Italy is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and several islands surrounding it, whose territory largely coincides with the homonymous geographical region. Italy is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, in Southern Europe; it is also considered part of Western Europe. the country covers a total area of 301,230 km2 and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, as well as the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland, Campione. With over 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the third-most populous member state of the European Union.
Italy has one the highest level of faunal biodiversity in Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna. Italy's varied geological structure contributes to its high climate and habitat diversity. The Italian peninsula is in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a corridor between central Europe and North Africa, and has 8,000 km of coastline. Italy also receives species from the Balkans, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Italy's varied geological structure, including the Alps and the Apennines, Central Italian woodlands, and Southern Italian Garigue and Maquis shrubland, also contribute to high climate and habitat diversity.
The fauna of Italy includes 4,777 endemic animal species, which include the Sardinian long-eared bat, Sardinian red deer, spectacled salamander, brown cave salamander, Italian newt, Italian frog, Apennine yellow-bellied toad, Italian wall lizard, Aeolian wall lizard, Sicilian wall lizard, Italian Aesculapian snake, and Sicilian pond turtle. In Italy there are 119 mammals species, 550 bird species, 69 reptile species, 39 amphibian species, 623 fish species and 56,213 invertebrate species, of which 37,303 insect species.
The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5,500 vascular plant species. However, as of 2005, 6,759 species are recorded in the Data bank of Italian vascular flora. Italy has 1,371 endemic plant species and subspecies, which include Sicilian Fir, Barbaricina columbine, Sea marigold, Lavender cotton and Ucriana violet. Italy is a signatory to the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the Habitats Directive both affording protection to Italian fauna and flora.
Italy has many botanical gardens and historic gardens, some of which are known outside the country. The Italian garden is stylistically based on symmetry, axial geometry and on the principle of imposing order over nature. It influenced the history of gardening, especially French gardens and English gardens. The Italian garden was influenced by Roman gardens and Italian Renaissance gardens.
The Italian wolf is the national animal of Italy, while the national tree of the country is the strawberry tree. The reasons for this choice are related to the fact that the Italian wolf, which inhabits the Apennine Mountains and the Western Alps, features prominently in Latin and Italian cultures, such as in the legend of the founding of Rome, while the green leaves, white flowers and red berries of the strawberry tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region, recall the colours of the flag of Italy.