Italy is one of the largest European countries in the Mediterranean and has a land border that stretches 1,116 miles in length. France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia are the four countries that share a land border with Italy. Of these countries, Switzerland shares the longest land border with Italy that stretches 434 miles in length, while Slovenia has the shortest land border with Italy, extending 135 miles. Two additional countries share land borders with Italy; San Marino and the Vatican. However, the two countries are both enclaves of Italy, as the country surrounds them.
Italy and France share a land border that stretches 296 miles in length. The summit of Mont Dolent, which lies at the Switzerland-France-Italy tri-point, acts as the start of the border. From Mont Dolent, the border moves southwards towards the Mediterranean Sea where it ends near the towns of Menton and Ventimiglia in France and Italy respectively. Italy has four provinces that lie along the border; Imperia, Turin, Aosta, and Cuneo, while five France departments are found along the border and these are Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Haute-Savoie, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, and Savoie. The current border was established in 1947, according to provisions of the Treaty of Paris after the WWII. Most of the border lies on mountainous terrain, and therefore tunnels are the main cross-border points. Some of these tunnels include the Mont Blanc Tunnel, the Tende Tunnel, and the Frejus Road Tunnel. Other cross-border points include the Maddalena Pass, the Col Angel, the Olivetta San Michele, the Little Saint Bernard Pass, and the Pian del Colle.
History of Italy-France Border
An earlier border that preceded the Italy-France international border was established in the 19th century. This border separated Empire of France and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The 1860 Treaty of Turin signed between the two kingdoms revised the border and provided that the County of Nice and Savoy be linked to France. The border would then stand for almost a century, until the outbreak of WWII when Italy invaded part of France’s territory in 1940. The territory would later be occupied by the Third Reich which was an ally to the Italians during the war. However, with the defeat of Italy and Germany in the war, the region along with La Brigue and Tende was annexed by France, as was provided for by the 1947 Treaty of Paris. Plebiscites conducted in these regions showed that majority of residents wished the region to be transferred to France.
Austria shares a 251-mile long land border with Italy. The Austria-Italy border has undergone numerous revisions throughout its history. In the aftermath of the WWI, Austria was forced to surrender territories to Italy, with the two countries then signing a border treaty. The two countries have in recent years heightened border security, as a result of increased infiltration of illegal immigrants across the border in the European migrant crisis. Austria had in 2017 deployed its armored carriers along sections of the border to contain the illegal migrants crossing the border from Italy, a move that threatened the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Switzerland has the longest land border of all Italy’s bordering countries covering a distance of 434 miles long. The border starts at the Italy-Switzerland-France tri-point on the summit of Mont Dolent and runs eastwards to its end at the Austria-Switzerland-Italy tri-point situated near Piz Lad. The border passes over high altitude regions, such as the High Alps reaching a height of 15,000 feet in elevation. Low lying areas are also crossed by the border including Lago Maggiore that is 656 feet below sea level. The three cantons of Switzerland found along the border are the cantons of Ticino, Valais, and Grisons. The regions of Italy found along the border include Piedmont, Lombardy, South Tyrol and Aosta Valley.
History of Switzerland-Italy Border
The earliest version of the border was established in 1798 according to the Helvetic Republic’s constitution. By then, Italy did not exist, and so the border only outlined the extent of Switzerland’s territory. Most of the border was unchanged during the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The few territorial disputes between Italy and Switzerland were solved in the signing of international treaties between the two states between 1863 and 1874. The modern border was established in the aftermath of the WWII, and has, for the most part, remained unrevised since 1946. The main change in the border to be made since was in the 1950s when the Lago de Lei barrage was transferred from Italy to Switzerland. Switzerland signed to become part of the Schengen Area in 2008 and proceeded to remove all border controls along the Italy-Switzerland border. The border controls were reinstituted in 2016 after increased illegal immigration was reported across the border as a result of the European migrant crisis.
Slovenia is another country bordering Italy, with the two countries sharing a 135-mile long land border. The region of Trieste has been the source of territorial conflict between Italy and Slovenia. Originally, the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but was occupied by Italy after WWII. The two countries are signatories of the Schengen Agreement and have removed all border controls along the border, allowing cross-border movements. The border controls were temporarily reinstituted during the recent European migrant crisis.
The country has two enclaves; the Vatican and San Marino, both of which are the world’s smallest and third-smallest states, respectively. The border between San Marino and Italy is 23 miles in length. Italy has two of its regions lying along the border; the Le Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions. Cross-border movement on the Italy-San Marino border is only done via road, as San Marino neither has airports nor railways. The Italian towns of Rimini and Pesaro are located near the border. The Vatican-Italy border is the among the shortest land borders in the world shared between two countries, with a length of about 2.1 miles. Vatican City is surrounded entirely by the Italian city of Rome.
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