Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres in the Carpathian Basin, it borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, Slovenia to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union; the official language is Hungarian, the most spoken Uralic language in the world, among the few non-Indo-European languages to be spoken in Europe. Hungary's capital and largest city is Budapest; the territory of modern Hungary was for centuries inhabited by a succession of peoples, including Celts, Germanic tribes, West Slavs and the Avars. The foundations of the Hungarian state were established in the late ninth century CE by the Hungarian grand prince Árpád following the conquest of the Carpathian Basin, his great-grandson Stephen I ascended the throne in 1000, converting his realm to a Christian kingdom. By the 12th century, Hungary became a regional power, reaching its cultural and political height in the 15th century.
Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Hungary was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. It came under Habsburg rule at the turn of the 18th century, joined Austria to form the Austro–Hungarian Empire, a major European power; the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after World War I, the subsequent Treaty of Trianon established Hungary's current borders, resulting in the loss of 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, 32% of ethnic Hungarians. Following the tumultuous interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties. Hungary became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, which contributed to the establishment of a socialist republic spanning four decades; the country gained widespread international attention as a result of its 1956 revolution and the seminal opening of its previously-restricted border with Austria in 1989, which accelerated the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. On 23 October 1989, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic.
Hungary is an OECD high-income economy and has the world's 58th largest economy by PPP. It ranks 45th on the Human Development Index, owing in large part to its social security system, universal health care, tuition-free secondary education. Hungary's rich cultural history includes significant contributions to the arts, literature, sports and technology, it is the 13th most popular tourist destination in Europe, attracting 15.8 million international tourists in 2017, owing to attractions such as the largest thermal water cave system in the world, second largest thermal lake, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest natural grasslands in Europe. Hungary's cultural and academic prominence classify it as a middle power in global affairs. Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007, it is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the AIIB, the Council of Europe, the Visegrád Group.
The "H" in the name of Hungary is most due to early founded historical associations with the Huns, who had settled Hungary prior to the Avars. The rest of the word comes from the Latinized form of Byzantine Greek Oungroi. According to an explanation,the Greek name was borrowed from Old Bulgarian ągrinŭ, in turn borrowed from Oghur-Turkic Onogur. Onogur was the collective name for the tribes who joined the Bulgar tribal confederacy that ruled the eastern parts of Hungary after the Avars; the Hungarian endonym is Magyarország, composed of ország. The word magyar is taken from the name of one of the seven major semi-nomadic Hungarian tribes, magyeri; the first element magy is from Proto-Ugric *mäńć-'man, person' found in the name of the Mansi people. The second element eri,'man, lineage', survives in Hungarian férj'husband', is cognate with Mari erge'son', Finnish archaic yrkä'young man'; the Roman Empire conquered the territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 BC. From 9 BC to the end of the 4th century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire, located within part of Hungary's territory.
Around AD 41–54, a 500-strong cavalry unit created the settlement of Aquincum and a Roman legion of 6,000 men was stationed here by AD 89. A civil city grew in the neighbourhood of the military settlement and in AD 106 Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the province of Pannonia Inferior; this area now corresponds to the Óbuda district of Budapest, with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum. Came the Huns, a Central Asian tribe who built a powerful empire. After Hunnish rule, the Germanic Ostrogoths and Gepids, the Avar Khaganate, had a presence in the Carpathian Basin. In the 9th century, East Francia, the First Bulgarian Empire and Great Moravia ruled the territory of the Carpathian Basin; the freshly unified Hungarians led by Árpád, settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 895. According to linguistic evidence, they originated from an ancient Uralic-speaking population that inhabited the forested area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains.
As a federation of united tribes, Hungary was established in 895, some 50 years after the division of the Carolingian Empire at the Treaty of Verdun in 843, before the unification of the Anglo-Saxon king
Richard Alan Bonynge is an Australian conductor and pianist. He is the widower of Australian dramatic coloratura soprano Dame Joan Sutherland. Bonynge conducted all of Sutherland's operatic performances from 1962 until her retirement in 1990. Bonynge was born in Epping, a suburb of Sydney, educated at Sydney Boys' High School before studying piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and gaining a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where his piano teacher was Herbert Fryer, he gave up his music scholarship, continuing his private piano studies, became a coach for singers. One of these was Joan Sutherland, they married in 1954 and became a duo, performing operatic recitals until 1962. When the scheduled conductor for a recital of operatic arias became ill and the replacement conductor was involved in a car accident, Bonynge stepped in and, from that time on, he conducted all of his wife's performances, his debut as an opera conductor took place in 1963 in Vancouver. The same year in Vancouver, he conducted Norma for the first time, starring Sutherland and Marilyn Horne.
