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Tuscany ( , ) is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florencemarker.

Tuscany is known for its landscapes and its artistic legacy. Six Tuscan localities have been UNESCO protected sites: the historical center of Florencemarker (1982), the historical center of Sienamarker (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisamarker (1987), the historical center of San Gimignanomarker (1990), the historical center of Pienzamarker (1996) and the Val d'Orciamarker (2004).

Geography



Roughly triangular in shape and situated between the northern part of the Tyrrhenian Seamarker and the central Apenninesmarker, Tuscany has an area of approximately . Surrounded and crossed by major mountain chains, and with few (but very fertile) plains, the region has a relief that is dominated by hilly country.

Whereas mountains cover 25% of the total area , and plains a mere 8.4% of the total area, almost all coinciding with the valley of the Arno Rivermarker, summing for , overall hills make up two-thirds (66.5%) of the region's total area, covering .

The climate, which is fairly mild in the coastal areas, is harsher and rainy in the interior, with considerable fluctuations in temperature between winter and summer giving the region a soil building active freeze-thaw cycle in part accounting for the region once having served as a key breadbasket of ancient Rome

History

Alpennini and Villanovan cultures.

The pre-Etruscan history of the area in the late Bronze and Iron Ages parallels that of the early Greeks. The Tuscan area was inhabited by peoples of the so-called Apennine culture in the late second millennium BC (roughly 1350–1150 BC) who had trading relationships with the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations in the Aegean Seamarker. Following this, the Villanovan culture (1100–700 BC) saw Tuscany, and the rest of Etruria, taken over by chiefdoms. City-states developed in the late Villanovan (paralleling Greece and the Aegean) before "Orientalization" occurred and the Etruscan civilisation rose.

Etruscans



The Etruscansmarker were the first major civilization in this region; large enough to lay down a transport infrastructure, implement agriculture and mining, and produced vibrant art. The Etruscans lived in Etruria well into prehistory. The civilisation grew to fill the area between the Arno Rivermarker and Tiber River from the eighth century, reaching their peak during the seventh century BC and sixth century BC, finally succumbing to the Romans by the first century. Throughout their existence, they lost territory to Magna Graecia, Carthagemarker and Gaul. Despite being seen as distinct in its manners and customs by contemporary Greeks, the cultures of Greece, and later Rome, influenced the civilisation to a great extent. One reason for its eventual demise was this increasing absorption by surrounding cultures, including the adoption of the Etruscan upper class by the Romans.

Romans

Soon after absorbing Etruria, Rome established the cities of Luccamarker, Pisamarker, Sienamarker, and Florencemarker, endowed the area with new technologies and development, and ensured peace. These developments included extensions of existing roads, introduction of aqueducts and sewers, and the construction of many buildings, both public and private. The Roman civilization in the West collapsed in the fifth century and the region was left to the Goths, and others. In the sixth century, the Longobards arrived and designated Luccamarker the capital of their Duchy of Tuscia.

The medieval period



Pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena between Romemarker and Francemarker brought wealth and development during the medieval period. The food and shelter required by these travellers fuelled the growth of communities around churches and taverns. The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, factions supporting the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italymarker during the 12th and 13th centuries, split the Tuscan people.These two factors gave rise to several powerful and rich medieval communes in Tuscany: Arezzomarker, Florencemarker, Luccamarker, Pisamarker, and Sienamarker. Balance between these communes were ensured by the assets they held; Pisa, a port; Siena, banking; and Lucca, banking and silk. By the renaissance, however, Florence had become the cultural capital of Tuscany.Another family that befitted from Florence's growing wealth and power were the ruling Medici Family. Lorenzo de' Medici was one of the most famous and the benefits of his time are still being observed today in the fantastic art and architecture in Florence today. One of his of famous descendants Caterina (Catharine) de Medici married Prince Henry of France.

The Renaissance

Tuscany is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, and its artistic heritage includes architecture, painting and sculpture, collected in dozens of museums in towns and cities across the region. Perhaps the best-known are the Uffizimarker, the Accademiamarker and the Bargellomarker in Florencemarker. Tuscany was the birthplace of Dante Alighieri ("the father of the Italian language"), Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei and Botticelli.

Modern Era

In the 1400s, the Medicis, who ruled Florence, annexed surrounding land to create modern Tuscany. The War of Polish Succession in the 1730s meant the transfer of Tuscany from the Medicis to Francis, Duke of Lorraine and Holy Roman Emperor. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire by Napoleon, Tuscany was inherited by the Austrian Empiremarker as successor to the Holy Roman Empire. In the Italian Wars of Independence in the 1850s, Tuscany was transferred from Austria to the newly unified nation of Italy.

