The Italian Republic is a country in Europe. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 116,350 square miles with around 61 million inhabitants. The official language is Italian. The capital and largest city is Rome, which is the Papal State of the catholic Church and also known as Vatican City: The smallest country in the world.
In the 8th century BC the Italic tribe formed the Roman Kingdom, which eventually became a republic. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states left the region fragmented, and it was subsequently conquered by European powers such as France, Spain and Austria. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was almost entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy rapidly industrialised in the north, and acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained largely impoverished.
In 1922 Italy became a fascist dictatorship, caused by the economic crisis and social turmoil after World War I. World War II ended for Italy with a military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. After the liberation of Italy and the rebellion of the resistance, the monarchy was abolished and democracy restored, which led to a boom in the economy.
The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic is the highest Order of Knighthood awarded within the Italian Republic and was instituted on March 3, 1951. This Order is conferred upon Italians who have provided meritorious labour and achievements to the Republic.
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Sparacino, Fausto. Distintivi e medaglie della R.S.I. 1943-45 della Legione Italiana dei Veterani della R.S.I.; R.S.I. Badges and Medals 1943/45. Editrice Militare Italiana, 1988.
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Bini, Dimitri. Le medaglie ufficiali militari e civili del Regno d’Italie. CLD Libri: 2008.
Brambilla, Adriano and Ivo Fossati. Medaglie a croce FF.AA. 1900-1989; Italian Cross Medals. Milan: Editrice Militare Italiana, 1993.
Royal House of Bourbon - Two Sicilies: http://www.borbone-due-sicilie.org/borbone-two-sicilies.html
Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George: http://www.ordinecostantiniano.it/?lang=en
Antiques A to Z: http://www.antiquesatoz.com/orders/itaord.htm
Governo Italian Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri: http://presidenza.governo.it/onorificenze_araldica/onorificenze/normativa/circolare31102001.html
Numismatica Italiana: https://numismatica-italiana.lamoneta.it/
Axis Awards: http://axis101.bizland.com/AxisAwards.html