Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune,
with over 2.7 million residents in 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi). In 2006 the population of the
metropolitan area was estimated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development to have a population of 3.7 million.
The city of Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the
Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy. Rome's history spans over two and a half
thousand years. It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the
Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the
Mediterranean Sea for over seven hundred years from the 1st Century BC until the 7th Century
AD. Since the 1st Century AD Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of
Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which
lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that
of the Italian Republic.
After the Middle-Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who
transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with
Florence. The current-day version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel
was painted by Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Bernini and
Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque
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