Geography of Italy

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Italy viewed from space

Italy is located in southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the southern side of Alps, the large plain of Po Valley and some islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Corsica, although belonging to the Italian geographical region, has been a part of France since 1769.

Its total area is Template:Convert, of which Template:Convert is land and Template:Convert. It lies between latitudes 35° and 48° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E.

Italy borders with Switzerland (Template:Convert), France (Template:Convert), Austria (Template:Convert) and Slovenia (Template:Convert). San Marino (Template:Convert) and Vatican city (Template:Convert) are enclaves.

Including islands, Italy has a coastline of Template:Convert on the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ligurian Sea, Sea of Sardinia and Strait of Sicily.

Mountains and plains

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Topographic map of Italy

Almost 40% of the Italian territory is mountainous,<ref name=eug92>Template:Cite book</ref> with the Alps as the northern boundary and the Apennine Mountains forming the backbone of the peninsula and extending for Template:Convert.<ref name=eug92 /> In between the two lies a large plain in the valley of the Po, the largest river in Italy, which flows Template:Convert eastward from the Cottian Alps to the Adriatic. The Po Valley is the largest plain in Italy, with Template:Convert, and it represents over 70% of the total plain area in the country.<ref name=eug92 />

The Alpine mountain range is linked with the Apennines with the Colle di Cadibona pass in the Ligurian Alps.

Worldwide-known mountains in Italy are Matterhorn (Cervino), Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso in the West Alps, and Bernina, Stelvio and Dolomites along the eastern side of the Alps. The highest peak in Italy is Mont Blanc, at Template:Convert above sea level.


Many elements of the Italian territory are of volcanic origin. Most of the small islands and archipelagos in the south, like Capraia, Ponza, Ischia, Eolie, Ustica and Pantelleria are volcanic islands. There are also active volcanoes: Etna, in Sicily, the largest active volcano in Europe; Vulcano, Stromboli, and Vesuvius, near Naples, the only active volcano on mainland Europe.

Rivers and seas

Most of Italy's rivers drain either into the Adriatic Sea (like Po, Piave, Adige, Brenta, Tagliamento, Reno) or into the Tyrrhenian (like Arno, Tiber and Volturno), though the waters from some border municipalities (Livigno in Lombardy, Innichen and Sexten in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) drain into the Black Sea through the basin of the Drava, a tributary of the Danube, and the waters from the Lago di Lei in Lombardy drain into the North Sea through the basin of the Rhine.

Maritime claims


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Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian lakes.

In the north of the country are a number of subalpine moraine-dammed lakes, the largest of which is Garda (Template:Convert). Other well known of these subalpine lakes are Lake Maggiore (Template:Convert), whose most northerly section is part of Switzerland, Como (Template:Convert), Orta, Lugano, Iseo, Idro.

Other notable lakes in the Italian peninsula are Trasimeno, Bolsena, Bracciano, Vico, Varano and Lesina in Gargano and Omodeo in Sardinia.


Italy includes several islands. The largest are Sicily Template:Convert and Sardinia Template:Convert. The third largest island is Elba, the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago (Template:Convert).

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Latitude and longitude

  • Northernmost point — Testa Gemella Occidentale/Westliches Zwillingsköpfl, Prettau (Predoi), South Tyrol at Template:Coord
  • Southernmost point — Punta Pesce Spada, Lampedusa, Sicily at Template:Coord (whole territory); Capo Spartivento, Calabria at Template:Coord (mainland)
  • Westernmost point — Rocca Bernauda, Bardonecchia, Piedmont at Template:Coord
  • Easternmost point — Capo d'Otranto, Otranto, Apulia at Template:Coord


Land use

<ref name=landuse>Template:Cite web</ref><ref group=Note>2006 estimates.</ref>

  • Artificial (urban, industrial etc.): 4.9%
  • Agricultural: 52.2%
    • Arable land: 27.9%
    • Permanent: 7.1%
    • Other: 17.2%
  • Wood: 41.4%
  • Wetlands: 0.4%
  • Water (lakes etc.): 1.1%

Irrigated Land

  • 39,510 km2 (2007)

Total renewable water resources

  • 191.3 km3 (2011)


See also


  • Climate of Italy
  • List of islands of Italy





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