Italy profile

A chronology of key events:

1915 - Italy enters World War I on side of Allies.

1919 - Gains Trentino, South Tyrol, and Trieste under peace treaties.

The Colosseum in Rome seen at night in 2013

Capital: Rome

Ancient remains jostle with modern buildings in Rome

1922 - Fascist leader Mussolini forms government after three years of political and economic unrest.

1926 - Suppression of opposition parties.

1929 - Lateran Treaty creates state of Vatican City.

1935 - Italy invades Ethiopia.

1936 - Mussolini forms axis with Nazi Germany.

1939 - Albania annexed.

1940 - Italy enters World War II on German side. Italian forces occupy British Somaliland in East Africa.

1941 - Italy declares war on USSR.

1943 - Sicily invaded by Allies. King Victor Emmanuel III imprisons Mussolini. Armistice signed with Allies. Italy declares war on Germany.

1944 - Allied armies liberate Rome.

1945 - Mussolini, who had been rescued from prison by Germans, is captured and executed by Italian partisans.

Towards European integration

1946 - Referendum votes for republic to replace monarchy.

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

Strong oratory helped to bring Fascist 'Il Duce' to power

  • Born in 1883
  • Became dictator in 1922
  • Shot dead by partisans in 1945

1947 - Italy cedes land and territories under peace treaty.

1948 - New constitution. Christian Democrats win elections.

1951 - Italy joins European Coal and Steel Community.

1955 - Italy joins United Nations.

1957 - Founder member of European Economic Community.

1963 - Italian Socialist Party joins Christian Democrat-led coalition under Prime Minister Aldo Moro.

1972 - Giulio Andreotti becomes prime minister - a post he will hold seven times in 20 years.

1976-78 - Communist election gains lead to voice in policy making.

1978 - Former Prime Minister Aldo Moro kidnapped and murdered by fanatical left-wing group, the Red Brigades. Abortion legalised.

1980 - Bombing of Bologna station kills 84, linked to right-wing extremists.

1983 - Bettino Craxi becomes Italy's first Socialist prime minister since war.

1984 - Roman Catholicism loses status as state religion.

1991 - Communists rename themselves Democratic Party of the Left.

Corruption probe

1992 - Revelations of high level corruption spark several years of arrests and investigations.

Top anti-Mafia prosecutor, Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards killed in car bomb attack.

1993 - Bribery scandal leads to Craxi's resignation as leader of Socialist Party. He later flees the country, is tried and sentenced in absentia to imprisonment but dies in Tunisia in 2000.

1994 March - Freedom Alliance wins election. The coalition, which includes Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, the Northern League and the neo-Fascist National Alliance, collapses by end of year following clashes with anticorruption magistrates and a battle with trade unions over pension reform.

1995-96 - Lamberto Dini heads government of technocrats. Austerity budget.

1996 - Centre-left Olive Tree alliance wins election. Romano Prodi becomes prime minister.

1997 - Earthquakes strike Umbria region, causing extensive damage to Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. Four killed.

Prodi government loses confidence vote. Massimo D'Alema becomes prime minister.

1999 - Carlo Ciampi becomes president.

2000 April - D'Alema resigns after poor regional election results and is replaced by Giuliano Amato.

Berlusconi comeback

2001 May/June - A centre-right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi of the Forza Italia party, wins the general elections.

Organised crime

Funeral of Judge Falcone

Funeral of Judge Falcone, murdered by the mafia

Berlusconi forms new coalition government which includes the leaders of two right-wing parties, Gianfranco Fini of the National Alliance and Umberto Bossi of the Northern League as well as the pro-European Renato Ruggiero who becomes foreign minister.

2001 Oct - First constitutional referendum since 1946 sees vote in favour of major constitutional change giving greater autonomy to the country's 20 regions in tax, education and environment policies.

2002 Jan - Euro replaces the lira.

Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero resigns in protest at the Eurosceptical views of right-wing cabinet colleagues.

