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Liguria () is a coastal region of north-western Italy, the third smallest of the Italian regions. Its capital is Genoa. It is a popular region with tourists for its beautiful beaches, picturesque little towns, and food.
A view of Cinque Terre.
Liguria borders France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. It lies on the Ligurian Sea. Liguria is a narrow strip of land, enclosed between the sea and the Alps and the Apennines mountains, it is a winding arched extension from Ventimiglia to La Spezia and is one of the smallest regions in Italy. Its surface area is 5,416.03 square Kilometres, corresponding to 1.18% of the whole national surface area, with the following subdivision: 3524.08 kilometres mountain (65% of the total) and 891.95 square kilometres hill (35% of the total).
Its shape is that of a thin strip of land, from 7 to 35 km wide (respectively above Voltri and in the high mountain area around Imperia), on average about 240 km long, lying in a semicircle around the Ligurian Sea and with convexity facing north; comprised between the sea and the watershed line of the Maritime Alps and the northern Apennines, which at some points it crosses (for example in the Savona and Genoa mountains). Some mountains rise above 2000 m.; the watershed line runs at an average altitude of about 1000 metres.
The continental shelf, which is very narrow, goes down almost immediately to considerable marine depths. The coastline is 315 km long. Except for the Portovenere and Portofino promontories, it is generally not very jagged, and is often high and compact. At the mouths of the biggest watercourses there are small beaches, but there are no deep bays and natural harbours except for those of Genoa and La Spezia.
The hydrographic system is made up of the short watercourses of a torrential kind. In the coastal part the most important are the Roja (in its lower course), the Nervia, and the Magra. On the inland side we find some tributaries of the Po: the two branches of the Bormida, the Scrivia and the Trebbia; there is not much water in these rivers, though the quantity increases greatly in rainy periods.
The ring of hills, lying immediately beyond the coast, together with the beneficial influence of the sea, account for the mild climate the whole year round (with average winter temperatures of 7-10Â° and summer temperatures of 23Â°-24Â°) which makes for a pleasant stay even in the heart of winter.
Rainfall can be very abundant at times; mountains very close to the coast create an orographic effect, so Genoa can see up to 2000 mm of rain in a year; other areas instead show the normal values of the Mediterranean area (500â€“800 mm).
Despite the high population density, woods cover half of the total area.
Liguria's Natural Reserves cover 12% of the entire Region, i.e. around 60,000 hectares of land, and they are made up of one National Reserve, six large parks, two smaller parks and three nature reserves.
Liguria knew the presence of man in very remote times. Traces of Neanderthal Man were discovered in the region of Loano, whereas in Ventimiglia, in the grotto of "Balzi Rossi", numerous remains were found which recall those of Cro-Magnon Man. According to the written sources we have about the settlements of the Ligurians, the presence of this people of Mediterranean origin dates back to the first millennium B.C. on a vast territory including most of north-western Italy. This people, divided into several tribes, numbered less than two hundred thousand.
Ancient map of Genoa.
During the first Punic War the ancient Ligurians were divided, with most of them siding with Carthage and a minority with Rome, whose allies included the future Genoese. After the Roman conquest of the region, the so-called X regio, named Liguria, was created in the reign of Emperor Augustus, when Liguria was expanded from the coast to the banks of Po River. The great Roman roads (Aurelia and Julia Augusta on the coast, Postumia and Aemilia Scauri towards the inland) helped strengthen the territorial unity and increase exchanges and trade. Important towns developed on the coast, of which evidences are left in the ruins of Albenga, Ventimiglia and Luni. Between the 4th and the 10th centuries Liguria was dominated by the Byzantine, the Lombards of King Rothari (about 641) and the Franks (about 774) and it was invaded by the Saracens and the Normans. In the 10th century, once the danger of pirates decreased, the Ligurian territory was divided into three marches: Obertenga (east), Arduinica (west) and Aleramica (centre). In the 11th and 12th centuries the marches were split into fees, and then with the strengthening of the bishopsâ€™ power, the feudal structure began to partially weaken. The main Ligurian towns, especially on the coast, became city-states, over which Genoa soon extended its rule. Inland, however, fees belinging to noble families survived for a very long time.
Between the 11th century (when the Genoese ships played a major role in the first crusade) and the 15th century the Republic of Genoa experienced an extraordinary political and commercial ascent (mainly spice trades with the Orient) and it was the most powerful maritime republic in the Mediterranean from the 12th to the 14th century, as is proven by its victorious resistance against Emperor Frederick Redbeard and by the Genoese presence in the nerve centres of power during the last phase of the Byzantine empire. After the introduction of the title of doge for life (1339) and the election of Simone Boccanegra, Genoa resumed its struggles against the Marquis of Finale and the Earls of Laigueglia and it conquered again the territories of Finale, Oneglia and Porto Maurizio. In spite of its military and commercial successes, Genoa fell prey to the internal factions which put pressure on its political structure. Andrea Doria as the god Neptune, by Agnolo Bronzino.In this state of weakness the rule of the republic was given to the Visconti family of Milan. After their expulsion by the popular forces under Boccanegraâ€™s lead, the republic remained in Genoese hands until 1396, when the internal instability led the doge Antoniotto Adorno to surrender the title of Seignior of Genoa to the king of France. The French were driven away in 1409 and Liguria went back under Milanâ€™s control in 1421, thus remaining until 1435. The alternation of French and Milanese dominions over Liguria went on until the first half of the 16th century. The French influence ceased in 1528, when Andrea Doria became the prestigious ally of the powerful king of Spain and imposed an aristocratic government which gave the republic a relative stability for about 250 years.
