Milan is the second most populous city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy, while its urban area is the 5th largest in the EU and the most populous in Italy. The massive suburban sprawl that followed the post-war boom of the 1950s–60s and the growth of a vast commuter belt, suggest that socioeconomic linkages have expanded well beyond the boundaries of its administrative limits and its agglomeration, creating a polycentric metropolitan area of 7 - 10 million people, stretching over the provinces of Milan, Bergamo, Como, Lecco, Lodi, Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Varese, Novara and Piacenza. It has been suggested that the Milan metropolitan region is part of the so-called Blue Banana, the area of Europe with the highest population and industrial density.
Milan was founded by the Insubres, a Celtic people. The city was later conquered by the Romans, becoming the capital of the Western Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, Milan flourished as a commercial and banking centre. In the course of centuries, it has been alternatively dominated by France, Habsburg Spain, and Austria, until 1859 when the city was eventually annexed by the new Kingdom of Italy. During the early 1900s, Milan led the industrialization process of the young nation, being at the very center of the economic, social, and political debate. Badly affected by World War II, and after a harsh Nazi occupation, the city became the main centre of the Italian Resistance. In post-war years, the city enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, attracting large flows of workers from Southern Italy. During the last decades, Milan has seen a dramatic rise in the number of international migrants, and today more than one sixth of its population is foreign born.
Milan is the main industrial, commercial, and financial centre of Italy and a leading global city. Its business district hosts the Borsa Italiana (Italy's main stock exchange) and the headquarters of the largest national banks and companies. The city is a major world fashion and design capital. Milan's museums, theatres and landmarks (including the Milan Cathedral, the fifth largest cathedral in the world, and Santa Maria delle Grazie, decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) attracts over 6 million annual visitors. It hosts numerous cultural institutions and universities. The city is also well known for several international events and fairs, including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, and will host the 2015 Universal Exposition. Milan is home to two of the world's major football teams, A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale Milano.
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