2002 February-March - Controversy as parliament approves bill enabling Berlusconi to keep control of his businesses.

2002 October - Lower house of parliament passes controversial criminal reform bill which critics allege is intended to help PM Berlusconi avoid trial on corruption charges.

Berlusconi in court

2003 May-June - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appears in Milan court at his own trial on corruption charges relating to business dealings in the 1980s. He asserts that he is the victim of a conspiracy by a politically-motivated judiciary.

2003 June - Mr Berlusconi's trial halted after parliament passes law granting immunity from prosecution to five holders of key state posts, including the prime minister.

2003 November - Italy declares national day of mourning after 19 of its servicemen are killed in a suicide bomb attack on their base in southern Iraq.

Multi-billion euro fraud uncovered at Parmalat food-manufacturing giant. The company is declared insolvent.

2004 January - Constitutional Court throws out law granting Mr Berlusconi and other top state post holders immunity from prosecution. Mr Berlusconi's trial resumes in April.

2004 October - Forced expulsion from island of Lampedusa of hundreds of African asylum seekers is criticised by UN.

2004 December - After a four-year trial Prime Minister Berlusconi is cleared of corruption.

2005 March - Italian secret service officer shot dead during operation to free hostage in Iraq.

Classic Fiat

Italy's car manufacturer Fiat has made an impression on roads the world over

2005 April - Parliament ratifies EU constitution.

Government coalition collapses after suffering a crushing defeat in regional polls. Berlusconi resigns. Days later, he forms a new government after receiving a presidential mandate.

2005 December - Antonio Fazio resigns as governor of Bank of Italy following a scandal over the sale of Banca Antonveneta. He denies acting improperly.

2006 January - Defence minister says Italian troops will leave Iraq. The mission ends in September 2006.

Prodi in, then out

2006 April - Centre-left leader Romano Prodi wins closely-fought general elections. He is sworn in as prime minister in May.

Italy's most-wanted man, suspected head of the Sicilian mafia Bernardo Provenzano, is captured by police.

2006 May - Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist, is elected president.

2006 June - National referendum rejects reforms intended to boost the powers of the prime minister and regions. The changes were proposed during Silvio Berlusconi's premiership.

2006 August - Hundreds of Italian peacekeepers leave for Lebanon. Italy is set to become the biggest contributor to the UN-mandated force.

2007 February - Prime Minister Prodi resigns after the government loses a Senate vote on its foreign policy. The president asks him to stay on and Mr Prodi goes on to win confidence votes in both houses of parliament.

2008 January - A no-confidence vote forces Mr Prodi's government to resign.

Berlusconi back again

2008 April - Berlusconi wins general elections, securing a third term as premier after two years in opposition.

2008 August - Berlusconi apologises to Libya for damage inflicted by Italy during the colonial era and signs a $5bn investment deal by way of compensation.

Silvio Berlusconi seen at Rome's Palazzo Chigi on 16 February 2011

Media magnate and consummate survivor Silvio Berlusconi dominated Italian politics for decades

Italy's national airline, Alitalia, files for bankruptcy.

2008 November - After posting two consecutive quarters of negative growth, Italy is declared to be officially in recession.

2009 April - Earthquake strikes towns in the mountainous Abruzzo region, leaving hundreds of people dead and thousands homeless.

2009 May-July - Parliament approves controversial law criminalising illegal immigration and allowing citizens' patrols.

2009 October - Constitutional court overturns law that granted Premier Berlusconi immunity while in office.

2010 March - Mr Berlusconi's coalition makes strong gains from the centre-left in regional polls.

Coalition splits

2010 July - Government survives confidence vote on austerity package meant to bolster the country's finances.

Mr Berlusconi splits with his former political ally, speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, who sets up rival centre-right party Future and Freedom for Italy (FLI).

2010 August - Mr Berlusconi's coalition loses majority in lower house of parliament after more than 30 deputies break away from his People of Freedom party (PdL) and join Mr Fini's FLI.

2011 February - A Milan judge orders Mr Berlusconi to stand trial on 6 April for abuse of power and paying for sex with an under-age prostitute.

