Italian Peninsula

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Satellite view of the peninsula in March 2003. Satellite image of Italy in March 2003.jpg
Satellite view of the peninsula in March 2003.

The Italian Peninsula, also known as Italic Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula, is a peninsula extending from the southern Alps in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. It is nicknamed lo Stivale (the Boot). Three smaller peninsulas contribute to this characteristic shape, namely Calabria (the "toe"), Salento (the "heel") and Gargano (the "spur"). The backbone of the Italian Peninsula consists of the Apennine Mountains, from which it takes one of its names.

Peninsula Geographical feature

A peninsula is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water. Peninsulas are not always named as such; one can also be referred to as a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, fork, or spit. A point is generally considered a tapering piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape. A river which courses through a very tight meander is also sometimes said to form a "peninsula" within the loop of water. In English, the plural versions of peninsula are peninsulas and, less commonly, peninsulae.

Alps Major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

Mediterranean Sea Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and Asia

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.

Contents

Characteristics

Minimum extent

Minimum extent of the Italian Peninsula in dark green. Italian Peninsula in Europe.svg
Minimum extent of the Italian Peninsula in dark green.

In general discourse, "Italy" and "Italian peninsula" are often used as synonimous terms. However, the Po Valley may be excluded from the Italian peninsula. In this sense, the Italian peninsula includes only about 44% of Italy's total area. On the other hand, Sicily and other smaller islands off the peninsula may be geographically grouped along with it.

Po Valley Plain in Lombardy, Italy

The Po Valley, Po Plain, Plain of the Po, or Padan Plain is a major geographical feature of Northern Italy. It extends approximately 650 km (400 mi) in an east-west direction, with an area of 46,000 square kilometres (18,000 sq mi) including its Venetic extension not actually related to the Po river basin; it runs from the Western Alps to the Adriatic Sea. The flatlands of Veneto and Friuli are often considered apart since they do not drain into the Po, but they effectively combine into an unbroken plain.

Italy European country

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy is located in Southern Europe, and it is sometimes considered as part of Western Europe. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Geographically, the minimum extent of the Italian Peninsula consists of the land south of a line extending from the Magra to the Rubicon rivers, north of the Tuscan–Emilian Apennines. It excludes the Po Valley and the southern slopes of the Alps. [1] [2]

Magra river in Italy

The Magra is a 62-kilometre (39 mi) long river of Northern Italy, which runs through Pontremoli, Filattiera, Villafranca in Lunigiana and Aulla in the province of Massa-Carrara (Tuscany); Santo Stefano di Magra, Vezzano Ligure, Arcola, Sarzana and Ameglia in the province of La Spezia (Liguria).

Rubicon river in northeastern Italy

The Rubicon is a shallow river in northeastern Italy, just south of Ravenna. The same name was given to a river that was famously crossed by Julius Caesar in 49 BC. While it has not been proven, some historians believe that the two rivers are indeed one and the same.

Apennine Mountains Mountain range stretching 1000 km from the north to the south of Italy along its east coast, traversing the entire peninsula.

The Apennines or Apennine Mountains are a mountain range consisting of parallel smaller chains extending c. 1,200 km (750 mi) along the length of peninsular Italy. In the northwest they join with the Ligurian Alps at Altare. In the southwest they end at Reggio di Calabria, the coastal city at the tip of the peninsula. Since 2000 the Environment Ministry of Italy, following the recommendations of the Apennines Park of Europe Project, has been defining the Apennines System to include the mountains of north Sicily, for a total distance of 1,500 kilometres (930 mi). The system forms an arc enclosing the east side of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas.

All of these territories lie within the Italian Republic except for the microstates of San Marino and Vatican City:

San Marino Republic on the Appenine peninsula

San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is an enclaved microstate in Southern Europe, on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, completely surrounded by Italy.

Vatican City Independent city-state within Rome, Italy

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State, is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from, yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.

Country/
Territory
Peninsular areaDescription
Population [3] km2sq miShare
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 26,140,000131,27550,68699.9531%Effectively the entire peninsula
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino 31,88761.223.60.0466%A central-eastern enclave of peninsular Italy
Flag of the Vatican City.svg   Vatican City 8290.440.170.0003%An enclave of Rome, Italy

Climate

The peninsula lies between the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west, the Ionian Sea on the south, and the Adriatic Sea on the east.

Tyrrhenian Sea Part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy

The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy. It is named for the Tyrrhenian people, identified since the 6th century BCE with the Etruscans of Italy.

