Italy
Having gone through the roller coaster ride of history, Italy has come to represent what it is today. Few countries can offer the history as rich and swinging as Italy has lived. Italy served at the core of the Roman Empire; one of the leading religion, Catholicism, has its headquarters in Rome; and it was largely the dynamic city states of Italy that set the modern era in motion with the Renaissance. It has known chaos and deep suffering too. The rise of modern Europe's nation states in the 16th century left the divided peninsula behind. Italian unity was won in blood. Italy had its share of colonial wealth and then the Fascism and Second World War took their toll. The economic miracle of 1960s propelled Italy to the top league of industrialized nations but since the 1990s the country is swirling in a mire of frustrating crises. A sluggish economy, in-effective and squabbling government, corruption and the continuing open sore of mafias continue to cast shadow over the country's otherwise sunny disposition. Despite problems, Italians have always been culturally rich and bound to their own traditions and therefore taking pride in what they are. 
 
Being the founding member of the European Union and part of the Euro-zone; Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. It is also a member state of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the United Nations (UN). Italy has the world's ninth largest defense budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons. Modern Italy is a democratic republic; ranked as the world's 24th most-developed country and its Quality-of-life index has been ranked in the world's top ten in 2005. It has the world's third-largest gold reserves, eighth-largest nominal GDP and the sixth highest government budget in the world. Italy is a highly globalised nation and enjoys a very high standard of living; along with a high public education level.
 
Geography:
Situated in Southern Europe, the Italy is a peninsula extending into the Central Mediterranean Sea. It has a total area comprising of 301,340 sq. km with 294,140 sq. km of land and 7,200 sq. km of water coverage. Italy shares its borders with Austria, France, San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland. It has a coast line extending to 7,600 km. The climate is predominantly Mediterranean, with Alpine in north and hot & dry in the south. The terrain is mostly rugged and mountainous with some plains and coastal low lands. The country is geologically rich with natural resources such as coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, asbestos, sulphur, feldspar and pyrite. Natural gas and fossil crude oil is also available. Arable land is 28% with permanent corps over only 10% of the land area. Area wise it ranks 72 in the community of nations.
 
Population:
Italy has a total population of 61.3 million people who are predominantly Italian, with small minorities of German, French, Slovene, Albanian and Greek origins. Like every developed country, 68% of the population lives in urban areas and the rate of further urbanization is 0.5% per annum. The literacy rate is 99% representing a population which can read and write. Population wise Italy ranks 23rd in the community of nations. 
 
People and Culture:
Italian people are generally open and friendly. The family is the centre of social structure and provides both emotional and financial support to its members. Appearances matter in Italy. The way you dress can indicate your social status, your family's background and your education level. First impressions are lasting impressions in Italy and the concept of good image is important. The people often use their hands to gesture frantically while talking and it is not considered rude. The country has a very high population of senior citizens and it is wise to be respectful. During meetings, greetings are enthusiastic yet formal. The usual handshake with direct eye contact and a smile suffices between strangers. Once a relationship develops, air kissing on both cheeks is often added as a pat on the back between men. However, one should wait until invited to move to the first name basis. Eating and dinning are an essential part of Italian culture. Giving gifts is also considered normal.    
 
The Economy:
Italy has a diversified industrial economy with high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and developed infrastructure; driven largely by the manufacturing of high-quality consumer goods, produced by small and medium-sized enterprises. Italy is the third-largest economy in the euro-zone, but exceptionally high public debt burdens and structural impediments to growth have rendered it vulnerable to scrutiny by financial markets. Public debt has increased steadily since 2007; reaching 120% of GDP in 2011 and borrowing costs on sovereign government debt have risen to record levels.
The government also faces pressure from investors and European partners to address Italy's long-standing structural impediments to growth (i.e., inflexible labor market and widespread tax evasion). The international financial crisis worsened Italy's labor market conditions, with unemployment rising from 6.2% in 2007 to 8.4% in 2011. The euro-zone crisis along with Italian austerity measures has reduced exports and domestic demand, slowing Italy's recovery. Looking into the strengths, the “backbone” of Italy's economy is small, family-owned firms that typically do not make highly technological goods.
 
Bilateral Relations between Italy and Pakistan:
Italy and Pakistan have enjoyed cordial and friendly relations and share a common perception on important international issues of mutual interest. Being an active investor in Pakistan, Italy and Pakistan enjoy close relationship in all fields. Italy provided Pakistan US$ 100 million under the Pakistan Italian Debt for Development Swap Agreement to social development projects in health, education and sanitation in Pakistan. Italian government has agreed to provide a credit line equivalent to US$ 10 billion for Italian investors willing to invest in Pakistan. Italy has also supported Pakistan bid for free trade agreement between Pakistan and EU. 
 
There are over 100,000 Pakistanis in Italy; mainly living in the cities of Milan and Brescia. Pakistan has an embassy in Rome and a Consulate-General in Milan for representation, whilst Italy maintains an embassy in Islamabad, a Consulate-General in Karachi and an honorary consulate in Lahore. Italy has been a major participant in Pakistan's scientific contribution to the world, and both countries established the International Conference on Astrophysics and Relativity in 2011.
 
Italian – Pakistan Business Association (IPBA):
The Italian-Pakistan Business Association (IPBA) is a non-profit association established by Italian and Pakistani entrepreneurs in collaboration with Italian Embassy in Pakistan. The Association aims to strengthen bilateral relations between Italy and Pakistan in coordination with strategic partners from the two countries in business, trade, commerce, art, culture and sports. The Italian-Pakistan Business Association (IPBA) is geared to provide a wide range of business services tailored to the requirements of its members, as well as Italian and Pakistani companies. The IPBA services include trade information, market & feasibility studies, business partner search, trade exhibitions, marketing support and assistance & consultancy.
 
Bilateral Trade:
Bilateral relations between Italy and Pakistan have maintained an upward trend in the previous years. The continued partnership of both the countries in international affairs and enhanced profile of economic activity has lent dynamism and boost to the bilateral ties. Italy is Pakistan's third largest market in Europe after UK and Germany, and sixth largest globally. If the recent growth in exports to Italy continues to rise, it could become Pakistan's second biggest market in Europe.
 
Bilateral trade recorded hike from US$ 410 million in 2001-02 to US$ 1,067 million in 2006-07. Italy is a major source of supplying textile and agricultural machinery to Pakistan, besides raw materials.
 
BASIC FACTS
• Full Name: Italian Republic
• Capital: Rome
• Type of Government: Republic
• Area: 301,340 Square Kilometer
• Population: 61,261,254 
• Language: Italian (official)
• Life Expectancy:79 years (men),85 years (women)
• Per Capita GDP: US$ 30,100 (2011 est.)
• GDP: US$ 1.822 trillion (2011 est.)
• Monetary Unit: 1 Euro = 100 cents
 
 
By Muhammad Arsalan