The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Germany the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north and the Czech Republic to the east and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west. Germany includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,386 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With 83 million inhabitants, it is the second most populous state of Europe after Russia, the most populous state lying in Europe, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is a decentralized country, its capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while Frankfurt serves as its financial capital and has the country's busiest airport. Germany's largest urban area is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Essen; the country's other major cities are Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Bremen and Nuremberg. Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity.
A region named Germania was documented before 100 AD. During the Migration Period, the Germanic tribes expanded southward. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Confederation was formed in 1815; the German revolutions of 1848–49 resulted in the Frankfurt Parliament establishing major democratic rights. In 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic; the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, the annexation of Austria, World War II, the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as an independent country and two new German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American and French occupation zones, East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone.
Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990. Today, the sovereign state of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor, it is a great power with a strong economy. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer of goods; as a developed country with a high standard of living, it upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection, a tuition-free university education. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993, it is part of the Schengen Area and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been continuously the home of influential and successful artists, musicians, film people, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors.
Germany has a large number of World Heritage sites and is among the top tourism destinations in the world. The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine; the German term Deutschland diutisciu land is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German diutisc "popular" used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "popular", derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- "people", from which the word Teutons originates; the discovery of the Mauer 1 mandible shows that ancient humans were present in Germany at least 600,000 years ago. The oldest complete hunting weapons found anywhere in the world were discovered in a coal mine in Schöningen between 1994 and 1998 where eight 380,000-year-old wooden javelins of 1.82 to 2.25 m length were unearthed. The Neander Valley was the location where the first non-modern human fossil was discovered.
The Neanderthal 1 fossils are known to be 40,000 years old. Evidence of modern humans dated, has been found in caves in the Swabian Jura near Ulm; the finds included 42,000-year-old bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes which are the oldest musical instruments found, the 40,000-year-old Ice Age Lion Man, the oldest uncontested figurative art discovered, the 35,000-year-old Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest uncontested human figurative art discovered. The Nebra sky disk is a bronze artefact created during the European Bronze Age attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, it is part of UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme. The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well
US Quidditch Cup
The US Quidditch Cup, is a quidditch tournament held in the United States and organized by US Quidditch. Held every year since 2007, it features collegiate and community clubs from the United States; the tournament was known as Quidditch World Cup, but that name now refers to the international championship IQA World Cup. The first intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup was held in 2007 at Middlebury College in Vermont, between Middlebury and Vassar College from Poughkeepsie, New York. Since the US Quidditch Cup has been held in various places in the continental United States. On average, there are 70 or so teams present that proceed to pool play, where teams are grouped and the top teams from the group advance to bracket play; the 2014 edition was the last one called "IQA World Cup". Thereafter, the International Quidditch Association became an international sports federation and the organization of the Cup was handed over to US Quidditch. Since 2016, the Cup was renamed to "US Quidditch Cup" and the name "IQA World Cup" now refers to an international competition featuring national teams.
Beginning with the 2017-2018 season, there will be separate regional and national championships for club and collegiate teams. In order to participate in qualification, a team must be registered with USQ. Teams can be community teams. College teams are teams have only its students on the team. A community team is a private club team made up of interested players around the area; each community team may has its own rules when it comes to trying out or joining the team, college students may opt to join a community team over their college team. In 2016, Q. C. Boston was the first club team to win the cup. Once a team is started and registered, they may compete in official tournaments. Qualification is achieved through placement in Regional Championships. There are 8 different regions: Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, South and West; the Regional Championships, played in tournament form, take place from November to February, with the US Quidditch Cup taking place in April. Placing at certain level in each of the respective region's championships, which are played in tournament form, will guarantee a berth at the US Quidditch Cup.
Before the day of the event, all attending teams are sorted into 12 pools of 5 based on their seeding. Seeding is based on a complex algorithm measuring each team's wins, point differentials, snitch grab percentages and strength of schedule at their respective Regional Championships. After each team plays the other four in their pool, all the teams are ranked by the same algorithm; the top 28 teams get a spot in a seeded round-robin bracket and 29-36 join the play-in round, a pre-bracket playoff round of four games to determine the last 4 teams to join the bracket. Starting with a round of 32, teams are matched up and the winner of each match proceeds to the next round until a champion is determined. Muggle quidditch Major League Quidditch International Quidditch Association IQA World Cup IV archived by the Wayback Machine IQA World Cup V archived by the Wayback Machine IQA World Cup VI archived by the Wayback Machine IQA World Cup VII archived by the Wayback Machine US Quidditch World Cup 8 US Quidditch Cup 9
2012 Summer Olympics torch relay
The 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay was run from 19 May until 27 July, prior to the London 2012 Summer Olympics. The torch bearer selection process was announced on 18 May 2011; as well as touring the United Kingdom the schedule included the three crown dependencies of Jersey and the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland. The traditional lighting ceremony took place on 10 May at the Temple of Hera, home of the Ancient Olympic Games; the torch travelled around Greece, arriving at the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens on 17 May for the handover ceremony. The UK torch relay lasted 70 days, with 66 evening celebrations. About 8,000 people carried the torch a total distance of about 8,000 miles, starting from Land's End in Cornwall; the route was reported as designed in such a way as to ensure that the Torch came within 10 miles of 95% of the UK population. A wide range of people carried the torch around the country sports men and women, military figures and other local heroes from towns and cities across the UK.
