from Wikipedia Italy:
"Italian Republic" redirects here. For the Napoleonic state of 1802–1805, see Italian Republic (Napoleonic).
Italy (Italian: Italia), officially the Italian Republic, (Italian: Repubblica Italiana), is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital Rome was for centuries the center of Western civilization, it also spawned the Baroque movement and seats the Catholic Church.
Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 20th highest GDP per capita, the 8th-highest Quality-of-life index, and the 20th-highest Human Development Index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), and also a member of the G8 (having the world's 7th largest nominal GDP), NATO, OECD, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, the Central European Initiative, and a Schengen state. On January 1, 2007 Italy began a two year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.