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Italy -- the Italian Republic -- is a boot-shaped peninsula extending from the southern edge of Europe into the Mediterranean Sea. It is slightly larger than Arizona, includes the two large islands Sicily and Sardinia, as well as enclosing entirely within its borders the independent nations San Marino and the Vatican City.
Italy is located in Southern Europe, between latitudes 35° and 47° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E. To the north, Italy borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia, and is roughly delimited by the Alpine watershed, enclosing the Po Valley and the Venetian Plain. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia, in addition to many smaller islands. The sovereign states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Italy is the 4th-largest national economy in Europe, the 8th-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and the 12th-largest by GDP (PPP). The country is a founding member of the European Union, the Eurozone, the OECD, the G7 and the G8. Italy is the eighth largest exporter in the world with $514 billion exported in 2015. Its closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts about 59% of its total trade. The largest trading partners, in order of market share, are Germany (12.6%), France (11.1%), United States (6.8%), Switzerland (5.7%), United Kingdom (4.7%), and Spain (4.4%). In 2012, in current price terms, Italy's gross domestic expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) was 20.5 billion euro. It increased by 3.5% compared to 2011. In constant price terms, it increased by 1.9%. GERD represented 1.26% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), updated according to the new system of national accounts (ESA 2010). There was an increase compared to 2011 (1.21%). In current price terms business enterprise expenditure on R&D (BERD) increased by 2.6%, accounting for 54.2% of total R&D spent in 2012. Government's expenditure on R&D grew by 14.6% (14.8% of total R&D spent in 2012). R&D expenditure in the higher education sector recorded an increase by 1.4% (28.0%). The private no profit sector decreased by 8.4% (3.0%). Compared to 2011, current expenditure on intramural R&D rose in all geographical areas. In the North-West area it was +1.8% and in the North-East +6.3%. In 2012 these two areas accounted for 60.6% of GERD. Increases were also recorded in Central Italy (+2.3%) and in the South and Islands area (+5.3%). In 2012, the number of public and private employees involved in R&D activities (measured in terms of "full-time equivalent units") amounted to 240,179 units; it increased by 5.3% compared to 2011. R&D personnel increased in business enterprises (+6.8%), public institutions (+4.7%), private no profit institutions (+3.8%), the higher education sector (+3.4%). The number of researchers (in terms of full-time equivalents) was 110,695 units, a 4.3%increase compared to 2011. Provisional data for 2013 showed a decrease in GERD both in current terms (-1.5% compared to 2012) and a decrease of 2.9% in constant price terms. Provisional data for 2014 showed a decrease of 1.9% in public institutions and an increase of 1.4% in BERD (not available forecast data for the universities). The Italy's Government support for R&D activities, measured by the Government budget appropriations or outlay for R&D (GBAORD), amounting to 8.3 billion euro for 2013 (initial forecasts of expenditure), were down compared to the forecast expenditure settled in 2012 (8.8 billion euro).
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