Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/741

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of the country. It is this leg of the peninsula which alone was called Italy by the ancient geographers; or, to be more precise, merely the portion south of Rome. Only by slow degrees was the term extended to cover the basin of the Po, The present political unity of all Italy, real though it be, is of course only a recent

PSM V51 D741 Physical geography of italy.png

and, in a sense, an artificial product. It should not obscure our vision as to the ethnic realities of the case.

The topography and location of these two halves of the kingdom of Italy which we have outlined have been of profound significance for their human history. In the main distinct politically, the ethnic fate of their several populations has been widely different. In the Po Valley, the "cockpit of Europe," as Freeman termed it, every influence has been directed toward intermixture. Inviting in the extreme, especially as compared with the transalpine countries, it has been incessantly invaded from three points of the compass. The peninsula, on the other hand, has