Abruzzo is a region of Italy, with an area of about 10,763 square kilometres (4,156 sq mi) and a population of about 1.3 million inhabitants. Its western border lies less than east of Rome. The region, divided into the provinces of L'Aquila, Teramo, Pescara and the Chieti, borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Abruzzo is split into a mountainous area in the west with the Gran Sasso D'italia, and into a coastal area on the eastern side with the beaches of the Adriatic sea. Abruzzo is considered part of Southern Italy, although geographically it is arguably more central than southern. ISTAT (the Italian statistical authority) considers it to be part of Southern Italy, as a vestige of Abruzzo's historic association with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Abruzzo boasts the title of "Greenest Region in Europe" thanks to one third of its territory, the largest in Europe, being set aside as national parks and protected nature reserves. In the region there are three national parks, one regional park and 38 protected nature reserves. These ensure the survival of 75% of all of Europe's living species and are also home to some rare species, such as the small wading dotterel, golden eagle, Abruzzo chamois, Apennine wolf and Marsican brown bear. Abruzzo is also home to Calderone, Europe's southernmost glacier.
When the Italian diplomat and journalist Primo Levi visited Abruzzo he described it as “forte e gentile” (strong and gentle) which, he said, best synthesized the beauty of the region and the character of its people. The quote "forte e gentile" has since become the motto of the region and its inhabitants.