Under Benito Mussolini the area came under the dominance of local National Fascist Party leader Dino Perrone Compagni. Following the fall of Mussolini and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Italy, the Italian Social Republic was established in the northern regions of Italy, with its de facto border at the Gothic Line, a defensive position just north of Florence. Following the end of the Social Republic, and the transition from a Kingdom to the modern Italian Republicmarker, Tuscany once more flourished as a cultural center of Italy.

Economy



The subsoil in Tuscany is relatively rich in mineral resources, with iron ore, copper, mercury and lignite mines, the famous soffioni (fumarole) at Larderellomarker and the vast marble mines in Versilia. Although its share is falling all the time, agriculture still contributes to the region's economy. In the region's inland areas cereals, potatoes, olives and grapes (for the world-famous Chianti wines) are grown. The swamplands, which used to be marshy, now produce vegetables, rice, tobacco, beets and sunflowers

The industrial sector is dominated by mining, given the abundance of underground resources. Also of some note are the textiles, chemicals/pharmaceuticals, metalworking and steel, glass and ceramics, clothing and printing/publishing sectors. Smaller areas specialising in manufacturing and craft industries are found in the hinterland: the leather and footwear area in the south-west part of the province of Florencemarker, the hot-house plant area in Pistoiamarker, the ceramics and textile industries in the Pratomarker area, scooters and motorcycles in Pontederamarker, and the processing of timber for the manufacture of wooden furniture in the Cascinamarker area. The heavy industries (mining, steel and mechanical engineering) are concentrated along the coastal strip (Livornomarker and Pisamarker areas), where there are also important chemical industries. Also of note are the marble (Carraramarker area) and paper industries (Luccamarker area).

Almost without exception, every town and city in Tuscany has considerable natural and architectural beauty. There is a continuous stream of visitors throughout the year. As a result, the services and distributive activities that are so important to the region's economy are particularly wide-ranging and highly organised.

Demographics

The population density of Tuscany, with 161 inhabitants per km² in 2008, is below the national average (198.8 inhabitants per km²). This is due mainly to the low population density of the provinces of Arezzo, Siena and, above all, Grosseto (50 inhabitants per km²). The highest density is found in the province of Prato (675 inhabitants per km²) followed by the provinces of Pistoia, Livorno, Florence and Lucca, peaking in the cities of Florence (more than 3,500 per km²), Livorno, Prato, Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi and Montecatini Terme (all with a population density of more than 1,000 inhabitants per km²). The territorial distribution of the population is closely linked to the socio-cultural and, more recently, economic and industrial development of Tuscany.

Accordingly, the least densely populated areas are those where the main activity is agriculture, unlike the others where, despite the presence of a number of large industrial complexes, the main activities are connected with tourism and associated services, alongside a plethora of small firms in the leather, glass, paper and clothing sectors.

Starting from the 1980s, the region attracted an intense flux of immigrants, in particular from Chinamarker. There is also a significant community of British and Americans residents. As of 2008, the Italian national institute of statistics ISTAT estimated that 275,149 foreign-born immigrants live in Tuscany, equal to 7.4% of the total regional population.

Government and politics

Tuscany is a stronghold of the center-left Democratic Party, forming with Emilia-Romagna, Umbria and Marche the famous Italian political "Red Quadrilateral". At the April 2008 elections, Tuscany gave more than 50% of its votes to Walter Veltroni, and only 33.6% to Silvio Berlusconi.

Administrative divisions

Tuscany is divided into ten provinces:

Province Area (km²) Population Density (inh./km²)
Province of Arezzo 3,232 345,547 106.9
Province of Florence 3,514 983,073 279.8
Province of Grossetomarker 4,504 225,142 50.0
Province of Livorno 1,218 340.387 279.5
Province of Lucca 1,773 389,495 219.7
Province of Massa-Carrara 1,157 203.449 175.8
Province of Pisa 2,448 409,251 167.2
Province of Pistoia 965 289,886 300.4
Province of Prato 365 246,307 674.8
Province of Siena 3,281 268,706 81.9


See also



Footnotes

  1. Text finalised in March 2004 - Eurostat
  2. Military (Discovery network) Channel documentary series: "Rome: Power and Glory", episode title: "The Grasp of an Empire", copyright unknown, rebroadcast 11-12:00 hrs EDST, 2009-06-29.
  3. La Repubblica, speciale elezioni 2008
  4. La Repubblica, speciale elezioni 2008


References



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