He conducted the English Chamber Orchestra in many recordings. By doing some research and reading up on Massenet and Italian bel canto composers, Bonynge discovered Massenet's own statement about his opera Esclarmonde being his "best achievement." This filled Bonynge with curiosity more because Esclarmonde had sunk into total oblivion and had hardly been performed at all since the end of the 19th century. He obtained a tattered vocal score of it in Paris, subsequently bought the full orchestral score from an auction in New York City. Although Sutherland was skeptical about Esclarmonde, Bonynge became an enthusiast of the work and convinced her that she should perform the role of Esclarmonde herself; the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera premieres of Esclarmonde took place in 1974 and 1976 respectively. In 1977 he was the founding Music Director of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, when he conducted Le roi de Lahore staged there. Bonynge made his Metropolitan Opera debut on 12 December 1966, his last performance there was on 6 April 1991.
Most of those performances he conducted there between 1966 and 1987 were with Sutherland singing. From the 1960s until the early 1970s, his speciality was music of 18th and early 19th century in bel canto repertoire of Rossini and Donizetti. Bonynge gradually added middle Verdi, Offenbach also Massenet. Bonynge has recorded extensively in the ballet genre: Delibes's three ballets – La Source, Coppélia, Sylvia. One of Bonynge's most valuable contributions to ballet music is a 10 CD "Compendium of Ballet Rarities" which have been recorded but are performed by established ballet companies, such as several famous Pas de deux and ballets performed in operas. Commencing in 2007, he has conducted a series of performances in a few opera houses around the U. S. and now is involved with the Opera Australia company. He lives in Les Avants and maintains a home in Sydney, his recordings include some works with no operatic associations, such as the Harp Concerto in E-flat by Reinhold Glière, with harpist Osian Ellis.
Bonynge was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to music in 1977. In 1983, he was made Officer of the Order of Australia, in 1989 a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2009, Bonynge was awarded the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award. On 26 January 2012, Bonynge was promoted within the Order of Australia to Companion, for "eminent service to the performing arts as an acclaimed conductor and musical scholar, to classical singing and the promotion of opera, through the collection and preservation of operatic manuscripts." Image of Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge, performing at Opera in the Park – taken by Don McMurdo and held in the National Library of Australia Image of Dame Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti on stage with Richard Bonynge, performing at the Sydney Opera House in 1983 – taken by Don McMurdo and held in the National Library of Australia Sutherland, Joan. "Presenting the couple: Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge". Sunday Opera.
Interviewed by Duffie, Bruce. Chicago: WNIB, Classical 97. Retrieved 2 February 2012. Index page to the Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge ephemera collection – held in the National Library of Australia Colbert Artists Management Inc
Georges Prêtre was a French orchestral and opera conductor. Prêtre was born in Waziers, attended the Douai Conservatory and studied harmony under Maurice Duruflé and conducting under André Cluytens among others at the Conservatoire de Paris. Amongst his early musical interests were jazz and trumpet. After graduating, he conducted in a number of small French opera houses sometimes under the pseudonym Georges Dherain, his conducting debut was at the Opéra de Marseille in 1946. He conducted at the opera houses in Lille and Toulouse, his Paris debut was at the Opéra-Comique in Richard Strauss's Capriccio. He was director of the Opéra-Comique 1955–1959, he conducted at the Lyric Opera of Chicago 1959–1971. He was conductor, 1959, music director 1970–1971, at the Paris Opéra, he was principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony 1986–1991. His Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, debut came in 1965, with first appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, La Scala, Milan coming in the same decade, he worked with Maria Callas on a number of occasions, made recordings of Carmen and Tosca with her.
Aside from opera, Prêtre was best known for performances of French music, having conducted long and difficult works like Debussy's La mer and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé without a score. He is associated with Francis Poulenc, giving the premiere of his opera La voix humaine at the Opéra-Comique in 1959 and the first performance in France of his Sept répons des ténèbres in 1963. In 1999 he gave a series of concerts in Paris to celebrate the centenary of Poulenc's birth. In 1988 Marcel Landowski dedicated his Fourth Symphony to Prêtre. To many music lovers, however, Prêtre's name will forever be associated with the 1959 world premiere of Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 81, with Virgil Fox and the Paris Opera Orchestra. Eclectic musician, he conducted in Vienna, in 1962, L'Opéra d'Aran by Gilbert Bécaud, he conducted the La Scala Orchestra in Franco Zeffirelli's 1982 film versions of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. Both films starred Plácido Domingo.
