Country of the World Italy

About the country Italy, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Italy's 700-mi.-long peninsula juts out of the European heartland into the Mediterranean like a long leg wearing a high-heeled boot, with the island of Sicily at its toe. The south slope of the majestic Alps is Italy's, forming the western boundary with France, the northern boundary with Switzerland, Austria, and the eastern boundary with Yugoslavia. Italy includes Sicily, Sardinia, Sardinia, and many smaller islands, notably Elba (where Napoleon was exiled), Capri, and Ischia; Vatican City (the Papal State in Rome) and San Marino (oldest republic in the world) are independent enclaves within Italy. Scenic beauty is diverse, from the vast, fertile Po Valley, picturesque lakes, and Alps in the north to aridity and expanses of hill country in the south, to green, undulating hills in Umbria and Tuscany, to the rugged landscape of the Apennines running the length of the peninsula and forming a spiny backbone. Italy's mountainous character (nearly 80%) has bred regionalism which has long influenced political and economic developments.

Size: 116,303 sq. mi. (301,225

Population: 57.1 million.

Who Rules: A bicameral, parliamentary republic contains a Senate with 315 elected members and a Chamber of Deputies with 630 members, both elected to five-year terms by popular vote. The president, elected every seven years, appoints the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) from Parliament's ranks. Each new government must receive a vote of confidence in both houses of Parliament within 10 days of appointment. The 94 provinces are divided into 20 regions, each with semiautonomous governing power.

Who REALLY Rules: The U.S. and liberal-minded Italian capitalists support the Christian Democratic party (DC), which has ruled Italy for the last 30 years. The Italian Communist party (PCI), pursuing the moderate policy of a "historic compromise" with capitalism, has trailed the DC by only a few percentage points in recent national elections.

U.S. corporate and official interference in Italian politics dates back to CIA efforts to undermine the Communists in the late 1940s. The former chief of covert U.S. operations in Italy Walter W. Orebaugh, later recalled that interfering in Italy's electoral process "was an exhilarating, exciting, and challenging experience so fantastic in some respects as to seem unreal and cut from pure Hollywood cloth. It will suffice for me to say that the extremely menacing situation in Italy called for no half-way 'parlor-game' measures but an all-out, round-the-clock effort and that all-out effort was made. Men with special skills were combined with money and imagination. Among those who were brought into the Branch and who participated in this effort was William Colby, later to become the director of the CIA."

According to the House Select Committee on Intelligence, the agency gave $75 million to moderate Italian parties and politicians between 1948 and 1972. Of this sum, some $10 million was spent as late as the 1972 parliamentary elections. According to former CIA agent Victor Marchetti, the CIA spent "from $20 to $30 million a year to finance its programs in Italy" during the 1950s and "about $10 million a year" during the 1960s. That makes $300-400 million for the entire period, considerably more than the figure supplied by the CIA to congressional investigators.

U.S. and other foreign corporations have done their bit as well: EXXON paid $49 million to Italian political parties in 1963-1972; Mobil paid $2 million in 1970-1973; British Petroleum and Shell paid $6.6 million between 1969 and 1973; and Gulf Oil paid $800,000 in 1973.

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