to countryaah, Italy is one of the world's largest economies. The
country's industrial expansion came as a post- World War II
reconstruction, aided by financial support from the United
States, and transformed Italy from an agricultural society
into a modern industrial state.
In the first half of the
1970s, Italy was hit by an economic crisis with inflation,
wage disputes in industry and political turmoil. In the
1980s, the country was able to reduce the rate of inflation
and the large deficits in the foreign economy.
At the end of the 1980s, Italy moved up to fifth place in
the G7 group, but was in seventh place in 2017. In terms of
gross domestic product, Italy was the world's eighth largest
economy in 2017, and the fourth largest in Europe after
Germany, the United Kingdom and France.
In 1990 unemployment was nine percent, in 2000 ten
percent, in 2010 8.5 percent and in March 2018 11 percent.
Youth unemployment is high (31 per cent in the 15-24 year
age group in March 2018), and significantly higher in
southern Italy than in northern Italy.
Italy largely relies on its economy on exports, and the
emergence of significant new players in the world market,
such as China, is increasing competition for Italy.
Italy has been a driving force for European economic and
political integration. The country joined the EU's Economic
and Monetary Union in 1999.
The state has had significant control over the economy,
including through large state-owned industrial companies in
key sectors such as iron and steel, shipbuilding, mechanical
engineering and petrochemicals. After 2000, the authorities
have privatized a number of state companies. Italy has an
extensive "black economy" completely out of government's
control and control.
The distribution of income in Italy is uneven compared to
other EU countries, with large differences between both
different income groups and different regions. The
differences are relatively large between Northern Italy and
Southern Italy, since industrialization traditionally took
place to a greater extent in the north than in the south.
Italy is, after France and Germany, the third largest
producer of agricultural products in the EU.
Agriculture, including forestry and fishing, accounts for
2.3 per cent of gross domestic product and 3.8 per cent of
employment as of 2017. As late as 1951, around 42 per cent
of the working population was employed in agriculture, while
in 1970 the proportion was down to 19 per cent. This drastic
reduction in rural population has happened in parallel with
Italy's industrial expansion. The agricultural industry
still represents a significant part of the country's
exports, but industrial goods have become far more
important. However, there has been no decline in
agricultural production, on the contrary, an increasing use
of artificial fertilizers and other technical advances has
yielded ever-increasing crops.
Almost half of the land area is classified as
agricultural land, but a large part of this is heavily
driven mountain slopes, often terraced, where mechanization
of operations is difficult. Large, continuous flat areas are
found especially on Posletta in northern Italy, along the
coasts and in the lower part of Central Italy's valley. The
soil is fertile in most places, although centuries of
deforestation and subsequent soil erosion are a major
problem, especially in the mountainous regions. About 1
/ 4 of all arable land need irrigation.
Wheat (winter wheat) is just about everywhere the most
important grain. Wheat in the form of pasta and corn in the
form of polenta are among the most important basic foods,
and both wheat and corn must be imported. At Posletta,
intensive rice cultivation is run. Other important grains
are barley and oats. Sugar beets are mostly grown in
Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, and sugar production covers most
of the country's consumption.
Italy grows large quantities of vegetables and fruits,
partly for export. Oranges, kiwi, lemons and mandarins are
grown especially in Sicily. Much of the fat consumption is
covered by olives, which are grown in large quantities
throughout most of the country, but especially in Puglia,
Calabria and Sicily.
In addition to these typical Mediterranean growths, large
quantities of apples, pears, peaches, cherries and plums are
grown, which are largely exported. Other important products
are tomatoes, beans and peas, which have created the basis
for a significant canning industry. Important areas of
cultivation are the plains of the Gaeta, Naples and Salerno
bays. Italy accounted for about 14 percent of the world's
tomato production in 2017. In addition, a lot of potatoes
are also grown.
Cattle breeding is particularly concentrated in Northern
Italy, including Posletta, where there is a significant
cattle holding based on the cultivation of dairy forage
crops. The area is known for gorgonzola and parmesan
cheeses. Nevertheless, Italy must introduce large quantities
of livestock products to meet domestic needs. This applies
to both meat, butter and cheese. In the Alps too,
agriculture is run as cattle breeding with high and fodder
production. In certain alpestrøk is still run some kind of
dairy farming (transhumance), where livestock are
run up on the mountain pastures in the summer.
Italian wine is produced over large parts of the country,
partly in mixed culture with other crops such as grains,
olives or fruit trees. Italy is the world's largest wine
producer, ahead of France. According to figures from 2016,
over 50 million hectoliters of wine were produced in the
country; 27 million hectoliters of red wine and 23 million
hectoliters of white wine. There is wine production in all
the Italian regions, most in Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia
Wine production in ITALY
||Millions of hectoliters
The forest covers just over 1/5 of the land area, but the
importance of forestry is less than the area would indicate.