A number of celebrities and actors held the flame on its journey, including Doctor Who star Matt Smith, Patrick Stewart, Jamie Oliver, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders, Rupert Grint, James McAvoy, Mel C, British/Irish boy band The Wanted, dance troupe/Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity and long time TV presenter, dancer and comedian Sir Bruce Forsyth. The torch had a day outside of the United Kingdom in Dublin on 6 June; the relay focused on national heritage sites, locations with sporting significance, key sporting events, schools registered with the Get Set School Network, green spaces, biodiversity,'Live Sites', local festivals, other events. Following a three-month tour by LOCOG, local authorities submitted ideas to regional government and LOCOG by May 2010; however some counties such as Somerset declined to put forward ideas citing potential costs of up to £300,000. The start date for the Relay was announced on 26 May 2010, as were the three presenting partners: Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung.
The nomination campaign for torchbearers was announced on 18 May 2011 and called'Moment to Shine'. On 16 May a British Airways Airbus A319, with custom gold livery and named "The Firefly", flew from Heathrow to Athens to collect the flame. On 18 May the aircraft flew as flight BA2012 from Athens to RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall; the flame was not extinguished during flight, having been classified as a'ceremonial flame' by the Civil Aviation Authority, but was kept in four Davy lamps secured in a cradle fixed to seats in Row 1. There was enough smokeless fuel to last 30 hours. HRH The Princess Royal, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Lord Coe, David Beckham were among 80 invited guests, along with a group of teenagers: rugby player Dennis Coles from East Ayrshire representing Scotland, hockey player Chloe Brown from Bangor representing Northern Ireland, athlete Sean White from Swansea representing Wales, hockey player Georgia Higgs from Cornwall, Sakinah Muhammad from Hackney representing London. After an overnight stay at RNAS Culdrose, members of 771 Naval Air Squadron took the Flame to Land's End by Sea King helicopter.
There the Olympic Cauldron was lit. Olympic sailing star Ben Ainslie ran the first leg of the relay. In the summer of 2010, the Design Council were commissioned to prepare the design brief and begin the search for a design for the Torch and related relay artifacts. With more than 800 designers interested in the project, a short list of 22 was presented to Locog. 6 were selected to present designs the selection being made a few months later. The winning design came from Barber Osgerby, led by Jay Osgerby, their design of the 2012 Olympic Torches was made of two aluminium alloy skin, perforated by 8,000 holes to represent the 8,000 torchbearers who would carry the flame. Technically the holes helped to dissipate heat without it being conducted down the handle, provided extra grip; the triangular shape of torches represented: The three Olympic values – respect and friendship. The three elements of the Olympic motto – faster, stronger; the three Olympic Games hosted by the United Kingdom. The tri-vision of the 2012 Summer Olympics – sport and culture.
The gold of the torches represented the qualities of the Olympic flame -- warmth. The torch stands 80 centimetres high. To realise this award-winning design, TECOSIM was responsible for the research and technical development of the torch and associated relay items including the celebration cauldrons. Computer Aided Engineering was used to simulate various scenarios that the torch might encounter during the relay, from environmental conditions to physical damage. Torch bearer safety was of prime importance at all times, so TECOSIM completed rigorous physical testing to validate the design, it was tested to withstand all weather conditions, from high winds to rain and snow at altitude utilizing the BMW Climatic Windtunnel in Munich as well as in field-testing. Production of the torches started towards the end of 2011. LOCOG, together with sustainability partner and sponsor EDF Energy, committed in 2009 to provide a "low-carbon fuel solution for the flames of the Olympic torch and the cauldron".
