f Nations. Consequently, Italy allied with Nazi Germany and Empire of Japan and strongly supported Franco in the Spanish civil war.
In 1939, Italy occupied Albania, a de facto protectorate for decades, and entered World War II in June 1940 on the side of the Axis powers. Mussolini, wanting a quick victory like Hitler's Blitzkriegs in Poland and France, invaded Greece in October 1940, but was forced to accept a humiliating stalemate after a few months. At the same time, Italy, after initially conquering British Somalia and parts of Egypt, saw an allied counter-attack lead to the loss of all possessions in the Horn of Africa and in North Africa.
Italy was then invaded by the Allies in July 1943, leading to the collapse of the Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini. In September 1943, Italy surrendered. The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the allies were moving up from the south as the north was the base for loyalist Italian fascist and German Nazi forces, fought also by the Italian resistance movement. The hostilities ended on 2 May 1945. Nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) died in the conflict, and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in 1944 was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century.
Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote. Victor Emmanuel III's son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate and exiled. The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January 1948. Under the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, most of Venezia Giulia was lost to Yugoslavia and, later, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided between the two states.
Fears in the Italian electorate of a possible Communist takeover proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on 18 April 1948, when the Christian