Motocross is a form of off-road motorcycle racing held on enclosed off-road circuits. The sport evolved from motorcycle trials competitions held in the United Kingdom. Motocross first evolved in the U. K. from motorcycle trials competitions, such as the Auto-Cycle Clubs's first quarterly trial in 1909 and the Scottish Six Days Trial that began in 1912. When organisers dispensed with delicate balancing and strict scoring of trials in favour of a race to become the fastest rider to the finish, the activity became known as "hare scrambles", said to have originated in the phrase, "a rare old scramble" describing one such early race. Though known as scrambles racing in the United Kingdom, the sport grew in popularity and the competitions became known internationally as "motocross racing", by combining the French word for motorcycle, motocyclette, or moto for short, into a portmanteau with "cross country"; the first known scramble race took place at Camberley, Surrey in 1924. During the 1930s the sport grew in popularity in Britain where teams from the Birmingham Small Arms Company, Matchless, AJS competed in the events.
Off-road bikes from that era differed little from those used on the street. The intense competition over rugged terrain led to technical improvements in motorcycles. Rigid frames gave way to suspensions by the early 1930s, swinging fork rear suspension appeared by the early 1950s, several years before manufacturers incorporated it in the majority of production street bikes; the period after World War II was dominated by BSA, which had become the largest motorcycle company in the world. BSA riders dominated international competitions throughout the 1940s. In 1952 the FIM, motorcycling's international governing body, set up an individual European Championship using a 500 cc engine displacement formula. In 1957 it was upgraded to World Championship status. In 1962 a 250 cc world championship was established. In the smaller 250 cc category companies with two-stroke motorcycles came into their own. Companies such as Husqvarna from Sweden, CZ from the former Czechoslovakia and Greeves from England became popular due to their lightness and agility.
Stars of the day included BSA-works riders Jeff Smith and Arthur Lampkin, with Dave Bickers, Joe Johnson and Norman Brown on Greeves. By the 1960s, advances in two-stroke engine technology meant that the heavier, four-stroke machines were relegated to niche competitions. Riders from Belgium and Sweden began to dominate the sport during this period. Motocross arrived in the United States in 1966 when Swedish champion, Torsten Hallman rode an exhibition event against the top American TT riders at the Corriganville Movie Ranch known as Hopetown in Simi Valley, California; the following year Hallman was joined by other motocross stars including Roger DeCoster, Joël Robert, Dave Bickers. They dominated the event, placing their lightweight two-strokes into the top six finishing positions. Motocross began to grow in popularity in the United States during this period, which fueled an explosive growth in the sport. By the late 1960s Japanese motorcycle companies began challenging the European factories for supremacy in the motocross world.
Suzuki claimed the first world championship for a Japanese factory when Joël Robert won the 1970 250 cc crown. The first stadium motocross event took place in 1972 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In 1975 a 125 cc world championship was introduced. European riders continued to dominate motocross throughout the 1970s but, by the 1980s, American riders had caught up and began winning international competitions. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Japanese motorcycle manufacturers presided over a boom period in motocross technology; the typical two-stroke air-cooled, twin-shock rear suspension machines gave way to machines that were water-cooled and fitted with single-shock absorber rear suspension. In the 1990s, America's leading motorcycle sport governing body, the AMA, increased the allowable displacement limit for four stroke powered machines in the AMA motocross championship, due to the low relative power output of a four stroke engine, compared to the then-dominating two stroke design. By 1994, the displacement limit of a four stroke power motocross bike was up to 550 cc in the 250 class, to incentivize manufactures to further develop the design for use in motocross.
By 2004 all the major manufacturers had begun competing with four-stroke machines. European firms experienced a resurgence with Husqvarna, KTM winning world championships with four-stroke machinery; the sport evolved with sub-disciplines such as stadium events known as supercross and arenacross held in indoor arenas. Classes were formed for all-terrain vehicles. Freestyle motocross events where riders are judged on their jumping and aerial acrobatic skills have gained popularity, as well as supermoto, where motocross machines race both on tarmac and off-road. Vintage motocross events take place - for motorcycles predating the 1975 model year. Many VMX races include a "Post Vintage" portion, which includes bikes dating until 1983; the FIM Grand Prix Motocross World Championship is predominantly held in Europe, but includes events in North America, South America, Asia and Africa. It is the major Motocross series worldwide. There are four classes: MXGP for 450cc machines, MX2 for 250cc machines, MX3 for 650cc machines and Women's MX.
