Island Details: Venice (centro storico)

Venice (centro storico)
Mediterranean Sea
Number of Islands (approx.)
Island Details
flat and densely populated marsh islands in the Venetian Lagoon of Italy*
Type of Islands
Surface Area (km²)
Highly urbanised and compact conglomerate of 118 flat and fortified islands which are linked to each other by numerous bridges (centro storico).*
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Climate Risk Index Rank (1993-2012)
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Population (total)
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dependent (territory of Italy)*
The repeated invasion of mounted armies drove an increasing number of mainland inhabitants to the coast and the offshore saltmarsh islands for protection. A solid foundation for one of the fastest growing and most densely settled urban spaces of its time was created by ramming thousands of wooden pillars into the boggy, uninhabitable ground. Up to this day this island space extends over an incredible 118 small islands that are linked to each other by numerous bridges. A bird’s eye view of the city centre of Venice gives the impression of a single large island bisected by an s-shaped canal. Due to its favourable location between two global empires, the island city quickly advanced to one of the world’s most significant trading centres. From the late 7th century onwards it was the heart of an independent republic that maintained an extensive colonial empire and numerous trade posts in many areas of the then known world. The legendary wealth of its inhabitants was not only due to trade and significant geopolitical influence, but also to ship building which resembled modern assembly line production long before the industrial age on account of a high degree of systematization. With the discovery of the New World global trade increasingly shifted westwards. Venice gradually lost its significance, and the republic abruptly dissolved in 1797 when it was occupied by an important warlord. In its heyday the island city developed a rich cultural life; this and its unique visual appear-ance attracted artists and intellectuals from all over the world. Venice repeatedly became the setting for world-renowned literature and it is still a favoured location for film shoots. Its global fame has turned the urban island conglomerate into one of the most visited cities ever, regularly overburdening the local infrastructure, leading to serious processes of social change and also causing environmental problems. Rising sea levels, however, pose a much greater challenge to the island city today. The sea is gnawing away at the city’s foundations, squares and streets are flooded ever more frequently, and many basements of the once magnificent houses have become uninhabitable already. Still, the city is resisting the forces of nature. A huge and very expensive flood protection system, consisting of enor-mous hydraulic tide gates, is to stop the town from drowning.*