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Lombardy, Italy

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Lombardy is one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy. It has an extent of 23,844 km2 (9,206 sq mi) in the northern-central part of the country, and a population of about 10 million people, constituting more than one-sixth of the population of Italy. Over a fifth of the Italian gross domestic product is produced in the region.

The metropolitan area of Milan is the largest in the country and is among the largest in the European Union. Of the fifty-eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy, eleven are in Lombardy. Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Ambrose, Caravaggio, Claudio Monteverdi, Antonio Stradivari, Cesare Beccaria, Alessandro Volta, Alessandro Manzoni, and popes John XXIII and Paul VI are among those with origins in the area now known as Lombardy.

The word Lombardy comes from Lombard, which in turn is derived from Late Latin Longobardus, Langobardus (“a Lombard”), derived from the Proto-Germanic elements *langaz + *bardaz; equivalent to long beard. Some scholars suggest the second element instead derives from Proto-Germanic *bardǭ, *barduz (“axe”), related to German Barte (“axe”), or that the whole word comes from the Proto-Albanian *Lum bardhi “white river” (Compare modern Albanian lum i bardhë).

During the early Middle Ages, “Lombardy” referred to the Kingdom of the Lombards (Latin: Regnum Langobardorum), a kingdom ruled by the Germanic Lombards who had controlled most of Italy since their invasion of Byzantine Italy in 568. As such “Lombardy” and “Italy” were almost interchangeable; by the mid-8th century, the Lombards ruled everywhere except the Papal possessions around Rome (roughly modern Lazio and northern Umbria), Venice, and some Byzantine possessions in the south (southern Apulia and Calabria; some coastal settlements including Amalfi, Gaeta, Naples, and Sorrento; Sicily and Sardinia). The term was also used until around 965 in the form Λογγοβαρδία (Longobardia) as the name for the territory roughly covering modern Apulia which the Byzantines had recovered from the Lombard rump Duchy of Benevento.

With a surface area of 23,861 km2 (9,213 sq mi), Lombardy is the fourth-largest region of Italy. It is bordered by Switzerland (north: Canton Ticino and Canton Graubünden) and by the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto (east), Emilia-Romagna (south), and Piedmont (west). Three distinct natural zones can be easily distinguished in Lombardy: mountains, hills, and plains—the last being divided into Alta (high plains) and Bassa (low plains). Wikipedia

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