In 2009, at the age of 85, he returned to these two Italian operas in the Roman amphitheater at Orange, for televised performances starring Roberto Alagna. Prêtre conducted the Vienna New Year's Concert twice, in 2008 and in 2010, the only French conductor to have been appointed for this role. Prêtre married Gina Marny in 1950, they had two children. Interests included riding, aviation and karate. Prêtre died in France on 4 January 2017, aged 92, he had a home in Navès, near Castres. Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Grand Officier of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Europa Prize Honorary Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Victoire de la Musique Award Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur International Dictionary of Opera. St. James Press, 1993 International Who's Who. 2004 Excerpts from Georges Prêtre's last concert on YouTube Georges Prêtre on IMDb Kurier.at
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position, he chose to stay in the capital. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies and operas, portions of the Requiem, unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35; the circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber and choral music, he is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, Joseph Haydn wrote: "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years". Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria, née Pertl, at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg; this was the capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, an ecclesiastic principality in what is now Austria part of the Holy Roman Empire. He was the youngest of seven children, his elder sister was Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed "Nannerl". Mozart was baptised the day at St. Rupert's Cathedral in Salzburg; the baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form, as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He called himself "Wolfgang Amadè Mozart" as an adult, but his name had many variants. Leopold Mozart, a native of Augsburg, was a minor composer and an experienced teacher. In 1743, he was appointed as fourth violinist in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.
Four years he married Anna Maria in Salzburg. Leopold became the orchestra's deputy Kapellmeister in 1763. During the year of his son's birth, Leopold published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved success; when Nannerl was 7, she began keyboard lessons with her father, while her three-year-old brother looked on. Years after her brother's death, she reminisced: He spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was striking, his pleasure showed that it sounded good.... In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier.... He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, keeping in time.... At the age of five, he was composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down; these early pieces, K. 1–5, were recorded in the Nannerl Notenbuch. There is some scholarly debate about whether Mozart was four or five years old when he created his first musical compositions, though there is little doubt that Mozart composed his first three pieces of music within a few weeks of each other: K. 1a, 1b, 1c.
In his early years, Wolfgang's father was his only teacher. Along with music, he taught academic subjects. Solomon notes that, while Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, there is evidence that Mozart was keen to progress beyond what he was taught, his first ink-spattered composition and his precocious efforts with the violin were of his own initiative, came as a surprise to Leopold, who gave up composing when his son's musical talents became evident. While Wolfgang was young, his family made several European journeys in which he and Nannerl performed as child prodigies; these began with an exhibition in 1762 at the court of Prince-elector Maximilian III of Bavaria in Munich, at the Imperial Courts in Vienna and Prague. A long concert tour followed, spanning three and a half years, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Paris, The Hague, again to Paris, back home via Zurich and Munich. During this trip, Wolfgang met a number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers.
A important influence was Johann Christian Bach, whom he visited in London in 1764 and 1765. When he was eight years old, Mozart wrote his first symphony, most of, transcribed by his father; the family trips were difficult, travel conditions were primitive. They had to wait for invitations and reimbursement from the nobility, they endured long, near-fatal illnesses far from home: first Leopold both children; the family again went to Vienna in late 1767 and remained there until December 1768. After one year in Salzburg and Wolfgang set off for Italy, leaving Anna Maria and Nannerl at home; this tour lasted from December 1769 to March 1771. As with earlier journeys, Leopold wanted to display his son's abilities as a performer and a maturing composer. Wolfgang met Josef Mysliveček and Giovanni Battista Martini in Bologna, was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. In Rome, he heard Gregorio Allegri's Miserere twice in performance, in the Sistine Chapel, wrote it out from memory, thus producing the first unauthorized copy of this guarded property of the Vatican.
