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1. A peninsula of southern Europe projecting into the Mediterranean Sea between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas.
2. A country of southern Europe comprising the peninsula of Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, and several smaller islands. It was settled in antiquity by Italic tribes, Etruscans, and Greek colonists. The non-Roman peoples were gradually supplanted as the power of Rome grew from the fourth century B.C. After the fall of the Roman Empire (A.D. 476), Italy was ruled by various barbarian tribes, local families, and popes. Nationalism in the 19th century led to unification under King Victor Emmanuel II in 1870. Italy became a fascist state under Benito Mussolini, whose regime (1922-1943) was allied with Germany in World War II. After surrendering to the Allies in 1943, Italy was reconstituted as a republic in 1946. Rome is the capital and the largest city. Population: 57,193,000.