Rome

Economy

Since World War II, Italy has evolved from an economy based on agriculture into an economy of industrial ranking, with approximately the same total and per capita output as France and the United Kingdom. Yet, the country remains partially divided by the private companies developing in the industrial north and the public enterprise that governs the agricultural south.

Rome is headquarters to many multinational corporations, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and several World Food programs. Service accounts for 48 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), industry for 35 percent, public administration for 13 percent, and agriculture for four percent. Most raw materials needed by Italian industry are imported, including over 75 percent of energy requirements.

In the early 1990s, Rome was unsettled at the prospect of not qualifying to participate in plans for European economic and monetary union; thus, the city's financial imbalance was addressed, and subsequently the government adopted stringent budgets, abandoned an inflationary wage index system, and scaled back social welfare programs, including pension and health care. Monetary officials were forced to withdraw the lira in September 1993 when it came under extreme pressure in currency markets; it was not re-engaged until in November 1996. On January 1, 1999, the euro (EUR) became the legal currency in Italy, and the lira became a subdivision of it, the irrevocable conversion rate being 1,936.27 lira to one euro. The euro, which consists of 100 (U.S.) cents, will not be in circulation until January 2002.

With the start of the new millennium, Rome's economy is strong, but familiar issues remain a concern: high unemployment figures, government deficit, tottering communications systems, and environmental concerns for the ongoing expansion and industrial integration of the European Union.