Italy flag 10 x 15 cm
Italy (Italian: Italia), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana), is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the university and of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the center of Western civilization; it also spawned the Baroque movement and Rome is still the episcopal see of pope. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the second half of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 8th-highest quality-of-life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union, having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8, having the world's 7th-largest nominal GDP, and is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, and the Central European Initiative. Italy is a Schengen state. It has the world's 7th-largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons. On 1 January 2007, Italy began a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
The flag of Italy (Bandiera d'Italia, often referred to in Italian as Il Tricolore) is a tricolour featuring three equally sized vertical pales of green, white and red, with the green at the hoist side. In its current form it has been in use since 19 June 1946 and was formally adopted on 1 January 1948.
The first entity to use the Italian tricolour was the Repubblica Cispadana (Cispadane Republic) in 1797, after Napoleon's victorious army crossed Italy. During this time many small republics of Jacobin inspiration supplanted the ancient absolute states and almost all, with variants of colour, used flags characterised by three bands of equal size, clearly inspired by the French model of 1790. The colours chosen by the Republic were red and white, the colours of the flag of Milan and green, which was the colour of the uniform of the Milanese civic guard.
Some have attributed particular values to the colours and a common interpretation is that the green represents the country's plains and the hills, white, the snow-capped Alps and red, blood spilt in the Wars of Italian Independence. A more religious interpretation is that the green represents hope, the white represents faith and the red represents charity; this references the three theological virtues.