Italy is officially called the Italian Republic. It is a peninsula, and was first inhabited by modern humans 40,000 years ago. Before 1861, Italy was not a state, and was a region ruled by Austria, France, Spain, and other nations. It gained independence between 1859 to 1866. Italy was also the center of the Ancient Roman Empire. It has an area of 301,338 sq km, a population of 60 million, and a very high HDI of 0.874.