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Italy

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Italy ( ), officially the Italian Republic , is a Unitary state parliamentary republic in Southern Europe. To the north, Italy borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia, and is approximately delimited by the Alps, enclosing the Po Valley and the Venetian Plain. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two biggest Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Italian territory also includes the islands of Pantelleria, east of the Tunisian coast and southwest of Sicily, and Lampedusa, at about from Tunisia and at from Sicily, in addition to many other smaller islands. The sovereign states of San Marino and the Vatican City are Enclave and exclave within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian Enclave and exclave in Switzerland. Italy covers an area of and has a largely temperate climate. With 60 million inhabitants, it is the List of European countries by population.

Italy's capital and largest city, Rome, has for centuries been the leading political and religious centre of Western world, serving as the capital of both the Roman Empire and Christianity. During the Dark Ages (historiography), Italy endured cultural and social decline in the face of repeated invasions by Germanic tribes, with Roman heritage being preserved largely by Christian monks. Beginning around the 11th century, various Italian Italian city-states, Medieval commune and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking (indeed, modern capitalism has its roots in Medieval Italy); concurrently, Italian culture flourished, especially during the Italian Renaissance, which produced many notable scholars, artists, and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Meanwhile, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy would remain fragmented into numerous warring states for the rest of the Middle Ages, subsequently falling prey to larger Power (international relations)#Modern Age European powers such as France, Spanish Empire, and later Austrian Empire. Italy would thus enter a long period of decline that lasted until the beginning of the 18th century.

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