A boot shaped
• Geographically, Italy is a boot shaped peninsula
extending into the central Mediterranean sea.
• It is approximately 1,130 kilometres long and
has a total area of approximately 301,238
square kilometres comprising some of the most
varied and scenic landscapes on earth.
• Italy's land borders are with Switzerland,
France, Austria and Slovenia.
• There are two independent states within Italy's
borders: San Marino and Vatican City.
Italy is mostly mountainous with ranges over 700 metres covering a third of the country.
The best known ranges are the Alps, the Dolomites and the Appenines.
The Italian Alps highest peaks: Mount Viso 3,841 metres ; Gran Paradiso 4,061 metres ;
Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) with a summit of 4,807 metres just over the border in
France, Monte Cervino (Matterhorn) 4,478 metres, Monte Rosa with a summit of 4,634
metres just over the border in Switzerland, and Mount Ortles 3,905 metres.
The Dolomites and Mount Marmolada 3,343 metres.
The Apennines form the backbone of the country running down the full length of the
Italian The range is about 2,000 kilometres long.
The "Great Rock of Italy" (Gran Sasso d'Italia)
provides the highest Apennine peak at 2,912 metres.
Between the Alps and the Appenines lies the Padan Plain.
This is drained by the longest river of Italy, the Po, stretching for 652
kilometres eastward from the Cottian Alps to the Adriatic.
Plains cover less than a quarter of the total area of Italy.
Other notable plains include the Maremme of Tuscany and Lazio, the
Pontine Marshes, the fertile Campania Plain around Vesuvius and the
rather arid Apulian Plain.
In Sicily the Plain of Catania is a good area for growing citrus fruit.
There are about 1,500 lakes in Italy. Most of these are small Alpine lakes that are used
for hydroelectric schemes. Other lakes, such as Bolsena and Albano in Lazio, occupy
the craters of extinct volcanoes. There are also coastal lagoons, such as Lakes Lesina
and Varano in Puglia, and lakes resulting from prehistoric faulting, such as Lake
Alleghe, near Belluno.
The best-known, largest, and most important of the Italian lakes are Lakes Garda,
Maggiore, Como, Iseo, and Lugano. They are situated in the north of Italy around
Milan. They have a semi-Mediterranean climate and are surrounded by groves of olive
and citrus trees.
Italy also has considerable areas in which, as a result of porous rock, the water
systems run underground, forming subterranean streams, sinkholes, and lakes. These
are often associated with caves, the most famous of which are those of Castellana, in
• Including islands, Italy has a total coastline of 7,600 kilometres, much of
which is extremely varied. Along the two Ligurian rivieras, on either side
of Genoa, the coast alternates between high, rocky zones and level gravel.
The most famous of the rocky areas is called Cinque Terre.
• The coast southwards from Tuscany to Campania consists of long, sandy,
crescent beaches mixed with higher, more rocky stretches. The Tyrrhenian
coasts of Basilicata and Calabria are high and rocky, though sometimes
broken by short beaches.
• The coast of Puglia is flat, as is most of the Adriatic coast of Italy, although
it is dominated by terraced hills behind.
• The majestic delta of the Po River, extending from Rimini to Monfalcone,
is riddled with the lagoons most famously around Venice.
• The Carso, the limestone coastal region between Trieste and Istria, is
Italy is surrounded by sea on three sides. To the north west is the Ligurian sea,
to the west and south west the Tyrrhenian sea, to the south and south east
is the Ionian sea and to the east is the Adriatic sea.
The two largest islands in the Mediterranean, Sicily and Sardinia, are both a
part of Italy.
There are many other island groups too:
Tuscan Islands, Pontine Islands, Napolitan Islands, Aeolian Islands,
Egadi Islands, Tremiti Islands, Pelagie Islands
Il Tricolore, has been in use in its current
form since the formation of the Republic in
1946. It was formally adopted a little while
later, in 1948. It is made up of three equal
bands: green, white and red, with the
green band on the hoist side.
The green representing the countryside,
the white representing the mountains, and
the red representing the blood spilt during
the unification of Italy.
Another, more religious, interpretation
claims that the green represents hope,
the white represents faith and the red
The first version of the flag was created
in 1797 by the Cispadane Republic,
following Napoleon's successful
campaign in Italy, and inspired by the
French flag, created in 1790.
The Italian Flag