macrohistory & world report


Map of Italy

Italy (capital Rome), including Sardinia and the little island of Pantelleria

World Factbook as of October 2014: "Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, highly subsidized, agricultural south, where unemployment is higher. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family-owned. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 17% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors. Italy is the third-largest economy in the euro-zone, but its exceptionally high public debt and structural impediments to growth have rendered it vulnerable to scrutiny by financial markets. Public debt has increased steadily since 2007... The government still faces pressure from investors and European partners to sustain its efforts to address Italy's long-standing structural impediments to growth, such as labor market inefficiencies and widespread tax evasion."

Wikipedia: "Italy suffers from structural weaknesses due to its geographical conformation and the lack of raw materials and energy resources: in 2006 the country imported more than 86% of its total energy."

2013: Health care is available to all and partially paid by the government – 71 percent in the year 1998. Dental care is free in Italy, at public healthcare centers or with outside dentists. 

2008: The World Health Organization ranks Italy's health system as second best in the world. Government intervention provides inexpensive pharmaceuticals for seniors.

Health expenditures
2009: 5.1% of GDP

GDP growth rate:
2013: -1.8%
2012: -2.4%
2011: 0.4%
2010: 1.3%

Unemployment rate
2013: 12.4%
2011: 8.4%
2010 8.4%
2009: 7.5%
2008: 6.8%

Public debt
2011: 120.1% of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 1.8

Italy's currency is the Euro. 

National sales tax (VAT) 21%


Living in an urban area
2010: 68%

Net migration rate
2014:A net gain of 4.29 persons per 1,000 population.
2011: A net gain of 4.86 persons per 1,000 population.
2009: More arriving than leaving. A net gain of 2.06 persons per 1,000 population.

Religions according to World Factbook in May 2011
Roman Catholic 90% (approximately; about one-third practicing), other 10% (includes mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community) .


South-central Europe, protruding into the Mediterranean Sea. Capital: Rome

Government and Alliances

A parliamentary democracy and a republic, having discarded its monarchy at the close of World War II.

A member of NATO and the European Union.

Recent History

According to the BBC on October 24, 2011, "Italy is plagued by poor regulation, vested business interests, an aging population, and weak investment..." For twenty years Italy's government has been running a high debt, how at 118% of GDP – high by European standards – but paying its bills and holding off extravagent spending. Italy has been unable to recover from the economic crisis of 2008. It is in trouble because of its need to borrow to pay the interest on its debt and because of a lack of economic growth needed for more revenue.

Nov 7, 2011: More from the same article, by Laurence Knight,
Business reporter, BBC News: "Unlike their counterparts in Spain or the Irish Republic, ordinary Italians have not run up huge mortgages, and generally have very little debt. That means that according to the Bank of International Settlements Italy as a country – not just a government – is not actually terribly indebted compared with other big economies such as France, Canada or the UK."

Feb 15, 2012: Author Beppe Severgnini tells Margaret Warner of the News Hour: "We got in this mess because we want to have a health care system (that) works, and we do have that. We want to have good schools, and we do have that. We (want) to have good social security, and we do have that. But in order to afford all that, you must pay taxes, not waste money in corruption and not (allow) the mob to have their own separate economy."

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.