Italy Geography and Population

By | January 8, 2023

Italy – geography

Italy’s more than 300,000 km2 consists of a northern mainland part with the Alps and the Posletten, which make up approximately 33% of the area, the Italian peninsula with the Apennines, which makes up approximately 50%, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and several smaller archipelagos that make up the rest. 35% of the country consists of mountains and only 23% is lowland.

Natural conditions

Italy is located in a tectonic turbulent area, where the folds of the Alps and the Apennines still cause earthquakes and in the southern part eruptions from the active volcanoes Vesuvius, Mount Etna and Stromboli. Landslides with many destructions occur frequently. The country shares a number of the highest alpine peaks with neighboring countries: Monte Viso (3841 m) and Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc, 4807 m) with France, Monte Cervino (Matterhorn, 4478 m), Monte Rosa (4634 m) and Monte Bernina (4049 m) with Switzerland and in the lower Eastern Alps the northernmost point of the country, Vetta d’Italia (2911 m), with Austria.

The large mountain ranges delimit the country’s few river plains, of which the Posletten with Po (652 km) is the largest. The second largest is the alpine slope towards the Adriatic Sea with the rivers Adige (410 km), Brenta, Piave, Isonzo, etc. Only the alpine rivers have stable water flow all year round and are used for river and canal transport and energy supply. The other catchment areas have relatively short drains from the Apennines with the Tiber (405 km) and Arno (241 km) as the longest rivers. The great rivers fill in their lower course successively with deposits; eg lies Poslower run ten meters above the surrounding terrain at the far end of the delta. The height difference increases when the terrain settles as a result of pumping water or natural gas. In connection with intensive gravel excavation in and straightening of the river beds, this gives the runoff speed and entails a constant risk of flooding in situations of thawing and high tides, as happened in 1966 at the Arno in Florence and also in Venice. The water level at high tide in Venice’s lagoon has risen approximately half a meter through the 1900-t.


The Alps are the only region where the alpine climate occurs. The Po, Veneto and Romagnas plains and most of the Apennines have temperate climates just like the other coastal and hilly areas. The coasts of southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia have subtropical climates. In the Apennines, precipitation falls predominantly as winter rain, and the streams dry out during the summer.

Raw materials

In the geologically young mountains, only a few mineral deposits are exploited, e.g. lead-zinc in Sardinia and the Alps. Potassium is exploited in Sicily. Important are marble quarrying at Carrara and the extraction of oil and natural gas on the Posletten and along the Adriatic coast; however, these energy sources cover only a small part of the country’s consumption. In addition, sea salt is evaporated in Sicily. Many small iron, manganese, mercury, antimony, arsenic, copper and gold mines were closed in the 1970’s, along with the previously significant sulfur mines in Sicily.

Nature parks

Several massifs, in the northwest Gran Paradiso, in the center Stelvio and in the east The Bellunian Dolomites, are difficult to access and laid out as national parks to protect plant and animal life, which includes alpine ibex, chamois, marmots, eagles and a vulnerable mountain flora. National parks have also been established in the Apennines, e.g. in the Abruzzo, to preserve populations of chamois, bear, wolf, wild boar as well as owls and birds of prey.


The original vegetation in the lowlands, especially in the southern part of the country, has been evergreen forest of kermeseg, aleppofyr and pine. These areas are now cultivated or by grazing transformed into scrub (see maki and garrigue). Locally, cork oak and dwarf palm are found, and introduced species of eg eucalyptus, agave and fig cactus characterize the vegetation in many places.

On the lower mountain slopes, deciduous forest grows, me and chestnut. Central European forest types such as beech forest follow the mountains all the way to southern Italy. Above the tree line is a rich alpine flora of perennial herbs and dwarf shrubs. Italy has at least 6000 species of vascular plants, the highest number in any European country; the share of endemic species in the flora increases from north to south.


The ancient culture of mountain farmers with summer farming (transhumance) has almost disappeared from both the Alps and the Apennines. The previously balanced self-sufficiency agriculture with dairy cows, poultry and sheep as well as fodder crops, vegetables and fruit has been replaced by modern forestry and tourism, which like the new industries can in some places retain a certain population. Otherwise, the mountain areas are depopulated, but settlement in the valleys has in turn through the 1980’s and 1990’s attracted specialized agriculture and industry both in the Alps and in the northern and central Apennines. Agriculture in these valleys is mainly concentrated on fruit and viticulture and in the Apennines also on olives as well as annual market crops, such as sunflower, soybean, maize and tobacco.

