Physical and Human Geography of Italy

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When thinking of a country with strong power position in the global scene, Italy may not directly come to mind. This is because its lack of natural resources, its slow industrialization, and environment have caused a delay in growth (Foot & Signoretta, 2019). While Italy’s development as a country has been prolonged due to these disadvantages, its unique demographics and physical attributes has contributed to the global market around it. Because Italy’s power is a work in progress, there are multiple ways its physical and human geography both contribute and take away from its global power position.

Italy has limited natural resources, explained as a result of it being “geologically young land formation” (Foot & Signoretta, 2019). Because nutrients in the environment amass over long periods of time, newer land isn’t as nutrient rich (National Geographic, 2011). Not only are the mineral resources minimal, but the energy resources are negligible as well (Foot & Signoretta, 2019). The shortage of these resources prevented industrialization. The short supply of oil, natural gas, and especially the scarcity of coal in the 1800’s, influenced the shift to hydroelectricity (Foot & Signoretta, 2019).

Hydroelectricity tied Italy over until post World War 2, when industrialization was skyrocketing and there was a switch back to thermal energy powered by coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy (Foot & Signoretta, 2019). While the rest of Europe was going through rapid industrialization throughout the early 19th century, Italy only went through its industrialization in the mid 20th century. This takes away from its global power position because it was not contributing much to the global market at the time. However, Italy has other natural resources that contribute to its own economy as well as exporting them to other countries which in turn also helps their economy.

For example, Italy’s arable land accounts for 2.1% of the nation’s GDP and because of the different climates that stretch across the country, different parts focus on production of different crops (World Atlas, 2019). Italy is also one of the main exporters of steel and different kinds of marble (World Atlas, 2019). The fact that Italy is a peninsula and the access to Sicily’s and Sardinia’s coastline also gives Italy a great advantage in the seafood economy because of their access to multiple ports to fish in (World Atlas, 2019). Italy’s ability to provide products of interest to other nations aids in its global power position because of its ability to affect other economies other than its own.

Italy’s demographics are quite unique and affect its global power position in a couple different ways. The death rate is now overtaking the birth rate, which will result in a population decrease (World Population Review, 2018). The decline of population would negatively impact Italy’s global power position. In addition to this, the unemployment rate averages at about 37.2% (Central Intelligence Agency, 2018). This not only has a negative effect on the families who have unemployed individuals but the nation’s economy as a whole (Koba, 2011). Because of the already prominent decline in population, the unemployment rate would only increase. This is not good for Italy’s economy and for their different industries that are bringing them a stable GDP. The high urban population signaling the moderate rate of urbanization shows that there is a lot of institutional development and is good for the country’s global power position (Central Intelligence Agency, 2018).

Physical geography can affect human geography in a number of ways, from social issues to health to politics. The most prominent issues in Italy today surround of pollution, both air and water (Central Intelligence Agency, 2018). This could lead to respiratory diseases and other chronic health issues, such as where their source of water is from. Because of the structure of the land, Italy is more prone to landslides, earthquakes, avalanches, and other natural disasters (De Masi & Porrini, 2018). This would also adversely affect the health and lives of Italian citizens, causing both injuries and death depending on where these events take place. Other ways physical geography can affect human geography is employment rate. For example, fishing and other marine activity is an important part of the products that Italy exports (World Atlas, 2019). So if there was a certain natural disaster or event that caused that activity to be affected in a negative or positive way, this could cause a growth or diminish in jobs in that region.

Italy’s physical and human geography affect its global power position in an interesting way. In both cases, there are factors that elevate its power position and diminish its power position. Italy has made progress since the 19th century in terms of improving its economy and working to develop the nation further. However, if they do not keep track of the population rate and the unemployment rate, the economy could be heavily impacted and Italy’s current power could decrease rapidly and cause detrimental damage for a long period of time.


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Physical and Human Geography of Italy. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/physical-and-human-geography-of-italy/

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