Italy (Italian: Italia), officially the Italian Republic, is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
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 Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital Rome was for centuries the center of Western civilization; it also spawned the Baroque movement and seats the Catholic Church. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Today, 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).