After various unsuccessful attempts, the Italian Wars of Independence and the Expedition of the Thousand resulted in the eventual unification of the country in 1861, now a great power after centuries of foreign domination and political division.
Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading the way to the rise of a Fascist dictatorship in 1922.
The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was during the reign of Emperor Augustus (end of the 1st century BC) that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula until the Alps. The Ancient peoples of pre-Roman Italy – such as the Umbrians, the Latins (from which the Romans emerged), Volsci, Oscans, Samnites, Sabines, the Celts, the Ligures, and many others – were Indo-European peoples; the main historic peoples of possible non-Indo-European heritage include the Etruscans, the Elymians and Sicani in Sicily and the prehistoric Sardinians, which includes the Nuragic civilisation.
The subsequent participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and an Italian civil war.
Following the Liberation of Italy and the rise of the Resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil (e.g.
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Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy – according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria: province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia).
But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well.Italian culture flourished at this time, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery.It has a very high level of human development and is ranked sixth in the world for life expectancy.The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is both a regional power Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7/G8, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, and many more.The legacy of the Roman Empire is widespread and can be observed in the global distribution of civilian law, republican governments, Christianity and the Latin script.