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Physical, Human, and Economic Geography of Italians Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 11th, 2018


Italy is located in continental Europe, in the South Central, to be specific. Its neighbors include France Switzerland and Austria to the north, Slovenia along the Alps, and the Italian Peninsula, the islands Sicily, and Sardinia to the south in the Mediterranean ocean.

Italy is known in history as the home of some of the world’s most celebrated artists like Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli among many others. In addition, Italy is well known for historical tourism structures such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa which is made from marble. The people of Italy speak Italian language.

Most of the people are Roman Catholics. The people of Italy also engage in economic activities like merchandise, mining, tourism, fishing and many other activities. In addition to this, Italians are well known for their fashion in cloth industry. This report discusses the physical, human, and economic geography of Italians. It also gives a brief description of Italy as a country.

Historical Setting

Italy is known to be the headquarters for the Roman Empire in ancient times. This is because its capital city, Rome, was used to rule a large portion of Western Europe.

The country has always attracted foreigners from ancient Greek settlers to modern tourists. Artists, pilgrims, romantic poets and mercenaries were also frequent visitors of Italy’s major cities (Woolf 13). The Celts inhabited northern Italy especially along the Lombard valley. Other people who settled initially include the Etrurian people who settled in Tuscany. This was during the period in which Italy was not yet born.

Characteristics of the population of Italy

Most of the country’s population lives in cities and towns. The large population occupies northern Italy, the west coast in particular. The southern parts of Italy are more rural although not productive for farming activities due to climatic factors.

The behavioral characteristics of the population, dates back from the seventeenth century when cities began to grow in number. Most administrative centers experienced a sharp growth while others stagnated at a particular size. Thus the increase in urban population caused a decrease in the size of the rural community (Woolf 57).

Geographic Setting of Italy

Italy covers a total area of 116,340 square miles, the islands of Sardinia and Sicily being included. Its population is 58 million people (How Stuff Works 4). The capital city of Italy is Rome. Italy also has several other major cities which include Milan, Naples, Genoa and Venice.

The continental Italy is a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea that is, it projects outwards from continental Europe into the sea. The republic of Italy encompasses two islands in the Mediterranean. The islands are Sicily and Sardinia. Due to political boundaries, the northern part of Italy is situated between the gulf of Trieste and the Rhone at its efflux from the lake of Geneva.

Therefore, the Rhone, the Pennine Alps together with some parts of Adriatic Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea separate Italy from her neighbors France, Germany and Switzerland.

The coast of Italy is composed of the Adriatic Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea up to the region where the Maritime Alps appear to end just near France’s frontiers (Brun 586). Generally speaking, most of the northern fertile areas are covered by the Po valley which receives and transports all the waters that come from the Apennines northwards. It also receives all the water that comes from the Alps towards the south. The river follows a parallel course with the Adige. The Adige enters the Adriatic by a separate mouth with the Po.

Geologic Setting of Italy

A large part of Italy is covered by mountains which include the Alps. Most of the Alps in Italy are composed of the rock dolomite. Other mountains in Italy include the Apennine Mountains which dissects the middle part of Italy from north to southern parts thus separating the eastern and the western coasts of the country. South of the dolomite mountains lies the Po Valley. This is the basin of river Po.

Italy has also been shaped by major geologic phenomena. Crustal subsidence occurred when Wurm Regression surface lowered within the Naples Bay. Glacial activities are also present in the northern parts of Italy. Seismic and volcanic activities also occur in Italy especially in the mountainous regions of Pozzuoli Bay (Dvorak & Mastrolorenzo 5).

The Apennines experience a lot of earthquakes together with volcanic eruptions which occur in the western parts of the Apennine slopes which also occur on several offshore islets. Active volcanoes include the Ve-suvius, near Naples; Mt. Etna on Sicily Island and the Stromboli which is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Climate of Italy

The southern parts of continental Italy have warmer temperatures than the northern parts. In northern Italy, temperatures can reach below freezing point during winters. Some parts of the northern Italy can also be covered by snow during the winters.

The northern and central plains and river valleys have rich soils while the southern areas are hot and arid occasioned by violent which swell the rivers into threatening torrents (Woolf 14). The south east winds of the sirocco prevail in the Naples and in Sicily, and are more prevalent in winter than in summer (Brun 592).

Natural Features of Italy

Italy does not have enough natural features. There are only a few natural features like the natural frontiers formed by the Mediterranean. The Alps also from part of the physical geography endowed to Italy. The Alps are so expansive such that they cover four fifth of the country’s territory.

The great Alpine Arc sweeps west to east from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic. The Apennines are very steep and they stretch irregularly down the entire length of Italy. The mountains in the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia do offer a great hindrance to cultivation (Woolf 13).

Natural Resources of Italy

Italy is well endowed with natural resources. The Alpine provides plenty of limestone for the country to mine and use in the construction industry. This is present in the valley of Pieva di Cadora. In the same valley is found lead and silver. The mountain of Gregni harbors iron oxide while calcareous rocks are found in Vicenza (Brun 592).

Thus the mineral resources of Italy are Iron, Aluminum, Lead, Zinc, and Mercury as the metallic minerals. The non metallic minerals include Sulphur, Pyrites, Potassic salts, Feldspar, and Fluorspar whereas the fuel deposits include Lignite, crude oil and natural gas in form of methane (King 8).

Industrial Setting of Italy

There are a wide range of industries in Italy. Most of these industries are located in the northern parts of the country. Italy is known in the world for her fashion especially in clothes, shoes and furniture. Italy also manufactures motor vehicles, computers, and electronic gadgets. Rice is also produced together with wheat and other grains in the fertile Po valley. It is also worth noting that the finest meadows and the fattest cattle can be found in the same valley (Brun 589).

In addition, Italy is one of the world’s largest producers of wine. These wines come from Friuli, Vicentino, Bolognese, and Montferrat. Italy also produces all the fruit trees that do well in the temperate regions of Europe like the Dyospyrus lotus.

Animals in Italy exist in places which are related to the specific climatic and environmental conditions. The mountains are home for the lynx, the chamois, wild goat, ferret, the dormouse, and the lemming whereas the Apennines host porcupines, buffaloes. Domestic animals include the horses, the ass, the mule and the sheep.


Italy is a country in continental Europe which is also composed of the two major islands namely Sicily and Sardinia. Her northern parts are covered with mountainous features which are characterized by extreme weather conditions during the winters. Geologically, the mountainous areas are comprised of the rock dolomite. To the south lies the Po valley which is also the basin of river Po.

Italy is one of the countries in Europe which have a long history. Her artistic legends such as Titian and Giorgione contributed a lot in putting Italy on the global scene with their paintings. Italy is also endowed with natural resources such as Iron, crude oil and Lead which are considered as the major sources of Italy’s economy. Most of the population resides in the cities while a few are left in the country to do farming.

Works Cited

Brun, Malte. Universal Geography or a Description of All the Parts of the World On a new Plan: According to the Great Natural Divisions of the Globe: Accompanied with Analytical, Synoptical, and Elementary Tables, Vol. VII, Wells and Lilly- Court Street, and White, Gallaher and White. New York, 1829.

Dvorak, John & Mastrolorenzo, Giuseppe. The Mechanisms of Recent Vertical Crustal Movements in Campi Flegrei Caldera, Southern Italy, Colorado: Geological Society of America, Inc., 1991.

How Stuff Works. Geography of Italy, 2010. 10th Nov. 2010.

King, Russell. The Industrial Geography of Italy, Australia: Croom Helm Ltd, 1985.

Woolf, Stuart. A History of Italy, 1700-1860: The Social Constraints of Political Change. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1991.

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