Cultural Geography: Italy

Basic geography of Italy
Italy is also well known as the Italian Republic. It is a country with a unique long peninsula shaped like a boot. Italy is located in the southeastern Europe. It borders France, Austria, Switzerland, and Slovenia to the north. It is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea to the northeast, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the southwestern region, the Ionian Sea to the southeastern region and the Liguria Sea to the northwestern region. It stretches across the farthest southern part of European content it shares with its neighboring countries the scenic Alps Mountains and the Apennine peninsula. The Po valley and its northern triangle limit areas of the plains this covering approximately a fifth of the total country area (Armiero, et al.78). The remainder of Italy’s landscape is a rough terrain that is evenly divided between mountainous land and rugged mountains that spread across the Alps region throughout its bordering countries.

The unevenly distributed rough, hilly topography has resulted in temperature variations of the area’s climate. The scenic Alps Mountains spreads across France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia as the Apennines that forms the main backbone of the entire Peninsula stretching through the Sicily Islands (Armiero, et al.114). Other mountains residing on the west of the two large islands are Sardinia in Italy and Corsica in France. Italy also consists of Autonomous regions. These areas include the Vatican City widely famous as the home of Pope and the San Marino Republic located within its borders. Both cities enjoy their political independence. The Vatican City is located within Italy’s capital city known as Rome.
Major physical features and cultural importance
Some of the major physical features in Italy include the Apennine mountain ranges, Alps, Lake Como, Tiber River, Po River, Po Valley, Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, the Sicily and Sardinia islands. Others include Seas that surrounds the country on three sides, that is; Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian, Ligurian, to the west and the Ionian and Adriatic to the south and east. Italy has approximately 70 more islands apart from Sicily and Sardinia. Mount Etna is a volcano mountain standing at a height of 3,326 meters as of 2014 (Agnoletti, 145). Though it is an active volcano, it does not pose any threat to the residents inhabiting the islands. The other major volcano mountain is Mount Bianco also referred as Mont Blanc located in the Alps.

The dust particles from the volcanic activities have widely been said to be contributing to the fertile agricultural soils accumulating on land over time. Po River, the longest river, has played a prominent role in some of the irrigation practices and agricultural projects carried out in the country (Armiero, et al. 108). Po Valley has been considered as an agricultural heartland in the entire country. It is said to be one of the European most industrialized regions owing to the farming activities that has considerably contributed to the growth of their economy.
Figure 1 Map of Italy with physical features and geographic distributions.

Human-made physical features include the tourist attraction areas. One of the most popular places is the Tower of Pisa known as the marble tower which is approximately over 800 years old. The tilted nature of the tower is a result of the soft ground on which it was built. It is very unique and hence, preserved as an ancient ruin built by the ancient Roman Empire. The Venice is another important tourist attraction sites. It is best popularly known as the city floating on water. It is unique for its canals and gondolas that are culturally preserved as still used for transportation within the city (Killinger,.123).

