The region is the almost the heart of Northern Italy, bordered by Switzerland to the north, Piedmont to the west, Emilia Romagna to the south, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige to the east.
The territory includes high mountains as Mount Bernina (4050m), Pizzo della Presolana, Adamello (3554m) and is bordered to the south by the Po river, and cressed by many of its most important tributaries, the Ticino, Adda, Oglio, Mincio, that all form a number of lakes, making the region the richest of large lakes in Italy: Lake Maggiore (or Verbano), the Lugano Lake, Lake Como (or Lario), Lake Iseo (or Sebino) and Lake Garda (or Benaco).
Originally inhabited by populations of Celtic stock, the region was occupied by the Gauls until the Roman conquest in the 3rd century BC, when the area was named Gallia Cisalpina and became an important base for the Romans, who founded the cities of Milano (=Mediolanum), Cremona, Como, Brescia, Lodi, Pavia, in their conquest of Europe.
After the fall of the Roman empire the region was occupied first by the Goths and later by the Langobards (from the Old German langbärte, meaning lond beards) or Lombards, who established their capital at Pavia and gave their name to the region. In 774 the Lombards were defeated by the Franks, who introduced the feudal system.
In the early 13th century the Visconti family of Milan rose in power and unified the whole region under the strong central authority of the family, who gave way after the death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1428 to the Sforza. The decadence for the Granducato of Milano began with the coming to Italy of Charles V of Spain, and a true revival only took place in the mid-18th century when the region was under the Austrians who, after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 established in Northern Italy the Lombardo-Veneto Kingdom, always under their influence.
During the Second War of Italian Independence the region was among the first to be annexed to Italy, in 1859, when the Milanese rose against the Austrians in the glorious "Five Days" and saluted the coming of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy.
The main crops, especially in the wide Pianura Padana, are wheat, rice, maize, barley, and the region is first in Italy for farming, with a considerable production of meat, milk and dairy products. It is also the region where industry and finance are most developed, and Milan is the seat of the Italian Stock Exchange (Piazza Affari). Tourism is also a remarkable activity in the mountain resorts, in the area of the lakes and in the art cities of Bergamo, Mantua, Como and Milan.