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- 1the capital of Italy, situated in the west central part of the country, on the Tiber River, about 16 miles (25 km) inland; population 2,724,347 (2008). According to tradition, the ancient city was founded by Romulus (after whom it is named) in 753 bc on the Palatine Hill; as it grew it spread to the other six hills of Rome (Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, and Quirinal). Rome was made capital of a unified Italy in 1871. Italian name Roma.