Italy is a wonderful place to study
Italy, the capital city of which is Rome, is a parliamentary republic located in southern Europe.
Bordered on the north by the Alpine mountain chain, the country has three geographical areas with specific features: continental, peninsular and insular Italy.
The continental part borders on France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia; the rest of the territory, surrounded by the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Ionian and Adriatic seas, extends into the Mediterranean sea, occupying the Italian peninsula and many islands, with a total area of 301 340 km².
The average altitude is about 337 metres above sea level and hills prevail over mountains (Alps and Apennines) and plains. The highest peaks are in the Western Alps, where several are over 4000 metres: Cervino (4,478 metres), Monte Rosa (4,634 metres) and Mont Blanc (4,810 metres), Europe’s highest mountain. The Apennines run down the whole peninsula, from Liguria to Sicily, and the Gran Sasso (2,912 metres) is the highest peak. Only one quarter of Italy consists of plains: the Po Valley, in the North, is the largest; then come the Tavoliere in Puglia and the Salento Plain. The biggest islands are Sicily and Sardinia; there are many minor islands, generally grouped in archipelagos: the Tuscan archipelago, including the island of Elba, the Maddalena archipelago, the Campanian archipelago which includes Ischia and Capri, the Pontian, Pelagian, Aeolian, Aegadian and Tremiti islands. Italy’s coasts feature both low and uniform seashores, especially on the Adriatic side, and tall and jagged cliffs, which form numerous bays and gulfs. With its 7500 kilometres of coast, Italy is the ideal country for those who love the sea. The extreme variety of its coastline, in fact, makes it perfect for every kind of holiday or trip seeking nature, fun or relaxation.
Italy, between the 47th and 35th parallel North, lies almost at the centre of the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere. Temperatures vary considerably from north to south, more so in winter than in summer: apart from the mountain areas, average summer temperatures are 24°C in the north and 26°C in the south; whereas in winter, average temperatures are 1°C or 2°C in the north and 12°C in the south. Concerning winds, Italy is an area affected by western winds, especially from the west and south-west, which bring rain. The climate is heavily influenced by the seas surrounding Italy, which afford a beneficial reservoir of heat and humidity, giving rise to the so-called Mediterranean climate.
With over 60 million inhabitants, in terms of population, Italy is the fourth largest country of the European Union and has a demographic density of 201.1 inhabitants per square kilometre. The population, mainly concentrated along the coasts and in the plains, features a high number of elderly people, a low birth rate and a life expectancy of 79.1 years for men and 84.3 for women (one of the first countries in the world in terms of life expectancy).
The state is secular and there is no official religion.
The majority of Italian citizens are Christian Catholic, but there are also minorities of Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Due to recent migration, there are growing communities of Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.
Italy, a member of G7 and G2, is a founding member of the European Union, of NATO, of the Council of Europe and of OECD; it is a member of the UN and of the Schengen Treaty. Italy boasts the highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites and is the fifth most visited country in the world.
Italy has a high living standard and a vast social security net, though burdened by high taxes and heavy public debt. There is also some disparity between living costs and standards in the prosperous regions of northern and central Italy, and the south which has lower levels of development.
It is however not easy to calculate the average cost of living since this depends on circumstances and lifestyles.
Italy is without doubt a synonym of art and history. Artistic beauty lies everywhere and every corner of the country reserves wonderful surprises. Ours is one of the greatest artistic and cultural heritages of the world. Besides representing art and music in every form (Italy, among other things, is the cradle of the opera tradition), Italy offers a rich calendar of cultural and folklore events, some of which have been handed down through the centuries and are famous around the world.
Our country, the first in Europe in terms of certified food and agriculture products, also boasts one of the most appreciated cooking traditions in the world, closely tied to the Mediterranean diet.
Italy is easily reached by plane, and the high speed rail network makes it easy to move all around the peninsula, reaching Italian towns comfortably and in a very short time.