Italy Facts

Italy Facts and History


Italy – the country where the lemons bloom

Already Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) wrote in his poem Mignon “Do you know the land where the lemons bloom” and thus described the longing of northern Europeans for the beautiful country in southern Europe.

Germans prefer to travel to Italy. Italy still attracts with its varied landscape, good cuisine and its ancient and immeasurably rich culture.

Anyone who hears about Rome, Florence, Venice, Ravenna or Pisa does not let go of the longing for them. Even if it is a separate state, the center of Christianity – the Vatican – somehow belongs to Italy. And it should be mentioned that the small state of San Marino lies on the Italian “boot”. A visit there should be planned.

In addition to its beautiful coast, the “Boot in the Mediterranean” has many other sights to offer. Italy, the home of the ancient Romans, the Renaissance, the popes and humanism, experienced a more than interesting and varied history that extends from the Etruscans to the Roman Empire and the beginning of Christianity to the present day as a member state of the European Union.

Italy is a country that you shouldn’t visit just once in your life. But with all the exuberance, it’s easy to forget that the country is repeatedly hit by severe earthquakes and that there are two active volcanoes there: Stromboli on the island of the same name in the south of the country and Mount Etna in Sicily.

Name of the country Italian RepublicRepubblica Italiana
Form of government Parliamentary republic
Head of state President of the Italian Republic: Giorgio Napolitano (since May 15, 2006)
Geographical location Country in southern Europe on the Mediterranean
National anthem Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy)
Head of government Mario Monti
Population 60.7 million (Credit: Countryaah: Italy Population)
Ethnicities Italians, as well as minorities such as Slovenes, Albanians and Greeks.
Religions predominantly Roman Catholic, approx. 1 million Muslims, approx. 120,000 Buddhists, approx. 50,000 Protestantsand around 40,000 Jews
Languages Italian, Sardinian and minority languages such as German, Ladin, French and Slovenian
Capital Rome
Surface 301,277 km²
Highest mountain Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) with an altitude of 4,748 m
Longest river Po with a length of 620 km
Largest lake Lake Garda with an area of 370 km²
International license plate I.
National currency Euro (€) = 100 cents
Time difference to CET = CET
International phone code 0039 – the zero for the cities is then also selected
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts, 50 hertz
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .it

Italy: history

Before the year 1000

During the Indo-European Migration Period around 1200 BC Italians settled in what is now Italy, and they split into two groups, the Latin group from which the Romans emerged and the Umbrian-Sabellian group. Oscar tribes penetrated as far as southern Italy and the island of Sicily. Around 1000 BC Illyrian Venetians immigrated to today’s Veneto. 900 to 500 BC BC Etruscans settled in Italy, who brought the Greco-Asia Minor culture and technology to Italy and which was later adopted by the Romans. After 800 BC The Phoenicians secured sea bases in Sicily and Sardinia. Between 750 and 550 the Greeks colonized Lower Italy and Sicily. During this time the Latin alphabet developed from the Greek script.

Roman rule

According to Abbreviationfinder website, from 753 BC. Until AD 476, Italy was under the rule of Rome. The Roman city-state was able to assert itself against the Italians and gained control over the Italian mainland. According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC. Founded by Romulus. In addition, Romulus is said to have been a descendant of Aeneas who is said to have fled Troy. 510 BC The Roman Republic was introduced. In the years 396 to 280 Rome subjugated central Italy, built military colonies and military roads and Latinized the Italians. Between 300 and 146 Rome extended its power to Upper Italy, Lower Italy and Sicily. In the third Punic War between 149 and 146 BC The Mediterranean power Carthage was finally defeated and the city completely destroyed. Then Rome took over its position in the Mediterranean. From 229 to 64 Rome subjugated Greece, Macedonia, and Asia Minor. The exploitation of the provinces began. Slavery and the money economy were introduced. In addition, there was an increasing demand for luxury.

