The Geography of Rome
Geography is an integral part of the development of ancient civilizations. Rome is one of the most powerful civilizations whose empire ruled Europe for over 1,000 years. Several key geographical features in the Italian peninsula provided opportunities for the Roman civilization to thrive. Rome began as a small village near the Tiber River in Italy on a peninsula close to the Mediterranean Sea. The city was also far enough inland to provide some protection from the sea.
The Tiber River was a source of freshwater and rich soil needed to support the development of people, animals, and crops of Rome. It is the second longest river in Italy. Rome is located East of the river. It begins in the Apennine mountains and flows to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The river provided easy transportation and the river’s valley had vast land for farming. The river also served as a defense system against attacks from the other side of the river.
The Alps and Apennine mountain ranges were natural barriers that helped protect Rome from invasions and provided strategic locations during war time. The Alps provided a roadblock that forced invaders to move through narrow passages allowing Romans time to prepare and attack. The Apennine Mountains divided the peninsula in half, providing protection against invasion from the east. This allowed Romans to counterattack invaders approaching from either side of the mountains. Covered in forest, the hills and mountains are made of volcanic rock which is hard and spongy. The Romans used this rock to build the foundations for their structures. Although they provided Rome with protection, the Alps and mountains isolated Rome from other cities and took up valuable farmland.
Being close to the Mediterranean Sea allowed Rome to trade with cities in Greece, northern Europe, and North Africa. It also helped them in conquering new lands. Inspired by the Phoenician's shipbuilding, the Romans used their designs to build ships. They eventually built a navy which assisted them in conquering neighboring territories. Romans eventually took control of all of the shores of the Mediterranean. The sea was also a rich source of food for the civilization.