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Venice (Italy) (Italian Venezia), city and seaport in northeastern Italy, in Veneto Region, capital of Venice Province. Venice is situated on 120 islands formed by 177 canals in the lagoon between the mouths of the Po and Piave rivers, at the northern extremity of the Adriatic Sea. Because of its historic role as a naval power and commercial center, the city is known as the “Queen of the Adriatic.” A railroad and highway causeway connect Venice with the mainland. Long sand bars, or barrier beaches, on the outer side of the lagoon serve as protection against the sea. The islands on which the city is built are connected by about 400 bridges. The Grand Canal, about 3 km (about 2 mi) long, winds through Venice from northwest to southeast, dividing the city into two nearly equal portions. The Giudecca Canal, about 400 m (about 1310 ft) wide, separates Giudecca Island, on the extreme south, from Venice proper. No motor vehicles are permitted on the narrow, winding lanes and streets that penetrate the old city, and the bridges are for pedestrians only. For centuries the most common method of transportation was by gondola, a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a single oar. Today, the gondolas are used mainly by tourists; motor launches carry almost all the freight and passenger traffic in Venice.
Modern Venice has faced many challenges, including loss of population to other areas and physical damage from flooding, sinkage, air and water pollution, and age. After severe flooding in 1966, an international effort to preserve historic Venice was coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and many structures were renovated and preserved. Flooding has occurred throughout the history of the city; it is caused when high tides combine with storm winds, and has been combatted with experiments using mechanical barriers. The sinkage of buildings and other structures, caused by the drainage of underground aquifers, has been addressed by limits on groundwater usage and the construction of an aqueduct from the nearby Alps.
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