Italy, a kingdom occupying the central of the three great peninsulas of southern Europe together with Sicily, Sardinia, and some smaller islands. The peninsula, which at the Strait of Otranto approaches within less than 50 miles of Albania, is bounded W. and S. by that portion of the Mediterranean known as the Tyrrhenian Sea, E. by the Adriatic, and N. by the Alps, separating it from France, Switzerland, and Austro-Hungary. Its greatest length is 710 miles ; the breadth ranges from 351 miles in the north to about 20 between the Gulfs of Sta Eufemia and Squillace, but in most places is about 90 or 100 miles. The seaboard of the peninsula extends to 2272 miles. The area formerly given at 114,416, has been officially reduced to 110,657 sq. m. Pop. (1871) was 26,S01,154; (1904) 33,218,328. The area of Italy is nearly equal to that of Great Britain and Ireland ; the population about four-fifths that of the United Kingdom. To the kingdom proper must be added Italy's colonial possession in Africa. This consists of the territories of Assab and Massowah (q.v.) on the Red Sea, Keren and Asmara in Abyssinia, and the Dahlak archipelago, which embrace a total area of nearly 4000 sq. m., and were united into a colony bearing the name of Eritrea (from the old name of the Red Sea, Mare Erythrœum) in 1889. In 1889 King Menelek acknowledged the protectorate of Italy over Abyssinia. The table shows the area and population of the 16 great divisions called Compartimenti (the administrative provinces are 69 in number and named after the chief towns) at the census of 1901.
The Marches .........................................
Rome (and Latium) ...............................
Abruzzi and Molise ..............................
The number of foreigners in Italy at the census of 1901 was 61,606, including 11,616 Austrians, 10,757 Swiss, 10,745 Germans, 8768 British, and 6953 French. The Italian pop. includes in Piedmont about 120,000 of French and some 3000 of Teutonic origin, in southern Italy at least 60,000 of Albanian and 20,000 of Greek origin, and in Sardinia 7000 or 8000 of Spanish origin. Within the five years 1898-1902 over 2,000,000 left Italy, of whom nearly 1,000,000 went to other European countries, and almost all the rest to America (chiefly the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada). The largest town is Naples (563,540 in 1901), Rome (the capital) having 462.7S3 ; Milan, 491,460; Turin, 335,656; Palermo, 309,692; Genoa, 234,710 ; Florence, 205,589 ; four about 150,000 ; and other 23 towns over 50,000.
On the northern frontier of Italy the Alps sweep round in a mighty arc from Nice to Trieste; and some of the loftiest peaks in the system, including Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa, belong to this mountain-girdle. The highest mountain entirely within the kingdom is Gran Paradiso (13,652 feet), the culminating point of the Graian Alps, in Piedmont. Between the Alps and the Apennines spreads the broad fertile Lombardo-Venetian plain, a nearly level country. Most of this great alluvial tract, which fills nearly the whole of northern Italy, belongs to the basin of the Po ; it is irrigated by numerous streams and canals, and is one of the most fruitful and flourishing districts of Italy. The Adige and Brenta are other streams. Many of the Po's tributaries spread out at the foot of the Alps into considerable bodies of water, among which are the Lago di Garda(127 sq. m.), Lago Maggiore (81), and Como (58). From Rimini to the Gulf of Trieste the Adriatic coast is flat and marshy, and fringed by lagoons. On the Riviera, from Nice to Spezia, the sunny, rugged mountains come close to the water's edge. The geology of the north and west of northern Italy is that of the Alps (q.v.).