The impoverishment of the commercial lines with the Orient forced the Ligurian notables to engage, since then, in financial speculation. The international crises of the 17th century, which ended for Genoa with the bombing (1684) by King Louis XIVâ€™s fleet, restored the French influence over the republic. Right because of this influence, the Ligurian territory was traversed by the Piedmontese and Austrian armies when these two states came into conflict with Versailles. The limit was reached with the Austrian occupation of Genoa in 1746. The Habsburgic troops were driven away by a popular insurrection in the same year. Napoleonâ€™s first Italy campaign marked the end of the secular republic which, by the Emperorâ€™s will, was transformed into Ligurian Republic , according to the model of the French Republic. After the union of Oneglia and Loano (1801), Liguria was annexed to the French Empire (1805) and divided by Napoleon into three departments: Montenotte, with capital Savona, Genoa and the department of the Apennines, with capital Chiavari.
After a short period of independence in 1814, the Congress of Vienna (1815) decided that Liguria should be annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia. The Genoese uprising against the House of Savoy in 1821, which was put down with great bloodshed, aroused the populationâ€™s national sentiments. Some of the most prestigious figures of the Risorgimento were born in Liguria (Mazzini, Garibaldi, Mameli, Bixio). In the first years of the century the regionâ€™s economic growth was remarkable: a lot of industries flourished from Imperia to La Spezia. During the tragic period of World War Two Liguria experienced hunger and two years of occupation by the German troops, against whom a liberation struggle was led among the most effective in Italy, when allied troops finally reached it they were welcomed by partisans which, in a successful insurrection, had freed the city and accepted the surrender of the local German command. For this feat the city has been awarded the gold medal for military valour.
Population density in Liguria is high (almost 300 inhabitants per km2 in 2008), and inferior only to the regions of Campania, Lombardy and Latium. In the province of Genoa, it reaches almost 500 inhabitants per km2, whereas in the provinces of Imperia and Savona it is less than 200 inhabitants per km2.
Over 80% of the regional population lives permanently near to the coast, where all the four major cities above 50,000 are located: Genoa (pop. 610,000), La Spezia (pop. 95,000), Savona (pop. 62,000) and Sanremo (pop. 56,000).
The population of Liguria is in constant decline, in particular since the 1970s and most markedly in the cities of Genoa, Savona and La Spezia. The age pyramid now looks more like a 'mushroom' resting on a fragile base . The negative trend has been partially interrupted only in the last decade when, after a successful economic recovery, the region has attracted consistent fluxes of immigrants. As of 2008, the Italian national institute of statistics, ISTAT, estimated that 90,881 foreign-born immigrants live in Liguria, equal to 5.8% of the total regional population .
Genoa's old yet busy harbor.
Ligurian agriculture has increased its specialisation pattern in high-quality products (flowers, wine, olive oil) and has thus managed to maintain the gross value-added per worker at a level much higher than the national average (the difference was about 42% in 1999)
. The value of flower production represents over 75% of the agriculture sector turnover, followed by animal farming (11.2%) and vegetable growing (6.4%).
Steel, once a major industry in the 50s and 60s, is being phased out after the late 70s and 80s crisis, as Italy is moving away from heavy industry to pursue more technologically advanced "light" industrial revolutions. So the Ligurian industry has turned towards a widely diversified range of high-quality and high-tech products (food, shipbuilding, electrical engineering and electronics, petrochemicals, aerospace etc.). Nonetheless, the regions still maintains a flourishing shipbuilding sector (yacht construction and maintenance, cruise liner building, military shipyards)
In the services sector, the gross value-added per worker in Liguria is 4% above the national average. This is due to the increasing diffusion of modern technologies, particularly in commerce and tourism.
A good motorways network (376 km in 2000) makes communications with the border regions relatively easy. The main motorway is located along the coastline, connecting the main ports of Nice (in France), Savona, Genoa and La Spezia. The number of passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants (524 in 2001) is below the national average (584).
In average, about 17 million tones of cargo are shipped from the main ports of the region and about 57 million tonnes enter the region
. The Port of Genoa, with a trade volume of 58.6 million tonnes it is the first port of Italy, the second in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units after the port of transshipment of Gioia Tauro, with a trade volume of 1.86 million TEUs. The main destinations for the cargo-passenger traffic are Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Barcelona and Canary Islands.
Government and politics
The politics of Liguria takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democracy, whereby the President of Regional Government is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the Regional Government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Regional Council.
The Regional Government is presided by the Governor, who is elected for a five-year term, and is composed by the President and the Ministers , who are currently 11, including a Vice President.
The Regional Council of is composed of 40 members and it's elected for a five-year term, but, if the President suffers a vote of no confidence, resigns or dies, under the ''simul stabunt vel simul cadent'' prevision (introduced in 1999), also the Council will be dissolved and there will be a fresh election.
In the last regional election, which took place on 3â€“4 April 2005, Claudio Burlando (Democrats of the Left, then Democratic Party) defeated incumbert Sandro Biasotti (an independent close to Forza Italia).
At both national and local level Liguria is considered a swing region, where no one of the two coalition is dominant.
Liguria is divided into four provinces:
Provinces of Liguria.
* Andrea Doria.
* Giuseppe Garibaldi.
* CristĂłforo Colombo
* Simon Boccanegra
* Benedicto XV
* Urbano VII
* Nicolo Paganini
* Eugenio Montale
* Pietro Germi
* Italo Calvino
* Edmondo de Amicis
* Luciano Berio
* Sem Benelli
* Bernardo Strozzi
* Renzo Piano
* Vittorio Gassman
* Renata Scotto
* Lyda Borelli