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Italy population religion history economy road travel and other national information

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Italy Country Profile

Italy Population The population of Italy is approximately 60m. 2.75 million of these people live in the capital city Rome. In northern Italy there are small bi lingual communities of French German and Slovenians. Similarly there communities of Albanian s and Greeks in southern Italy.

Italy Language The official language is Italian. However in northern Italy in the South Tyrol German is the dominant dialect and in the Valle d’Aosta region on the Franco-Swiss border French is the dominant language.

Religions In Italy Roman Catholicism is followed by 83%, of the population. The most evident minority religions are either Jewish Muslim or Protestant.

Italy Currency The Italian unit of currency is the euro.


Italy Geography

Most of mainland Italy, except in coastal areas is mountainous. To the east of these mountains (the Apennines) there are two low lying plains – in the north Emilia-Romagna and in the south Puglia. The northern borders of Italy are dominated by the Alps which extend into Austria France Slovenia and Switzerland. Offshore there are around seventy island the largest being Sardinia Sicily and Elba.

Italy Economy

Prior to the credit crunch the economy in Italy grew annually by about 0.5%, annual inflation was below 4% and unemployment nationally around 6%. However in Southern Italy unemployment was close to 11% compared with about 3.5% in the north.

The major industries in Italy are Tourism, the manufacture of motor vehicles and machinery and the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Many of these companies are medium sized or small businesses. Industrial disputes often limit the potential of larger companies. It has some limited natural gas resources in the Adriatic Sea and the Po Valley. Its major trading partner is the European Union (around 58%) followed by the United States China and Japan.

Italy Political Structure

In 1946 following a referendum which abolished the Italian monarchy The Italian Republic was formed. The present Italian constitution was finalised in 1946. Some of the powers previously held by the sovereign were transferred to the President.

The Italian political structure is theoretically an example of bicameralism. At it roots there is a Parliament The Parliament consists of a elected Chamber of Deputies with 630 members and a Senate with 315 elected members plus a number of enduring senators nominated by the Italian President. Members of these House can serve for up to five years. Legislation on any subject be introduced in the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate. If one of these houses passes a piece of legislation it has to be ratified in the same form by the majority of members in the other house to become law. However the Italian President can veto the legislation on the grounds that it if he feels it threatens the Italian Constitution.

The Italian President is elected by an electoral college made up from both Houses of Parliament and 58 regional states. His official role is to be the guardian of the Italian Constitution. Theoretically in this position the President is not expected to becoming involved in run of the mill politics but in recent years this idea has ended up on the back burner. The President can serve a seven year term. He or she also chooses who becomes the Head of Individual Italian ministries. The President and his Ministers can issues decrees which have to be ratified through the Houses of Parliament. Where the decrees are not ratified the authority or tenability of the Government may be challenged. Since WW2 Italy has had 62 Governments with only one in 2001 remaining in power for a full five year term.

Phone Codes & Time Zone

International telephone codes for Italy is 39. The time Zone is CET (Central European Time) which is plus1 hour GMT. In the summer this is 2 hours ahead of GMT.

Italy Travel

Italy Road Travel In Italy there are over 479,688km (298,064 miles) of roads. 6,000km (3,700 miles) these roads are of motorway (autostrada) standard. At present there several more motorways being built. On the autostrada toll charges apply with the rates dependant on the size of the vehicle and the distance travelled. Throughout Italy the road signs are the same as the rest of Western Europe. For further information on Italian motorways please the ‘Autostrade per l’Italia’ web site.

The minimum driving age is in Italy is 18. UK driving licence or EU pink t licenses are valid in Italy. Licenses without photos are only valid if supported by an International Driving Permit. All visitors to Italy must have with them their log-book with their name on it. If they are not the owner they must have the written authority of the owner to drive vehicle and details of where the and how they owner can be contacted should the police wish to do so. If you are driving a motorcycle over 49cc you must have a legal motorcycle licence or driving licence.

Speed limits in Italy are 50kph (31mph) in built up areas and 90kph (55mph) on some designated roads,. On dual carriageways the speed limit is 110kph (68mph) and on motorways it is 130kph (80mph) on motorways. Important notes Outside built up areas dipped headlights are compulsory outside built-up in daytime. Seat belts are compulsory and must be used. All vehicles must carry a red warning triangle. Italian Traffic Police are not merciful towards those committing driving offences and are not afraid to issue on the high on the spot fines to motorists. If you breakdown telephone 803 116 and the operator will get you assistance from the Automobile Club of Italy. This service is chargeable.

Italy By Rail Compared with other European countries Italian railways are not as extensive. The most popular services are Rome-Genoa-Turin, Rome-Naples-Palermo, Milan-Bologna-Bari and Turin-Milan-Venice. Some of these are expensive and not particularly fast. Further information on Italian railways in English is available from Italiarail .

Italy by Coach The are very good coach services between major cities and towns in Italy. In some instances the running times are not much more than the train services and the fares are far more competitive. A highly regarded intercity coach operator is Sita. Most cities have an efficient and dependable networks of local buses. International coach services to and from Italy are dominated by Eurolines

Italy by Air There are as many airports in Italy as in the UK. Business travellers often opt for travelling between northern and southern by air. The internal routes are dominated Alitalia. EasyJet and Ryanair are amongst the most popular lairlines operating international routes to Italy.

Emergency Medical Treatment In Italy

Italy has a a good standard of health care and arrangements with several countries including the UK nationals for the provision of free emergency medical treatment. If you are travelling from the UK you will need a European Health Card. more


Many areas of Italy are within a major seismic fault line.  Daily minor tremors are common place. The last more serious earthquake registering 6.3 on the Richter Scale occurred at L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo Region (58 Kilometres north east of Rome) on April 6th 09. Nearly 300 hundred people died in this quake and approximately 28,000 were made homeless. Other serious earthquakes occurred in the Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia regions of southern Italy on 31st October and November 1st 2002.

Venice Flooding Risk

Parts of Venice are susceptible to flooding particularly in early spring and late autumn.

Italy – Founder Member Of The European Union

At the end of the war the allies had dismantled many parts of what remained of Germany’s heavy industries and placed its coal industry under international supervision to prevent Germany from becoming a threat to European peace ever again. In 1946, the cost of WW2 in human life and economic terms resulted in the British Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill calling for a ‘United States of Europe’. This sentiment was echoed across Europe and in 1949 the Netherlands became part of the new Council For Europe.

The following year the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed that European peace would be assured if Europe’s coal and steel industries ((essential tools of war) were commonly managed. This proposal was accepted by Holland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy and West Germany who in 1951 signed the Treaty of Paris founding the European Coal and Steel Community.

In 1952 the ECSC assumed responsibility for the Ruhr area of West Germany and eased the postwar controls on its industrial production. This responsibility which was defined as the ‘International Authority for the Ruhr created Europe’s first common institutions – The High Authority which eventually became the European Commission and the Common Assembly known now as the European Parliament.

Following The Treaty of Paris the member states discussed without agreement the creation of common defence and political systems. They reached an accord on economic unity and in 1957 signed the Treaty of Rome which founded the European Economic Community later renamed European Union.


Other useful information is available from The Italian Government Tourist Board



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