Sicily

Italy

Country:
Region:
Sicily
Population:
5 042 992

About Sicily

Sicily (Italian: Sicilia ; Sicilian: Sicilia ) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions and is officially called the Sicilian Region.

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most important landmark is Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, and one of the most active in the world, currently 3,329 m (10,922 feet) high. The island has a typically Mediterranean climate.

The first archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates back to 12,000 BC. Around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenicians and a dozen Greek colonies and was later the site of the Sicilian wars and the Punic wars. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily was ruled during the Middle Ages by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire and the Emirate of Sicily. The Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily, which was subsequently governed by the Hohenstaufen, the Capettana House of Anjou, Spain, and the House of the Habsburgs. It was unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during Italian unification and a plebiscite. Sicily was granted a special status as an autonomous region on May 15, 1946, 18 days before the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946. However, much of the autonomy still remains unenforced, in particular financial autonomy, because the laws that activate autonomy has been postponed to be approved by the mixed committee (50% Italian state, 50% Sicilian region), since 1946. [citation needed]

Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regards to art, music, literature, cuisine and architecture. It also hosts important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Pantalica Necropolis, the Valley of the Temples, Erice and Selinunte.

Geography

Sicily has an approximately triangular shape, earning the name Trinacria.

To the north-east, it is separated from Calabria and the rest of the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina, about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide in the north and about 16 km (9.9 mi) wide in the southern part. The northern and southern coasts are approximately 280 km (170 mi) long each measured as a straight line, while the east coast measures approximately 180 km (110 mi); the total length of the coast is estimated at 1,484 km (922 mi). The total area of the island is 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi), while the Autonomous Region of Sicily (which includes smaller smaller islands) has an area of 27,708 km2 (10,698 sq mi).

The land of the Sicilian hinterland is mainly hilly and is intensely cultivated where possible. Along the northern coast, the Madonie mountain ranges, 2,000 m (6,600 feet), Nebrodi, 1,800 m (5,900 feet) and Peloritani, 1,300 m (4,300 feet), are an extension of the continental Apennines. The cone of Etna dominates the east coast. In the southeast lies the lower Hyblaean Mountains, 1,000 m (3,300 feet). The mines of the districts of Enna and Caltanissetta were part of one of the main sulfur-producing areas during the 19th century, but have been in decline since the 1950s.

Sicily and its surrounding small islands have some very active volcanoes. Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and still casts black ash on the island with its ever-present eruptions. It is currently 3,329 meters (10,922 feet) tall, although this varies with the eruptions of the summit; the mountain is 21 m (69 feet) lower now than in 1981. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km (87 mi). This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Vesuvius. In Greek mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by Zeus, the god of heaven. Etna is widely considered a symbol and cultural icon of Sicily.

Etna rises above the outskirts of Catania

The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north-east of mainland Sicily form a volcanic complex and include Stromboli.

The three volcanoes of Vulcano, Vulcanello and Lipari are also currently active, although the latter is usually inactive. Off the southern coast of Sicily, the submarine volcano of Ferdinandea, which is part of the largest Empedocle volcano, erupted for the last time in 1831. It is located between the coast of Agrigento and the island of Pantelleria (which in its vault is a dormant volcano).

Source: Wikipedia
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicily