Rome (English pronunciation: /roʊm/; Italian: Roma, pronounced [ˈroːma]; Latin: Roma) is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated municipality (central area), with over 2.7 million residents in 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 is widely regarded as one of the world's most beautiful ancient cities.
Rome's history as a city spans over two and a half thousand years, as one of the founding and most powerful cities of Western Civilisation. It was the centre of the Roman Empire, which dominated Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for over four hundred years from the 1st Century BC until the 4th Century AD, and during the Ancient Roman era, the city was the most powerful in Europe.
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. During the Middle-Ages, Rome was home to some of the most powerful popes, such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into a modern centre of the arts and one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence.
The current-day version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel's ceiling was painted by artist Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its impressive Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
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. As it is one of the few major European cities that escaped the war relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character.
Rome is in the Lazio region of central Italy on the Tiber river (Italian: Tevere). The original settlement developed on hills that faced onto a ford beside the Tiber island, the only natural ford of the river. The historic centre of Rome was built on seven hills: the Aventine Hill, the Caelian Hill, the Capitoline Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Palatine Hill, the Quirinal Hill, and the Viminal Hill.
The city is also crossed by another river the Aniene which joins the Tiber north of the historic centre. Although the city centre is about 24 km (14.9 mi) inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, the city territory extends to the shore, where the south-western district of Ostia is located. The altitude of the central part of Rome ranges from 13 m (43 ft) above sea level (at the base of the Pantheon) to 139 m (456 ft) above sea level (the peak of Monte Mario). The Commune of Rome covers an overall area of about 1,285 km2 (496 sq mi), including many green areas