When the torch was unveiled on 8 June 2011, London 2012's chairman Sebastian Coe admitted the failure of the initiative, as "In simple terms, we didn't quite get there... We just ran of time and we tried hard to do it"; the final design of the torch used a "tried and tested formula" of propane. The progress of the Ol
Quidditch is a fictional sport invented by author J. K. Rowling for her fantasy book series Harry Potter, it is a dangerous but popular semi-contact sport played by witches and wizards riding flying broomsticks. Matches are played on a large oval pitch with three ring-shaped goals of different heights on each side, between two opposing teams of seven players each: three Chasers, two Beaters, the Keeper, the Seeker. There are three different balls: the Quaffle, the two Bludgers, the Golden Snitch; the Chasers and the Keeper score with and defend the goals against the Quaffle. The team with the most points at the end wins. Harry Potter plays as Seeker for his house team at Hogwarts. Regional and international Quidditch competitions are mentioned throughout the series. Aspects of the sport's history are revealed in Quidditch Through the Ages, published by Rowling in 2001 to benefit Comic Relief. A real-life version of the game has been created, in which the players still use brooms, but run instead of flying.
Rowling came up with the sport in a Manchester hotel room after a row with her then-boyfriend. She explained: "I had been pondering the things that hold a society together, cause it to congregate and signify its particular character and knew I needed a sport." Rowling claims that the word "Quidditch" is not derived from any particular etymological root, but was the result of filling five pages of a notebook with different words beginning with "Q". Despite the sport's popularity with fans, Rowling grew to dislike describing the matches, she commented in an interview: To be honest with you, Quidditch matches have been the bane of my life in the Harry Potter books. They are necessary in that people expect Harry to play Quidditch, but there is a limit to how many ways you can have them play Quidditch together and for something new to happen; the final Quidditch scene in the books appears in the Half-Blood Prince. Rowling experienced "fiendish glee" writing this scene, which features memorable commentary by Luna Lovegood.
In 2014 Rowling started publishing a series of match reports from the Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore, culminating in a short story about the final featuring the return of Harry, Ron and their friends as adults. This generated interest from several media outlets, as it was the first new writing about the Harry Potter characters since the end of the series in 2007. Quidditch is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, is a recurring feature throughout the first six books, it is depicted as being played by both amateurs. A major motif of five of the Harry Potter books is the competition among the four Hogwarts houses for the Quidditch Cup each school year. Quidditch matches are played over an oval-shaped pitch, with a scoring area at each end consisting of three hooped goal posts, each at a different height; each team is made up of seven players, consisting of three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper and one Seeker. The job of the Chasers is to keep possession of the scarlet Quaffle, a leather ball passed between players.
They must attempt to score goals by throwing it through one of the opponents' three hoops. These hoops are defended by the opposing team's Keeper. Meanwhile, players of both teams are attacked indiscriminately by the two Bludgers; these are round, jet-black balls made of iron that fly around violently trying to knock players off their brooms. It is the Beaters' job to defend their teammates from the Bludgers; the role of the Seeker is to catch the Golden Snitch. This is a small golden ball the approximate size of a walnut; the winged Snitch is enchanted to hover and fly around the pitch, avoiding capture while remaining within the boundaries of the playing area. Catching the Snitch ends the game and scores the successful Seeker's team 150 points; as the team with the most points wins, this guarantees victory for the successful Seeker's team. A notable exception is when Bulgaria Seeker Viktor Krum catches the Snitch for Bulgaria during the World Cup Final in Goblet of Fire, while his team are still 160 points behind Ireland, thus making his own team lose by only 10 points.
Magical flying broomsticks are one of the forms of transportation for wizards and witches, as well as being used for playing Quidditch. The three most prominent broomsticks in the books are the Nimbus 2000, Nimbus 2001, the Firebolt, both of which have been produced as merchandise by Warner Bros; the Nimbus is introduced as one of the best broomsticks in the wizarding world. Harry receives a Nimbus 2000 in Philosopher's Stone. Lucius Malfoy buys a full set of the more advanced Nimbus 2001s for the Slytherin team as a bribe, so they would choose his son Draco as Seeker the following year; the Firebolt supersedes the Nimbus as the fastest and one of the most expensive racing brooms in existence. Harry receives a Firebolt model from his godfather, Sirius Black, after his Nimbus 2000 is destroyed during a Quidditch match in Prisoner of Azkaban. In Goblet of Fire, Harry uses his Firebolt to escape the Hungarian Horntail during the Triwizard Tournament. Quidditch appears in five of the eight Harry Potter films.
