Why is the Italian peninsula important

Some basic data on the population:

The population of Italy is (end of 2017) 60.5 million (Germany: 82.8 million). The population is, however, very unevenly distributed: the population has a particularly high density Po Valley in northern Italy, with the big cities Milan, Turin and the metropolitan area Verona, Vicenza and Padua, as well as the coastal regions around the big citiesGenoa, Rome, Naples, Bari, Catania andPalermo. In the mountainous center of Italy there are only two cities with more than 300,000 inhabitants: Florence and Bologna. The interior of the southern regionsCalabria and Basilicata is only very sparsely populated, as is the interior of Sardinia.

The territory:

The Euganean Hills near Padua, one of the typical hilly landscapes in Italy
Italy has an area of 301,300 km2 and is thus slightly smaller than Germany (357,300 km2). Most of the Italian territory protrudes as a peninsula (in the shape of a boot) into the Mediterranean Sea, the maximum extent - from northwest to southeast - is approximately 1,200 km. The border in the north is about 1,900 km long (border with France: 488 km, with Switzerland: 734 km, with Austria: 430 km and with Slovenia 232 km). The length of the coast, however, is about 7,500 km.

The territory is too35% outMountain country (especially the Italian Alps in the north and the Apennines in the center), too 23%out Plains (including especially the Po Valley in the north, which is about 48,000 km2 belongs to the largest lowlands in Europe) and to 42%out Hill country.

The Mediterranean:

The Apennine peninsula, on which a large part of Italy lies, juts out from the northwest to the southeast Mediterranean Seainto it, which is divided into several parts:
  • the coast in the northeast and east, down to the southern tip of Apulia (the "boot heel") lies onAdriatic sea.
  • the south coast of Apulia over the Basilicata to Calabria and the east coast of Sicily lie on Ionian sea,
  • the north coast (the "Italian Riviera"), which runs from the border with France to about the island of Elba, lies on Ligurian sea,
  • the west coast of Italy, from Tuscany down to Calabria, the north coast of Sicily and the east coast of Sardinia lie on Tyrrhenian Sea
  • the Strait of Sicily, which is only 145 km wide at its narrowest point, separates Sicily from Tunisia
The approximately 7,500 km long coasts of Italy have very different characters: from wide and long sandy beaches to rugged, steeply sloping rocky coasts.

The Italian islands:

The beach of Fetovaia, in the southwest of the island of Elba
The largest islands in Italy (also the largest islands in the Mediterranean in terms of area) are:
  • Sicily (25,426 km2, about 5 million inhabitants)
  • Sardinia (24,089 km2, about 1.7 million inhabitants)
Smaller islands and archipelagos that are particularly popular with tourists are:
  • Elba, (223 km2, 33,700 inhabitants) is located off the west coast of Tuscany
  • Ischia (46 km2, 64,000 inhabitants) and capri(10 km2, 15,000 inhabitants), two islands in the Gulf of Naples
  • slideAeolian Islands (also Aeolian Islands called), 7 islands off the north coast of Sicily (115 km2, a total of around 14,000 inhabitants), the most important Lipariand the volcanic island Stromboli
  • the Egadi Islands, 3 islands off the west coast of Sicily (37 km2, a total of 4,300 inhabitants), is the most important island Favignana
  • the La Maddalena archipelago, 7 islands in the northeast of Sardinia (49 km2, a total of 11,400 inhabitants)
  • the Tremiti Islands, 2 islands in the north of Apulia (3 km2, a total of 500 inhabitants), very popular with tourists
  • Lampedusa, the southernmost of the Italian islands, (20 km2, about 4,500 inhabitants), about 200 kilometers south of Sicily and 130 kilometers east of Tunisia, about the same height as the Tunisian city of Monastir. Geologically, Lampedusa already belongs to the African continental plate.

The rivers of Italy:

The Po near Ferrara, near its confluence with the Adriatic Sea
The main feet of Italy are:
  • Po, 652 km long
  • Etsch (Italian: Adige), 410 km long
  • Tiber (Italian: Tevere), 405 km long
  • Arno, 241 km long
For the geographic location of the rivers, see the map above. The north of Italy is very rich in water, with the Po and numerous tributaries that come from the Alps, which is very beneficial to agriculture (especially rice cultivation in the Po Valley). The south of Italy, especially inland, is rather arid.

The lakes of Italy:

Lake Garda, in the foreground the town of Tremosine sul Grada (on the west coast of Lake Garda)
Massimo Telò
The three largest and best-known lakes are located in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy and are fed by the meltwater of the Alps. Two other important lakes are in central Italy, in the Lazio region. For the geographic location of the lakes, see the map above. All of these lakes are popular vacation destinations.

The mountains of Italy:

The Matterhorn (4,478 m), on the border between Italy and Switzerland
Andrew Bossi
The Alps form an approximately 1,200 km long mountain range in northern Italy, which seals off the country to the north and is of great climatic importance. Most of the borders with France, Switzerland and Austria also run across the Alps. At these borders, or at least near them, are the highest mountains in Italy. The highest mountain in Italy (and Europe) is the Mont Blanc (Italian: Monte Bianco) with a height of 4,748 m. In addition, there are 27 other mountains between 3,000 m and 4,600 m in the Italian Alps, including this one Matterhorn (Italian: Cervino, see photo above) at 4,478 m, on the border between Italy and Switzerland.

The second important mountain range that runs through Italy from north to south (also for about 1,200 km) is the Apennines (or: the Apennines). The width of this mountain range goes from 30 km to about 250 km. Its highest peaks are in central Italy, the highest mountain in this chain is the mountain range Gran Sasso (2,912 m). All of Italy's mountains (including Mount Etna) are surrounded by very popular ski areas.

The volcanoes of Italy:

There are four active volcanoes in Italy:
  • the Etna (3,343 m) in eastern Sicily, the highest and most active volcano in Europe, periodically active with interruptions
  • the Stromboli (900 m), one of the Aeolian Islands, always active
  • the Solfatara near Pozzuoli in the Campania region, a crater almost at sea level (92 m), constantly active
  • the Vesuvius (1,291 m) near Naples, periodically active with more or less long interruptions (last eruption in 1944, but by no means extinguished today)

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