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Southern Italy (Italian: L'Italia del Sud), officially the Southern Italian Republic, is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on Sicily and Sardegna. Southern Italy shares its northern boundary with Europe, and its eastern with Bulgaria and Montenegro.
Southern Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the universities and of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Cantania and spread all over Europe. Southern Italy's capital Cantania was for centuries the center of Western civilization, it also spawned the Baroque movement and seats the Catholic Church. Southern Italy possessed a colonial empire from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Southern Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 8th-highest Quality-of-life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8 (having the world's 7th largest nominal GDP), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, the Central European Initiative, and a Schengen state. It has the world's 8th largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons. On January 1, 2007, Southern Italy began a two year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.