Italy is located
in southern Europe. It is bound by Tyrrhenian and Ligurian Seas to the west,
France to the northwest, Switzerland and Austria to the north, Slovenia to
the northeast, the Adriatic Sea to the east as well as the Ionian and Mediterranean
Seas to the south. The territory includes the mainland and the islands of
Sardinia and Sicily as well as some other smaller islands. The country is
predominantly mountainous with plains accounting for less than 33% of the
land area. The two principal mountain ranges are (1.) the Alps which are divided
into the three ranges of the Western Alps, the Central Alps and the Eastern
Alps. (2.) The Apennines which is divided into the Northern or Ligurian Apennines
and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Except for the Po Plain, the plains of Italy
are small in land area and numbers. The principal rivers are the Po, Tevere
or Tiber, Arno, Volturno, Liri and Adige as well as many shorter rivers that
flow to the Adriatic Sea.
Italy has a temperate climate with a variety of regional characteristics. The Alps region has harsh winters and moderately warm summers with abundant rainfall. The Po Plain has harsh winters with long periods of subfreezing temperatures and warm sultry summers, with rainfall more common in winter. The Alpennine region has extremely mild winters and hot summers. Italy is also subject to fierce seasonal winds. Average temperature ranges in Rome are from 4 to 11 degrees Celsius. The principal ethnic majority are the Italians who account for 99% of the population and are an ethnic amalgamation of Lombard and Goths from the north, Greeks, Spaniards and Saracens from Sicily, Latins in and around Rome, Etruscans and others from Central Italy. Other ethnic minorities include the German speaking population of Bolzano, Tyroleans, Greeks, Albanians, Slovenes and a small number of French speakers.