Italian is classified as a Romance language and is descended from Latin. In fact, Italian is the closest to Latin amongst the Romance languages in terms of vocabulary. The Italian language was first developed in the 12th century but artifacts containing text traceable to Italian have been discovered to exist from as early as 960. In earlier times, each city had a different dialect of Italian and the conquest of Italy by Napoleon helped lead to more of a unification of Italy and the language. Modern Italian most resembles Tuscan and its Florentine dialect.
Italian is the official language of Italy and San Marino and was Malta's official language until 1934. It is also widely used in Libya and Eritrea due to Italian colonization during the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are approximately one million speakers of Italian living in America.
The Italian alphabet is comprised of 21 letters and omits the letters j, k, w, x and y. The grammatical system used in Italian is similar to most Romance languages. Like Latin, Italian uses different cases for pronouns and nouns have inflected uses. However Italian does not use varying cases for nouns which is in contrast to Latin.