The region of Lazio is situated in the western-central area of the country. It has an overall area of 17,208 square kilometres and a population of 5.6 million giving it a population density of 327 people per square kilometre, the third highest in Italy after Campania and Lombardy. It is bordered by the Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche to the north, Abruzzo and Molise to the east, Campania to the south, and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. The capital of Lazio is Rome, which is also the capital of Italy. Lazio is also home to the Vatican, the centre of the Roman Catholic Church around the world. The provinces of Lazio are: Frosinone, Latina, Rieti, Rome and Viterbo.
Although originally poor, there has been extensive investment in Lazio since it joined with the rest of unified Italy in 1870. It now contributes 10% of the country’s GDP and is one of the most important regions in Italy. Aside from tourism Lazio derives most of its wealth from agriculture, wine production, manufacturing, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and publishing. Lazio is also home to the Italian film industry.
To the east, Lazio is dominated by the Central Apennine mountain ranges, rising to 2,216 metres at Mount Terminillo. To the west, the coast of Lazio is mainly low-lying with long, sandy beaches interupted by the headlands of Circeo and Gaeta. The Pontine Islands, which are part of Lazio lie to the south of the region. The lakes of Bolsena, Vico, Bracciano, all to the northwest of Rome, and the lakes Albano and Nemi to the southeast of Rome, were all formed from four groups of ancient volcanoes.
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History and culture of Lazio
Ancient Latium was inhabited by some native populations called Latini, Aernici, Aequi, Aurunci and Volsci. The legend of the origins of Rome, which cannot be established as founded or not, as told in many poems of ancient Rome and in Virgil’s Aeneid, tells of a group of refugees from the city of Troy, destroyed by the Greeks around the 10th century BC, who, led by Aeneas, reached the coast of Lazio, where their leader married the daughter of the local king.
History begins in the 8th century BC with the foundation of the city of Rome, which was at first a monarchy until under the seventh king there was a war with the Etruscans and a republic ruled by two consuls and a senate was established. In the centuries the Romans, a people of soldiers, law-makers and rulers, gradually conquered the whole of Italy, then started their expansion in the Mediterranean and towards north in central Europe as far as the British Isles. The republic gave way to an Empire in the first century BC, and the first – and one of the greatest – Emperors, Augustus, reorganized the Empire in regions, so that Lazio and Campania were the Prima Regio.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, in the war against the Goths (535-553) the Eastern, or Byzantine, Roman Empire reclaimed Lazio for a period, then had to abandon the region to defend the Adriatic possessions against the Lombards. It was in that period that the only authority left in Lazio was the bishop of Rome, who strengthened the political power of the church in the area. After centuries of fighting against local lords, the State of the Church gained finally a total supremacy on Lazio and surrounding territories (Umbria and Marche).
In the 19th century, when a strong movement for unity swept the Italian nation, patriots in the many Italian states looked at Rome as their future capital. In 1860 the Second War of Independence united many territories of the former State of the Church to the newborn Italian Kingdom, but Rome was taken only 1n 1870, after the Third War of Independence.
Cities of Lazio
Rome – Viterbo – Rieti – Latina – Frosinone – Vatican City State