Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a sovereign state in Europe. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km² and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous in southern Europe.
Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks established settlements in the south of Italy, with Etruscans and Celts inhabiting the centre and the north of Italy respectively, and various ancient Italian tribes and Italic peoples dispersed throughout the Italian Peninsula and insular Italy. The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which eventually became a republic that conquered and assimilated its neighbours. Ultimately, the Roman Empire emerged in the 1st century BC as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural, political and religious centre of Western civilisation.