Routes, means of communication and tourism
The structure of the Italian railway network (over 16,000 km) dates back to the early decades of the twentieth century. There have been modernizations (electrification) and upgrades (doubling of lines, high-speed sections), but also suppression or downsizing of unprofitable sections ( fig. 2 ). The railway mainly carries passengers (over 540 million in 2006; 77 million tons of goods).
According to ALLCOUNTRYLIST, the road network has undergone an exceptional expansion since the mid-20th century: by 2004, 450,000 km of extra-urban roads were in operation, of which 6,500 motorways ( fig. 3 ). After a phase of investments in motorways, the local road network has been extended, improving the accessibility of all the inhabited areas of the country. Together with other phenomena related to production and commercial logistics, this confirmed the role of road transport in the movement of goods (1.4 billion tons in 2005), not to mention the passenger one.
Cabotage navigation intervened (2005) with 159 million tons of goods. However, the maritime traffic that concerns the Italian ports is more significant: just under half a billion tons of goods unloaded or embarked, of which over 200 million of petroleum products. More than 83 million passengers (2005) used maritime services. The Italian merchant and passenger fleet is significant, even if it has known comparatively greater importance in the past, and has exceeded (11.8 million gross tonnage under the Italian flag) the size of the 1970s, improving performance. The port system, considered plethoric and poorly coordinated (about twenty ports, among which Genoa and Trieste stand out, 80% of the traffic is shared), is being renovated,
Air transport saw an increase in traffic (1.5 million flights in 2006), passengers (110 million) and goods transported (approximately 900,000 t), as well as airports: alongside the main ones in Rome (Fiumicino and Ciampino) and Milan (Malpensa and Linate) and to those of consolidated regional rank, various local airports entered into operation on which low cost, charter and other private companies operate, whose traffic is constantly increasing, especially in the context of international transport.
A good share of international arrivals by air is provided by tourists. From the early 1960s to the 1980s, Italian tourist presences increased by almost 5 times (from 52 to 250 million) and foreign ones by 3.5 times (from 31 to 107 million). The growing propensity of Italians to vacation abroad has reduced the number of Italian tourists (2005) to 207 million, although it marks a recent recovery; the presence of foreigners has not stopped increasing, reaching 148 million. Tourist flows are concentrated: to a decreasing extent on the coasts (Ligurian, Romagna, Sicilian, Apulian); increasingly on the ‘cities of art’ (in the first place, Venice, Florence and Rome). There is a slow diversification of destinations, also by virtue of the presence in Italy of 58 ‘cultural sites’ included in the UNESCO ‘World Heritage’ list, which often correspond to entire historic centers. THERE. constitutes the fifth tourist destination in the world. In the past, tourist revenues have often alone offset the disbursements for imports; it is still a key sector, with enormous turnover and an active budget of over 10 billion euros.
The literacy rate of adult Italians is around 98%. The Constitution assigns to the State the task of dictating the general rules of education and of establishing schools of all types and levels. Bodies and individuals can set up schools, but at no cost to the state. High culture institutions, universities and academies have the right to establish autonomous systems within the limits established by the laws of the State (art. 33). The same Constitution states that “the school is open to all”; that lower education, given for at least eight years, is compulsory and free; that the capable and deserving, even if deprived of means, have the right to reach the highest grades of studies; that the Republic makes this right effective with scholarships, checks and other benefits (art. 34). The school system currently in force can be schematized on the basis of the three successive degrees or levels of education: primary, secondary (1st and 2nd degree) and higher (university, artistic and musical); the school system also includes the kindergarten.
According to estimates, about 90% of the population is Catholic (about 1/3 practitioners). The Catholic ecclesiastical organization is made up of 226 dioceses, divided into 16 pastoral regions (to which as many regional episcopal conferences correspond) and the military ordinariate. The oldest indigenous non-Catholic Christian community in Italy is made up of the Waldensians (currently about 25,000): they have a theological faculty in Rome and each year they hold a synod that determines the lines of behavior and organization for the Italian Methodists as well. confederates. The Italian Protestants (about 400,000) are represented above all by Pentecostals, and in particular by the Assemblies of God. About 100,000 are the Orthodox, 30,000 Jews, while around 80,000 adhere to Eastern religions.
The Constitution of the Italian Republic consecrated in art. 8 the principle of equality in the freedom of all confessions and in art. 19 guaranteed religious freedom as a right to freedom of conscience and worship. The position of the Catholic Church is considered separately from that of the other confessions, whose relations with the State are regulated by the Lateran Pacts, revised with a new Agreement between the Holy See and the Italian Republic, signed on February 18, 1984 (➔ Lateranensi, Patti). For non-Catholic cults, art. 8 of the Italian Constitution provides that they have the right to organize themselves according to their statutes, if they do not conflict with the Italian legal system.