Demography: Population 67.6 million, 0.9% growth rate (2000 estimates); Italian (official) language, some German and French predominant in specific regions; mostly Roman Catholic religion.
Geography: Southern Europe, extending into the Mediterranean Sea; climate predominantly Mediterranean, Alpine in far north, hot/dry in south; mostly rugged and mountainous terrain, with some plains, coastal lowlands.
Government: Republic. Chief of state is President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, head of government is Prime Minister Giuliano Amato.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agricultural Policies under Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio; regional agricultural programs are under the aegis of local regional governments.
Economy: Italy's market economy reflects a diversified industrial base, but it remains divided into a developed industrial north dominated by private companies and a less developed agricultural south with more than 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. For several years Italy has adopted budgets compliant with the requirements of the European Monetary Union. The agricultural sector accounts for 3% of gross domestic product.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$21,400 (purchasing power parity), 1.3% growth rate, 1.7% inflation (all 1999 estimates).
Currency: Italian lira. April 12, 2001 exchange rate: 2,166.83 lire per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$242.6 billion (f.o.b., 1998), textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, food, beverages, production machinery.
Imports: U.S.$206.9 billion (f.o.b., 1998), energy products, food, transport equipment, chemicals.
Major crops/agricultural products: Wheat, maize, rice, fruits and vegetables.
Wheat: Production in the past five years averaged 7.4 million tonnes a year. Imports in the same period averaged 6.6 million tonnes a year to meet total domestic use that averaged 11.2 million tonnes.
Maize: Maize output averaged 9.7 million tonnes a year in the past five years, with total use averaging 10.2 million, feed use averaging 9.1 million, and imports averaging 622,000 tonnes a year.
Rice: Milled output averaged 835,000 tonnes a year in the past five years, with total use averaging 321,000 and exports averaging 600,000 tonnes a year
Transportation: Highways, 654,676 km, all paved; rail, 19,394 km, mostly 1.435-m gauge; Ancona, Civitavecchia, Genoa, Naples, Porto Marghera, major ports.