About
Nonprofit Tools
Contact
Help

Search by country

Italy

Italy

Summary

Italy gained independence in 1861, but was not unified until 1871. The government struggles against organized crime, high youth and female unemployment rates, and extensive political corruption. The Vatican is located within the borders of the country, which contributes to the large Catholic population. Environmental issues include air pollution and contamination of water sources from industrial operations.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/it.html

Demographics

Nationality
Italian
Population
61,482,297 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Italy Subcases

Click and view Italy subcases and learn more about our Italy

Environment
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Health
Children
Family
Government
Animals

Environment

Air pollution is a large problem for Italy. In the past few decades, carbon monoxide emissions have increased, particularly in urban areas. There have been higher incidences of bronchitis and respiratory conditions compared to previous years when the levels of particulate matter in the air were lower. The surface water sources, such as lakes and rivers, have been contaminated by agricultural and industrial contaminants. The increase of acid rain has also degraded water quality. The island city of Venice is uniquely vulnerable to flooding, pollution, erosion, and sinkage.1

Human Rights

The dominant human rights concern in Italy is the large number of refugees and illegal immigrants traveling to the country by boat. In 2017, over 114,000 migrants and asylum seekers had landed on Italy’s shores. Italy’s immigration detention system was heavily criticized for maintaining substandard conditions and for denying detainees adequate access to justice. Italy was also encouraged by the international community to engage in age determination procedures to ensure that children were treated fairly. The country reduced the appeals against denied requests in an effort to create a more efficient system.1

Education

The education system and standards in Italy are all controlled by the state, regardless of whether they are private or public. The schools must comply with the curriculum and methods established by the Ministry of Public Education. Academic autonomy and freedom are guaranteed rights for students and professors and are protected under Italian law. There are currently around 1.25 million students in Italy who can attend 42 state universities, 6 private universities, 3 technical universities, or 12 special status universities.1 99% of the country is literate.2 The primary school enrollment is nearly 100%.3

Poverty

After enduring two years of intense financial crisis, Italy reached its highest level of poverty recorded. There have been significant cuts in funding for social welfare institutions in order to reduce the amount of public debt. One out of ten of Italy’s youth are classified as poor. Violent street protests have broken out in response to the government’s austerity measures.1

Religion

The majority religion of Italy is Roman Catholicism. 80% of the population is Christian, while the rest of the population is either Muslim, atheist, or agnostic. Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic Church, is located within Rome’s city limits. The Constitution of Italy guarantees the freedom of religion, belief, and worship. Italy has been a secular state since 1984, but the government grants support to religious communities through accords.1

Clean Water

Italy enjoys universal access to improved water sources in both urban and rural areas.1 Despite this, unofficial reports indicate that, when asked about satisfaction with water quality, only 71% of Italians stated they were satisfied.2 In Ravenna, a region close to the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, the government is constructing the largest drinking water purification plant in Europe. The plant was necessary due to the region’s high volume of tourists and water shortages.3

Economy

Italy is Europe’s third largest economy and has a highly diverse export economy. There is a deep economic divide between the northern and southern regions. In the North, industries are more developed and there is a proliferation of privately owned companies. In the South, unemployment is higher and the economy is more based on agriculture. The public debt was 131% of GDP in 2017.1 Reform attempts and short-term legislation have not been implemented appropriately or effectively. Furthermore, political interference, corruption, and exorbitant taxes plague economic growth. Corruption and Italy’s culture of lawlessness that fosters tax evasion are serious challenges that the Italian government must confront to promote improvement.2 Italy’s unemployment rate is at 11.4%, and 30% of the population is below the poverty line.3

Health

Italians are facing several health issues attributed to sedentary lifestyles, increased smoking, and drinking. Poor diet and lack of exercise reportedly contribute to the prevalence of hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.1 There are currently around 130,000 Italians living with HIV/AIDS in the country. The maternal mortality rate is 4 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the infant mortality rate is 3 deaths per 1,000 live births. 20% of the adult population is overweight.2

Children

The two most pervasive issues that face children in Italy are childhood obesity and child poverty. Italians are now eating record amounts of prepackaged and processed foods. Italy has a high rate of childhood obesity and has also witnessed an alarming increase in type 2 diabetes diagnoses. There are statistics that suggest that obese children often become obese adults who pass their poor eating habits to the next generation.1 Contrastingly, close to 2 million children live in poverty in Italy. The country is ranked first in Europe for child poverty rates out of 25 of the most economically similar nations. In Italy, only 4.4% of its social services spending goes towards children. The country is also experiencing extreme inequality between Northern Italy, which is Read More wealthier, and the South, where it is significantly poorer.2 Show Less

Family

Italy passed legislation in 2016 allowing same sex couples to have civil unions. This ruling was historic for the country.1 Italy’s cultural acceptance of machismo has perpetuated the occurrence of domestic violence to the point that government officials have declared it the most prevalent form of violence in Italy. 30% of Italian women will experience intimate partner violence during their lifetime and the 90%of those victims do not seek assistance from the police.2

Government

The Italian Republic is a parliamentary republic. The prime minister is the head of government and the president is the chief of state. The Mafia is also pervasive in Italian culture. There are scandals involving political leaders and judges that can be attributed to Mafia ties. Furthermore, the judicial system prefers to operate as an inquisitorial body.1 Corruption among political leaders and political processes has long been endemic within Italy. In the Corruption Perception Index, Italy is ranked 54th out of 180 countries. The public scores their government 50 out of a possible 100.2

Animals

The Sicilian mountain region has nearly 20% endemism. The Sicilian shrew is the only mammal that is endemic to the area, but the region is also home to the Italian roe deer, wild cat, crested porcupine, as well as the Silo and Pollino wolf populations. Threats to these species include deforestation and wildfires. People who protest legally protected forests have been proven to have started some of the wildfires.1

Italy

News

Loading...