History of Italy

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Italy, united in 1861, has significantly contributed to the cultural and social development of the entire Mediterranean area. Many cultures and civilizations have existed there since prehistoric times.

Culturally and linguistically, the origins of Italian history can be traced back to the 9th century BC, when earliest accounts date the presence of Italic tribes in modern central Italy. Linguistically they are divided into Oscans, Umbrians and Latins. Later the Latin culture became dominant, as Rome emerged as the dominant city around 350 BC. Other pre-Roman civilizations include Magna Graecia in Southern Italy and the earlier Etruscan civilization, which flourished between 900 and 150 BC in the Center North, Po Valley, Latium and Campania.[1]

After the Roman Republic and Empire dominated this part of the world for many centuries, came an Italy whose people would make immeasurable contributions. Some of these contributions led to the development of European philosophy, science, and art during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Dominated by city-states for much of the medieval and Renaissance period, the Italian peninsula also experienced several foreign dominations. Parts of Italy were annexed to the Spanish, the Austrian and Napoleon's empire, while the Vatican maintained control over the central part of it, before the Italian Peninsula was eventually liberated and unified amidst much struggle in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the late-19th century and early 20th century, or the new Kingdom of Italy, the country built a colonial empire, colonizing parts of Africa, and countries along the Mediterranean. Italy suffered enormous losses in World War I but came out on the winning side. The Fascists, led by Benito Mussolini, took over and set up an authoritarian dictatorship 1922-43. Italy was a junior partner of Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II, and after the southern regions had been liberated in 1943 the Fascists fought on until surrendering in 1945 as the "Republic of Salò". Italy was a hard-fought a battlefield 1943-45.

In 1946, due to a referendum, the Kingdom of Italy was abolished,[2] and 2 June 1946 saw the birth of the Italian Republic. The 1950s and 1960s in Italy saw a period of rapid modernization and economic growth succeeding the disastrous consequences of World War II, and ever since, Italy has been one of the founding nations, or has joined, several organizations, such as the European Economic Community, which later became the European Union, the United Nations, NATO, UNESCO, the G7, which afterward became the G8, the G20, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Italy is currently ranked as a regional power,[3][4][5][6][7] and Italy has been classified in a study, measuring hard power, as being the 11th greatest worldwide national power.[8]

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