The Germans helped by the Italian fascists shortly succeeded in taking control of northern and central Italy.
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The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the Allies were slowly moving up from the south. Some Italian troops in the south were organized into the Italian Co-belligerent Army, which fought alongside the Allies for the rest of the war, while other Italian troops, loyal to Mussolini and his RSI, continued to fight alongside the Germans in the National Republican Army.
As result, the country descended into civil war. Also, the post-armistice period saw the rise of a large anti-fascist resistance movement, the Resistenza , which fought a guerilla war against the German and RSI forces. In late April , with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, but was captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans.
His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise. Hostilities ended on 29 April , when the German forces in Italy surrendered. Nearly half a million Italians including civilians died in the conflict, and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century. Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June , a day celebrated since as Republic Day.
This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote. The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January Italy also lost all of its colonial possessions, formally ending the Italian Empire. Fears of a possible Communist takeover especially in the United States proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on 18 April , when the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, obtained a landslide victory. The Marshall Plan helped to revive the Italian economy which, until the late s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the "Economic Miracle".
From the late s until the early s, the country experienced the Years of Lead, a period characterised by economic crisis especially after the oil crisis , widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US and Soviet intelligence. The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in and the Bologna railway station massacre in , where 85 people died. In the s, for the first time since , two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one republican Giovanni Spadolini and one socialist Bettino Craxi ; the Christian Democrats remained, however, the main government party.
During Craxi's government, the economy recovered and Italy became the world's fifth largest industrial nation, after it gained the entry into the G7 Group in '70s. Italy faced several terror attacks between —93 perpetrated by the Sicilian Mafia as a consequence of several life sentences pronounced during the "Maxi Trial", and of the new anti-mafia measures launched by the government.
The Catholic Church openly condemned the Mafia, and two churches were bombed and an anti-Mafia priest shot dead in Rome. Also in the early s, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters — disenchanted with political paralysis, massive public debt and the extensive corruption system known as Tangentopoli uncovered by the Clean Hands Mani Pulite investigation — demanded radical reforms.
The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: the Christian Democrats, who ruled for almost 50 years, underwent a severe crisis and eventually disbanded, splitting up into several factions.
The Communists reorganised as a social-democratic force. During the s and the s, centre-right dominated by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi and centre-left coalitions led by university professor Romano Prodi alternately governed the country. In the late s, Italy was severely hit by the Great Recession. From to , the country suffered 42 months of GDP recession.
The economic crisis was one of the main problems that forced Berlusconi to resign in The government of the conservative Prime Minister was replaced by the technocratic cabinet of Mario Monti.
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Following the general election, the Vice-Secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta formed a new government at the head of a right-left Grand coalition. The new government started important constitutional reforms such as the abolition of the Senate and a new electoral law. On 4 December the constitutional reform was rejected in a referendum and Renzi resigned after few days on 12 December; the Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni was appointed new Prime Minister. Italy was affected by the European migrant crisis in as it became the entry point and leading destination for most asylum seekers entering the EU.
Since , the country took in over , migrants and refugees, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, which caused great strain on the public purse and a surge in the support for far-right, euroskeptic or eurocritical political parties, which ended in the general election. The election was characterized by a strong showing of the Five Star Movement and the League and the university professor Giuseppe Conte became the Prime Minister at the head of a populist coalition between these two parties.
However, after only fourteen months the League withdrew its support to Conte, who formed a new unprecedented government coalition between the Five Star Movement and the centre-left. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia the two biggest islands of the Mediterranean , in addition to many smaller islands. The Po, Italy's longest river kilometres or miles , flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea.
Many elements of the Italian territory are of volcanic origin. Most of the small islands and archipelagos in the south, like Capraia, Ponza, Ischia, Eolie, Ustica and Pantelleria are volcanic islands. There are also active volcanoes: Mount Etna in Sicily the largest active volcano in Europe , Vulcano, Stromboli, and Vesuvius the only active volcano on mainland Europe. The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size: Garda Although the country includes the Italian peninsula, adjacent islands, and most of the southern Alpine basin, some of Italy's territory 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 in part , Chiusaforte, Tarvisio, Graun im Vinschgau in part , which are all part of the Danube's drainage basin, while the Val di Lei constitutes part of the Rhine's basin and the islands of Lampedusa and Lampione are on the African continental shelf.
Other well-known subalpine lakes are Lake Maggiore The country is situated at the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate, leading to considerable seismic and volcanic activity. The last is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is most famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculanum in the eruption in 79 AD. Several islands and hills have been created by volcanic activity, and there is still a large active caldera, the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples. Italy was the first country to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity. The high geothermal gradient that forms part of the peninsula makes potentially exploitable also other provinces: research carried out in the s and s identifies potential geothermal fields in Lazio and Tuscany, as well as in most volcanic islands.
After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront its environmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in the world for ecological sustainability. In the last decade, Italy has become one of the world's leading producers of renewable energy, ranking as the world's fourth largest holder of installed solar energy capacity and the sixth largest holder of wind power capacity in However, air pollution remains a severe problem, especially in the industrialised north, reaching the tenth highest level worldwide of industrial carbon dioxide emissions in the s.