Three quarters of the plains and thus of the best agricultural land are located in northern Italy, in the northern and southern parts of the Apennines and in the hill country Antiappennines in Tuscany. Here the calcareous and clayey brown soil and climate are better suited for agriculture than in the rest of Italy, where tree felling and intensive utilization since ancient times have depleted the soil and resulted in increased erosion; Fertile soil is washed out by streams into the vast swamps of the lowlands and along the coasts.

As protection against malaria, landslides and assaults, the settlements in central Italy are traditionally gathered on the ridges as fortified city republics and country villas as well as small, scattered farms, so-called mezzadria. In the southernmost part of Italy there are large villages inhabited by farm workers from the characteristic grain farms, the Latifundians. Following the subdivision of numerous latifunds after World War II and the reorganization of the mezzadria farms, which were finally abolished in 1992, there has been a large exodus from the agricultural areas. The remaining uses are increasingly specialized and aggregated, but frequently with the plots lying scattered, so that rational co-operation is impossible.

The lowlands and coastal plains are by land reclamation works, drainage and irrigation in the 1900’s. have become the country’s most productive agricultural areas, predominantly cultivated by medium-sized, highly specialized farms. The Po, Veneto and Romagnas plains and the southern plains of Puglia (Apulia), Sicily and Sardinia have been regulated and plowed since Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquity. These areas are the traditional producers of cereals, sugar beets and feed in addition to cattle, pigs, vegetables and sunflower seeds as well as at the sources of the upper Poslette also rice. Citrus fruits are grown almost exclusively in southern Italy.

Urban development, infrastructure and the environment

The plains of intensive agriculture are also the country’s most industrialized, economically most developed and densely populated areas, and also the most polluted. This is especially true of the “Industrial Triangle”, the area between Milan, Turin and Genoa.

Urbanization in Italy dates back to antiquity, but was developed in the Middle Ages to serve the most productive agricultural areas, ie. The Posletten and the central Italian hill country as well as the Naples area and Puglia. Urban culture and the associated clothing production soon became one of the country’s characteristics. Energy, environmental and economic crises since the 1970’s have led to the spread of settlement and business to medium-sized cities. Since the 1990’s, cities in northeastern and central Italy in particular have grown. The foothills of the mountains and the steep coasts of central and northern Italy are also being transformed into a densely meshed urbanized network, connected by motorways (motorways). With approximately 6500 km, Italy has one of Europe’s largest motorway systems. Urban sprawl since 1960 has led to a rapidly increasing energy consumption in connection with the 3/4 of all pendelrejser going by car. The transport sector contributes 2/3 of air pollution in the country. In 1994, Italy launched an expansion of the railway network, including for high-speed trains with speeds up to 300 km/ h. These lines will increase the railways’ share of passenger transport by connecting the big cities and reducing the travel time from, for example, Milan to Naples from seven to four hours.

Since an industrial dioxin poisoning of the Milan suburb of Seveso in 1976 and other toxic accidents, the legislation has been tightened. A newly established Ministry of the Environment stopped the country’s nuclear power plants after the 1986 accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine; since 1990, nuclear power has been completely phased out.

The rivers Po, Adige, Arno and the Tiber transport more than 100,000 tonnes of nitrogen and 15,000 tonnes of phosphorus into the oceans each year. Lake Garda is the only larger lake with clean water. Healthy bathing water on a quarter of the coasts contributed to a decline in tourism in the 1990’s. Increasing environmental awareness and efforts characterize the country’s environmental policy, which aims to meet EU standards.

Italy – geography (population)

The population is ethnically very homogeneous. In the north there are small groups of German, French and Slovenian speakers, in the south of Albanian and Greek speakers.

Italy has had negative natural population growth since 1994, ie. greater mortality than frequency of births. Each Italian woman gives birth to only approximately 1.3 children; however, the number is rising slightly. As a result of this relationship and an increased life expectancy, the proportion of older people (over 59 years) is 25%; a world record that Italy shares with Japan. Due to immigration, the population is still increasing, but a forecast predicts a drop to 52 million. residents until 2050.

