Italy is the 7th largest economy in the world and the 4th largest economy in Europe. It belongs to the elite group of the G8 industrialized countries. Italy's mixed economy is supported by large private companies in Northern Italy and large agricultural income in Southern Italy. Some highlights of the Italian economy include:
Italy's economic growth was driven largely between 1950 and 1960 when a slow transition from agriculture to industrialization took place. Since then Italy has grown steadily albeit slowly compared to other nations in the European Union. Italy's economy is strongly supported by industries such as automobiles, communications, chemicals, machinery, food, textiles, clothing, footwear, ceramics and tourism.
Italy is the 5th largest automobile producer in Europe, with the Fiat group being a dominant player in the market. The automobile industry contributed about 8.5% to the national GDP (2007). Some famous Italian automobile brands include Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Abarth.
Though agriculture is one of the primary elements of Italy's economy, most of the agricultural produce is concentrated in the southern regions of Italy. In the northern part of Italy, grains, meat, sugarbeets, dairy products and soybeans are primarily produced. South Italy specializes in producing fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat. More than 1.5 million people of its labor force are employed in agricultural industries.
Italy maintains close trade relations with other European countries. Its largest trading partners are Germany (12.9%), France (11.4%) and the United Kingdom (5.8%). It also maintains a healthy trading relationship with the US; in 2008, it was United States' twelfth largest trading nation with bilateral trade of around $52 billion.
Food and clothing products are one the major exports of Italy. Other major export goods include automobiles, precision machinery, electric goods and chemicals.
Italy's manufacturing industry is characterized by smaller multinational corporations unlike other nations in Europe, which boast of huge companies. This resulted in Italy producing premium / luxury products for a niche target market. The engineering industry in Italy represents 40% of all manufacturing output in the country.
Italy's energy needs are met primarily through imports. More than 85% of its fuel demands were imported in 2006.
The fifth most visited country in the world, Italy's tourism industry is a burgeoning sector. It receives close to 45 million tourists a year. With a rich history dating back more than 2000 years and an exciting food culture, tourists flock Italy's beautiful mountains, monuments, museums and its beautiful beaches. Italy's capital, Rome, is one of the most visited cities of the world.
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