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The Apennine Mountains northeast of Rome were rocked by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours of Aug. 24. Hillside towns crumbled, many medieval structures were leveled, and even buildings that were supposed to be RETROFITTED to withstand an earthquake were destroyed.

Italian authorities have called for an investigation into whether corners were cut when structures were renovated to meet with newer building codes. But some say that the medieval churches and other historical buildings that are several hundred years old are too difficult and costly to make earthquake-resistant.

Most people were home asleep when the quake occurred at 3:36 a.m. The town of Amatrice was hit hard, with 229 people killed. There were an estimated 290 deaths and some people are still missing. Hundreds of aftershocks have struck the area since the first quake.

  • Facts about Italy:
  • Capital: Rome
  • Population: 61,855,120
  • Area: 301,340 sq. miles
  • Language: Italian
  • Currency: Euro
  • Products: Engineering products, minerals, textiles, clothing, food

With their homes in rubble, more than 2,000 people are living in tents and some are sleeping in their cars. When temperatures in the mountains drop in the coming months, there are plans to move people into hotels as workers build wooden huts.

The Alps in the north separate Italy from the rest of Europe and are home to the continent’s tallest mountain, Monte Bianco or Mont Blanc (White Mountain), elevation 15,777 ft. The Apennines run along the boot of Italy, dividing the east and west. The longest river in Italy is the Po River.

Italians are known for their love of good food, sports and art. Some famous Italian Renaissance artists include Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Seventeenth century astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei from Pisa, Italy, made observations that helped found modern physics and astronomy.

Italy is a democratic republic headed by a president (Sergio Mattarella) and a prime minister (Matteo Renzi). Its parliament is divided into a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate.

September 2016