Region of northern Italy, comprising the provinces of Alessandria, Asti, Biella, Cuneo, Novara, Turin, Verbania, and Vercelli; area 25,399 sq km/9,807 sq mi; population (2001 est) 4,166,500. One of the richest regions in Italy, it borders Switzerland to the north and France to the west, and is surrounded, except to the east, by the Alps and the Apennines. The regional capital is Turin. Piedmont also includes the fertile Po valley. Products include rice, fruit, grain, wine, cattle, cars, and textiles. The movement for the unification of Italy started in the 19th century in Piedmont, under the House of Savoy.
Piedmont contains part of the Alps, including some of its largest massifs: Monte Viso (3,481 m/11,425 ft), Monte Rosa (4,633 m/15,205 ft), and Gran Paradiso (4,061 m/13,328 ft). It also incorporates the western end of the North Italian Plain. Rivers include the Po and its tributaries: the Tanaro, Dora, Riparia, Dora Baltea, and Sesia. The western end of Lake Maggiore falls within its borders.
Agriculture and industry are fairly well balanced in the region. The irrigated plains are dominated by rice growing (Vercelli and Novara provinces) and dairying, and the hilly districts around Asti and Casale Monferrato produce wines. Industry is dispersed, with engineering and steel production mainly in and around Turin; textile manufacture in Alessandria, Vercelli, and Novara; and elsewhere clothes, glass, and rubber production. There is also a substantial tourist industry, notably at Lake Maggiore, and skiing is a popular activity.
During the 1960s and 1970s Piedmont received a large influx of people from other parts of Italy, drawn by its high standard of living. Between 1963 and 1971 its population grew over 8%, a rate only exceeded by Lombardy and Lazio; the population of Turin province expanded by 26% over a similar period. Immigration to the region peaked in 1981.
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