For 2000, the forest has been hard at work in overgrazing
and over-harvesting, and erosion has turned large areas into
scrub vegetation (macchia). Extensive spruce and
pine forests are found in the Alps, especially in Trentino-Alto
Adige. Otherwise, cork oak and pine have local significance
in the coastal areas, and in the drier regions, eucalyptus
Apart from the inner part of the Adriatic, the waters
around Italy are poor in fisheries and fisheries cannot
cover domestic consumption. Italian fishing is operated by
small boats from a number of ports, and supplies the local
markets. Among the most important fishing ports are
Chioggia, Livorno and Naples, as well as Palermo and Trapani
Italy is relatively poor in mineral resources, especially
fuels, and mining has never been of any significance. There
are small amounts of iron ore in Elba and lead and zinc in
Sardinia, in Friuli, the Karnian Alps and Tuscany. Italy
also has deposits of sulfur kite and sulfur. The sulfur is
found primarily in Sicily, but also in Romagna, Marche and
Campania. Quarrying of building stone has great economic
importance, especially marble from Carrara in Tuscany. All
the mercury mines in Tuscany are closed.
Italy depends on importing energy from other countries.
Most of the consumption of petroleum is imported from
abroad. The natural gas consumed in Italy is mainly imported
from Russia, Algeria and Libya.
Around 86 per cent of electrical energy consumption is
produced in Italy, while the rest is imported from
neighboring countries France, Switzerland, Austria and
Slovenia. The production of electrical energy comes partly
from the waterfall energy, solar energy, wind energy and
bioenergy. Most of the hydropower comes from the Alps, but a
smaller part also comes from the central Appennines and
Just under 80 percent of total energy consumption comes
from non-renewable energy sources and 20 percent from
renewable sources. Per capita, both total energy consumption
and electric power consumption is relatively low by Western
Nuclear power was produced in Italy in the period
1963-1990. There were four nuclear power plants in the
country that were closed after a referendum in 1987. In a
new referendum in 2011, a large majority of the population
(94 per cent of the people who voted) expressed that it was
not desirable to construct new nuclear power plants in the
The industry was previously hampered by the lack of
domestic energy sources and raw materials, a limited
domestic market and a lack of export opportunities. However,
after the Second World War, a considerable industry has
grown, especially in Northern Italy. Compared to the
pre-World War II level, industrial production has increased
more than in any other EU country.
This industrial expansion, the so-called "Italian
miracle", is due to many factors: US financial aid, cheap
and plentiful labor (from southern Italy), technical and
organizational skill and import of energy raw materials. The
country's membership of the EU and the improved
international economic climate have also been important
growth factors. Southern Italy is still industrially
backward, but significant funds have been spent since 1950
to develop the basic industry, particularly steelworks and
oil refineries, as cornerstones in industrial development
The industry's contribution to gross domestic product
(GDP) corresponds to about 19 per cent in 2016 and the share
of labor in the sector is about 26 per cent. Because Italy
has relatively little natural resources, it has primarily
developed an industry that refines imported goods.
Despite the lack of mineral resources, the steel industry
has grown strongly and has been the backbone of industrial
development. Large quantities of scrap iron are imported
into the steel mills, which include plants in Taranto in
southern Italy (one of the world's most modern steel mills)
and Genoa, and older works in Milan, Turin, Piombino, Terni
and Bagnoli outside Naples.
The automotive industry has traditionally been important
in Italy, but in recent years production has been
significantly reduced. Originally it was concentrated to
Piedmont and Lombardy. Especially in Turin was a large
percentage of the population employed in the automotive
industry, and primarily in Fiat - group. Today, much of the
business has moved abroad, and Italy is no longer among the
largest car manufacturers in the world. In 2000, 1,738,000
cars were produced, while the figure for 2017 was 1,140,000.
The car brands produced in the country are primarily Fiat,
Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Jeep.
The largest car factory is located at Melfi in Basilicata,
where Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) produces Fiat and Jeep
models. The car factory in Val di Sangro in Abruzzo produces
vans for Fiat, Citroën and Peugeot. In addition, there are
large car factories for the production of Fiat and Alfa
Romeo models in Pomigliano d'Arco outside Naples and at
Cassino in Lazio. In the old car capital of Turin, some Alfa
Romeo and Maserati models are produced today.
Northern Italy has a large production of refrigerators,
cookers, washing machines and electrical equipment.
Olivetti, one of the world's largest office machine
manufacturers, is located in Ivrea northeast of Turin.
Shipbuilding has been affected by the crisis in the
international shipbuilding industry since the 1970s, and
today plays a relatively minor role. Genoa, Trieste and
Castellamare outside Naples are the most important
shipbuilding centers, but there are also shipyards in
Savona, La Spezia, Livorno, Ancona, Bari and Palermo.