Italy is the twelfth largest carbon dioxide producer. Extensive traffic and congestion in the largest metropolitan areas continue to cause severe environmental and health issues, even if smog levels have decreased dramatically since the s and s, and the presence of smog is becoming an increasingly rarer phenomenon and levels of sulphur dioxide are decreasing.
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Many watercourses and coastal stretches have also been contaminated by industrial and agricultural activity, while because of rising water levels, Venice has been regularly flooded throughout recent years. Waste from industrial activity is not always disposed of by legal means and has led to permanent health effects on inhabitants of affected areas, as in the case of the Seveso disaster.
The country has also operated several nuclear reactors between and but, after the Chernobyl disaster and a referendum on the issue the nuclear programme was terminated, a decision that was overturned by the government in , planning to build up to four nuclear power plants with French technology. This was in turn struck down by a referendum following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Deforestation, illegal building developments and poor land-management policies have led to significant erosion all over Italy's mountainous regions, leading to major ecological disasters like the Vajont Dam flood, the Sarno and Messina mudslides.
Italy has the highest level of faunal biodiversity in Europe, with over 57, species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna. Italy's varied geological structure contributes to its high climate and habitat diversity. Italy also receives species from the Balkans, Eurasia, the Middle East. Italy's varied geological structure, including the Alps and the Apennines, Central Italian woodlands, and Southern Italian Garigue and Maquis shrubland, also contributes to high climate and habitat diversity.
Italian fauna includes 4, endemic animal species, which include the Sardinian long-eared bat, Sardinian red deer, spectacled salamander, brown cave salamander, Italian newt, Italian frog, Apennine yellow-bellied toad, Aeolian wall lizard, Sicilian wall lizard, Italian Aesculapian snake, and Sicilian pond turtle.
There are mammals species most notably the Italian wolf, Marsican brown bear, Pyrenean chamois, Alpine ibex, crested porcupine, Mediterranean monk seal, Alpine marmot, Etruscan shrew, and European snow vole , bird species and 56, invertebrate species. The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5, vascular plant species. However, as of , 6, species are recorded in the Data bank of Italian vascular flora. Italy is a signatory to the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the Habitats Directive both affording protection to Italian fauna and flora.
Because of the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula and the mostly mountainous internal conformation, the climate of Italy is highly diverse. In most of the inland northern and central regions, the climate ranges from humid subtropical to humid continental and oceanic. In particular, the climate of the Po valley geographical region is mostly continental, with harsh winters and hot summers.
Conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer. Winters can vary widely across the country with lingering cold, foggy and snowy periods in the north and milder, sunnier conditions in the south. Summers can be hot and humid across the country, particularly in the south while northern and central areas can experience occasional strong thunderstorms from spring to autumn.
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Italy has been a unitary parliamentary republic since 2 June , when the monarchy was abolished by a constitutional referendum. The President is elected for a single seven years mandate by the Parliament of Italy and some regional voters in joint session.
Italy has a written democratic constitution, resulting from the work of a Constituent Assembly formed by the representatives of all the anti-fascist forces that contributed to the defeat of Nazi and Fascist forces during the Civil War. Italy has a parliamentary government based on a mixed proportional and majoritarian voting system.
The parliament is perfectly bicameral: the two houses, the Chamber of Deputies that meets in Palazzo Montecitorio, and the Senate of the Republic that meets in Palazzo Madama, have the same powers. The Prime Minister and the cabinet are appointed by the President of the Republic of Italy and must pass a vote of confidence in Parliament to come into office. To remain the Prime Minister has to pass also eventual further votes of confidence or no confidence in Parliament. The office is similar to those in most other parliamentary systems, but the leader of the Italian government is not authorised to request the dissolution of the Parliament of Italy.
Another difference with similar offices is that the overall political responsibility for intelligence is vested in the President of the Council of Ministers.
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By virtue of that, the Prime Minister has exclusive power to: co-ordinate intelligence policies, determining the financial resources and strengthening national cyber security; apply and protect State secrets; authorise agents to carry out operations, in Italy or abroad, in violation of the law. A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad: 12 Deputies and 6 Senators elected in four distinct overseas constituencies. In addition, the Italian Senate is characterised also by a small number of senators for life, appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field".
Former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life senators. During the general election these three parties won out of seats available in the Chamber of Deputies and out of in the Senate. Berlusconi's Forza Italia which formed a centre-right coalition with Matteo Salvini's Northern League and Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy won most of the seats without getting the majority in parliament. The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the highest court in Italy for both criminal and civil appeal cases.
Since their appearance in the middle of the 19th century, Italian organised crime and criminal organisations have infiltrated the social and economic life of many regions in Southern Italy, the most notorious of which being the Sicilian Mafia, which would later expand into some foreign countries including the United States.
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A report identified comuni which have a strong Mafia presence, where 13 million Italians live and However, at 0. These are relatively low figures among developed countries. Law enforcement in Italy is provided by multiple police forces, five of which are national, Italian agencies. Along with patrolling, investigative and law enforcement duties, it oversees the security of transportations.
The Carabinieri is the common name for the Arma dei Carabinieri, a Gendarmerie that also serves as the military police for the Italian armed forces. The Corps controls financial, economic, judiciary and public safety.
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