Scholars generally agree that Italy began a nation-state on March 17, 1861, the day that King Victor Emmanuel II declared a united Kingdom of Italy. This unification, known as the "Risorgimento" or "Resurgence," combined the regional states of the Italian peninsula with the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
The drive to unify Italy was sparked by the occupation of the country by Napoleonic forces. Three wars for independence were fought between 1844 and 1866.
The sovereignty of the Kingdom of Italy was co-opted during the 1930s and 40s by the Fascist Party, led by appointed prime minister Benito Mussolini. Following Italy's defeat in World War II, the monarchy of Italy was dissolved by popular referendum in favor of a republic that exists to the present day, as of 2014.