Despite its long history of civilisation, Italy only became a single, unified state in 1861.
It was one of six founding members of the European Union, with the treaty that created the common market signed in Rome on 25th March 1957.
It has a population of 60.8 million.
Italy has more World Heritage Sites (51) than any other country, which reflects its its great cultural history, including the Roman Empire and the home of the Renaissance from the 14th -17th centuries.
Italy has a smaller proportion of large multinational firms than most other major economies, with manufacturing exports based around luxury, high value products such as fashion and cars.
While the styles and ingredients of Italian cooking vary around the country, Italian cooking is known for the reliance on high quality ingredients, based around a Mediterranean diet, rather than complexity.
Espresso coffee and desserts such as ice cream and tiramisu are also a big part of the culture. It is the world’s largest wine producer.