Italyis a large country inSouthern Europe. Together withGreece, it is acknowledged as the birthplace of Western culture. Not surprisingly, it is also home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. High art and monuments are to be found everywhere around the country. It is also famous worldwide for its delicious cuisine, its trendy fashions, luxury sports cars and motorcycles, diverse regional cultures and dialects, as well as for its many beautiful coasts, alpine lakes and mountains (the Alps andApennines). No wonder it is often nicknamed Il Bel Paese (The Beautiful Country).
Two independent mini-states are surrounded entirely byItaly:San MarinoandVatican City. While technically not part of the European Union, both of these states are also part of the Schengen Region and the European Monetary Union, (EMU). Apart from different police uniforms, there is no evident transition from these states andItaly’s territory, and the currency is the same. Italian is also the lingua-franca in both city-states.
Italyis largely a peninsula situated on the Mediterranean Sea, borderingFrance,Switzerland,Austria, andSloveniain the north. The country, which is boot-shaped, is surrounded by theLigurianSea, theSardinianSea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Sicilian and Ionian Sea in the South, andAdriatic Seain the East. Italian is the official language spoken by the majority of the population, but as you travel throughout the country, you will find there are several distinct Italian dialects corresponding to the region you are in.Italyhas a very diverse landscape, but can be primarily described as mountainous including the Alps and theApenninesmountain ranges that run through the vast majority of it.Italyhas two major islands as part of its country: Sardinia, which is an island off the west coast ofItaly, andSicily, which is at the southern tip (the “toe”) of the boot.Italyhas a population of around 60 million. The capital isRome.