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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Coordinates: 45 27 N 12 21 E

Population: 69,361 (2008 est.)

Historically speaking, humanity has been quite successful at shaping the environment to suit our wants and needs. We’ve blasted through mountains, irrigated deserts, and altered the course of rivers. But sometimes sheer willpower and engineering aren’t enough. Venice, Italy is a case in point. Founded by Romans this city has grown to cover more than 100 islands in the Venetian Lagoon. The trouble is these small landmasses are low-lying and susceptible to flooding. Over the centuries, rising sea levels as well as water extraction from the mainland have caused the Queen of the Adriatic to gradually sink; yesterday news sources reported that Venetians were contending with water levels that rival previous records. Years ago however, city officials recognized that their problem would only become more serious, and in 2003 began a costly undertaking to protect their architectural heritage with 78 massive floodgates. Personally, I wonder about the long term consequences mobile barriers will have on the Mediterranean’s largest wetland area.


Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

Recent Comments

  1. phil

    Venice wasn’t founded to AD568. That was during the Byzantine empire. The Roman empire had long fallen.

  2. Venice

    the problem of the flood due to high tide has become more serious in these last years (maby a decade) infact, to let cruises come inside Venice such as Costa Crociere, MSC and many others, the canals and the accesses form the Sea (bocca di porto) in Alberoni and Malamocco area, have been dugged to let more comfortably enter these big ships, however this action has as a side effect the one of letting entering more water in case of high tide.

  3. Venice Travel Guide

    Venice is not sinking actually, she is falling apart from the high volume of tourists.

  4. Traveller

    Venice is sinking, but that sinking is into the mud she is built on. Archaeologists uncover two whole layers of city at least, beneath the current one when they have occasion to dig. Venice has always been sinking into mud, and ever will be.

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