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The official name for Italy is the Italian Republic and it’s home to about 60 million people. The capital, Rome, is located about halfway down the western coast. Italy juts out into the Mediterranean Sea and its shape famously resembles a boot! Italy also has two major islands, Sicily (to the south) and Sardinia (to the west). Italy shares its borders to the north with France, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Austria.

Italy has two tiny countries inside it! Vatican City in Rome and San Marino which is further north near Florence. These enclaves operate as completely independent countries but have close ties to Italy.

Italy’s history goes back thousands of years, from the first Europeans, to the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, Etruscans, and the people of the Roman Kingdom (and later, the Roman Empire). The Roman Empire conquered much of Europe and the Mediterranean and became a very influential centre of law, culture, and art. Italy was central to the empire and so has left its unforgettable mark on the world.

When the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th Century CE after repeated attacks and invasions (and a bunch of other reasons depending on which historian you ask) the power centre moved to Constantinople and Italy’s role in the empire ended.

Italy entered a time of difficulty during the middle ages but eventually a series of ‘city states’ became very wealthy from trade and banking. These city states (like Venice, Florence, Milan, Naples, and Rome) were very powerful and they are responsible for many of Italy’s advances in science, art, and culture during the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries. Italian explorers sailed the seas and discovered new trade routes and new lands.

By the 20th Century, Italy had been through over a century of turmoil because of their political situation. In 1922, the fascists rose to power and ruled over Italy with an iron fist. After the defeat of the fascists during World War II, Italy threw off its monarchy and fascism and became a modern democratic country. Today, it has the eighth largest economy in the world and ranks very highly when measuring happiness and life expectancy.

Tourism is huge in Italy with millions of people visiting each year to such sites as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Pompeii, and natural wonders like the island of Capri.

This has been a very brief overview of the country of Italy, for the full set of resources, information, and activities, check out the Explore-the-World-from-Home Guide to Italy in the shop.


The Vital Stats:

  • Official Name: Italian Republic
    (Repubblica Italiana) or just 'Italia!'

  • Population: 60 million (2020)

  • Area: 301,340 sq km (71st/world)

  • Capital: Rome (Roma)

  • National Language: Italian

  • Say Hello: Buongiorno or Ciao!

  • Currency: Euro

  • Driving Side: Right

  • Anthem: The Song of the Italians
    (Il Canto degli Italiani)

  • Time Zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)

  • GDP per capita:
    $32,947 (25th/world)

  • Human Development Index:
    0.883 (very high - 29th/world)

Fun facts about Italy

  • Italy is one of the largest producers of wine in the world and grapes are grown all over the country

  • Although Christopher Columbus sailed to the new world at the behest of the Spanish king and queen, Christopher was Italian, born in Genoa in 1451.

  • According to legend, Rome was created by twin brothers Remus, and Romulus in 753 BCE. As the story goes, they were raised by a wolf in a cave, but Romulus ends up killing Remus in an argument over who would rule the city.

  • Italy is the fifth most visited country by tourists in the world. Over 50 million visitors arrive every year and Italy has 55 UNESCO world heritage sites, the most in the world.

  • Mt Etna on the island of Sicily is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is in a constant state of volcanic activity! Its height is always changing due to the eruptions.

  • Italians use a lot of hand gesture when they are speaking to each other. Even when talking on the phone they wave their hands and each gesture has a very specific meaning.

  • Pinocchio was created by the Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1883. In the story, Pinocchio is created by a wood carver Gepetto in a Tuscan village, and he wants to become a real boy. Unfortunately, he has a habit of lying which causes his nose to grow!

  • Italians are famous for their supercars. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, and Maserati are all made in Italy.

  • Gelato is a national treasure in Italy. It’s like ice cream, except ten times better!

  • Alessandro Volta is an Italian physicist who created the world’s first electric battery in 1799. His name now forever describes electrical potential (the volt).


These are just a few of our fun facts about Italy. To get them all, grab your copy of the Explore-the-World-from-Home Guide to Italy from the shop.

Romulus and Remus are twin brothers who founedRome. Romulusends up killing his brother

Romulus and Remus are twin brothers, whose story tells the events that led to the founding of the city of Rome and the Roman Kingdom by Romulus.


Catania and Mount Etna Volcano in Sicily


Gelato from our favourite Gelateria La Romana!

download a sample recipe and activity from the

Italy: Explore-the-World-from-Home Guide

Love this? Try the Italy Guide at the shop >>