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consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands.
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During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through trade, commerce and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These mostly independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Angevin, Aragonese and other foreign conquests of the region.
After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was almost entirely unified in 1861, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power.
Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths.You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA's Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices.To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA's App Choices app here.Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War.Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, established a democratic Republic, and enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, becoming a highly developed country.