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Italian Unity under Threat 1945-1948

This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations since 1945.

The war devastated Italy. It was forced to give up the Albanian territories conquered in 1939, to return the Dodecanese Islands to Greece, and to hand Istria over to Yugoslavia.  The Yugoslavs had also wanted to take control of Trieste, but the city was placed under an Anglo-Saxon administration and returned to Italy in 1954. Some minor changes were made to the Alpine border between Italy and France and the two communes of La Brigue and Tende became part of France. Finally, Italy lost its African colonies, but also allowed, for a while, to maintain its protectorate in Somalia.

But, Italy soon found itself threatened by internal centrifugal forces: the war had stirred up demands for autonomy or of separation, especially in Sicily, where an armed rebellion broke out, Sardinia, the French-speaking Valley of Aosta, and even among the German-speaking minorities in the Trentino. Italian national unity was further weakened by huge socio-economic disparities between the rural areas to the South and the Northern industrial regions.

Nevertheless, the post-war government, a collection of anti-fascist parties, managed to hold the country together and to re-establish a democratic regime. In June 1946, the Italians voted by referendum to end the monarchy and set up a Republic.