an administrative region in central Italy, on the northeastern part of the Italian Peninsula. The Marches are divided into the provinces of Ancona, Pesaro e Urbino, Ascoli Piceno, and Macerata. Area, 9,700 sq km. Population, 1,359,100 (1971). The main city and port is Ancona. The terrain is primarily mountainous and hilly, with the Umbrian-Marchigian Apennines, whose highest point is Monte Vettore (2,478 m). The narrow coastal plain along the Adriatic is dissected by the valleys of the Tronto, Metauro, and Potenza rivers.
The Marches are primarily an agrarian region. Most of the land is concentrated in the large holdings of landlords and is worked on the basis of sharecropping. There are small landholdings in the mountainous regions. Of the total area of productive land (918,000 hectares in 1970), arable land accounts for 66 percent, meadows and pastures for 14 percent, orchards, gardens, and vineyards for 2 percent, and forests for 16 percent. The chief crops are wheat (800,000 tons harvested in 1970), sugar beets, and grapes (388,000 tons harvested, with 2.4 million hectoliters of wine produced). Livestock is raised: there are 481,000 head of cattle (mostly beef), 419,000 hogs, and 195,000 sheep. There is silkworm breeding, and fishing is carried on (The Marches are second after Sicily in fishing), with San Benedetto del Tronto being the leading fishing port. Oil refining is centered in Falconara Marittima. There are shipyards (Ancona) as well as enterprises of such industries as chemicals (Ascoli Piceno), paper (Fabriano), cement (Sassoferrato), silk (lesi), tobacco, ceramics, wood-products, and food-processing.
T. A. GALKINA