Italy lies in central southern Europe, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the south and bordered by Austria, France, Slovenia and Switzerland to the North. The country stretches for over 1,000 Km from north to south and has a total area of over 300,000 sq. Km. Italy also includes 2 large islands, Sardinia and Sicily, and many smaller ones.
The Constitution states that the Italian
Republic consists of Municipalities, Provinces, Metropolitan Areas and Regions.
The country is divided into 20 administrative regions, most of which enjoy full autonomy over local legislation. Five regions have a special status, Valle d’Aosta, Trentino-Alto Adige, FriuliVenezia Giulia, Sicily and Sardinia. Two independent states: the Vatican City (in Rome) and the Republic of San Marino, lie within Italy’s geographical borders.
Most of Italy’s 60 million inhabitants are Roman Catholics, and although a steady stream of immigration in recent years has introduced a more multi-ethnic society, other religions are still a relatively small percentage. Population growth, at less than 0.1% per annum, is negligible.
The official language and the language of business is Italian. A small minority living in the north speaks German, French and Slovenian.
Italy’s system of government is that of a Parliamentary Republic. Sovereignty belongs to the people who exercise it as laid down by the Constitution. Power is divided among the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches. The Italian Constitution establishes the balancing and interaction of these branches, rather than their rigid separation.