Competitions consist of two races which are called motos with a duration of 30 minutes plus two laps. The AMA Motocross Championship continues until late August; the championship consists of twelve rounds at twelve major tracks all over the continental United States. There are three classes: the 250 Motocross Class for 0–125 cc 2-stroke or 150–250 cc 4-stroke machines, the 450 Mot
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
The territory of Franciacorta short France, is a section of the Province of Brescia in the Italian Region of Lombardy. Franciacorta extends from Mount Orfano on the southwest area to the shores of Lake Iseo, from the river Oglio on the western border to the city of Brescia in the east; the geography of rolling hills was shaped by glacial action. The soil, glacial moraines consisting of gravel and sand over limestone, drains well, is ideal for the cultivation of grapes and winemaking; the weather is mild and constant due to its location south of the foothills of the Alps and the tempering presence of large lakes. To publicize enotourism the district established a Strada del Vino Franciacorta on the model of the famed German Wine Route in 2001; the area has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times, with archaeological records left by Gauls— the Cenomani of Brixia and Lombards. The name Franciacorta, attested in 1277, is thought to derive from curtes francae, the fortified courts of the Frankish empire established in the 8th century.
Rodengo is home to a Cluniac foundation, the Abbey of St. Nicholas, inhabited by Olivetan monks since 1446. Other places of interest include Passirano, with a castle, Provaglio d'Iseo, with a Romanesque church. Among the most respected wine producers of Franciacorta sparkling and still wines in the region are Berlucchi, Bellavista and Ca' del Bosco. Others include Mosnel, Lantieri, Majolini and Cavalleri. A local circuit has hosted the World RX of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Franciacorta travel guide from Wikivoyage Franciacorta official site
Latvia the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states, it is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2; the country has a temperate seasonal climate. After centuries of Swedish and Russian rule, a rule executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I. However, by the 1930s the country became autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis; the country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years.
The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the Communist regime's illegal takeover. It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991. Latvia is a democratic sovereign state, parliamentary republic and a highly developed country according to the United Nations Human Development Index, its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and nine are cities. Latvians and Livonians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule and Soviet occupation, Latvia is home to a large number of ethnic Russians, some of whom have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all.
Until World War II, Latvia had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews. Latvia is predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, predominantly Roman Catholic; the Russian population are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, WTO. For 2014, the country was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country on 1 July 2014. A full member of the Eurozone, it began using the euro as its currency on 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats; the name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians together with the Finnic Livonians. Henry of Latvia coined the latinisations of the country's name, "Lettigallia" and "Lethia", both derived from the Latgalians; the terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages from "Lettland".
Around 3000 BC, the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Balts established trade routes to Byzantium, trading local amber for precious metals. By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia: Curonians, Selonians, Semigallians, as well as the Finnic tribe of Livonians speaking a Finnic language. In the 12th century in the territory of Latvia, there were 14 lands with their rulers: Vanema, Bandava, Duvzare, Megava, Pilsāts, Upmale, Sēlija, Jersika, Tālava and Adzele. Although the local people had contact with the outside world for centuries, they became more integrated into the European socio-political system in the 12th century; the first missionaries, sent by the Pope, sailed up the Daugava River in the late 12th century, seeking converts. The local people, did not convert to Christianity as as the Church had hoped. German crusaders were sent, or more decided to go on their own accord as they were known to do. Saint Meinhard of Segeberg arrived in Ikšķile, in 1184, traveling with merchants to Livonia, on a Catholic mission to convert the population from their original pagan beliefs.
Pope Celestine III had called for a crusade against pagans in Northern Europe in 1193. When peaceful means of conversion failed to produce results, Meinhard plotted to convert Livonians by force of arms. In the beginning of the 13th century, Germans ruled large parts of today's Latvia. Together with Southern Estonia, these conquered areas formed the crusader state that became known as Terra Mariana or Livonia. In 1282, the cities of Cēsis, Limbaži, Koknese and Valmiera, became part of the Hanseatic League. Riga became an important point of east-west trading and formed close cultural links with Western Europe. After the Livonian War, Livonia fell under Lithuanian rule; the southern part of Estonia and the northern part of Latvia were ceded to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and formed into the Duchy of Livonia. Gotthard Kettler, the last Master of
Donington Park is a motorsport circuit located near Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England. The circuit business is now owned by Jonathan Palmer's MotorSport Vision organisation, the surrounding Donington Park Estate is under lease by MotorSport Vision until 2038. Part of the Donington Hall estate, it was created as a racing circuit during the period between the First and Second World Wars when the German Silver Arrows were battling for the European Championship. Used as a military vehicle storage depot during the Second World War, it fell into disrepair until bought by local construction entrepreneur Tom Wheatcroft. Revived under his ownership in the 1970s, it hosted a single Formula One race, but became the favoured home of the British round of the MotoGP motorcycling championship. Leased by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd in 2007 the hope that Formula One racing could return to the track, the incomplete venture failed to raise sufficient financial backing during the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.
