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Due to its central geographic location in Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient Italian tribes and Italic peoples dispersed throughout the Italian Peninsula and insular Italy, beginning from the classical era, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks established settlements in the south of Italy, with Etruscans and Celts inhabiting the centre and the north of Italy respectively. The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which eventually became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People. The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, and the Republic eventually expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Near East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural, political and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy, art and literature flourished. Italy remained the homeland of the Romans and the metropole of the Roman Empire. The legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, law, governments, Christianity and the Latin script.

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