Italy is a republic in South-Central Europe which is a member of the European Union. To the north, it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula. Sicily and Sardinia are the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea that are part of Italy as well as many other smaller islands.
The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave situated in Switzerland. It is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world. Located in Southern Europe it is comprised of the boot-shaped Italian Peninsula. Although the country resides in the Italian peninsula and most of the southern Alpine basin, some of country extends beyond the Alpine basin and some islands are located outside the Eurasian continental shelf.
These territories are the comuni of: Livigno, Sexten, Innichen, Toblach, Chiusaforte, Tarvisio, Graun im Vinschgau, which are all part of the Danube's drainage basin, while the Val di Lei constitutes part of the Rhine river basin and the islands of Lampedusa and Lampione are on the African continental shelf. The climate of Italy is highly diverse and can be quite different from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate.
The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype These conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the higher ground and valleys of the interior, especially during the winter months when the higher elevations tend to be cold, wet, and oftentimes with snow. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can certainly be rather hot in the summer.
Malpensa International Airport in Milan and Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Rome are the largest airports in Italy in addition to approximately 30 other main airports and 43 major seaports, including the seaport of Genoa, the country's largest and the second largest port in the Mediterranean Sea.
The national railway network, state-owned and operated by Ferrovie dello Stato, in 2003 totalled 16,287 kilometers or 10,120 miles of which about 70 percent is electrified on which 4,937 locomotives and railcars circulated. The national inland waterways network comprised 1,477 kilometers or 918 miles of navigable rivers and channels in 2003. The country was the 7th largest exporter in the world back in 2009. Automobiles such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati are Italian made and are prime examples of the superior design capabilities of Italian designers and engineers.
Italy's closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts about 60 percent of its total trade. Its largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany, France and Spain. Finally, tourism is one of the fastest growing and profitable sectors of the Italian economy with 43.5 million international tourist arrivals and total tourism revenue estimated at $38.9 billion in 2010. Italy is both the fifth most visited country and highest tourism earner in the world. Milan hosts the reknowned Fashion Week every year that attracts the top players in the world of fashion to the city...