In the peninsula the Apennines are the most important feature. The chain, after stretching across from the Gulf of Genoa to the Adriatic, turns and runs down in a broad, irregular mass to the extremity of Calabria. The mean elevation is only some 5200 feet. The limestone rocks of the Apennines, rugged and cleft, fill the interior of the country with picturesque mountain-scenery. The culminating peak of the Apennines is Monte Como (9577 feet), in the great mountain-mass called Gran Sasso d'ltalia. On the west side of the peninsula, between the main chain and the sea, a volcanic tract extends from Tuscany as far south as Vesuvius (4206), the only volcano still active. The entire Campanian plain, the Roman Campagna, and the country round Viterbo are mainly of volcanic origin. To the volcanic centres within the peninsula may be added Etna in Sicily, and Stromboli in the Lipari Islands. Tuscany is a hilly country, which seldom rises into mountains. Farther south the Roman plain, the Pontine Marshes, and the fertile Campanian plain are connected; on the east side of the Apennines the only plain is that of Apulia. The chief rivers of the peninsula flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea; but only the Tiber (for 90 miles) and, to a less extent, the Arno (66 miles), Volturno, and Garigliano are navigable.
The generally warm climate of Italy is considerably modified in places by the presence of the mountain-ranges or the proximity of the sea. The plain of the Po, open to the icy winds from the Alps, and closed to those from the south, has a cold if short winter, while along the Riviera the temperature is as high as, and sometimes higher than, that of Rome or Naples. Throughout the peninsula the temperature is lowered by the presence of the Apennines. Moreover, the Adriatic coast, exposed to the north-east winds, is colder than the corresponding west coast. The highest temperature recorded is 109° F. (in Apulia), the lowest -25° F. (on Monte Stelvio, in Lombardy). In the very south there are but two seasons, a wet and a dry; whereas in northern Italy there are two greater and two lesser rainy periods in the year, most rain falling in October and in spring, and least in winter. Over all the peninsula autumn is the wet season. The cold mistral blows in the Gulf of Genoa, and the warm sirocco affects the coast sometimes as far north as Venice. In many districts the evil presence of malaria, from July to October especially, forms a serious drawback to the sunny climate.
The vegetation of northern Italy is in the main such as can endure the frosts of winter. But by the lake-sides we find orange and olive trees, and the summer heat is sufficient to ripen rice and maize, of which, as well as other cereals and legumes, large crops are raised. Forests of chestnuts clothe the mountains, vineyards the lower hills, and the mulberry-tree is extensively grown. The Riviera, so far as vegetation is concerned, belongs to southern Italy. In southern Italy the flora of central Europe gives place to palms and orange and lemon and citron trees, the cactus and agave, laurels, myrtles, oleanders, and forests of arbutus and the evergreen oak. Italy is pre-eminently an agricultural country. Of its entire area 87 per cent. is returned as productive ; and nearly half of the productive area is under cultivation. The grape harvest in Italy is second in value to the cereals alone, though most of the Italian wines are still comparatively poor. Below the 44th parallel the olive is among the most valuable products. Large quantities of fruit are exported. The chestnut yields an important article of food. Cultivation is still carried on in a very primitive fashion in some parts, but in northern Italy, Tuscany, and round Naples, indeed, the farming is of a very high character. The system of peasant proprietorship is extending. Otherwise, land may be held by the metayer system, or by rent, paid either in money or in kind; or the cultivator may be simply the paid servant of the landlord, receiving a share of the produce for his labour. In any case, the life of the Italian peasant is, as a rule, one of unremitting drudgery and poverty, often of privation. There are fisheries round the coast and in the lagoons. The tunny is the most valuable fish, and after that the anchovy and sardine; but the eel-fisheries of Comacchio are also of importance.
Italy contains no deposits of bituminous coal, nor, except in a few localities, of iron. A very little anthracite and about 300,000 tons of lignite are raised annually, most of the latter in Tuscany and Umbria. Nearly all the iron is raised in Elba. The great mineral product of Italy is sulphur. Marble, granite, and alabaster are quarried to the amount of nearly a million sterling annually. The silk industry employs, especially in northern Italy, some 172,000 persons, besides over 550,000 engaged in rearing the silkworm. The manufacture of thread and of cotton tissues shows a steady advance, as does also the spinning and weaving of wool. The north is the seat of the iron industry; the principal copper-works are at Leghorn. The manufactures of glass and ceramic wares are valued at £2,500,000. With these may be classed the cutting of cameos and the production of mosaics at Rome, Naples, and Florence, and also the working of coral. The manufacture of tobacco is a government monopoly. There are numerous paper-mills in Piedmont, Lombardy, and Campania, and factories of straw-hats, the principal at Florence, and of cloth, silk, and felt hats in Piedmont especially. Sulphuric and tartaric acid, sulphate of quinine, salt, soap, oils, candles, wax matches, gloves, etc. are also exported.
