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Italy is a country in southern Europe, bordered on the north by Switzerland and Austria; on the east by Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea; on the south by the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea; on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Ligurian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea; and on the northwest by France. It comprises, in addition to the Italian mainland, the Mediterranean islands of Elba, Sardinia, and Sicily, and many lesser islands. Enclaves within mainland Italy are the independent countries of San Marino and Vatican City.


Appennine Mountains, Italy Winter/Spring 1997. A large region of central Italy is visible in this synoptic, southeast view that extends from the Adriatic Sea coast (bottom) to the Tyrrhenian Sea coast (top). Three major physiographic provinces are observed in this image: the drier, less inhabited, rocky limestone tablelands and narrow plains of the east coast (bottom); the central part of the Alpine Mountain system, known as the Appennine Mountains, that extend northwest-southeast along the spine of peninsular Italy; and the area west of the Appennines that is made up of hills and volcanic features. The dark, oval-shaped features (Lake Bolsena-largest and Lake Bracciano) are water-filled calderas. Lake Trasimeno (aqua colored feature) is also visible near the right (middle) margin of the scene. On the east side of this central part of the Italian Peninsula, the rivers are close together and flow swiftly in short parallel courses into the Adriatic Sea. The concentration of whitish features reveals the location of snow covered higher elevations of the Appennine Mountains, many exceeding 2440 meters above sea level. Rome, the Eternal City, is located south of Lake Bracciano (near top center of the image) in the Tiber River Valley. Numerous passes and tunnels through the mountains facilitate ground traffic between the east-west coasts (NASA).

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