Italy (Italian: Italia), officially the Italian Republic or the Republic of Italy is a peninsula which is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Sea of Sicily in the south, the Ionian Sea in the southeast, the Ligurian Sea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the southwest. The two largest Mediterranean Islands -Sardinia is located in the west and Sicily is to the south of Italy. Varied ranges of the Alps dominate the country’s northern reaches, a massive stretch of mountains that extends from France to Austria and then south along the Adriatic Sea. Italy shares its borders with Switzerland and Austria in the north, with Slovenia in the northeast and with France in the northwest. Vatican City and San Marino are the two enclaved sovereign states within Italy. 

Italy has an advanced economy. The country is the ninth-largest by nominal GDP (third in the European Union), the eighth-largest by national wealth and the third-largest by central bank gold reserve. It ranks highly in life expectancy, quality of life, healthcare, and education. The country has a significant role in regional and global economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Group of Seven, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Latin Union, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area, and many more. The source of many inventions and discoveries, the country has long been a global centre of art, music, literature, philosophy, science and technology, and fashion and has greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields including cinema, cuisine, sports, jurisprudence, banking, and business. As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy has the world’s largest number of World Heritage Sites, and is the fifth-most visited country.

Border Facts

Italy – France border is 515 km long established in 1860 by the Treaty of Turin. The line of the border between France and Italy has been modified more recently than that of any other French border: in 1860 with the incorporation of Savoy and the County of Nice into France, then in 1947 with the incorporation of the canton of Tende. This long border, extending from Mont-Blanc to Menton on the Mediterranean coast, is very difficult to cross due to its mountainous terrain. There are few valleys providing through routes across the border, and the transport of passengers and goods goes mainly through tunnels. There is limited cross border collaboration with limited linguistic penetration.

Italy – Switzerland border The border between the modern states of Switzerland and Italy extends for 744 kilometres from the French-Swiss-Italian tripoint at Mont Dolent in the west to the Austrian-Swiss-Italian tripoint near Piz Lad in the east. Much of the border runs across the High Alps, rising above 4,600 metres. While this border existed as a border of Switzerland from 1815, it was not until 1861 with Italian Unification that it the current border was established. Since 1946, it has remained unchanged. In 2008 Switzerland became part of the Schengen Area, meaning that border controls were removed along this border as of 12 December 2008. However, while border guards from both countries are no longer allowed to stop travellers for the sole purpose of passport checks, they can still carry out customs checks, as Switzerland is not in the EU Customs Union.

Italy – Austria border is 430km long. The border between Italy and Austria has existed with its current demarcation since 1919 and the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In 1938, following the annexation of Austria by Germany, it nevertheless mutated into an Italian-German border.

Despite the participation of Italy as an ally of Germany in the Second World War, the border was not modified by the peace treaty signed in 1947. This border has the particularity of being the first “mobile border,” recognised as such, in the world. Indeed, the border treaty signed in Vienna in 1994 stipulates that it is likely to move as a consequence of environmental changes. However, a diplomatic agreement is necessary between Italy and Austria to confirm these shifts, which is not the case between Italy and Switzerland whose demarcation is automatically updated according to these changes. The border is characterised by mountains and passes e.g. Brenner and Birnlucke.

Italy – Slovenia border is 232 km long, the Italian-Slovenian border begins in the north at the ATITSI tripoint formed by the Austro-Italian and Austro-Slovenian borders. It then turns southwards and ends to the south of Trieste, in a village near the Adriatic Sea. The Bay of Muggia, where the border ends, belongs entirely to Italy. The proximity to the sea has also led to a meticulous division of the waters between the two countries.

Established in 1947 with th 1954 the border was initially subject to several modifications ending with the incorporation of Trieste, an area confiscated after WW2. In 1991, Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia, the demarcation remains unchanged. Slovenia is in the Schengen Area, which means that, in general, there are no checks at the border crossings with Italy. Due to the presence of minorities on either side of the border, the Slovenian and Italian languages each have co-official status in the neighbouring country.

Italy has some specific areas of border interest: Campione d’Italia is the only Italian exclave. Campione is located within the Swiss canton of Ticino on the southeastern shore of Lugano Lake, separated from Italy proper by approximately 14 km, but is administratively part of the province of Como, Lombardy. Italy also has 2 enclaves, the Vatican and Republic of San Marino. The Vatican is an independent city-state and enclave surrounded by Rome, the state became independent from Italy in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty, and it is a distinct territory under “full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction” of the Holy See. San Marino, small republic situated on the slopes of Mount Titano, on the Adriatic side of central Italy between the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions and surrounded on all sides by the republic of Italy. It is the smallest independent state in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco

Italy juts into the Mediterranean. There are Italian islands close to the north African shoreline. Lampedusa is both the southernmost point and the southernmost island of Italy. It’s proximity to Libya and Tunisia means it is a major access point for northward migration which in turn has led to political debates and arguments about immigration and migration.

Italian Tripoints

1ATCHITAustria – Italy – Switzerland46°51’16″N
DryHering (2004)
Palmberg (2007)
2ATITSIAustria – Italy – Slovenia46°31’22″N
DryHering (2001)
Palmberg (2001) (2005)
Wallis (2007)
3CHFRITFrance – Italy – Switzerland45°55’21″N

Site Navigation

In order to find your way around the site, either click on the links (text in red) or use the menus at the top and side of the pages. About leads you to the main areas of the site. The European Tripoints menu leads directly you to my visit reports whereas the Country Visits page allows you to choose which country to look at first.

Mobile Users Advice

Tables display correctly when holding your mobile horizontally.

To access the links to other pages please click on the 3 horizontal dots at the bottom of the page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s