The Marche (also known as the Italian Marches in English) form the eastern seaboard of central Italy with the regions of Emilia-Romagna to the north and
Abruzzo to the south. From the relatively narrow coastal plains the land rises sharply to the peaks of the Apennines which form a natural boundary with Umbria and Tuscany to the west.
While the coastal areas are fairly heavily populated, the beautiful inland countryside is sparsely inhabited. The total population of the region is around
1.5 million with an average density of less than 150 inhabitants per square kilometre. The region covers just under 10,000 square kilometres.
The inland mountainous zones are mostly limestone and are noted for bare peaks, rushing torrents, dramatic gorges and many complexes of caves. In contrast,
the areas nearer the coastal plain are celebrated for their fertile rounded hills topped by ancient fortified towns.
The highest point in the Marche is Monte Vettore in the Sibillini Mountains at 2,476 metres. The coast itself boasts long sandy strands; apart from the
limestone Conero peninsula, it is virtually all flat.
Economically, the region is mostly reliant on medium and small scale productive industries, often family-run. Shoes, clothing and furniture manufacture are
amongst the most successful businesses. The relatively poor soil and the general movement away from the land has meant that agriculture now plays a minor role, apart from the production of Verdicchio, the
Marche's famous white wine in the central areas. By the coast, fishing remains an important activity.