Some Quidditch subplots, such as Ron's Keeper storyline in Order of the Phoen
United Kingdom national quidditch team
The United Kingdom National Quidditch Team, colloquially known as Team UK, is the official national Quidditch team of the United Kingdom. Team UK made its debut in 2012 at the IQA Summer Games in UK where it placed 5th of 5 teams; the team played in Canada at the 2014 IQA Global Games in Burnaby, BC on July 29, 2014 where it placed 4th of 7 teams and in the European Games in Sarteano, Italy in July 2015, placing 2nd of 12. Team UK gained its first medals at the IQA World Cup 2016 in Frankfurt on July 23–24, 2016, finishing 3rd out of 21 teams. In 2017 the team gained its first international trophy, winning the IQA European Games, beating France in the final. Team UK was formed just in time for the 2012 IQA Summer Games in Oxford, where it competed alongside the United States, France and Canada. At the time, Quidditch in the UK was thin on the ground. Other groups such as the University of Nottingham Quidditch Society and the various College teams at Oxford played by local variations on the rulebook.
This meant that the UK was the most inexperienced team represented at the games, with many of its players being free-agents with no game experience. Though the UK came last at the event, roundly defeated by every other team, this event spawned the mass growth of the sport in the United Kingdom; the event was won by the United States with a landslide victory over France in the Final. The successor event to the Summer Games, the 2014 IQA Global Games, took place in Burnaby and again the United Kingdom was represented. An initial round of try-outs selected 42 players who were divided into the travelling team and the reserves; this event saw the UK compete against the USA, Australia, France and Mexico. The two years of intensive growth in the UK since the last appearance of its national team was reflected, the team won major victories against Belgium and Mexico. Though they were defeated by a wide margin by the USA and Canada, the UK forced extra-time against eventual silver-medallists Australia despite eventual loss and soundly defeated old rivals France.
The UK was kept from the medal podium by a slight margin, losing the 3rd place playoff against Canada on a snitch-catch. The Global Games, like the Summer Games before them, were won by the Americans, who secured the gold with a wide-margin win over the Australians. Team UK made its third appearance at the first tournament of its kind. Team selection was made via observation of players in matches during the opening months of 2015, leading up to the British Quidditch Cup; the side finished second in the tournament, losing to France 90*-50 in the final. They topped their group, which included the hosts Italy, Germany, The Netherlands and Ireland winning every game. Victories followed in the quarter finals against Belgium in the semi finals. Team UK keeper and seeker Ollie Craig was named the MVP of the tournament. Beginning with the 2015-16 season, a standing national squad was established fluctuating around 35 players who train together on a regular basis and are dropped or called up at the discretion of the captain and coaching staff.
Squads for each competition will be selected from this national'training squad'. In July 2016, under captain Ben Morton, Team UK attended the Quidditch World Cup, held in Frankfurt, Germany with a squad of 21 chosen from the training squad. UK were one of the top 5 seeds heading into the tournament and lived up to expectations claiming bronze medals, after defeating Canada 190*-60 in the third place play off; the UK topped their group comfortably on day 1 with victories over Turkey, South Korea and Spain and carried their form into day 2 beating Slovenia and Turkey on the way to a semi-final against the USA. Whilst the UK took an early lead against the USA they were unable to hold onto it and a spot in the final was taken by the USA instead, with the UK losing 140*-40. In October 2016 a squad of 10 travelled to Odense, Denmark to represent the UK in a friendly match against Norway held as part of the Odense Harry Potter Festival; the friendly was split into 3 games with the UK coming out on top in 2 of the games, winning the first 180*-30 and the second 90-80*, however the Norwegian team fought back to win the final game 110*-100.
In July 2017 Team UK, captained by Bill Orridge, won the IQA European Games, beating France in the finals 90*-70 on a snitch catch by Callum Lake. Andrew Hull led the UK in the final. Hosts Norway took third place. Where a player's club is listed, the information is accurate at the time of their representation for the event in question; the clubs listed in the'current national squad' section are accurate for the current season. Where these names have changed over time, the name is given. Players who represent, or have represented, the UK national team are as follows. *Ashley Cooper acted as head coach of the team in a nonplaying capacity for a total of sixteen games for both European Games 2015 and World Cup 2016. The following players are represented the team at the World Cup* in Oxford in Summer 2012, placing fifth of five after a defeat to all other competing countries in the round-robin; the following players are represented the team at the World Cup* in Burnaby, Vancouver on July 19, 2014, placing fourth of seven after a 60*-40 defeat to Canada in the third-place play-off.
The following players are represented the team at the European Games in Sarteano on July 25–26, 2015, placi
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection