Italy is a country in southern Europe which has an area of 116,350 square miles and has a population of about 61 million people. It ranks as the fourth country with the highest population in the EU and the most populous in southern Europe. Italy has a mixed capitalist economy, and it is ranked the 3rd largest economy in the Eurozone and the world’s 8th largest economy. Italy was one of the founding nations of the Eurozone, the G7, and the OECD, and the country is now regarded among the world’s highly industrialized nations and among the top nations in exports items. Italy has one of the world’s most developed economies, and in 2005 it was ranked as the world’s 8th country with the best quality of life and ranked the 26th with the highest human development index. Italy is famous for its innovative and creative businesses with a vibrant agricultural sector being one of the largest producers of wine in the world. The country also ranks as the sixth largest manufacturing nation in the world which is characterized by relatively few global multinational companies compared to other countries of similar size. The country also has a relatively larger number of small and medium-sized enterprises. Italy also has many industrial districts which form the mainstay of the industry in the country. Italy has numerous natural resources spread throughout the country.
Italy's Natural Resources
Italy has arable land which was approximately 22.4% of the total land area in 2015. The share of the arable land area has fluctuated significantly throughout the years, and the country has utilized its land for agricultural purposes. As of 2010, there were 1.6 million farms which covered approximately 12.7 million hectares. Most of the land in Italy which is about 99% is family owned averaging about eight acres in size. The country is among the world’s leading nations in wine and olive oil production as well as fruits such as palms, apples, grapes, oranges, lemons, pears, strawberries, apricots, cherries, peaches, hazelnuts, plums, and kiwi fruits among others. Agriculture plays a significant role in the economy of Italy and accounts for about 2.1% of the country's GDP. The northern part of the country produces items such as beans, grains, dairy products, and meat, while the southern part of the country produces mainly vegetables, fruits, wine, olive oil, and durum wheat. Most of the country has a mountainous terrain which is not suitable for farming, and about 4% of the country's population is employed in farming. The country's economy is diversified having a per capita output which is equivalent to countries like the United Kingdom and France. Industries in Italy including food processing, which depend mainly on imported raw materials and the country is one of the largest food processors and agricultural producers in the European Union.
Italy exports large quantities of steel, and it is currently the 7th largest exporter in the world, and by June 2017 the country had exported 8.8 million metric tons of steel. In 2016, Italy’s export of steel accounted for about 4% of all the steel exported worldwide. The country's steel export in 2016 was slightly bigger than that of Belgium and slightly under one-third of the size of China's export, which is the largest exporter in the world. Regarding value, steel exports represented 6% of all exports in Italy in 2016. Italy exports steel to more than 170 countries and territories worldwide.
For a long time, Italy has been the world’s 13th biggest producer of cement until 2010 when its production dropped by about 5% as a result of the declining output in the construction sector in the country. Sienese and Carrara marbles from Italy are popular and are recognized worldwide for their natural qualities. Marble is extracted in different locations in the country from Sicily to the Alps. The Apuan Alps produces the white marble which is popular and famous which accounted for about one-third of the 100,000 tons of white marbles produced in the country while other regions like Lazio, Sicily, Verona-Vincenza, Po Valley, Lombardy, Venice, and Puglia are the major producers of colored marble.
The geography of Italy provides wide access to marine fishing areas. The Italian peninsula on the island of Sardinia and Sicily has a coastline that stretches for 4,900 miles long with more than 800 ports which are equipped with fishing boats. Besides, there are 580 square miles of lagoons and 650 square miles of marine ponds. The fishing industry in Italy does not meet the domestic demand despite having more than 50,000 fishermen on the deep sea and coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea. In the year 2000, approximately 18,390 fishing vessels were in Italy having a fishing capacity of 207,550 tons. In the same year, the total catch was about 439,285 tons and 98% for this were from of marine sources. Italy also produced canned tuna fish weighing 80,000 tons and canned anchovies of 11,000 tons in weight. In Italy, most of the fish caught, which is about 50% of it is not recorded officially because they are sold directly to fishmongers, wholesalers, and restaurants. Some of the fish species common in Italy include rainbow trout, anchovy, European hake, and sardine. Besides, coral and sponges are also commercially significant in Italy, and some of the main commercial fishing ports include Genoa, Palermo, Chioggia-Venezia, Mazara del Vallo, and San Benedetto del Tronto. Italy also has thousands of intensive fish farms which belong to the Italian Fish Breeding Association, and about 70% of the farms are located in the northern part of the country. Aquaculture in Italy is now common, and in the year 2000, it produced approximately 227,600 tons of fish valued at $441 million.
Projected Economic Growth of Italy
According to OECD, the GDP growth rate in Italy is projected to stand at 0.9% in both 2019 and 2020. It is expected that the government of Italy could adopt an expansionary fiscal policy in 2019 which eventually will lead to widening budget deficit to about 2.5% of the GDP and about 2.8% of GDP in 2020. The public debt in the country has been falling gradually in relation to the GDP, and it is expected to stabilize at a higher level. On the other hand, the European Commission projects that the Italian’s GDP growth rate will standard 1.2% in 2019 and 1.3% in 2020.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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