Italy at a glance
An introduction and good things to know about Italy.
Politics and Economy
Politics in Italy follow a parliamentarian multiparty system, meaning that coalition governments are often needed to form a government. Problems like organized crime and corruption undermine the government to some degree. Like many other European countries, Italy has experienced a rise in far right populism support. Contributing to anti-immigration an euro-skeptic rhetoric, this ideology has taken form in the Five Star Movement party. The current prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, became the first prime minister in the country to serve over both a conservative coalition and a liberal coalition government.
Italy’s economy is the fourth largest in Europe. Despite growth and reform since WWII, income inequality has increased while poverty rates decreased between the 1990s and 2005. Wealth distribution is notable in Italy, with the northern regions wealthier on average than the south. Related to this, the south historically has had difficulty developing a robust civil society and corruption has undermined politics.
Joining the European Union
Following the end of WWII, Europe underwent several efforts to enforce collectivism and mutual interests. The European Economic Community was established by the Treaty or Rome in 1957, linking a liberal free market between countries. This was one of the early groups that would later form European Union. One of the six original members, the European Union was formally established in 1993. By 1997, Italy joined the Schengen Area, giving way to passport free travel for many residents and eased commercial exchange. Later, the country adopted the Euro in 1999, joining the Eurozone.
The Vatican City
The Vatican City is technically a country within Italy. It’s considered the smallest country in the world. It can also be described as a city state, meaning it’s an autonomous city with sovereignty. It’s lead by the Pope and is the heart of the Catholic faith. The Vatican mints its own euros, issues passports and license plates to its few residents, and has its own flag and anthem. One government function it lacks is taxation. Museum admission fees, souvenir sales, and religious contributions constitute the Vatican’s revenue. Another important institution the country lacks is an army. For centuries, the Swiss Guard has stood watch at the Vatican protecting the Pope. Swiss soldiers remain there today in a largely ceremonial position.