Ionian Sea Part of the Mediterranean Sea south of the Adriatic Sea

The Ionian Sea is an elongated bay of the Mediterranean Sea. It is connected to the Adriatic Sea to the north, and is bounded by Southern Italy, including Calabria, Sicily, and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and the west coast of Greece, including the peninsula of The Peleponnese.

Adriatic Sea Body of water between the Italian Peninsula and the Balkan Peninsula

The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto to the northwest and the Po Valley. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along the Croatian part of its eastern coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of 1,233 metres (4,045 ft). The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western (Italian) coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally. The Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin. The surface water temperatures generally range from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer to 12 °C (54 °F) in winter, significantly moderating the Adriatic Basin's climate.

The peninsula has mainly a Mediterranean climate, though in the mountainous parts the climate is much cooler. Its natural vegetation includes macchia along the coasts and deciduous and mixed deciduous coniferous forests in the interior.

Mediterranean climate Type of climate

A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where this climate type is most common. Mediterranean climate zones are typically located along the western sides of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator. The main cause of Mediterranean, or dry summer climate, is the subtropical ridge which extends northwards during the summer and migrates south during the winter due to increasing north-south temperature differences.

Deciduous Trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally

In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term deciduous means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves, usually in the autumn; to the shedding of petals, after flowering; and to the shedding of ripe fruit.

See also

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Geography of Italy

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Roman Italy Italian peninsula during the Roman Empire

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Northern Italy Place in Italy

Northern Italy is a geographical and cultural region in the northern part of Italy. Non-administrative, it consists of eight administrative Regions in northern Italy: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. As of 2014, its population was 27,801,460. Rhaeto-Romance and Gallo-Italic languages are spoken in the region, as opposed to the Italo-Dalmatian languages spoken in the rest of Italy.

Italic peoples peoples who are or were native speakers of an Italic language, and are or were related to one of them

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Mediterranean Basin Region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate

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Climate of Italy

Italy has a variety of climate systems. The inland northern areas of Italy have a relatively cool, mid-latitude version of the Humid subtropical climate, while the coastal areas of Liguria and the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean climate profile.

Prehistoric Italy

The prehistory of Italy began in the Paleolithic period, when the Homo species colonized the Italian territory for the first time, and ended in the Iron Age, when the first written records appeared in the Insular Italy.

Flora of Italy

The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5,500 vascular plant species. However, as of 2019, 7,672 species are recorded in the second edition of theflora of Italy and in its digital archives Digital flora of Italy. In particular, 7031 are autochtonous and 641 are non native species widely naturalized since more than three decades. Additionally, further 468 exotic species have been recorded as adventitious or naturalized in more recent times. Geobotanically, the Italian flora is shared between the Circumboreal Region and Mediterranean Region. According to the index compiled by the Italian Ministry for the Environment in 2001, 274 vascular plant species were protected.

Fauna of Italy

Italy has the highest level of faunal biodiversity in Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna. This is due to various factors. The Italian peninsula is in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a corridor between central Europe and North Africa, and has 8,000 km of coastline. Italy also receives species from the Balkans, Eurasia, the Middle East. Italy's varied geological structure, including the Alps and the Apennines, Central Italian woodlands, and Southern Italian Garigue and Maquis shrubland, also contribute to high climate and habitat diversity.

Po (river) Italian river

The Po is a river that flows eastward across northern Italy starting from the Cottian Alps. The Po flows either 652 km (405 mi) or 682 km (424 mi) – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary. The headwaters of the Po are a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face of Monviso. The Po then extends along the 45th parallel north before ending at a delta projecting into the Adriatic Sea near Venice. The slope of the valley decreases from 0.35% in the west to 0.14% in the east, a low gradient. Along its path lie 450 standing lakes.

Geology of Italy

The Geology of Italy includes mountain ranges such as the Alps, the Dolomites and the Apennines formed from the uplift of igneous and primarily marine sedimentary rocks all formed since the Paleozoic.. Some active volcanoes are located in Insular Italy.

Geography of Lombardy

Lombardy is an administrative region of Italy that is split into four geographic regions — mountains, alpine forest, and the upper and lower plains south of the Po river. These are crossed and dotted by dozens of rivers and lakes, the latter of which include some of the largest in Italy. The territory is the fourth largest in Italy by surface area with 24,000 square kilometres (9,300 sq mi).

References

  1. De Agostini Ed., L'Enciclopedia Geografica - Vol. I - Italia, 2004, p.78
  2. Touring Club Italiano, Conosci l'Italia - Vol. I: L'Italia fisica, 1957
  3. Population includes only the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula (excluding Northern Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia).

Coordinates: 42°00′N14°00′E / 42.000°N 14.000°E / 42.000; 14.000