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GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.76 trillion
GDP – per capita (PPP): $30,300
Italy’s official language is Italian. There are about 55 million speakers of the language in Italy and 6.7 million more outside the country. Other historic Roman languages spoken in Italy include Emiliano-Romagnolo, Ladin, Ligurian, Lombard, Neapolitan, Piedmontese, Sardinian, Sicilian, Venetian and Romansh. Minority languages include Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, Franco-Provençal, French, Friulian, German, Greek, Ladin, Occitan, Sardinian, and Slovene. A law enacted in 1999 recognizes the existence of and guarantees protection to 12 linguistic minorities.
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Arianna – Libero.it
Italy, a boot-shaped peninsula located in Southern Europe, occupies a special place in the cultural history of the world as the seat of the “Renaissance,” a cultural movement that transpired roughly between the 14th and 17th Centuries and witnessed the resurgence of cultural advancement after the so-called Dark Ages of European history.
The movement started in Florence, Italy in the late Middle Ages and quickly spread to the rest of Europe. While social and political upheavals also marked the period, the Renaissance is best known for its artistic development and the emergence of such artistic geniuses as Leonardo da Vince and Michelangelo.
The period of the Renaissance rekindled interest in Greek thinkers, like Plato and Aristotle, as Greek scholars migrated to Italy after the Fall of Constantinople. Discussions over the principles of capitalism precipitated monastic studies and quickly set off a vast capitalist revolution that continues to be waged today.
The confusion that followed World War I saw the rise of Benito Mussolini, who banned all political parties and restricted personal liberties to form a dictatorship in Italy. In 1935, Mussolini took control of Ethiopia in Africa, a move that was immediately condemned by the international community, and which led to Italy’s expulsion from the League of Nations. Italy found a new ally in Nazi Germany and was quickly drawn into World II.
Italy was invaded by the Allies in June 1943, leading to the collapse of the fascist regime and the arrest of Mussolini. Despite the surrender, the battles continued in Italy as the Allies continued to face loyal Italian fascists and German Nazi forces in mortal combat. Italy suffered an estimated half a million deaths between June 1940 and May 1945 in one of the darkest moments of its history.
After the war, Italy voted to approve a republican constitution. A Marshall Plan, named after US Secretary of State George Marshall, helped Italy’s ravaged economy, transforming it from a weak agri-based market into one of the most progressive countries in the world after the war.
In 2008, Italy had grown to become the 11th largest economy in the world and the 5th biggest in Europe, after Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and France. Its people enjoy a very high standard of living and a per capita income about equal to the EU average.
Italy posted a relatively low GDP average growth of 1.23% over the last 10 years, lagging behind EU’s average of 1.23%. It took a beating from the global crisis, with a -1% GDP growth in 2008 and -5% in 2009 as with most countries in the Western World.
However, even with recession, Italy’s economy remains the 11th biggest in the world. Its 2009 GDP per capita of $30,200 was slightly lower than the $31,800 of 2008, but remains robust and at par with the major players in the European Union.
Italy draws strength from its sustained economic growth since the sixties. The Italian economy is broad, industries in the North and agriculture in the South. Italian products are diversified and world famous, including signature garments, fashion accessories and cars, like the Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.