Italy i/ˈɪtəli/ (Italian: Italia [iˈtaːlja]), officially the Italian Republic or the Republic of Italy (Italian: Repubblica italiana), is a unitary parliamentary republic in south-central Europe. To the north, it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia–the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea–and many other smaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Rome, the capital of Italy, was for centuries a political and religious centre of Western civilisation as the capital of the Roman Empire and site of the Holy See. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Italy endured numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy became the birthplace of Maritime republics and the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous city and regional states (such as the Republic of Venice and the Church State), but was unified in 1861, following a tumultuous period in history known as "Il Risorgimento" ("The Resurgence"). In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Albania, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.