2011 July - IMF calls on Italy to do more to reduce its public debt - one of the largest in the eurozone - and push through spending cuts.

2011 September - Parliament gives final approval to a 54bn euro (£47bn; $74bn) austerity package. The package contains a pledge to balance the budget by 2013.

2011 October - Prime Minister Berlusconi wins key confidence vote over his handling of the economy.

More than 130 members of the public and more than 100 policemen are injured in mass protests in Rome marking a day of global protest against austerity and banking practices.

Berlusconi quits

2011 November - Amid growing doubts about Italy's debt burden, Mr Berlusconi resigns after his government fails to gain a full majority in the Chamber of Deputies during a budget vote. President Giorgio Napolitano nominates former European Union commissioner Mario Monti to form a government of technocrats.

A boat laden with migrants from Tunisia arrives at the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2008

Tens of thousands of migrants arrive on Italian shores from North Africa every year, with the island of Lampedusa being the main destination

2011 December - Mr Monti's package of austerity measures amounting to 33bn euros (£27bn; $43bn) of spending cuts gains parliamentary approval. The package also includes measures to raise taxes and tackle tax evasion.

2012 January - Government issues de-regulation decree designed to curb restrictive practices, reduce protectionism and encourage competition. The decree is intended to promote a more meritocratic system and to make it easier for young people to find employment. US ratings agency Fitch downgrades Italy's credit rating by two notches to A-.

2012 May - Left-wing and protest parties prosper in local elections in a measure of public discontent with austerity measures, with the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party and its Lega Nord ally performing badly.

Berlusconi convicted

2012 October - A senior member of the PdL, Franco Fiorito, is arrested on charges of embezzling public money.

A Milan court finds Silvio Berlusconi guilty of tax fraud in connection with his Mediaset empire's purchase of the TV rights to US films. He remains free pending the outcome of the appeals process.

2012 December - Mr Berlusconi's PdL party withdraws support from Mario Monti's technocratic government. Parliament is dissolved.

2013 February - Parliamentary elections hand Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left bloc control of the lower house, but not of the Senate. A protest movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo surges into third place, with Prime Minister Mario Monti's centre bloc trailing in fourth place.

2013 March - Silvio Berlusconi is sentenced to a year in jail over an illegal wiretap. He remains free pending the outcome of the appeals process.

2013 April - Giorgio Napolitano is re-elected president - the first time an Italian president is voted in for a second term.

Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party (PD) becomes prime minister at the head of a grand coalition that also includes Silvio Berlusconi's PdL, after Pier Luigi Bersani steps down as PD leader.

2013 June - Silvio Berlusconi is found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and sentenced to seven years in jail. He remains free pending the outcome of the appeals process.

Berlusconi conviction upheld

2013 August - Italy's highest court upholds Silvio Berlusconi's sentencing for tax fraud in October 2012, in the former prime minister's first definitive conviction. He is unlikely to go to jail because of his age.

Protesters attend a demonstration by the Forconi - or pitchforks - anti-austerity movemebt in Rome on 18 December 2013. Anti-austerity prtoests swept Italy in 2012 and 2013

2013 September - The Senate starts the process of expelling Mr Berlusconi from parliament. Mr Berlusconi says he will bring down the government, but later backs down after several party colleagues refuse to go along with the move.

2013 October - The governor of Sicily declares a state of emergency after hundreds of migrants die in shipwrecks while attempting to reach Europe from Africa.

2013 November - The Italian Senate expels Mr Berlusconi from parliament over his conviction for tax fraud, depriving him of his immunity from arrest.

2013 December - Florence mayor Matteo Renzi wins the leadership of the centre-left Democratic Party.

Protests by the anti-austerity Forconi (Pitchfork) movement take place across Italy.

2014 February - Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigns after his Democratic Party (PD) backs a call for a new administration.

The PD leader and mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, forms a new left-right coalition government and unveils plans for major economic and political reform.

2014 July - Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wins an appeal against his conviction in June 2013 for paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

2014 August - The upper house of parliament, the Senate, votes to back Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's plans to drastically cut the chamber's size and powers.

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