  • Countryaah: Do you know how many people there are in Italy? Check this site to see population pyramid and resident density about this country.


Italy is a destination for labor immigration and has approximately 2 1/2 million. registered immigrants in addition to an estimated several hundred thousand illegal immigrants. The largest groups are Albanians, Moroccans and Romanians. During the wars and crises in the Balkans since 1990, many refugees have come across the Adriatic to Italy, and perhaps even more have come from the south. Attitudes towards them have traditionally been more tolerant than in many other European countries, but many have been sent home. The illegal immigrants function as low-paid labor in agriculture, services and small-scale industry, but many travel on to more northern end destinations. In 2002, the EU took the initiative to draw up common rules for the area, which at EU level may include 2-3 million. people.

Emigration from Italy, especially southern Italy, gained momentum in the late 1800’s. due to population growth and poor employment and living conditions. The emigration culminated just after the turn of the century, when more than 600,000 emigrated each year, approximately half to European countries. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, there was a renewed emigration, mainly to European countries and predominantly from southern Italy. In the 1900’s. Until the mid-1970’s, Italy also experienced major internal migrations, migrations, from the unemployment-plagued South to the prosperous Northern Italy. But as economic prosperity waned in the late 1970’s, some southern Italians returned, both from northern Italy and from the rest of Europe.

Italy – geography (industrial development of the regions)

Administratively, Italy is divided into 20 regions, each characterized by the forms of production that have developed over time. Three factors in particular are closely linked. The first is the country’s long history, its culture and traditions, which are reflected in an informal, family-based economy and many small businesses. The second is the way in which the unification of the country into a nation-state was carried out. This is the basis of the so-called Italian dualism, ie. the historical conflict between the country north and south of the Lazio region with the exception of Rome. The third factor is the shift of Europe’s economic center to the north and west, which has given modern industrial societies a “western” slant that differs from that which is characteristic of southern European countries.

name regional capital population in mio. (2014) area (km2)
Abruzzo L’Aquila 1.33 10,795
Aosta Valley Aosta 0.13 3263
Basilicata Potency 0.6 9992
Calabria Catanzaro 1.9 15,080
Campania Naples 5.8 13,595
Emilia-Romagna Bologna 4.4 22.122
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Trieste 1.2 7844
Lazio Rome 5.8 17,207
Liguria Genoa 1.6 5421
Lombardy Milan 10.0 23,861 th most common
March Ancona 1.5 9694
Molise Campobasso 0.3 4438
Piedmont Turin 4.4 25,399
Puglia Bari 4.1 19,363
Sardinia Cagliari 1.6 24,090
Sicily Palermo 5.1 25,707
Tuscany Florence 3.7 22,993
Trentino-Alto Adige Bolzano 1.0 13,607
Umbria Perugia 0.9 8456
Veneto Venice 4.9 18,338

The northeastern regions, ie. Lombardy north of Milan, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia have enjoyed lively economic growth thanks to the good export opportunities to Central and Western Europe. The business community is characterized by small manufacturing companies that source cheap labor from the Balkans and Eastern Europe and are often subcontractors to large European companies. The rest of Lombardy, i.e. Piedmont and Liguria, on the other hand, are suffering from a downturn in the industry as a result of large companies investing in increased flexibility and automation.

The regions in the center-north, ie. Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria, have adapted to the new phase of industrialization and have revived the tradition of industrial districts, where the many small and medium-sized enterprises are supported in their marketing, both domestically and for export, by efficient administration and good infrastructure. Many educational institutions have also been given new life.

A third area of ‚Äč‚Äčindustrialization is the Adriatic coast, which stretches from Emilia-Romagna through the Marche and the Abruzzo to Puglia, and is located between industrialized northern Italy and backward southern Italy. These regions have caught up with industrialization by imitating developments in the north and by largely resorting to a family-based, informal economy that is competitive due to lower costs.

The further south you go in Italy, the more the labor market changes to undeclared work and outright criminal economy. The Lazio region is also part of this development, although it is to some extent influenced by its function as the hinterland of the capital Rome. Parts of Molise and Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sardinia are economically marginalized after the failed attempts of the 1970’s to establish industrial poles, and after the abandonment of the development policy of southern Italy, la Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The general expansion of the public sector together with the EU’s regional policy schemes have, however, helped the economy in these areas.

