Forgotten World (133): Italy

Italy is the fourth largest European economy and has one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe, but its politics are chaotic and corruption remains endemic. There have been close to 60 governments since the country formed a democratic republic in 1946 following World War II. It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, but persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.
Silvio Berlusconi began his third term as prime minister of Italy in May 2008, heading a centre-right coalition including his own Forza Italia party. He is one of Italy’s wealthiest men, and owns three of the country’s seven television channels and several leading newspapers. Mr Berlusconi has been put on trial at least six times over financial matters. Although found guilty on three occasions, he was later acquitted or benefited from the expiry of the statute of limitations.
There is concern over Italy’s birth rate – the lowest in Europe – and the economic implications of an ageing population with the population forecast to fall by nearly a third over the next 50 years.


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