The Italian Republic mainly comprises a peninsula, extending from southern Europe into the Mediterranean Sea. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861 and the country was unified in 1870. In 1946 Italy became a republic. Until 1963 the Partito della Democrazia Cristiana (DC) held power unchallenged. The remainder of the century was marked by the rapid succession of mainly coalition governments. At an early general election held in February 2013, the centre-left coalition narrowly won the largest share of votes in the Chamber of Deputies. However, there was no overall winning coalition in the Senate, which allocates seats on a regional basis rather than on overall share of the vote. Following lengthy negotiations, a ‘grand coalition’ was finally formed in May, with Enrico Letta as Prime Minister. Following Letta’s resignation in February 2014, a new coalition was formed under Matteo Renzi. Renzi resigned in December 2016 and was replaced by Paolo Gentiloni Silveri. Rome is the capital. Italian is the principal language.
The Italian Republic is situated in southern Europe. Mainland Italy comprises a long peninsula, which stretches from the Alps, along the borders with France to the north-west, Switzerland and Austria to the north and Slovenia to the north-east, south into the Mediterranean Sea. Several adjacent islands form part of the Republic, the largest of which are Sardinia (Sardegna) to the west and Sicily (Sicilia) to the south-west. Within its territory two small city-states remain independent—San Marino, near Emilia-Romagna and the Marche in central Italy, and the Vatican City in Rome. Italy covers an area of 301,336 sq km (116,346 sq miles).