Population: 60.63 million Population growth rate: 0.42 percent Birth rate: 9.06 births per thousand people Death rate: 9.93 deaths per thousand people Net migration rate: 4.67 migrants per thousand people GDP: US$2.20 trillion (â‚¬1.76 trillion) GDP per capita (PPP): US$30,100 (â‚¬24,720) GDP by sector: Agriculture: 2.0 percent Industry: 24.7 percent Services: 73.4 percent Industries: Tourism, machinery, chemicals, food processing, iron and steel, beverages, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics Unemployment: 8.4 percent Inflation: 2.8 percent Public debt: 120 percent of GDP Export partners: Germany 13.0 percent, France 11.6 percent, United States 6.0 percent, Spain 5.9 percent, United Kingdom 5.2 percent Import partners: Germany 16.1 percent, France 8.8 percent, China 7.8 percent, Netherlands 5.4 percent, Spain 4.6 percent Cell phones: 82.0 million Internet users: 29.2 million (Source: CIA Factbook) The answer, again, is cash, and lots of it. Stacks of bills in large denominations still swap hands every day in the typical Italian store, as some customers still distrust plastic. For the store owners, cash also means no paper trail, and therefore no real incentive to report the income. But tax police have cracked down on under-the-table transactions in recent years, sending in plainclothes officers to check whether they are offered a receipt. These days, stores are legally required to give every customer a receipt, and it is the customer’s responsibility to have that receipt in hand when walking out the door. The store owner will sometimes run after you if you forget to take it off the counter.
Credit cards won’t be very helpful when it comes time to pay household expenses, such as heating, electricity, and phone bills. This is done at the post office, and the only accepted forms of payment there are cash or a Bancomat card. (You cannot send a check to the utility company itself, though you are certainly welcome to walk to its local headquarters and pay by cash if you wish.) Just bring your bill, and a lot of patience for long lines, to the nearest post office, and they will explain the procedure. Post offices also act as a kind of alternative bank, offering accounts with post-office checks. Like banks, their hours are short: 8 A.M.2 P.M. weekdays, though some are open on Saturday as well. There is no fixed schedule as to which branches are open on Saturday, but you can check the hours of individual offices at www.poste.it. Banks are open 8:30 A.M.1:30 P.M. and 2:453:45 P.M. on weekdays. Again, some are open on Saturday.
Photo Gallery ITALY BY THE NUMBERS
ITALY BY THE NUMBERS Images