Since Middle Age, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery.
Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of the Atlantic trade route and the route to the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope, both of which bypassed the Mediterranean.
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.
As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to 53 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is the fifth most visited country.
The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War.
Italy has a very high level of human development and it is 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, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus and many more.
With around 61 million inhabitants it is the fourth most populous EU member state.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 subsequent participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and an Italian civil war.By the mid-19th century, a rising movement in support of Italian nationalism and independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval known as the Risorgimento, which sought the formation of a unified nation-state.After various unsuccessful attempts, the Italian Wars of Independence, the Expedition of the Thousand and the Capture of Rome resulted in the eventual unification of the country, now a great power after centuries of foreign domination and political division.