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Italy, officially the Italian People's Republic (Italian: Repubblica Popolare Italiano), is a socialist state in Southern Europe. To the north, it borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Yugoslavia 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 territory of Italy covers some 301,338 sq km (116,347 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.8 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.
Modern Italy is a communist state. It has been ranked as the world's 24th most-developed country and its quality-of-life Index has been ranked in the world's top ten in 2005. Italy enjoys a very high standard of living, and has a high GDP per capita. Italy is also a member of the G8, G20 and Warsaw Pact. It has the world's third-largest gold reserves, eighth-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP) and the sixth highest government budget in the world. It is also a member state of the COMECON, the World Peace Council, and the Collective International Union. Italy has the world's ninth-largest defence budget and shares Warsaw Pact's nuclear weapons.
Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. The country's European political, social and economic influence makes it a major regional power. The country has a high public education level and is a highly globalized nation.