Rome is the capital of Italy and the country’s largest and most populous city, with over 2.7 million residents in a municipality of some 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi), while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 3.46 million. The metropolitan area of Rome is estimated by OECD to have a population of 3.7 million. It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river.
Rome’s history as a city spans over two and a half thousand years, as one of the founding cities of Western Civilization. It was the centre of the Roman Empire, which dominated Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for four hundred years from the 1st Century BC till the 4th Century AD. Rome has a significant place in Christianity and is the present day home of the Roman Catholic Church and the site of the Vatican City, an independent city-state run by the Catholic Church as an enclave of Rome.
As one of the few major European cities that escaped World War II relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character. Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union,4 and its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As a modern city it has been capital of the unified Italy since 1870, and grew mainly in two periods either side of World War II.