Italian is a Romance language, spoken by about 80 million people, primarily in Italy. It is the official language of San Marino, one of the official languages of Switzerland, and the second official language of the Vatican City (although Latin is usually used for administrative purposes only).
Italian is also used in some regions of Slovenia, the Somali Democratic Republic, and Croatia.
The history and culture of Italy dates back to the very beginnings of European civilization.The influence of the Romans can still be seen everywhere in Europe, and can be heard in almost all European languages.
Italian vocabulary can be found in the context of music, food, and banking. Many Italian immigrants not only brought their customs and their culinary traditions to the US, but also many words and phrases that have become part of everyday culture.
Italy is a country with an abundance of cultural history and beautiful landscape. It is the country with the longest Mediterranean coastline, and a primary vacation destination in Europe. Its capital Rome together with Vatican City is an important spiritual center for over 1 billion Catholics in the world. Italy is known for its production of fast cars, wines, pasta, and designer clothing.
Map: Wikimedia Commons, by TUBS