Heavy industry is industry that involves one or more characteristics such as large and heavy products. Because of those factors, heavy industry involves higher capital intensity than light industry does, it is often more cyclical in investment and employment. Transportation and construction along with their upstream manufacturing supply businesses have been the bulk of heavy industry throughout the industrial age, along with some capital-intensive manufacturing. Traditional examples from the mid-19th century through the early 20th included steelmaking, artillery production, locomotive erection, machine tool building, the heavier types of mining. From the late 19th century through the mid-20th, as the chemical industry and electrical industry developed, they involved components of both heavy industry and light industry, soon true for the automotive industry and the aircraft industry. Modern shipbuilding is considered heavy industry. Large systems are characteristic of heavy industry such as the construction of skyscrapers and large dams during the post–World War II era, the manufacture/deployment of large rockets and giant wind turbines through the 21st century.
Many East Asian countries rely on heavy industry as key parts of their overall economies. This reliance on heavy industry is a matter of government economic policy. Among Japanese and Korean firms with "heavy industry" in their names, many are manufacturers of aerospace products and defense contractors to their respective countries' governments such as Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries and Korea's Hyundai Rotem, a joint project of Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Heavy Industries. In 20th-century communist states, the planning of the economy focused on heavy industry as an area for large investments to the extent of painful opportunity costs on the production–possibility frontier; this was motivated by fears of failing to maintain military parity with foreign capitalist powers. For example, the Soviet Union's manic industrialization in the 1930s, with heavy industry as the favored emphasis, sought to bring its ability to produce trucks, artillery and warships up to a level that would make the country a great power.
China under Mao Zedong pursued a similar strategy culminating in the Great Leap Forward of 1958–1960, an attempt to industrialize and collectivize. This industrialization attempt failed to create industrialization and instead caused the Great Chinese Famine, in which 25-30 million people died prematurely. Heavy industry is sometimes a special designation in local zoning laws; this allows industries with heavy impacts to be sited with forethought. For example, the zoning restrictions for landfills take into account the heavy truck traffic that will exert expensive wear on the roads leading to the landfill. Definition of'Heavy Industry' according to Investopedia.com
Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge
An industry is the production of goods or related services within an economy. The major source of revenue of a group or company is the indicator of its relevant industry; when a large group has multiple sources of revenue generation, it is considered to be working in different industries. Manufacturing industry became a key sector of production and labour in European and North American countries during the Industrial Revolution, upsetting previous mercantile and feudal economies; this came through many successive rapid advances in technology, such as the production of steel and coal. Following the Industrial Revolution a third of the economic output comes from manufacturing industries. Many developed countries and many developing/semi-developed countries depend on manufacturing industry. Slavery, the practice of utilizing forced labor to produce goods and services, has occurred since antiquity throughout the world as a means of low-cost production, it produces goods for which profit depends on economies of scale those for which labor was simple and easy to supervise.
International law has declared slavery illegal. Guilds, associations of artisans and merchants, oversee the production and distribution of a particular good. Guilds have their roots in the Roman Empire as collegia Membership in these early guilds was voluntary; the Roman collegia did not survive the fall of Rome. In the early middle ages, guilds once again began to emerge in Europe, reaching a degree of maturity by the beginning of the 14th century. While few guilds remain today, some modern labor structures resemble those of traditional guilds. Other guilds, such as the SAG-AFTRA act as trade unions rather than as classical guilds. Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie claims that guilds negatively affected quality and innovation in areas that they were present; the industrial revolution saw the development and popularization of mechanized means of production as a replacement for hand production. The industrial revolution played a role in the abolition of slavery in North America; the Industrial Revolution led to the development of factories for large-scale production with consequent changes in society.
The factories were steam-powered, but transitioned to electricity once an electrical grid was developed. The mechanized assembly line was introduced to assemble parts in a repeatable fashion, with individual workers performing specific steps during the process; this led to significant increases in efficiency. Automation was used to replace human operators; this process has accelerated with the development of the robot. Certain manufacturing industries have gone into a decline due to various economic factors, including the development of replacement technology or the loss of competitive advantage. An example of the former is the decline in carriage manufacturing when the automobile was mass-produced. A recent trend has been the migration of prosperous, industrialized nations towards a post-industrial society; this is manifested by an increase in the service sector at the expense of manufacturing, the development of an information-based economy, the so-called informational revolution. In a post-industrial society, manufacturers relocate to more profitable locations through a process of off-shoring.
