Cruising in Italy


Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed.

Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.

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Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia
Geographic coordinates: 42 50 N, 12 50 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 301,230 sq km; note: includes Sardinia and Sicily


7,600 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south


Mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a secondary peak of Mont Blanc)


Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported.

Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions.

But the leadership faces a severe economic constraint: the budget deficit has breached the 3% EU ceiling. The economy experienced almost no growth in 2005, and unemployment remained at a high level.


Airports: 135 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 98
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 37
Heliports: 3 (2005)
Pipelines: gas 17,335 km; oil 1,136 km (2004)
Railways: total: 19,319 km (11,613 km electrified)
Roadways: total: 479,688 km


2,400 km; note: used for commercial traffic; of limited overall value compared to road and rail (2004)

Merchant marine

Total: 571 ships (1000 GRT or over) 10,781,338 GRT/11,194,627 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 40, cargo 48, chemical tanker 122, combination ore/oil 1, container 22, liquefied gas 37, livestock carrier 2, passenger 17, passenger/cargo 155, petroleum tanker 50, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 33, specialized tanker 13, vehicle carrier 27
Foreign-owned: 53 (France 3, Greece 6, Monaco 6, Switzerland 7, Taiwan 10, UK 6, US 15)
Registered in other countries: 149 (The Bahamas 6, Belgium 1, Belize 4, Cayman Islands 11, Gibraltar 5, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 7, North Korea 1, Liberia 20, Malta 25, Marshall Islands 1, Norway 4, Panama 16, Portugal 10, Romania 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 17, Spain 2, Sweden 7, Turkey 3, UK 5) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Augusta, Genoa, Livorno, Melilli Oil Terminal, Ravenna, Taranto, Trieste, Venice

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Albania - Algeria - Bulgaria - Croatia - Cyprus - Egypt - France - Georgia - Gibraltar - Greece - Israel - Italy - Lebanon - Libya - Malta - Monaco - Morocco - Romania - Serbia and Montenegro - Slovenia - Spain - Syria - Tunisia - Turkey - Ukraine

Further Reading

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