Italy officially the Italian Republic is a country in Europe. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland Austria Slovenia San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous in southern Europe.
Due to its central geographic location in Europe and the Mediterranean Italy has historically been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient Italian tribes and Italic peoples dispersed throughout the Italian Peninsula and insular Italy beginning from the classical era Phoenicians Carthaginians and Greeks established settlements in the south of Italy with Etruscans and Celts inhabiting the centre and the north of Italy respectively. The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC which eventually became a republic that conquered and assimilated its neighbours. In the first century BC the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural political and religious centre of Western civilisation. The legacy of the Roman Empire is widespread and can be observed in the global distribution of civilian law republican governments Christianity and the Latin script.