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This WorldView-2 image, acquired 31 March 2010, shows part of Venice, the famed "City of Canals" in Italy.

Venice is constructed on a group of 118 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon, divided by various canals and bridges.

Considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, Venice is renowned for its architecture and novel location, and has many names, among which are: "Serenissimo", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges" and "The Floating City".

The city's origins are uncertain, but are believed to have been a result of fishing villages settling the area. By the end of the Roman Empire and under Byzantine influence, Venice became a port and grew in size and prosperity until the founding of the Venetian Republic in the Middle Ages. Venice was the capital of this republic, which became a powerful commercial and naval state, with close ties to the Byzantime Empire.

By the Age of Exploration, however, the Republic's stature was declining, as other avenues of wealth and naval routes were discovered. Conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte at the end of the 18th Century, it was then taken by Austria and later Italy in 1866.

The buildings of Venice are located on wooden piles, and subsidence over the centuries has lead to the city slowly sinking. Efforts began in the late 20th Century to arrest this process, but it is as yet uncertain whether this has been effective.

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Credit: DigitalGlobe - Image supplied by European Space Imaging

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