COUNTRIES

ITALY

Programs Offered

Florence: Santa Reparata International School of Art

Rome: John Cabot University

A few facts about the country:

OFFICIAL NAME: Italian Republic

GOVERNMENT TYPE: Republic

CHIEF OF STATE: President Giorgio NAPOLITANO (since 15 May 2006)

POPULATION: 58,145,320

LOCATION: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia

TERRAIN AND CLIMATE: Mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands. Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Italian

GENERAL HISTORY: Italy became a nationstate in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.

ECONOMY: Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a lessdeveloped, welfaredependent, agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous shortterm reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and longterm growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and overgenerous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions. But the leadership faces a severe economic constraint: Italy's official debt remains above 100% of GDP, and the government has found it difficult to bring the budget deficit down to a level that would allow a rapid decrease in that debt. The economy continues to grow by less than the eurozone average and growth is expected to decelerate from 1.9% in 2006 and 2007 to under 1.5% in 2008 as the eurozone and world economies slow.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: There have been occasional episodes of politically motivated violence in Italy, most often connected to Italian internal developments or social issues. At various times, Italian authorities have found bombs outside public buildings, received bomb threats and were subjects of letter bombs. Firebombs or Molotov cocktails have been thrown at buildings or offices in the middle of the night. These incidents have all been attributed to organized crime or anarchist movements. Americans were not targeted or injured in these instances.