Fascist Italy and its territorial expansion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 January, 1999, 12:00am

Under Benito Mussolini's leadership, militarism and nationalism grew. He built up Italy's armed forces and military training became part of the school programme. Boys and girls joined military organisations and were taught to obey their leader.

The government improved conditions in Italy in many ways. Large government projects were started to irrigate and reclaim land. New industries were developed, and hydroelectric power stations were built. Railway service was improved and new highways were built. Education was provided for all.

As a result, the people were better off, but they were not free to express their thoughts.

Mussolini also ended the trouble between the government and the Catholic Church. Ever since the state of Italy had taken over Rome from the Pope in 1870, the Church had refused to recognise the Italian government and its occupation of Rome.

By a treaty signed in 1929, the Pope recognised the government's occupation of Rome. In return, Mussolini made the Vatican City an independent territory ruled by the Pope. He also made Catholicism the state religion of Italy.

Foreign policy Mussolini's foreign policy was both nationalistic and imperialistic. Until 1933, Italy was not friendly with France because of the colonial rivalry in North Africa. It was, however, friendly with Germany.

When Adolf Hitler wanted to unite Germany and Austria, Italy moved away from Germany and became friendly with France again because Mussolini did not want to have a strong German state just north of Italy.

In 1935, France, together with Britain, supported the sanction by the League of Nations against Italy for invading Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in Africa. This made Mussolini turn away from France and later sign a treaty of friendship with Hitler. This was the beginning of the Rome-Berlin Axis.

Mussolini also began a series of territorial expansion: * In 1924 the free state of Fiume was partitioned between Italy and Yugoslavia.

* The agreements with Albania in 1926 and 1927 made Albania an Italian protectorate. In 1939 Mussolini annexed Albania.

* Ethiopia became part of the Italian empire in 1936.