From 133 to 30 the peasant class became impoverished and with it civil wars. The slaves also rebelled against their rulers in slave revolts. The best known was certainly the uprising under the Thracian Spartacus from 73 to 71 BC. BC, who temporarily brought Rome to the brink of defeat. After the victory in 71, the Romans barbarously punished the captured insurgents. Spartacus himself fell in the decisive battle against the Romans. The Roman legions were under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Between 58 and 51 Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. 45 BC He became the sole ruler of Rome. With his murder on March 14th, 44 BC The Roman Republic ended. His adopted son Gaius Octavius Thurinus (63 BC to 14 AD) founded as Augustus from 31 BC The Roman Empire and secured internal and external peace and allowed the empire to flourish further. From AD 14 to 195 the Roman Empire was at its greatest extent.

In 64 there was a fire in Rome under Nero and the first persecution of Christians. The last major persecution of Christians took place in 303 under Diocletian (emperor from 284 to 305). From 313 onwards, Christians were granted religious freedom by Constantine the Great (emperor from 306 – 324). In 330 Constantinople (Byzantium) was raised to the status of imperial capital. Emperor Theodosius (379 – 395) made Christianity the state religion in 391. In 395 the empire was divided into an eastern empire with the capital Constantinople and a western empire with the capital Rome.

From 410 Huns, Visigoths, Vandals and Germanic tribes invaded the western empire, which finally came to an end in 476. From 493 until the 19th century Italy was politically torn. City-states, later principalities, rose to become independent individual states. Theodoric founded the Ostrogoth Empire in Italy from 493 to 526 with residences in Ravenna, Pavia and Verona.

The Longobard Empire existed in northern Italy from 568 to 774. In 773/774 Charlemagne conquered the Longobard Empire and united it with France. In 800 he was crowned emperor in Rome. Saracens coming from Tunisia conquered Sicily from 827 to 901, which became an independent emirate in 948. In 899 the Hungarians sacked Northern Italy.

German Emperors

From 951 the German Italian policy began. Otto the Great won power in northern Italy and was crowned emperor as Otto I in Rome in 962. German emperors continued to rule Italy until 1268. There was constant controversy between the Empire and the Papacy, whereupon two parties formed, the Ghibellines, who were on the side of the German rulers, and the Guelphs (Welfen) loyal to the Pope.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

Between 1000 and 1200, Lower Italy and Sicily were united into one kingdom by the Normans. In 1130, Lower Italy was united with Sicily. Between 1194 and 1268, the Hohenstaufen ruled in southern Italy and Sicily. In 1282 the so-called Sicilian Vespers took place in Sicily, during which all French were murdered or expelled. The House of Aragon ruled the island until 1442. They managed to reunite Sicily with Naples from 1442 to 1504. From 1504 to 1713 Sicily was under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs.

In the investiture controversy from 1076 to 1122, the decisive conflict between the empire and papacy, the papacy freed itself from the influence of imperial power. Most people are familiar with Henry IV’s visit to Pope Gregory VII in January 1077, who was in Canossa at the time. After Heinrich had spent about three days in front of the castle barefoot and in a penitent garb, the Pope finally received him and lifted the ban on church that had previously been imposed.

In Milan, the Visconti came to power in the 13th century, and after 1450 the Sforza family. Around 1350, Milan was the most powerful city-state in Northern Italy. In 1515 it was conquered by Francis I from France. Venice gained naval supremacy over Genoa in the 13th century. In the so-called Chioggia War between Genoa and Venice, from 1378 to 1381, fought for supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea, from which Venice emerged victorious.

The trading city of Florence had had a democratic constitution since 1282. Around 1400, the Medici gained great prestige and political power there. After the Medici were temporarily driven out, the Dominican prior Savonarola established a republic from 1494 to 1498. In 1498, however, he was burned as a heretic.

In 1527 Rome was sacked by Charles V’s troops.

From 1250 to 1600 humanism and around 1400 the Renaissance spread in Italy and, starting from there, throughout Europe from the end of the 16th century.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

Between 1703 and 1737 Lombardy, Matua and Tuscany fell to the Austrian Habsburgs. From 1735 to 1806 the Bourbons ruled Naples and Sicily. In 1768 Genoa sold the island of Corsica to France.

