Italy was a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957. Its capital is Rome. Italy has a population of 60 million, including 4.5 million foreign nationals, living on an area of 301,277 square kilometres.
The country’s official language is Italian. Four minority languages are spoken in the north of the country: German and Ladinish in South Tyrol, French in the Aosta Valley and Slovenian in Friuli. The national territory encompasses the microstate San Marino and the Vatican City. Italy is a member of Nato. As it is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement, there are no border controls.
Italy is a parliamentary democracy headed by a president who is elected every seven years by the Parliament and regional representatives. The current incumbent, Giorgio Napolitano, was re-elected in April 2013. The Parliament is composed of a Senate with 320 senators and a Chamber of Deputies with 630 members. General elections are held for both chambers. Before a bill becomes law it must be approved by both chambers.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his cabinet have been in government since 22 February 2014. His government, like that of Prime Minister Enrico Letta, is led by the social democratic Democratic Party (PD), the liberal centrist Civic Choice (SC) and the New Centre-Right (NCD). Renzi’s cabinet is the second government to hold office in the country’s 17th legislative period, which began in March 2013.
Administrative structure: Italy is divided into 20 regions, 103 provinces and 8,102 municipalities.
In 2013 Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP) totalled some 1,560 billion euros; per capita GDP was 25,554 euros. The country’s economic output has declined in recent years. Its most important sectors include mechanical engineering, automobile construction, textiles and tourism. Italy is the world’s second-largest wine producer. In 2013 Italy achieved a trade surplus of approx. 30.4 billion euros.
Italy has been a member of the G7 since the first summit was held in 1975. It has hosted five summit meetings so far: in Venice in 1980 and 1987, in Naples in 1994, in Genoa in 2001 and in L’Aquila in 2009.