Italy is located between Southern Europe and the Mediterranean and is also part of Western Europe, consisting of a peninsula that stretches from the Southern Alps to the central Mediterranean Sea. The country covers an area of 301,340 square kilometers and is bordered by France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a population of about 50 million, making it the third-most populated member country of the European Union.
Strategically situated in the Mediterranean that was a significant route for traders and travelers in the early years, Italy has captivated people from different cultures. Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region is the cradle of the Renaissance that led to the European Age of Discovery.
The country has a diverse economy mainly driven by the production of high-quality consumer merchandise. Its northern region is a highly developed industrial sector dominated by private enterprises while the southern region is less-developed with high unemployment and relies heavily on agriculture. It also has a substantial black economy which is estimated to have contributed 15% to its GDP.
Italy’s economy is one of the leaders in the world and the Bank of Italy is an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. However, the global crisis hit Italy’s labor market and its low fertility rate and quota-based immigration standards will continue to impact the economy. In 2010, Italy recovered by about 1% as exports and investment started to bounce back.
Before shifting to the euro, the Italian lira was the nation’s official currency which was divided into 100 centesimi. The lira was introduced by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1807 before it became the currency in 1861. To conserve coins, the Consortium of Issuing Institutes that consists of six banks was authorized to issue fiat money or inconvertible banknotes that could not be exchanged for precious metals. These paper bills featured the personification of Italy, Italia Turrita (Italy with Towers) wearing a crown of towers.
The government also issued banknotes from 1881, making slight changes to the design and colors of the preceding issues. From 1882 to 1888, Biglietti di Stato or state banknotes were issued bearing allegorical figures and have irregular left edges at counterfoils. In 1893, the Bank of Italy was constituted and in 1896, it issued a new set of notes to replace the old notes in circulation. These banknotes also featured allegorical figures and Italia in profile.
The set of notes issued between 1990 and 1997 highlights significant Italian personalities, their works, and other symbols relative to the featured person.