The foreign trade of Italy is facilitated both by the extensive seaboard and good harbours and by railway connections with the countries beyond the Alps. The imports and exports have been steadily increasing since 1S00. In the five years from 1898 to 1902 the special imports (imports for home consumption) increased from £56,671,165 to £72,420,730. The special exports (exports of national merchandise) during the same years increased from £48,927,276 to £59,296,104. The commercial intercourse of Italy is, in the order of value, principally with Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. The war of tariffs with France came to an end with the 19th century. The principal imports from Britain are coal, iron, cottons and woollens, machinery, chemicals, and fish; the chief exports thither are olive-oil, oranges and lemons, with their essences and syrups, hemp, hides, chemicals, dye-stuffs, and marble. More than half the steamers entering Italian ports are British, and these carry nearly four-fifths of the maritime trade. The most important seaports are Genoa and Savona, Leghorn, Naples, Venice, Messina, Catania, and Palermo. There are between 9000 and 10,000 miles of railway in operation. The principal occupation, agriculture, employs nearly a third of the entire population, and the manufactures only about half as many. Nevertheless, the proportion of inhabitants congregated in cities is unusually large, and in southern Italy and the islands even the peasants prefer to have their homes in some town or village. The death-rate from malaria steadily diminishes, as does that from pellagra, a disease resulting from insufficient and unwholesome food. The character of the people is in general sober and thrifty, and they prove excellent workmen where sheer labour is required, as in quarries and drainage operations.
The Roman Catholic is the recognised state religion, and claims all but a very small fraction of the people. Of Protestants there are about 66,000, and of Jews 36,000; the former include some 22,500 Waldensians. There are in Italy 49 Catholic archbishops and 226 bishops, and over 76,500 parish priests. The rank and dignity of the pope, as a sovereign prince, is recognised by the law of 1871. The great majority of the religious houses have been suppressed. In 1861, of those over nineteen years of age, 65 per cent. of the males and 81 per cent. of the females were unable to read or write; in 1901 the percentage had fallen to 43.8 for the males and 60.3 for the females. Primary education is now compulsory, and schools of all kinds have increased largely of late; since 1861 the pupils in elementary schools have increased from 885,000 to 2,750,000. There are in Italy 21 universities, with 23,000 students. The oldest university is that of Bologna (q.v.), the largest that of Naples (5500 students). The great body of Italian students are enrolled in the faculties of medicine and jurisprudence ; theology is not taught in any of the universities.
Italy is a constitutional monarchy, the executive power vested in the king being exercised through responsible ministers. The legislative functions are in the hands of the king and parliament conjointly, the latter consisting of a senate of about 330 life-members, nominated by the king, and of a chamber of over 500 deputies. The franchise is extended to all citizens who are of age, can read and write, and pay 20 lire of direct taxes. The government of the provinces, with a prefect at the head of each, is very much the same as in France. Military (or naval) service is compulsory for all citizens from the age of twenty to thirty-nine, but only about 95,000 annually are drafted into the standing army (3000 into the navy). The standing army in 1905 numbered 264,500 men, besides 500,000 on unlimited leave; the total war strength, including mobile and territorial militia, is a little above 3 million men. Italy is disproportionately strong at sea, having 15 armoured battle-ships, 20 armoured and protected cruisers, and about 60 torpedo-boats (various), with a total force of 1799 officers and 25,000 men. Some of the armour-clads are amongst the largest of existing war-ships. The finances are not on a satisfactory footing; the enormous military and naval expenditure is out of all proportion to the resources of the country, and the constant deficits and schemes for expanding the revenue have led to frequent crises and changes of ministry. The extension and maintenance by government of railways far beyond commercial needs have saddled the country with a very serious burden. The estimated revenue of 1904-5 was £74,190,481, and the estimated expenditure for the same year restricted to £73,437,117. The total public debt is about £505,000,000.
