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Italy has a very high level of human development and it is sixth in the world for life expectancy.
The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is both a regional power Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus and many more.
During the Early Middle Ages, Italy suffered sociopolitical collapse amid calamitous barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking, laying down the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These mostly independent statelets, acting as Europe's main spice trade hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoyed a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe, though much of central Italy remained under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Angevin and Spanish conquests of the region.
The long and triumphant reign of its first emperor, Augustus, began a golden age of peace and prosperity.
After various unsuccessful attempts, unification was achieved, creating a great power after centuries of foreign domination and political division.
In the wake of Julius Caesar's rise and death in the first century B.
C., Rome grew over the course of centuries into a massive empire stretching from Britain to the borders of Persia, and engulfing the whole Mediterranean basin, in which Greek and Roman and many other cultures merged into a unique civilisation.
As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to 53 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is the fifth most visited country.
The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War.