Region of west central Italy, comprising the provinces of Viterbo, Rieti, Rome, Frosinone, and Latina; area 17,207 sq km/6,644 sq mi; capital Rome; population (2001 est) 4,976,200. It is the third-largest region of Italy, over half its population living in the city of Rome. Products include olives, wine, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. Home of the Latins from the 10th century BC, it was dominated by the Romans from the 4th century BC.
Physical Lazio contains an extensive coastal strip along the Tyrrhenian Sea, including the low-lying Campagna and the Pontine Marshes; the Romans tried to drain the marshes, but they remained until Mussolini succeeded in 1926. Inland lies a line of volcanic hills: Volsini, Cimini, Sabine, and Alban. The old craters contain lakes Bolsena, Vico, Bracciano, and Albano and Nemi respectively. The rest of Lazio is in the Apennines. The chief rivers are the Tiber, with its tributaries Velino and Aniene draining the northern part; and the Garigliano and its tributaries Sacco and Liri in the southern area.
Economy The region outside Rome and its environs depends essentially on extensive agriculture (utilizing large land areas because of low productivity); cereal growing and sheep raising are the dominant activities. The volcanic hills, however, support rich vineyards. Around Rome and Viterbo, and on the Pontine Marshes, there is intensive horticulture, and tobacco and sugar beet are grown. The southern coasts produce olives, wine, and fruit. Industrial development has been in three main areas: around Rome; in the towns of the Liri and Sacco valleys along the motorway to Naples, including Anagni, Ferentino, Frosinone, and Cassino; and around Latina. Manufacturing includes chemicals, cement, textiles, construction materials, and processed food. Employment in service industries is considerable, mainly because of Rome's status as the nation's capital and a world centre of tourism and pilgrimage. In combination with industrial growth, this has resulted in immigration into the region.
History In early Roman times Latium was inhabited by the Latins, several other Italic tribes, and the Etruscans (north of the Tiber). The Latins, who had formed a confederation of cities known as the Latin League, were subdued by the Romans in 338 BC and all of Latium came under Roman control. It became part of the Papal States in the 8th century, and took on its current boundaries when it joined the kingdom of Italy in 1870.