Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936 and has a degree in law.
In 1962 he began his career as a property developer.
He rapidly became Italy's leading developer of residential
and large-scale retail real estate (Milano 2, Milano 3, Il
Girasole). In 1980 he launched Canale 5, Italy's first national
commercial television network, which was followed by Italia
1 in 1982 and Rete 4 in 1984.
The success of commercial television led to the development
of other initiatives under the umbrella of the Fininvest holding
company, which was founded in 1978. He went on to develop
commercial television in other countries in Europe: in France
with La Cinq (1986), in Germany with Telefunf (1987) and in
Spain with Telecinco (1989).
With the acquisition of Mondadori, he became Italy's most
important publisher of books and magazines. Through Mediolanum
and Programma Italia, the Fininvest Group built up a solid
position in banking, insurance and financial services.
In 1986 he became Chairman of A.C. Milan which, under his
leadership, went on to win the National League six times,
the Champion's League three times, the World Club Championship
twice, as well as various other international trophies.
On the 26th January 1994 he resigned all of his positions
in Fininvest. He founded the Forza Italia movement and the
coalition known as Polo delle Liberte del Buongoverno. In
the general election of March 1994 he obtained a majority
of the votes and became Prime Minister.
In June 1999 he was re-elected Member of the European Parliament
with three million votes. From 1996 to 2001 he was leader
of the opposition in Parliament. On May 13, 2001 he won the
general election as the leader of the "Casa delle Libertà"
coalition with 18 and a half million votes.
The Republic of Italy is an original member of the G8. Italy
hosted the G8 summit for the first time in 1980 in Venice,
Italy. They have hosted the summit a total of four times;
Venice 1980, Venice 1987, Naples 1994, and Genoa 2001. Italy
will host the G8 summit again in 2009.
The President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian
Republic is The Honorable Silvio Berlusconi. President Berlusconi
was first elected in 2001.
Name: The Republic of Italy
Area: 301,225 sq. km. (116,303 sq. mi.); about the size
of Georgia and Florida combined.
Cities: Capital--Rome (pop. 2.8 million). Other cities--Milan,
Terrain: Mostly rugged and mountainous.
Climate: Generally mild Mediterranean; cold northern
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Italian(s).
Population: 57.5 million.
Annual growth rate: .28%.
Ethnic groups: Primarily Italian, but there are small
groups of German-, French-, Slovene-, and Albanian-Italians.
Religion: Roman Catholic (majority).
Language: Italian (official).
Education: Years compulsory--18. Literacy--98%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.76/1,000 live births.
Life expectancy--76.08 for men; 83.0 for women.
Work force (23.8 million): Services--57.6%; industry
and commerce--28.9%; agriculture--4.2%; unemployed--9.2%.
Type: Republic since June 2, 1946.
Constitution: January 1, 1948.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), Council
of Ministers (cabinet), headed by the president of the
council (prime minister). Legislative--bicameral parliament:
630-member Chamber of Deputies, 315-member Senate (plus
a varying number of "life" Senators). Judicial--independent
constitutional court and lower magistracy.
Subdivisions: 94 provinces, 20 regions.
Political parties: Forza Italia, Democratic Party of
the Left, National Alliance, Northern League, United
Christian Democrats, Democrats, Italian People's Party,
Christian Democratic Center, Socialist, Communist Renewal,
Social Democratic, Republican, Liberal, Greens, Italian
Suffrage: Vote for House; universal over 18; vote for
Senate; universal over 18.
GDP (2002): $1.2 trillion.
Per capita income (2002): $21,500.
GDP growth (2003 est.): 0.9%; 2002 0.4%; 2001 1.8%.
Natural resources: Fish, natural gas.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, rice, grapes, olives, citrus
fruits. Industry: Types--automobiles, machinery, chemicals,
Trade (2002): Exports--$263.6 billion. Partners--EU 53%,
U.S. 10%, OPEC 4%; mechanical products, textiles and apparel,
transportation equipment, metal products, chemical products,
food and agricultural products. Imports--$254.5 billion.
Partners--EU 56%, OPEC 6%, U.S. 5%; machinery and transport
equipment, foodstuffs, ferrous and nonferrous metals,
wool, cotton, energy products.