It's also an official language of the European Union. And it is recognized as a minority language in three other countries: Slovenia, Croatia and Brazil. Slightly more than one million people speak Italian in the United States, although the number of Americans with Italian roots is far higher, at around 17 million. There's debate as to what the first document written in Italian is, because it's hard to tell where Vulgar Latin ended and Latin began.
The two main contenders are the Veronese Riddle - a scribble by a monk on a piece of parchment, likening ox ploughing fields to a pen on a page - and the Placiti Cassinesi - some legal documents about a property dispute. Most linguists agree that the latter is the first true example of Italian, since the Veronese Riddle has too many features which are ambiguous or obviously Latin. As for the first novel written in Italian, that's Alessandro Manzoni's I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed).
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Hieroglyphics for numbers were introduced around 3000 BCE.
The number glyphs were: a stroke, or staff, for one; a heel bone for 10; a coil of rope for 100; a lotus flower for 1000; a pointing finger for 10,000; a borbot fish (or tadpole) for 100,000; and an astonished man for 1,000,000.
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Having the rules written down meant it was easier to adopt Florentine as the national tongue, rather than relying on a variety which was mostly spoken. When it comes to the other regional dialects, the most widely spoken is Neapolitan, with over five million speakers. And the least widely spoken is Croato, the language of Molise, which has only around 1,000 speakers.
Hey, that's not bad coming from a region lots of people claim doesn't exist. Italy is an official national language in Italy, Switzerland, Vatican City, San Marino, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta - not to be confused with Malta the country, where it enjoyed official status for centuries until 1934.