In 1797 the Cisalpine Republic with Milan, Modena, Ferrara, Bologna and Romagna as well as the Ligurian Republic (Genoa) were founded. The following year the Tiberin Republic (Rome) was founded. In 1805 Napoleon became King of Italy and the Ligurian Republic annexed to France. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, however, the former small states were restored. In 1859/60 the national unification of Italy began under Count Cavour. In 1859 the allies Sardinia and France defeated the Austrian troops. Austria then lost Lombardy. In 1860 the princes were expelled from central and northern Italy. The militant leader Garibaldi (1807 – 1882) defeated the Bourbons in the same year and occupied the Papal States. Referendums everywhere led to the annexation to Sardinia.

Victor Emanuel II was crowned king in 1861, and the first Italian capital was Florence. In 1870 Rome was occupied by Italian troops and made the capital of Italy. The Pope retained sovereignty over the Vatican State. Under Umberto I, Italy became a great power in 1878. In 1882 Italy, Austria-Hungary and the German Empire signed the so-called Triple Alliance. In the war against Abyssinia from 1887 to 1889, Italy won the colonies of Italian Somaliland and Eritrea.

20th century until today

In 1911/12 Italy waged war against the Turks, with Italy annexing Cyrenaica, Tripoli and the Dodecanese. From 1915 to 1918 Italy was in the First World War, fighting Austria-Hungary and the German Empire. In the peace of St-Germain in 1919 Italy received South Tyrol as far as the Brenner, Istria and several Dalmatian islands. Between 1919 and 1921, Mussolini formed combat units that used open violence against the communists, among other things.

In 1922, Mussolini received dictatorial powers from parliament, and the fascists gradually took over state power. A friendship treaty with the Soviet Union was signed in 1933, and Mussolini first met Hitler in 1934. The German-Italian cooperation was founded in 1936 in the “Berlin-Rome Axis” and, from 1939, was consolidated in a military alliance. In 1940 Italy declared war on France and Great Britain. The three-power pact with Germany and Japan came about.

The Italian surrender took place in North Africa in 1943. The Allies landed in Sicily shortly afterwards. The fascist regime in Italy was overthrown, Mussolini was arrested and a new government was formed that worked with the Allies. On September 3, 1943, Italy declared war on Germany. The German armed forces finally capitulated in Italy in 1945. Mussolini was shot dead by partisans in the same year after continuing to fight the Allies with a counter-government and German support.

In 1946 King Emanuel III thanked. from. A referendum was in favor of the republic, which was installed in a democratic constitution in 1948. In the Peace Treaty of Paris in 1947, Italy renounced its colonies and ceded Istria and Dodecanese. Italy was a founding member of NATO in 1949 and a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957.

Since 1948, an economic gap developed in Italy that still exists today between the affluent north and the poor south of the country. The political balance was also unstable for decades. Between 1953 and 2001 there were constantly changing governments and coalitions. From 2001 to 2006, Silvio Berlusconi (born 1936) was Italian Prime Minister. On May 17, 2006, Romano Prodi (born 1939) took over the office, which he had held from 1996 to 1998. Prodi was also President of the Commission of the European Union from 1999 to 2004. The former communist Giorgio Napolitano (born 1925) has been the President of Italy since May 15, 2006.

In the early elections in mid-April 2008, Silvio Berlusconi from the People of Freedom Party (PDL) of the center-right alliance won a triumphant victory over the center-left alliance under Walter Veltroni. He got a surprising majority of around 47% in both chambers of parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate – which incidentally have equal rights – compared to the 38% for the left-wing alliance. On May 8, 2008, he was sworn in by President Giorgio Napolitano. This was the third time that Berlusconi became Prime Minister of Italy. He intended to serve for a full five-year term. But he resigned on November 16, 2011. Instead, the non-party politician and economist Mario Monti (born in 1943 in Varese) took over the post of Prime Minister.

Italy Facts