while coastal areas like Tuscany fit the Mediterranean climate stereotype. Higher interior areas are often snowy. Italy is the largest wine producer and one of the leading producers of olive oil, fruits, and vegetables (especially artichokes and tomatoes).
Italy has the highest level of animal biodiversity in all of Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded!
Some things Italy is famous for:
The city of Venice, which is situated on a group of 118 islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges.
There are also many famous Italian composers, such as Vivaldi, Corelli, Scarlatti, Rossini, and more.
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world and has influences from the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Mediterranean diet forms the basis of Italian cuisine, rich in pasta, fish, fruits, and vegetables and characterized by its extreme simplicity and variety, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Tomatoes are a typical part of Italian foods but only became common around the late 18th century. Olive oil is the most commonly used vegetable fat in Italian cooking.
Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, many islands – as many as 1,200 and 6,000 depending on how you define an island (227 of which are inhabited).
80% of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe.
The climate is mostly Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The Pindus mountain range strongly affects the climate of the country by creating a rain shadow to the east. The plains in Greece constitute key economic regions as they are among the few arable places in the country. Greece is one of the European Union’s biggest producers of cotton, and also grows other crops such as rice, olives, figs, almonds, and more.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, and literature, political science, Western drama, and the Olympic Games. Ancient Greek history has left its impact, even on the modern world.
On the island of Crete (the big yellow island in the map higher up on the page), the bronze age civilization of the Minoans flourished.
Rare marine species such as the pinniped seals and the loggerhead sea turtle live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece, while its dense forests are home to the endangered brown bear, the Eurasian lynx, the roe deer, and the wild goat.
Greek cuisine is characteristic of the healthy Mediterranean diet that incorporates fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes. Important ingredients include olives, pasta, cheese, lemon juice, herbs, bread, and yogurt. Wine and olive oil have always been a central part of it and the spread of grapes and olive trees in the Mediterranean and further afield is correlated with Greek colonization.
✎ Both Italy and Greece have rich histories which have affected the modern world.
✎ Both areas have a Mediterranean climate and their cusines often use olives, which are grown in the region.
Next: 6.5: Eastern Europe
Image and additional info credits:
By Eric Gaba (Sting – fr:Sting) and NordNordWest – Background relief map (relief, lakes and rivers): own work by uploaderSources of data: SRTM30 Plus and NGDC World Data Bank IIAll other data (shorelines and boundaries) taken from File:Italy_location_map.svg created by NordNordWest under GFDL/CC-BY-SA-3.0Sources: United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency dataItalian Official Gazette, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6718626
italy locations map
By OCHA, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32295915
Vatican City location map
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Vatican City info
St. Peter’s Square
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By OCHA, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32650053
San Marino photo
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By Eric Gaba (Sting – fr:Sting) – Own workSources of data:SRTM30 Plus;NGDC World Data Bank II;UN Cartographic section;Regions boundaries: created from File:Italy_location_map.svg created by NordNordWest under GFDL/CC-BY-SA.Italian Official Gazette, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6629467
Apennine mountain photo
By Mariano Pallottini – https://www.flickr.com/photos/marchebreaks/8346073003/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26840412
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Learning Tower of Pisa
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Spaghetti alla carbonara
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By Jessica Redfern (according to photo caption) – Source: http://swfsc.nmfs.noaa.gov/PRD/CruiseInformation/CSCAPE/VisitTheCruise/PostingFolder/Photos-Leg7/Mammals/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=524618
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Olive trees and grapevines in Greece
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