Geography of Italy

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Italy viewed from space.
southern Italy and Sicily on the 1849 map

This article describes the geography of Italy.

Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia.
Map references
  • Total: 301,230 km²
  • Land: 294,020 km²
  • Water: 7,210 km²
  • Note: includes Sardinia and Sicily
Land boundaries
7,600 km
Maritime claims
  • Continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
  • Territorial sea: 12 nautical miles
Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
Natural resources
Mercury, potash, marble, sulfur, dwindling natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, coal, arable land
Land use
  • Arable land: 31%
  • Permanent crops: 10%
  • Permanent pastures: 15%
  • Forests and woodland: 23%
  • Other: 21% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land
27,100 km² (1993 est.)
Natural hazards
Regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice
Environment--current issues
Air pollution from industrial emissions such as sulfur dioxide; coastal and inland rivers polluted from industrial and agricultural effluents; acid rain damaging lakes; inadequate industrial waste treatment and disposal facilities
Environment--international agreements
  • Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
  • Signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe

See also