The history of Italy is generally begun where that of Rome (q.v.) ends - with the total fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 a.d. under the attacks of the invading Herulian barbarians. In 489 Theodoric and his Ostrogoths founded a Gothic monarchy in Italy, which was subverted by the generals of the Eastern or Byzantine empire in 553. In 568 came the Lombards, who soon held the greater part of the peninsula, and were only crushed by the Franks, whose king, Charlemagne, was crowned emperor of the Romans by the pope in 800. In 962 Italy became a part of the Holy Roman Empire as reconstituted under the German Otto; and henceforward Italy was the scene of constant struggles between German rivals for the imperial power, between the emperors and the popes, the Ghibellines and the Guelphs, the various cities against the emperor, the pope, or one another. With the fall of the Hohenstaufens in 1254 the emperors ceased from troubling, and the popes became the chief power in Italy, their faction being also dominant in the most powerful of the cities, many of which had now fallen under the power of hereditary tyrants. In the 14th and 15th centuries Italy was parcelled out amongst five powers - the kingdom of Naples (first under Angevin, then under Spanish kings), the duchy of Milan, the republics of Florence and Venice, and the papacy. From the time of Charles V. Spanish -Austrian influence became dominant, Charles being able to leave both Naples and Milan to his son, Philip II. In the war of the Spanish succession the little state of Savoy so skilfully used its power (against the French) as to secure the island of Sardinia and the rank of kingdom. After the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), the House of Savoy held Sardinia and Piedmont; the Austrians, Milan and Tuscany; the Bourbons, Naples, Sicily (the kingdom of 'the two Sicilies'), and Parma ; the papal power held the centre of the peninsula; Venice survived as a republic till 1797 ; and Modena and Genoa were under the protection of France, to which power the Genoese now gave Corsica. Despotism was everywhere universal. After the French Revolution numerous republics were established under French influence; in 1805 Napoleon, now emperor, was crowned king of Italy. The Congress of Vienna restored the map of Italy pretty much to its old appearance, but even more power was given to Austria, Venice as well as Lombardy being now Austrian (though Genoa fell to Sardinia). Austrian despotism pressed heavily on the rising spirit of independence; the revolutionary movement of 1849 had but momentary success, but henceforth Sardinia was regarded as the only possible nucleus of an Italian kingdom. The war of 1859 between France and Austria ended in the cession of Lombardy and part of Venetia (though the French had to get Savoy and Nice); soon after the central Italian states voted themselves into the kingdom ; and southern Italy welcomed Garibaldi and his volunteers, and for ever expelled the Bourbons. In 1866 the Austro-Prussian war gave Venice to Italy; during the Franco-German war of 1870 Victor Emmanuel entered Rome, henceforth the capital. The unification of the kingdom was now practically complete - Italy being no longer a 'mere geographical expression ;'the republic of San Marino (q.v.) is independent; and ardent Italian patriots regard the southern Tyrol, Trieste, Istria, the Dalmatian coast, and Nice and Savoy as 'Italia irredenta,' whose incorporation with the kingdom is yet to be worked for.
See works on Italy by Gallenga (1875 and 1887), De Amicus (1883), W. D. Howells (1883), Laveleye (1886), Orsi (1900), Bolton King and Okey (1901), and Deecke (trans. 1904); for history, see Hodg-kin's Italy and her Invaders; Bryce's Holy Roman Empire; Ranke's History of the Popes; Symonds's Renaissance in Italy; besides small manuals, such as Hunt's (new ed. 1883).