Measurements of manufacturing industries outputs and economic effect are not stable. Traditionally, success has been measured in the number of jobs created; the reduced number of employees in the manufacturing sector has been assumed to result from a decline in the competitiveness of the sector, or the introduction of the lean manufacturing process. Related to this change is the upgrading of the quality of the product being manufactured. While it is possible to produce a low-technology product with low-skill labour, the ability to manufacture high-technology products well is dependent on a skilled staff. An industrial society is a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Today, industry is an important part of nations. A government must have some kind of industrial policy, regulating industrial placement, industrial pollution and industrial labour. In an industrial society, industry employs a major part of the population.
This occurs in the manufacturing sector. A labour union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals in key areas such as wages and other working conditions; the trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. This movement first rose among industrial workers; the Industrial Revolution changed warfare, with mass-produced weaponry and supplies, machine-powered transportation, the total war concept and weapons of mass destruction. Early instances of industrial warfare were the Crimean War and the American Civil War, but its full potential showed during the world wars. See military-industrial complex, arms industries, military industry and modern warfare. Industries portal Industry information North American Industry Classification System North American Product Classification System Outline of industry Standard Industrial Classification Krahn, Harvey J. and Graham S. Lowe.
Work and Canadian Society. Second ed. Scarborough, Ont.: Nelson Canada, 1993. Xii, 430 pp. ISBN 0-17-603540-0 Media related to Industries at Wikimedia Commons Quotations related to industry at Wikiquote
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an international organization headquartered in Washington, D. C. consisting of "189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, reduce poverty around the world." Formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference by the ideas of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, it came into formal existence in 1945 with 29 member countries and the goal of reconstructing the international payment system. It now plays a central role in the management of balance of payments difficulties and international financial crises. Countries contribute funds to a pool through a quota system from which countries experiencing balance of payments problems can borrow money; as of 2016, the fund had SDR477 billion. Through the fund, other activities such as the gathering of statistics and analysis, surveillance of its members' economies and the demand for particular policies, the IMF works to improve the economies of its member countries.
The organisation's objectives stated in the Articles of Agreement are: to promote international monetary co-operation, international trade, high employment, exchange-rate stability, sustainable economic growth, making resources available to member countries in financial difficulty. IMF funds come from two major sources:quotas and loans. Quotas, which are pooled funds of member nations, generate most IMF funds; the size of a member's quota depends on its financial importance in the world. Nations with larger economic importance have larger quotas; the quotas are increased periodically as a means of boosting the IMF's resources. The current Managing Director and Chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund is French lawyer and former politician, Christine Lagarde, who has held the post since 5 July 2011. Gita Gopinath was appointed as Chief Economist of IMF from October 1, 2018, she received her Ph. D. in economics from Princeton University. According to the IMF itself, it works to foster global growth and economic stability by providing policy advice and financing the members by working with developing nations to help them achieve macroeconomic stability and reduce poverty.
The rationale for this is that private international capital markets function imperfectly and many countries have limited access to financial markets. Such market imperfections, together with balance-of-payments financing, provide the justification for official financing, without which many countries could only correct large external payment imbalances through measures with adverse economic consequences; the IMF provides alternate sources of financing. Upon the founding of the IMF, its three primary functions were: to oversee the fixed exchange rate arrangements between countries, thus helping national governments manage their exchange rates and allowing these governments to prioritize economic growth, to provide short-term capital to aid the balance of payments; this assistance was meant to prevent the spread of international economic crises. The IMF was intended to help mend the pieces of the international economy after the Great Depression and World War II; as well, to provide capital investments for economic growth and projects such as infrastructure.
The IMF's role was fundamentally altered by the floating exchange rates post-1971. It shifted to examining the economic policies of countries with IMF loan agreements to determine if a shortage of capital was due to economic fluctuations or economic policy; the IMF researched what types of government policy would ensure economic recovery. A particular concern of the IMF was to prevent financial crisis, such as those in Mexico 1982, Brazil in 1987, East Asia in 1997–98 and Russia in 1998, from spreading and threatening the entire global financial and currency system; the challenge was to promote and implement policy that reduced the frequency of crises among the emerging market countries the middle-income countries which are vulnerable to massive capital outflows. Rather than maintaining a position of oversight of only exchange rates, their function became one of surveillance of the overall macroeconomic performance of member countries, their role became a lot more active because the IMF now manages economic policy rather than just exchange rates.
