Italy

Italy FL_ICON_ITA
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Climate
The inland northern areas (Turin, Milan, and Bologna) have a relatively cool, humid subtropical climate, while the coastal areas of Liguria and the peninsula south of Florence generally have a Mediterranean climate. There are considerable differences in temperature: in some winter days it can be −2 °C (28 °F) and snowing in Milan, while it is 8 °C (46.4 °F) in Rome and 20 °C (68 °F) in Palermo. Temperature differences are less extreme in the summer.

The east coast of the Italian peninsula is not as wet as the west coast, but is usually colder in the winter. Because of coastal influences, mountain ranges like the Appenines and the Alps and varying topograhpy, Italy has seven climate types: Mediterranean and mild Mediterranean, humid subtropical, oceanic, humid continental, cold continental and tundra.

Languages
While Italian is the official language, several unofficial regional languages are recognised or promoted.

Geography
Italy is located in southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the southern side of Alps, the large plain of Po Valley and some islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Its total area is 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), of which 294,140 km2 (113,570 sq mi) is land and 7,200 km2 is water (2,780 sq mi).

Italy borders with Switzerland, France, Austria and Slovenia. San Marino and Vatican City are enclaves. Including islands, Italy has a coastline of 7,600 kilometres (4,700 mi) on the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ligurian Sea, Sea of Sardinia and Strait of Sicily.

Cuisine
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with origins in Etruscan, ancient Greek, and ancient Roman cuisines. Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and it is probably the most popular cuisine in the world – Italian pizza, pasta, coffee, ice cream, antipasti and meat dishes.

Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine.

Demographics
Italy has a population of some 60 million with the four largest cities being Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin. Some 92% of the population Italian, with Romanians a distant second of less than 2%.

Transport
Italy has well developed public and private transportation. The Italian rail network is extensive, especially in the north. While a number of private railroads exist and provide mostly commuter-type services, the national railway, Ferrovie dello Stato, also provides sophisticated high-speed rail service that joins the major cities of Italy from Naples through northern cities such as Milan and Turin.

Italy’s road network is about 487,700 km. It comprises both an extensive motorway network (6,400 km), mostly toll roads, and national and local roads. Because of its long sea coast, Italy also has a large number of harbors for the transportation of both goods and passengers. Italy has been a seafaring peninsula dating back to the days of the Etruscans and the Greeks.

Economy
Italy has a diversified industrial economy with high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and developed infrastructure. According to the IMF, Italy in 2014 is the 8th-largest economy in the world. Its GDP is just over 2 trillion US dollars. It has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with high unemployment. It exports engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; food, beverages and tobacco; minerals, and nonferrous metals.

The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family owned. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 15% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors.

Sports
Football is the most popular sport in Italy, followed by basketball, volleyball, and cycling with Italy having a rich tradition in all three. Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and is currently the second most successful football team in World Cup history, after Brazil, having won four FIFA World Cup championships. Italy also has strong traditions in rugby union, tennis, athletics, fencing, and winter sports.