Italy is an independent nation in Southern Europe. With the capital city of Rome, Italy 2020 population is estimated at 60,461,837 according to countryaah. The oldest finds show that the area that today constitutes Italy was inhabited by the human species Homo erectus already 700,000 years ago. The many different Indo-European peoples who go by the collective name Italians are believed to have immigrated around the year 1500 BC. Around the year 900–800 BC, the first Etruscans arrived in the area and at this time the Greeks also began to settle on the Italian peninsula, whose southern tip they named Italia.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Italy, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
There are different perceptions of how the Roman Empire actually came into being. According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were sons of the god of war Mars. Among historians, there is some agreement that the Etruscans in the 6th century BC are believed to have united the small communities that were then on the River Tiber in a city state under a common king. Around 500 BC, the residents revolted against the Etruscan kingdom and formed a republic which gradually grew larger. In the middle of the 20th century BC, the Roman Empire spread throughout the Italian peninsula south of the Poslätt and continued to expand. For Italy political system, please check computerminus.
In the first Punic war against the Phoenician city state of Carthage (the Romans called the people of the North African Carthage Punic) Rome conquered Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. The peace after the Second Punic War in 201 BC meant that Carthage was defeated, and the Romans ruled all over the western Mediterranean. By the middle of the same century, Rome had also expanded eastward to present-day Greece and subjugated the historic region of Macedonia since its defeat by King Perseus.
In its glory days in the 10th century AD, the Roman Empire extended farthest from England in the west and down the entire Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea in the east. The military conquests were led by commanders who came to be worshiped as heroes of the people and enjoyed a strong political position. The most known of them all, Julius Caesar, was murdered in 44 BC and eventually succeeded by his nephew who called himself Emperor Augustus.
The decline of the Roman Empire
Already in the 10th century BC, in line with the external expansion, the difficulties of holding together the Roman Empire had become increasingly clear. At the end of the 30th century AD, the kingdom was characterized by corruption, economic difficulties, outbreaks of epidemics and the inability of the Roman military to retain control of the vast empire.
The problems in 395 led to the division of the Roman Empire for administrative reasons into an eastern part, Östrom – the Byzantine Empire – and a western part, where Rome remained the capital. The last West Roman emperor was deposed 476 by the Germanic leader Odovakar. In the 560s, large parts of northern Italy were conquered by the German people Langobards.
From the 14th century Christianity had gained a stronger position not only as a religion but also as a political power during the Pope in Rome. When the lobards, after conquering the so-called exarchate, an area around the city of Ravenna, aimed their eyes at Rome, the pope sought help from the French king Pippin. He gave the exarchate back to the Pope, and the areas around Rome and Ravenna eventually came to form the core of the increasingly influential Church Cost, which was ruled by the Pope.
The Franks continued to play a significant role in Italian politics. After their king Karl the Great had defeated the langobards at the end of the 7th century, he let himself be crowned emperor with the help of the pope in 800.
In 962, Otto the I was crowned emperor of the empire which later came to be called the German-Roman Empire. The area that today constitutes Italy continued to formally form part of this realm until the beginning of the 19th century. However, from the 11th century, the divide increased and a number of urban communities ruled by indigenous princes emerged. The southern parts of Italy, long ruled by the Byzantine Empire, were conquered by the Normans in the middle of the 11th century, which included Sicily in his kingdom.
In the coming centuries, the city-states, which were politically and economically dominated by rich merchant families, became increasingly independent and many wars were fought between them. During the 1300s and 1400s, Genoa, Venice, Milan and Florence emerged as the largest and most influential city states. These, as well as the papacy and the two southern Italian kingdoms (“The two Sicilies”) made mutual peace with the threat of Ottoman Turks who had conquered Constantinople in 1453 (the fall of Östrom).
At the end of the 15th century, France attempted to invade the Italian states. Spanish and German interests were united with Italian city-states and the papacy to expel the French. The Spaniards and the German emperor soon joined forces in the Habsburg house, which after about fifty years of fighting against the French managed to gain control of most of Italy. Initially, Italy was ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs, but after the Spanish War of Succession (1700-1714), Habsburg’s Austrian branch took power.
Enlightenment, which made its entry into Europe at the end of the 18th century, became a period of recovery and development. In 1796, French general Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Sardinia and then in rapid succession large parts of northern Italy. When Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor in France, in 1806 he established the Italian kingdom with himself as king. The church cost was shared between France and Italy since the Pope refused to participate in Napoleon’s blockade aimed at Britain. Austria regained its old position in Italy after the fall of Napoleon in 1815 and the Church costume and the Kingdom of Sardinia were restored.