DVLL lost the rights to the British rounds of both Formula 1 and MotoGP, in its bankruptcy returned the track to the Wheatcroft family in December 2009. Under Wheatcroft's ownership, the venue underwent significant work, with the track restored to use in 2010, before major upgrades in the following five years. At the end of 2010, it was announced that Donington would become home to an annual historic motorsport event, the Donington Historic Festival, with new events being added. Since 2010, significant investment across the venue has seen major improvements made to its infrastructure, while the circuit has become a regular fixture for top class motorcycling in the form of the Superbike World Championship. In January 2017, the circuit business and a long term lease on the estate was purchased by MotorSport Vision, with the purchase cleared by authorities in August of the same year. Significant investment has seen facilities at the venue brought up to modern standards, with a new restaurant, toilet blocks, large new grandstand and new circuit offices, as well as other detail changes.
As well as improving the infrastructure, MSV has made additions to the race calendar, with additional major events planned for 2019 including extra rounds of the British Superbike Championship and British GT. Donington Park motor racing circuit was the first permanent park circuit in England, which ended the race circuit monopoly that Brooklands had held since 1907. Fred Craner was a former motorcycle rider who had taken part in seven Isle of Man TT races, was by 1931 a Derby garage owner and secretary of the Derby & District Motor Club. Craner approached the owner of the Donington Hall estate, Alderman John Gillies Shields JP, to use the extensive roads on his land for racing; the original track was 2 mile 327 yd in length, based on normal width unsealed estate roads. The first motor cycle race took place on Whit Monday, 1931. For 1933 Craner obtained permission to build a permanent track, with the original layout widened and sealed at a cost of £12,000; the first car race was followed by three car meetings further that year.
The first Donington Park Trophy race was held on 7 October 1933, the 20-lap invitation event was won by the Earl Howe in a Bugatti Type 51. In 1935 the first 300-mile Donington Grand Prix was won by Richard "Mad Jack" Shuttleworth in an Alfa Romeo P3. In the 1937 Donington Grand Prix and 1938 Donington Grand Prix, the race winners were Bernd Rosemeyer and Tazio Nuvolari, both in Auto Union'Silver Arrows.' The circuit at Donington Park was closed in 1939 due to World War II, when it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence and was converted into a military vehicle depot. In 1971 the circuit was bought by business man and car collector Tom Wheatcroft, who funded the rebuilding of the track. Wheatcroft moved his collection to the circuit, in a museum now known as the Donington Grand Prix Exhibition which opened in 1973, has the largest collection of Grand Prix cars in the world; the motor racing circuit re-opened for cars on 28 May 1977, as per the original pre-war opening, the first post-war meeting was for motorcycles.
The first postwar car race meeting was organised by the Nottingham Sports Car Club, sponsored by local Lotus dealers, J A Else of Codnor. That first car meeting nearly didn't happen, as the local ramblers tried to assert their rights to retain access to footpaths at the eleventh hour; the meeting went ahead as a "Motor Trial", a legal loophole that curtailed the use of single seater racing cars for that opening meeting. The NSCC continued to run race meetings at Donington until the Donington Racing Club was formed and a licence to run race meetings obtained; the Melbourne Loop was built in 1985 to increase the lap distance to 2.5 miles and allow the track to host Grand Prix motorcycle races – at 1.957 miles without the loop, the circuit was deemed too short. This shorter layout remains as the National circuit, used for most non-Grand Prix events. In recent times Donington has held meetings of MotoGP, the British Touring Car Championship and British Superbike Championship, as well as the 1993 European Grand Prix.