In Milan, Mozart wrote the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto, performed with success. This led to further oper
The Czech Republic known by its short-form name, Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres with a temperate continental climate and oceanic climate, it is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava and Pilsen; the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe. It is a developed country with an advanced, high income export-oriented social market economy based in services and innovation; the UNDP ranks the country 14th in inequality-adjusted human development. The Czech Republic is a welfare state with a "continental" European social model, a universal health care system, tuition-free university education and is ranked 14th in the Human Capital Index, it ranks as the 6th safest or most peaceful country and is one of the most non-religious countries in the world, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance.
The Czech Republic includes the historical territories of Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The Czech state was formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as an Imperial State of the Holy Roman Empire along with the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, numerous other territories, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Beside Bohemia itself, the King of Bohemia ruled the lands of the Bohemian Crown, holding a vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. In the Hussite Wars of the 15th century driven by the Protestant Bohemian Reformation, the kingdom faced economic embargoes and defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed by the leaders of the Catholic Church. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Protestant Bohemian Revolt against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years' War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, eradicated Protestantism and reimposed Catholicism, adopted a policy of gradual Germanization; this contributed to the anti-Habsburg sentiment. A long history of resentment of the Catholic Church followed and still continues. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian Kingdom became part of the German Confederation 1815-1866 as part of Austrian Empire and the Czech language experienced a revival as a consequence of widespread romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and were subsequently the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, formed in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in this part of Europe in the interwar period. However, the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, while the Slovak region became the Slovak Republic.
Most of the three millions of the German-speaking minority were expelled following the war. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections and after the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence. In 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and market economy was reintroduced. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia; the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. The traditional English name "Bohemia" derives from Latin "Boiohaemum", which means "home of the Boii"; the current English name comes from the Polish ethnonym associated with the area, which comes from the Czech word Čech. The name comes from the Slavic tribe and, according to legend, their leader Čech, who brought them to Bohemia, to settle on Říp Mountain.
The etymology of the word Čech can be traced back to the Proto-Slavic root *čel-, meaning "member of the people. The country has been traditionally divided into three lands, namely Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the east, Czech Silesia in the northeast. Known as the lands of the Bohemian Crown since the 14th century, a number of other names for the country have been used, including Czech/Bohemian lands, Bohemian Crown and the lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas; when the country regained its independence after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the new name of Czechoslovakia was coined to reflect the union of the Czech and Slovak nations within the one country. After Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1992, the Czech part lac
Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south; the kanji that make up Japan's name mean "sun origin", it is called the "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands; the four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one; the population of 127 million is the world's tenth largest. 90.7 % of people live in cities. About 13.8 million people live in the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. Archaeological research indicates; the first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
Influence from other regions China, followed by periods of isolation from Western Europe, has characterized Japan's history. From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shōguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma – and the Empire of Japan was established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism; the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the Japanese surrender. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, 1947, during the occupation led by SCAP, the sovereign state of Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.
Japan is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8, the G20, is considered a great power. Its economy is the world's third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity, it is the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Japan benefits from a skilled and educated workforce. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, Japan maintains a modern military with the world's eighth-largest military budget, used for self-defense and peacekeeping roles. Japan is a developed country with a high standard of living and Human Development Index, its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and third lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but is experiencing issues due to an aging population and low birthrate. Japan is renowned for its historical and extensive cinema, influential music industry, video gaming, rich cuisine and its major contributions to science and modern technology; the Japanese word for Japan is 日本, pronounced Nihon or Nippon and means "the origin of the sun".
The character nichi means "sun" or "day". The compound therefore means "origin of the sun" and is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun"; the earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang. At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country; this name may have its origin in a letter sent in 607 and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty. Prince Shōtoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a letter in which he called himself "the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises"; the message said: "Here, I, the emperor of the country where the sun rises, send a letter to the emperor of the country where the sun sets. How are you". Prior to the adoption of Nihon, other terms such as Yamato and Wakoku were used; the term Wa is a homophone of Wo 倭, used by the Chinese as a designation for the Japanese as early as the third century Three Kingdoms period.
Another form of Wa, Wei in Chinese) was used for an early state in Japan called Nakoku during the Han dynasty. However, the Japanese disliked some connotation of Wa 倭, it was therefore replaced with the substitute character Wa, meaning "togetherness, harmony"; the English word Japan derives from the historical Chinese pronunciation of 日本. The Old Mandarin or early Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters 日本; the old Malay word for Japan, Japun or Japang, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect Fukienese or Ningpo – and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia in the 16th century. These Early Portuguese traders brought the word
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