İtalya (İtalyanca: Italia) ya da resmî olarak İtalya Cumhuriyeti (Repubblica Italiana) güney Avrupa’da, büyük ölçüde İtalya Yarımadası üzerinde yer alan bir ülkedir. Akdeniz’in en büyük iki adası Sicilya ve Sardunya da İtalyan topraklarıdır. Kuzeyde Alpler bölgesinde Fransa, İsviçre, Avusturya ve Slovenya’yla kara sınırı vardır. Bağımsız iki Avrupa ülkesi olan Vatikan ve San Marino da İtalya’nın yarımadadaki toprakları içine sıkışmış enklav (bir başka ülkeyle tümüyle kuşatılmış) ülkelerdir. Campione d’Italia bölgesiyse İtalya’nın İsviçre içinde kalan bir eksklavıdır (ana topraklardan ayrı mülkiyet).
İtalya, yüzyıllar boyunca çok çeşitli Avrupa uygarlıklarına ev sahipliği yapmıştır. Etrüskler ve Antik Romalıların İtalya topraklarını kendilerine yurt edinmelerinin yanı sıra, Rönesans hareketi de İtalya’nın Toskana kentinde doğmuş ve tüm Avrupa’ya buradan yayılmıştır. İtalya’nın başkenti Roma, yüzyıllar boyunca Batı uygarlığının merkezi olmuş, mimaride barok üslûbunun doğuşuna tanıklık etmiş ve eskiden beri Katolik Kilisesi’nin merkezi olmuştur.
Günümüzde İtalya demokrasiyle yönetilmekte olan bir cumhuriyettir ve ülkelerin kişibaşına nominal gayrisafi yurtiçi hasıla sıralamsında yirminci, insanî gelişme endeksi sıralamasında yirminci, yaşam kalitesi endeksinde sekizinci sırada yer alan gelişmiş bir ülkedir. İtalya, 1957yılında başkent Roma ‘da imzalanan Roma Antlaşması’yla kurulan Avrupa Birliği adlı siyasi ve ekonomik örgütlenmenin kurucu üyelerindendir. Yedinci en büyük gayri safi yurtiçi hasılasıyla G8 Zirveleri’nin, NATO’nun, Ekonomik Kalkınma ve İşbirliği Örgütü’nün, Avrupa Konseyi’nin, Batı Avrupa Birliği’nin ve Schengen Antlaşması’nın da katılımcılarındandır. 1 Ocak 2007 tarihinde sürekli üye sıfatı olmaksızın Birleşmiş Milletler Güvenlik Konseyi’nde iki yıllık sürecek üyelik dönemine başlamıştır.
Italy [ˈɪtəli] (help·info) (Italian: Italia), officially the Italian Republic, (Italian: Repubblica Italiana), is 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, while Campione d’Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the universities and of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy’s capital Rome was for centuries the center of Western civilization; it also spawned the Baroque movement and seats the Catholic Church. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 8th-highest Quality-of-life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8 (having the world’s 7th largest nominal GDP), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, the Central European Initiative, and a Schengen state. It has the world’s 7th largest defence budget and shares NATO’s nuclear weapons. On 1 January 2007, Italy began a two year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Prehistory to Roman Empire
Excavations throughout Italy reveal a modern human presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period some 200,000 years ago. In the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. Subsequently Romans referred to this area as Magna Graecia as it was so densely inhabited by Greeks. Ancient Rome, at first a small agricultural community founded circa 8th century BC, grew the next centuries into a colossal empire encompassing the whole Mediterranean Sea, in which Ancient Greek and Roman cultures merged into one civilization, so influential that parts of it survive in modern law, administration, philosophy and arts forming the ground where Western civilization is based upon. In its twelve-century existence, it transformed from a republic to monarchy and finally to autocracy. In steady decline since 2nd century AD, the empire finally broke into two parts in 285 AD, a western and an eastern. The western part under the pressure of Goths finally dissolved leaving the Italian peninsula divided into small independent kingdoms and feuding city states for the next 14 centuries, and the eastern part as the sole heir to Roman legacy.