Today’s Italy is growing
Il Risorgimento, “rebirth”, was the common name for the freedom movements that developed in the early 19th century. Those who joined turned to the old reactionary order and demanded that the power of kings be limited. They also fought for a united Italy. In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi’s conquest troops conquered Sicily and Naples and then succeeded in occupying almost the entire country with popular support. A free Italy was proclaimed in 1861. The leading statesman behind this was Camillo di Cavour who became Italy’s first head of government. The King of Sardinia, Viktor Emanuel II, was appointed King of the Nation. In 1870, Venice and the conquest of Rome included the remaining parts of the Church costume in the kingdom. The Pope retreated to an area around the Vatican Palace and St. Peter’s Basilica.
In order to pave the way for industrial development in the agricultural-dominated new state, a construction of the infrastructure and the education system was initiated. At first, conservative parties had power, but after 1876, when the social problems in the country worsened, more progressive governments took over. An expansive foreign policy was launched and during the last decade of the 19th century, Eritrea and Somalia in East Africa were conquered. In the Italian-Turkish War of 1911–1912, parts of Libya (see LIBYEN: Ancient History) and the Toloes with Rhodes and Corfu came under Italian rule.
The domestic political conditions were neglected during the expansion policy. Poverty, especially in the southern parts of the country, became widespread and many chose to leave the country. Between 1876 and 1914, nearly 14 million Italians emigrated, most of them to the United States, South America and other European countries.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of social reforms were implemented, which included prohibiting child labor, shorter working days for women and introducing compulsory accident insurance in the industry. In 1912, almost all men got the right to vote.
Although Italy was associated with Germany and Austria-Hungary in the so-called triple alliance since the 1880s, the country entered the First World War in 1915 on the side of the entente, that is, with France, Russia and the United Kingdom. At the end of the war in 1919, Italy received the South Tyrol, Istria and the Trieste region from Austria.
The fascists take power
Social unrest after the end of the First World War provoked right-wing extremist movements, which eventually gathered under the former Socialist Benito Mussolini and the Fascist Party, formally formed in 1921. The fascists, whom Mussolini organized among other semi-military groups, forcibly took power over several cities. Socialists were one of the targets of the fascist “crusade”.
Since the outbreak of 1921, the Communist Party formed and divided the Socialist Party, the socialists could no longer put up any effective resistance. Nor did the other parties succeed in stopping the fascists’ path to power. In October 1922, King Viktor Emanuel III was forced to appoint Mussolini as prime minister following the fascist demonstration of power in the famous “march against Rome”, when some 30,000 paramilitary so-called black shirts participated. The black shirts tortured and silenced Mussolini’s critics, and in 1924 the socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti was murdered. The following year, Mussolini introduced dictatorship. The fascist state was a fact, and Mussolini reigned supreme, even though the monarchy was maintained.
Mussolini recognized the importance of trying to end the old disputes with the Catholic Church that have been going on since 1870. By treaty with the Vatican in 1929, the lateran treaties, the relationship between the Italian state and the church was regulated. Through the treaties, the Pope acknowledged the Italian state and gave up all claims for possessions in the country. In return, the Vatican City of Rome was created as the seat of the Catholic Church’s universal center, the Holy See, which at the same time gained ownership of a number of Italian churches and palaces.
Alliance with Hitler
In the foreign policy area, Mussolini continued the expansion policy. With moral support from Hitler-Germany and despite sanctions from the League of Nations, he conquered Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia) in 1936. That same year came the Italy-Germany alliance, the so-called Rome-Berlin axis, which allowed Hitler to annex with Mussolini’s fond memory Austria 1938. In the spring of 1939, Mussolini occupied Albania. When World War II broke out, Italy first took a wait-and-see stance but entered the war on Germany’s side in June 1940, immediately before the French collapse. In the fall of that year, Italy launched a failed attempt to conquer Greece on its own.
The invasion of North Africa by the Allied States (Great Britain, Russia, France, USA) in the fall of 1942 and the failed desert war of the Axis powers led to Italy being attacked from the south by the Allied forces. After the Allies ‘land rise in Sicily, in July 1943, Mussolini was overthrown by the fascists’ own decision-making body.
Marshal Pietro Badoglio was named prime minister and Italy surrendered. Mussolini was arrested on the Gran Sasso rock mass east of Rome but managed to escape and established with the support of the German Saló republic in northern Italy. In 1945, Mussolini was assassinated by Italian opponents while trying to flee the country.
After the fall of fascism and towards the end of 1946, the political contradictions between the Italians were great. The communist partisans launched the “red terror” to wipe out genuine or suspected fascists. At least 20,000 people were killed, often by brutal methods, and many ended up in mass graves. Among the victims were representatives of all professions and social groups who viewed the extreme left with disbelief. Neither women nor children were spared.