Italy became a
nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along
with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel II. An
era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when
Benito Mussolini established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous
alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A
democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival
followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic
Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and
political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999.
The official language is Italian
but in some regions German
, and Slovene are spoken.