Figure 2 the Tower of Pisa and the Venice city on water ancient features

Major metropolitan areas
The major metropolitan cities in Italy include Rome with the highest population of 4,321,244 people followed by Milan at 3,176,180; Naples is third on the list with a population of 3,127,390. Turin supports a population of 2,297,197, and Palermo is having a population of 1,275,598. The other main metropolitan cities include Bari with a population of 1,261,964. Catania metropolitan city has a population of 1,115,704. Florence is also major metropolitan with 1,007,252 people; it is closely followed by Bologna at 1.001,170 people. Geneva follows the list with a smaller population of 868,841. Venice is one of the least populated metropolitan areas with a population of 857,841 people as the list is closed by Messina, Cagliari and Reggio Calabria with populations of 648,371, 560,827 and 559,759 respectively (Armiero, et al. 129).
Figure 3 the outskirt city and metropolitan city populations as at 2014
Ethnic and religious regions
Italian ethnicity includes small groups of Slovene-Italians, French-Italians and German-Italians widely spread to the north, and Greek-Italians, and Albanian-Italians widely spread to the south. The majority of Italian population is Catholic and considerably smaller population of Protestant and minority groups of Immigrating Muslims.
Italy has numerous ethnic groups as a result of the constant immigration of people from different ethnic groups. Such groups include the Etruscans, Umbria, Greeks and Romans who history suggest that they are responsible for Latinizing the whole country (Killinger, 68). The Lombards, who come from a German tribe and Benevento, have occupied the mainland parts of Italy. Predominantly the migration of females from Philippines and influx of men from parts of North Africa has constituted a big portion of the population. As these immigrants intermarry, more ethnic groups are created.
The best way of categorizing the ethnic regions is by dividing it into four parts. These consist of the north, the south, the Centre and the islands. The north of the country entails traditions such as the Piedmont; it is characterized by a population of French ethnic cultures as a result of the French influence. It is located on the former royal dynasty of Italy called Liguria which extends south towards Genoa Gulf. Lombardy, one of the ethnic regions, noted to be dominated by agriculture practices, city communes which are vigorously independent and is remarkable industrial output (Duncan, et al. 61). Other ethnic areas also include Veneto, which was once the territory of the Venetian empire originating from Brescia to Trieste.
The Centre encompasses Emilia-Romagna known for its prosperous farms this region contains ethnic groups including the Marche, Tuscany, and Umbria. The Erucian civilization has also lead to the art and culture traditions. The South known as Mezzogiorno includes Naples and Campania known for its fertile lands (Killinger,.116). On the islands of Sardinia and Sicily are people who are proud of being part of the mainland Italy inhabitants. Italians are considered to be Latin in an ethnic sense because of the mix up of people to varying degrees, as well as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Philippines, Romanians and others.

Native language
The official native language spoken in Italy is Italian; the estimation of native Italian speaking population is approximately 64 million inhabitants. But still, about 85 million speak in their second languages. The twelve legally recognized native languages include; Albanian, German, Catalan, Greek, Croatian, Slovene French, Ladin, Sardinian, Franco-Provençal, and Friulian. Franco-Provençal is commonly spoken in Valle d’Aosta (Duncan, et al. 131). German is more spoken in South Tyrol and part of neighboring provinces of Trentino, whereas Slovene and Ladin are officially recognized in Gorizia, Trieste, and Udine provinces.
Italy is beyond doubt a significantly developed country with one of the highest industrialized nations in Europe and known for their fashion trends Union (Atkinson, 74). For example, Ferrari brand that is one of the most top selling brands across the world. The population growth rate in Italy is gradually slowing because of the identical immigration, birth rates, and death rates. Birthrates in Italy have been noted to be higher in Sothern part of Italy that the north. As a result of continued emigration in Calabria, Lolise, and Basilicata, the populations have continually declined. Additionally, the rate of mortality is lower in northern Italy than in Southern part as a result of improvement of medical care in the region. In some areas of Liguria, the population is steadily decreasing because of faster fall in birthrate than mortality rate. Moreover, throughout the whole country, there was a high recorded life expectancy reflecting a higher sanitary, nutritional and medical standards.

Cultural details unique to Italy.
The Italian Republic has been a cultural society mostly associated with agricultural activities. However, in the 20th century, a transformation began to take place. The highly traditional agricultural society changed to a progressive industrialized state (Duncan, et al.93). As regional identity has remained high, the nation has developed unevenly in its attribute as a cultural entity. Over the past witnessed decades, there have been many regional differences, but these have been altered because of the increased influence of television, mass media services and the school curriculum that has been shared nationally. It is a norm that Italians consider themselves as citizens of their cities. Hence, the town first then region comes second. This culture has changed over time as a result of the integration of Italy more closely to the European Union (Atkinson, 167). Therefore, Italians have considered themselves as a part of a large supranational community that is made up of a variety of people.

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