Of the three great peninsulas of Southern Europe, Italy is that whose adjoining seas penetrate deepest into the European Continent, while its frontiers border on the greatest number of other states (France, Switzerland, Austria) and are in contact with a greater number of races: French, German, Slav.
Before Italy took its present form it was part of a great body of land called by geologists Tyrrhenses, now covered by the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, which was united to Africa In fact, a great part of the Tuscan Archipelago and of the other islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the masses of the Peloritan Mountains in Sicily, of Aspromonte and of Sila in Calabria, the Roian Alps, formed of archaic rocks, all are fragments of an ancient land now for the most part submerged.
In ancient times Italy had several other names: it was called Saturnia, in honour of Saturn; Œnotria, wine-producing land; Ausonia, land of the Ausonians; Hesperia, land to the west (of Greece); Tyrrhenia, etc.
The name to signify a land abounding in cattle, was applied at first to a very limited territory.
Insular Italy will be found treated of under the articles SICILY; SARDINIA.