Facts about Italy
Italy is a country located in Southern Europe, that comprises the Po River valley, the Italian Peninsula and the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italians also refer to it as lo Stivale or "the Boot", due to its boot-like shape. 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 Italian territory, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
According to nominal GDP calculations, Italy was ranked as the seventh largest economy in the world in 2006, behind the United States, Japan, Germany, China, UK, and France, and the fourth largest in Europe. Italy has a smaller number of world class multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size. Instead, the country's main economic strength has been its large base of small and medium size companies. Some of these companies manufacture products that are technologically moderately advanced and therefore face increasing competition from China and other emerging Asian economies which are able to undercut them on labour costs.
The climate in Italy is uniquely diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate and "land of sun", depending on the location. The inland northern areas of Italy (Turin, Milan, and Bologna) have a continental climate, while the coastal areas of Liguria and the peninsula south of Florence fit the stereotype. The coastal areas of the peninsula can be very different from the interior, particularly during the winter months. The higher altitudes are cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions, where most of the large towns are located, have a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot and generally dry summers.
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