The territory of Emilia Romagna consists of a wide plain south of the Po river, and a more mountainous area near the border with Tuscany, with the peak of Monte Cimone (2165 m).
The area historically called Emilia is to the west and includes the provinces of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Ferrara and the western part of the province of Bologna, whereas its eastern part, with the provinces of Ravenna, Rimini and Forlì - Cesena is called Romagna. Within Emilia Romagna is also the independent republic of San Marino, the most ancient republic in Europe, with a population of about 26,000 inhabitants, whose economy is mostly based on agriculture, tourism and the issue of stamps and coins.
Industries, especially in the food sector, are flourishing, as is also tourism along the Adriatic "Riviera", one of the most crowded and lively seaside areas in Italy, as well as to the art cities and the spa center of Salsomaggiore.
The region is Italy's first producer of wheat, sugar-beet and fruit, second producer of barley and soy beans. Another important resource is the raising of pigs, cattle and poultry, with intensive and modern systems, at the basis of the production of world famous "prosciutto" and Parmesan cheese.
Inhabited since very ancient times as revealed from archeological findings, the region was occupied by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC. In the 4th century it was then invaded by the Celts, then in the third the Romans conquered it, joining its territory to Liguria. Augustus gave it the name of Aemilia, as the Octava Regio (8th region) of the Empire. With the decadence of the Roman empire, in 402 AD Emperor Onorius moved the capital from Rome to Ravenna, calling the Eastern side of the region Romania and making it into the political center of the Western Roman Empire in the last decades of its existence.
The Lombard invaders conquered only part of the region, more or less the area of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Reggio, while Ravenna and Bologna stayed under the jurisdiction of the surviving Eastern Roman Empire, whose capital was Byzanthium. With the coming of the Franks the region was entrusted to the Pope, to be politically included in the State of the Church in the early 11th century.
When the municipal life started to rise again, in the late Middle Ages (13th - 14th centuries) such towns as Bologna, Piacenza, Modena and Reggio enjoyed a remarkable prosperity, also due to the strategic position of the region among the many Italian States of the time and to powerful families, such as the Farnese and Estensi. After being for centuries a constellation of Dukedoms and States, the region was finally united to the newborn Kingdom of Italy in 1860.