As a nation, Italy's various regions and states were unified to create the country in 1861, but this historic power's past goes back thousands of years to the Roman Empire and earlier. The iconic boot-shaped peninsula makes its outline extremely recognizable.
Italy is bordered to the north by France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, contains within its borders the independent states of the Vatican and San Marino, and includes the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Sicily. The temperate seasonal climate of the Mediterranean means the weather in Italy is mild year-round. Italy one of the largest nations in the European Union, with more than 60 million inhabitants, and the 23rd most populated country in the world.
Italy is a major regional power, playing a key role in Europe's global economy, diplomatic affairs, military and culture. Italy's population is also highly educated, with access to quality public education, and is highly globalized. As a member of the G8, G20, NATO and the WTO Italy is a large economic power and one of the founding members of the European Union. Italy has the 3rd largest goal reserve in the world.