Sicily is in a special situation. Although the island, like the other regions in the south, is marginalized, it is more aware of its affiliation with the Mediterranean and opposes the EU’s dream of “Western” industrialization. Sicily is increasingly linking its survival, also in economic terms, to the need for development and welfare among the peoples of the entire Mediterranean.

The large differences between the regions are clearly reflected in their contribution to the country’s GDP. Production per per capita in central and northern Italy is about twice as large as in the south. The unemployment rate has fallen in recent years from approximately 12% in 1998 to approximately 9% at the beginning of 2002. However, the development covers large regional differences. In 2002, less than 4% of the labor force was thus unemployed in prosperous northern Italy, while unemployment was just under 19% in poorer southern Italy.

Italy – language

In Italy, in addition to Italian, approximately 15 other languages, spread over approximately 5% of the population. The largest minority is Sardinian, spoken by 1.5 million, predominantly in Sardinia. In Alto Adige (South Tyrol), 62% of the population has German as their main language. In the Valle d’Aosta, Franco-Provencal is spoken. In addition, there are Rhaeto-Romance, Albanian, Slovenian, Croatian, Greek and Catalan minorities. The Italian Constitution provides for the protection of linguistic minorities; however, it is practiced differently. For culture and traditions of Italy, please check aparentingblog.

Italy – religion

With the Lateran Treaty of 1929, Pope Pius 11 recognized the state of Italy, which in turn recognized a Vatican City with as much territory as was necessary to ensure the sovereignty of the papacy under international law. Mussolini’s government made Catholicism the state religion and gave the Catholic Church decisive influence on e.g. school, family and morality legislation. The Lateran Agreements were incorporated into the Italian Constitution in 1947, and in the 1950’s and 1960’s the church had a major influence on Italian politics and community life.

The modernization of Italian society, which began around 1968, led to a number of laws that were contrary to the teachings of the church, including by easing the rules for information on contraception (1971) and by opening up the possibility of divorce (1970) and abortion (1978). In referendums in 1974 and 1981, respectively. 59.1% and 67.8% of voters to uphold the divorce and abortion laws.

88.6% consider themselves Catholics
53.5% believe in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church
30.5% believe in Jesus Christ, but only in part in the teachings of the Church
2.2% are believers but not Catholics
6.4% believe in God or a higher being but do not belong to a particular religion
2.8% do not believe in God or a higher being
2.7% is searching
1.8% have never considered it, do not care, do not know
97.7% will have their children baptized
92.0% prefer to get married in the church rather than at the town hall
31.1% goes to church at least once a week
11.7% goes to church two to three times a month
6.8% goes to church approximately monthly
51.4% goes less often or never to church
Source: Vincenzo Cesareo, Roberto Cipriani, Franco Garelli, Clemente Lanzetti & Giancarlo Rovatti: La religiosità in Italia (1995).

In 1984, a change of concordat separated state and church. Religious education is still given in public schools, but is no longer compulsory. Students should now not be exempted, but enrolled by their parents, in the case of high school students, by themselves. 80% sign up, while the church aisle is much lower. Religious education is provided by teachers trained by one of the church’s higher education institutions, appointed by the ecclesiastical authorities and paid by the state. Since 1984, church weddings have only had civil law effect if the ritual includes the forms required by the state. In 1990, state support for smaller parishes to ensure a minimum wage for the clergy lapsed. Gifts to the church are deductible, and taxpayers can also choose whether 0.8% of their personal tax should go to the Catholic Church,

There is a great difference in how the religiosity of the Italians is expressed in different parts of the country and in different population groups, but Catholicism, together with the language, is among the most important elements of the national community. The Church, the Catholic religion and the Catholic culture are present throughout Italy. The church is universal, but the pope is, no matter where in the world he comes from, the bishop of Rome and the primate of Italy. After the 2nd Vatican Council, the leadership is in the Vaticanhas become increasingly internationalized, while the leadership of the Italian Church has been placed in the hands of a newly established episcopal conference. The church is the institution that most Italians (17.1%) trust, and almost every third Italian leaves home at least once a week to listen to one of its representatives, who is present in a number of 1 per. 1000 residents, if you only count the priests, and 1 per. 280, if one includes monks, nuns and deacons.

Italy Geography