Other events taking place at the track include a 1000 km endurance race for the Le Mans Series in 2006, the World Series by Renault and the Great and British Motorsport Festival. On 26 August 2007, the circuit hosted the British Motocross Grand Prix, with a purpose-built motocross circuit constructed on the infield of the road circuit. In 2007, Wheatcroft via the holding company Wheatcroft & Son Ltd, sold a 150-year lease on the land on which the track and museum are located to Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd. In July 2008, it was announced that DVLL had won the rights to the British Gra
Ricky Carmichael is a former motocross racer known for his success in motocross in the early 2000s, having won the AMA Motocross Championship 450cc class seven times and the AMA Supercross Championship 450cc class five times. His unrivaled successes in the sport of motocross have given him the nickname "The GOAT". After a dominant amateur career, Carmichael made his pro debut for the Kawasaki team in 1997, he was erratic in Supercross. Crashes and inconsistency cost him the title to Suzuki's Tim Ferry. Outdoors, Carmichael was much more in his element, he beat defending champion Steve Lamson for the win at the first round. Carmichael was dominant and won the overall title in his rookie year, he more than made amends for his rookie-season loss in Supercross by winning all 8 main events of the 1998 125cc East Region. He won the East/West shootout as well. Outdoors, he defended his title despite early challenges from Lamson, John Dowd, Mike Brown. Carmichael jumped to the 250 class for Supercross in 1999 with the Factory Kawasaki team.
It started off reasonably well with some top 5 finishes, but had a violent crash in the early rounds and was forced to take time off. The rest of the year was filled with crashes and disappointing results and Carmichael failed to finish in the top 10 overall, he raced 125 outdoors once again with Pro Circuit, again dominated that series for his third title in a row. In 2000, Carmichael jumped to the 250 class full-time, he was much more consistent this year with regular top 5 finishes, including his first win at Daytona. He finished 5th overall behind eventual champion Jeremy McGrath. Outdoors, Carmichael was the class of the field, he had some close battles with Sebastien Tortelli, but ended up winning the 250 National Championship in his first try. By 2001, Carmichael had showed a new commitment to his preparation. After some early series battles with McGrath, Carmichael took a chokehold of the points lead and won 13 out of 15 Supercross races as well as the championship. After another battle with Tortelli and Kevin Windham outdoors, Carmichael won that title again as well.
Carmichael switched to Honda for 2002. He suffered a horrendous endo at round one of Supercross, he mounted a furious comeback by winning the title over David Vuillemin. Carmichael accomplished something that year thought impossible, he won all 24 motos of the 2002 National season. In 2003, Carmichael won both National titles again, he won the National title again with a 9 race wins over Windham. In 2004, Carmichael was injured for the Supercross season, he had a knee injury but came back for the Motocross season to record his second perfect season. Carmichael entered the 2005 season as the underdog, due to missing the prior season with the knee injury, now as a Suzuki factory rider. In what was projected as "the perfect storm", James "Bubba" Stewart made his debut in the premier 250cc class, along with perennial contenders Chad Reed and Kevin Windham, Carmichael triumphantly regained his Supercross title, with seven victories to Reed's five, Stewart's three, Windham's one; that summer, Carmichael won all 12 events in the 250cc Outdoor National Championship again.
Carmichael scored the US Open of Supercross title and led Team USA to a convincing victory at the Motocross des Nations. Carmichael campaigned the 2006 Supercross season aboard an RMZ450, it was the most exciting series battle in recent memory. There were multiple points lead changes and race winners, Carmichael and Stewart all entered the Las Vegas finale within 5 points of each other. With Carmichael and Reed tied for the lead, Stewart only 1 point behind them, it was a close race. Carmichael rode to a safe second-place finish behind Stewart and ended the series with 6 victories and his fifth Supercross championship, he planned to retire the following year. In the 2006 Outdoor National Championship season, Carmichael once again dominated all comers, including James Stewart, in winning 9 races and placing second twice. However, at the season finale at Glen Helen Raceway, Carmichael suffered a terrible crash while challenging James Stewart for the win and was unable to finish the race. Carmichael had clinched the overall championship at the prior round.
In the crash, he sustained a shoulder injury and was unable to compete in the Motocross of Nations race in England. Ivan Tedesco helped lead the American team to victory; as planned, Carmichael raced only a partial schedule in 2007. He would only race select events for Team Makita Suzuki while pursuing his new stock car career. Carmichael finished with two Supercross wins and six Outdoor National Championship wins, winning every race he entered. Carmichael capped his career with a winning performance at the X-Games and a victory with Team USA at the Motocross of Nations in Budds Creek, Maryland. In 2007, Carmichael signed a driver development contract with Ginn Racing, which would be merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Under the tutelage of veteran Mark Martin, Carmichael started his transition to stock cars by racing late models throughout the country. With backing from Monster Energy, Carmichael transitioned to Ken Schrader R
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