The chemical industry has expanded rapidly. The largest
companies in the sector are Enichem and Montedison. Local
raw materials such as sulfur, sulfur kale, potassium, salt,
borax and flux spatula form the basis for the production of
products such as acids, lye, glass, artificial fertilizers,
paints and dynamite. Production is concentrated in the major
port cities, in particular Savona, Genoa, Livorno, Venice
and Naples, as well as the Milan-Torino axis.
Its location relatively close to the oil fields in North
Africa and the Middle East has enabled the construction of
oil refineries and the petrochemical industry, especially in
southern Italy. The largest refineries are located at
Augusta and Messina in Sicily, outside Cagliari in Sardinia,
and at Genoa, Venice and Milan. The petrochemical industry
includes large plants, including Ravenna (with Europe's
largest synthetic rubber factory), Mantova, Ferrara and
above all Milan.
Textile and fashion
The textile and footwear industry, formerly the country's
most important industrial branch, has been famous for
quality and good design since the Middle Ages. Italy is
today among the leaders in the fashion world, and Milan is
competing with Paris to be the "fashion capital of the
The production of clothing and textiles is largely
concentrated in the north. Lombardy (Legnano, Busto Arsizio
and Varese) is a leader in the production of cotton fabrics
and rayon, while Biella and Bergamo Province are known for
their wool fabrics. Knitwear is manufactured in Vicenza and
other cities in Veneto, while Como is the leading producer
of natural silk.
The food industry is also significant. Domestic
production is primarily sold on the internal market, while
exports are relatively low. This industry, like the other
industries, is best developed in the cities of Northern
Italy, but is otherwise widely distributed throughout the
country. Among other things, a variety of wheat products are
produced, including numerous pasta varieties. Also canned
fruits and vegetables are produced in considerable
quantities. Italy, after Spain and Greece, is the world's
third largest producer of olive oil according to figures
Italy has become one of the world's leading trading
nations since World War II. Machinery, transport equipment
and textile products are among the country's leading export
goods. Imports include crude oil, machinery and transport
equipment, chemical raw materials, ores and metals and
About half of Italy's trade takes place with its partners
in the European Union (EU). Germany, France, the United
Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands are the most important
Foreign trade as a percentage by country In 2017
Tourism as a business has long been an important part of
the Italian economy. In recent years, the number of visitors
has increased, and in 2017 more than 60 million foreign
tourists came to the country.
In 2016, revenues from the tourism sector totaled over 70
billion euros, which is equivalent to 4.2 per cent of the
country's gross domestic product. Including subcontractors
and businesses that are indirectly involved in tourism,
revenues amount to EUR 172 billion, which represents over
ten percent of the gross domestic product. Around 2.7
million people are employed in the tourism sector.
Transport and Communications
The transport network is well developed, especially in
Northern and Central Italy, which has the densest rail and
The railway network has a length of about 20,000
kilometers. About half are electrified. The main line links
Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples. Other important
lines are the Milan-Venice route, the Genoa coastline and
Reggio di Calabria, the Messina-Palermo route and the
Atlantic Ocean line between Bologna and Lecce, and the
railways connecting Milan and Turin to the port city of
Genoa. In addition, the Naples-Bari and Messina- Catania
routes are important railway lines.
Several high-speed lines have been built in large parts
of Italy over the past decades. Between Milan and Salerno, a
distance of 700 kilometers, several of the largest cities in
the country (Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples) are
connected. There are also such lines elsewhere, such as
between Turin and Milan, while a new line between Milan and
Venice is under construction. The latest high-speed rail
lines are built for speeds of 300 kilometers per hour. The
country has a total of 1437 kilometers of high-speed rail
There are metro in Milan, Rome, Naples, Turin, Genoa,
Brescia and Catania. The most extensive metro network exists
Road transport accounts for most of the transport work in
Italy. The country has a well-developed network of main
The world's first motorway route, from Milan to Varese,
was opened in 1924.
There are a total of 6629 kilometers of motorway
(autostrada) (2018). Particularly famous is the Autostrada
del Sole, which leads from Milan to Reggio di Calabria with
connection to Sicily.
The national airline Alitalia was formed in 1957 by the
association of Linee Aeree Italiane (LAI) and Alitalia. The
company had major financial problems in the 2000s, and was
privatized in 2008. As of 2015, Etihad Airways has had a 49
percent ownership interest.
There are 36 airports with regular traffic, including 25
international airports. Most important are Rome (Fiumicino)
and Milan (Malpensa and Linate).
The Italian rivers mean little to shipping, but coastal
traffic is significant. The main port cities are Genoa,
Taranto, Trieste, Venice, Naples and La Spezia.