Following a short recapture of the peninsula by Byzantine Emperor, Justinian at 6th cen. AD from the Ostrogoths a new wave of Germanic tribes, the Lombards, soon arrived to Italy from the north. For several centuries the armies of the Byzantines were strong enough to prevent Arabs, Holy Roman Empire, or the Papacy from establishing a unified Italian Kingdom, but at the same time too weak to fully unify the former Roman lands. Nevertheless during early Middle Ages Imperial orders such as the Carolingians, the Ottonians and Hohenstaufens managed to impose their overlordship in Italy.
Italy’s regions eventually interlocked to their neighbouring empires’ conflicting interests and would remain divided up to 19th century. It was during this vacuum of authority that the region saw the rise of Signoria and Comune. In the anarchic conditions that often prevailed in medieval Italian city states, people looked to strong men to restore order and disarm the feuding elites. In times of anarchy or crisis, cities sometimes offered the Signoria to individuals perceived as strong enough to save the state, most notably Della Scala family in Verona, Visconti in Milan and Medici in Florence.
Italy during this period became notable for its merchant Republics. These city-states, oligarchical in reality, had a dominant merchant class which under a relative freedom nurtured academic and artistic advancement. The four classic Maritime Republics in Italy were Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi reflecting the temporal sequence of their dominance.
Venice and Genoa were Europe’s gateway to trade with the East, with the former producer of the renown venetian glass, whilst Florence was the capital of silk, wool, banks and jewelry. The Maritime Republics were heavily involved in the Crusades, taking advantage of the new political and trading opportunities, most evidently in the conquest of Zara and Constantinople funded by Venice.
During late Middle Ages Italy was divided into smaller city states and territories: the kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States the centre, the Genoese and the Milanese the north and west, and the Venetians the east. Fifteenth-century Italy was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe and the birthplace of Renaissance. Florence, in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), Francesco Petrarch (1304–1374) and Giovanni Boccaccio (c. 1313–1375), as well as the painting of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337) is considered the center of this cultural movement. Scholars like Niccolò de’ Niccoli and Poggio Bracciolini scoured the libraries in search of works of classical authors as Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Cicero and Vitruvius.
The Black Death pandemic in 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing one third of the population. The recovery from the disaster led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which greatly stimulated the successive phase of the Humanism and Renaissance. In 1494 the French king Charles VIII opened the first of a series of invasions, lasting up to sixteenth century, and a competition between France and Spain for the possession of the country. Ultimately Spain prevailed through the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis which recognised Spanish dominance over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. The holy alliance between Habsburg Spain and the Holy See resulted in the systematic persecution of any Protestant movement. Austria succeeded Spain as hegemon in Italy under the Peace of Utrecht. Through Austrian domination, the northern part of Italy, gained economic dynamism and intellectual fervor. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815) introduced the ideas of equality, democracy, law and nation.
Italy occupies a long, boot-shaped peninsula, surrounded on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the east by the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia to the north. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula’s backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its northern lakes is Garda (143 sq mi; 370 km²);in the center is Campotosto lake the Po, its principal river, flows from the Alps on Italy’s western border and crosses the great Padan plain to the Adriatic Sea. Several islands form part of Italy; the largest are Sicily (9,926 sq mi; 25,708 km²) and Sardinia (9,301 sq mi; 24,090 km²). There are several active volcanoes in Italy: Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe; Vulcano; Stromboli; and Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the mainland of Europe.
Main article: Climate of Italy
The climate in Italy is highly diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate depending on the location. Most of the inland northern areas of Italy (for example Turin, Milan and Bologna) have a continental climate often classified as Humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). The coastal areas of the peninsula can be very different from the interior higher altitudes and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.