Italy is a sovereign state in Europe, situated along the Mediterranean Sea it includes the two Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia as well as many smaller islands. Its coastline and border extend to 7,600 kilometres, and its neighbours are France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino and Vatican City.
Italy’s population is around 61 million, making it the fourth highest of the EU member states and the most populous in southern Europe. Italy is also a Schengen country. The Italian welfare bill accounts for approximately 30% of the country’s GDP and is the fourth largest in Europe. Italy’s agricultural sector is prominent, and it is a major wine producer. Tourism accounts for over 10% of GDP and offers 54 UNESCO sites. Education is free and mandatory from ages six to sixteen.
Italy has an interesting history as a world power. After a period of revolution which led to independence, the years from the late 19th century to early 20th century saw the country rapidly industrialise. The North acquired a colonial empire while the south was excluded from industrialisation and slipped into impoverishment.
After coming out of the First World War a victor, the country declined into Fascism. World War II left it defeated, economically destroyed and fighting a civil war. After its liberation, democracy was reinstated, and it saw a prolonged economic boom. Socio-political turmoil aside, Italy is now considered among the most culturally and economically developed countries. The Italian economy ranks eighth globally and third in the Eurozone.
Italy demands you take a breath and live life leisurely. In Venice, gondola rides, the maze of eateries, magnificent squares, church bells chiming, hotels and shops of every kind are a treat. Italy offers many opportunities to appreciate art in every part of the country. Museums and historic sites abound and include the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica, Pompeii and Rome’s Colosseum.
For scenery, the Amalfi Coast, the Greek ruins in Sicily, the hill towns of Tuscany, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Cinque Terre trail and the Pantheon in Rome. When in Rome, chill in the Trastevere neighbourhood.
The European Commission has proposed the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which will impact Australians. Recent terrorism and uncontrolled immigration risks have prompted ETIAS, which will be rolled out in 2021. ETIAS will identify risk to European security before it reaches its borders.
Much like Australia’s ETA, European Travel Authority, it will apply to those nationals currently enjoying the benefits of the visa liberation policy. The nationals of these 62 nations will have to apply for the visa-waiver before travelling to Europe.
The first Italian in Australia was off Captain James Cook’s ship in 1770. Italian convicts followed at her Majesty’s pleasure in early 1800. The 1840s saw Italian convicts in Australia, and the 1850 gold rush lured even more, who settled. A commercial treaty in 1883 granted Italian residents of Australia the right to freedom of entry, travel and residence, the right to acquire and own property, and the right to carry on business activities. This brought in a steady trickle of immigrants until 1921.
After the treaty came into effect, a thin flow of Italian migration to Australia continued until 1921 when Italian immigrants staunched by U.S. restrictions rerouted to Australia. World War II saw 8000 of the allies’ prisoners of war, mostly Italians, shipped to internment camps in Australia, many of whom immigrated to Australia after the war. The sugar canes and agriculture brought more Italian immigrants over the years.
Italy is important to Australia, being the world’s eighth-largest economy, a founding member of the EU, its second-largest manufacturer and fourth-largest economy. Trade and investment between Australia and Italy is growing. The two countries cooperate on security issues, such as terrorism, and advance security capacity in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. They are of very few countries with the know-how and ambitions to collaborate as they do in the world’s key astrophysics and space projects.
Their bilateral relationship includes the following treaties and agreements: Science, Technology & Innovation. Treaty; Australians Marrying in Italy; University Co-operation Framework; Antarctica Scientific Cooperation; Air Services Agreement; Health Assistance Agreement; Extradition Treaty; Crime Mutual Assistance Treaty; Cultural Cooperation; Double Taxation; Social Security; Economic and Commercial Cooperation; Working Holiday Visa and Defence Industry Cooperation.
Italy was Australia’s 16th largest trading partner in 2017, with the combined merchandise and services trade balance favouring Italy by more than eight to one. Italian investment in Australia remains relatively small but commercial, and investment ties are growing. Australia’s investment in Italy is small and strong, focusing on urban redevelopment and energy.
Commercial opportunities for Australian companies presents in renewable energy, agribusiness and food, digital technologies, international health and education, and infrastructure and rail. Italy is a mature and growing priority market in Australian Tourism.
Italian is the fifth most identified ancestry in Australia following Australians, English, Irish and Scottish. 174,042 resident Australians were born in Italy, and 1,000,013 Australian residents are of Italian descent.
Australians will need to apply for the ETIAS pre-authorisation once it is implemented, before travelling to Italy.