In addition, the IMF negotiates conditions on lending and loans under their policy of conditionality, established in the 1950s. Low-income countries can borrow on concessional terms, which means there is a period of time with no interest rates, through the Extended Credit Facility, the Standby Credit Facility and the Rapid Credit Facility. Nonconcessional loans, which include interest rates, are provided through Stand-By Arrangements, the Flexible Credit Line, the Precautionary and Liquidity Line, the Extended Fund Facility; the IMF provides emergency assistance via the Rapid Financing Instrument to members facing urgent balance-of-payments needs. The IMF is mandated to oversee the international monetary and financial system and monitor the economic and financial policies of its member countries; this activity facilitates international co-operation. Since the demise of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates in the early 1970s, surveillance has evolved by way of changes in procedures rather than through the adoption of new obligations.
The responsibilities changed from those of guardian to those of overseer of members' policies. The Fund analyses the appropriateness of each member country's economic and financial policies for achieving orderly economic growth, assesses the consequences of these policies for other countries and for the global e
Taiwan the Republic of China, is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the northeast, the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous state and largest economy, not a member of the United Nations; the island of Taiwan was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the 17th century, when Dutch colonialists opened the island to mass Han immigration. After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of China, ceded to Japan in 1895. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Republic of China, which had overthrown and succeeded the Qing in 1911, took control of Taiwan; the resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the loss of the mainland to the Communists and the flight of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949. Although the ROC government continued to claim to be the legitimate representative of China, since 1950 its effective jurisdiction has been limited to Taiwan and several small islands.
In the early 1960s, Taiwan entered a period of industrialisation. In the 1980s and early 1990s, it changed from a one-party military dictatorship to a multi-party democracy with a semi-presidential system; as a founding member, the ROC represented China in the UN until it was replaced by the PRC in 1971. The PRC has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and refused diplomatic relations with any country that recognises the ROC; as of 2019, Taiwan maintains official ties with 16 out of 193 UN member states. Most international organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only as a non-state actor. Most major powers maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. In Taiwan, the major political division is between parties favouring eventual Chinese unification and promoting a Chinese identity contrasted with those aspiring to independence and promoting a Taiwanese identity, though both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal.
Taiwan is a high-income advanced economy, with a skilled and educated workforce. It has the 22nd-largest economy in the world, its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy, it is urbanised, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with most of the population concentrated on the western coast. The state is ranked in terms of civil and political liberties, health care and human development. Various names for the island of Taiwan remain in use today, each derived from explorers or rulers during a particular historical period; the name Formosa dates from 1542, when Portuguese sailors sighted an uncharted island and noted it on their maps as Ilha Formosa. The name Formosa "replaced all others in European literature" and remained in common use among English speakers into the 20th century. In the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company established a commercial post at Fort Zeelandia on a coastal sandbar called "Tayouan", after their ethnonym for a nearby Taiwanese aboriginal tribe Taivoan people, written by the Dutch and Portuguese variously as Taiouwang, Teijoan, etc.
This name was adopted into the Chinese vernacular as the name of the sandbar and nearby area. The modern word "Taiwan" is derived from this usage, seen in various forms in Chinese historical records; the area occupied by modern-day Tainan represented the first permanent settlement by both European colonists and Chinese immigrants. The settlement grew to be the island's most important trading centre and served as its capital until 1887. Use of the current Chinese name became official as early as 1684 with the establishment of Taiwan Prefecture. Through its rapid development the entire Formosan mainland became known as "Taiwan". In his Daoyi Zhilüe, Wang Dayuan used "Liuqiu" as a name for the island of Taiwan, or the part of it closest to Penghu. Elsewhere, the name was used for the Ryukyu Islands in general or Okinawa, the largest of them; the name appears in the Book of Sui and other early works, but scholars cannot agree on whether these references are to the Ryukyus, Taiwan or Luzon. The official name of the state is the "Republic of China".
Shortly after the ROC's establishment in 1912, while it was still located on the Chinese mainland, the government used the short form "China" to refer to itself, which derives from zhōng and guó, a term which developed under the Zhou dynasty in reference to its royal demesne, the name was applied to the area around Luoyi during the Eastern Zhou and to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state during the Qing era. During the 1950s and 1960s, after the government had withdrawn to Taiwan upon losing the Chinese Civil War, it was referred to as "Nationalist China" to differentiate it from "Communist China", it was a member of the United Nations representing "China" until 1971, when it lost its seat to the People's Republic of China. Over subsequent decades, the Republic of China has become known as "Taiwan", after the island that comprises 99% of the territory under its control. In some contexts ROC government publications, the name is written as "
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