Sicily, Italy


According to abbreviationfinder, Sicily is the  the largest island of Italy and the Mediterranean, 25,426 km 2, with a minor islands as an autonomous region of 25,707 km 2, (2017) 5020000 residents; The capital is Palermo.

Country nature

Sicily is separated from mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina. To the west of the strait the Apennine arch continues in the crystalline Monti Peloritani (1,279 m above sea level), the flysch chain of the Monti Nebrodi (1,847 m) and the limestone stocks of the Madonie (1,979 m) to the limestone mountains of Palermo. Subsequently, to the south, layer ridges and panels of marl and clays, which contain gypsum, salt and sulfur, rise. In the west, limestone mountains tower over an earthquake-rich Flysch hill country, in the south-east a sand-lime stone slab is partially covered by basalt (Hybläisches Bergland). The mighty volcanic structure of the active Etna (3,295 m above sea level) dominates the east side. Sicily has hot, dry summers and mild winters; the average temperature in Palermo is 12.5 ° C in January and 26.2 ° C in August.

Population, economy

In the sparsely populated interior, which is disadvantaged by nature, the population lives in agro-towns (mostly at high altitudes) with large demarcations. In this area there is extensive cultivation of wheat, alternating with beans and clover. The intensively used boards in the south, the coastal and alluvial plains are densely populated. On irrigable terraces such as on Etna and on the northeast coast, tree (especially citrus fruits and other fruits; Sicily is Italy’s main producer of oranges, mandarins, lemons) and mixed cultures predominate; without watering olives, vines, walnuts. Palermo’s citrus groves are being ousted by the city. In the west of the island intensive viticulture (Marsala), in the south almond, table grape and early vegetable cultivation.

Only one of the former large salt pans near Trapani (San Pantaleo) is active. The successors to sulfur mining are rock and potash mining, as well as natural gas and oil at Ragusa and Gela. Large petrochemical plants in Milazzo, Gela and Augusta, as well as in Syracuse and Ragusa; further industry especially near Palermo and Catania. In addition to coastal fishing (anchovies, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, crustaceans) there is deep-sea fishing (Mazara del Vallo in the southwest). Points of attraction for tourism are particularly archaeological sites, Etna, Aeolian Islands, Palermo, Taormina, Catania, Messina, as well as the coasts (water sports). Since industry and tourism cannot employ all workers made redundant from agriculture and handicrafts,

Sicily is accessible by rail lines and roads (including motorways), connected to the mainland by ferries and has airports at Catania, Palermo and Trapani; a bridge (for railways and cars) over the Strait from Messina to Calabria is planned. A natural gas pipeline from Algeria via Tunisia to Sicily ends at Mazara del Vallo. In the SE of the island, the Val di Noto region with the eight cities rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693, Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli with predominantly late Baroque architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


According to tradition, the oldest residents of Sicily (Sikelia in Greek) were the probably pre-Indo-European Sicans, who were pushed west by the Siculians who immigrated from the mainland, and – around Segesta and Eryx – the Elymers. A Mycenaean presence is archaeologically secured today (Thapsos, Thapsos culture). Since the beginning of the 1st millennium BC Phoenicians migrated since the middle of the 8th century BC. Chr. Greeks a. Greek foundations include Naxos, Zankle (today Messina), Katane (today Catania), Syracuse in the east, Gela, Akragas (today Agrigento) in the south, Himera in the north. The west with Panormos (today Palermo) was owned by the Carthaginians. Sicily became the western center of Greek culture. Constitutional struggles, the contrast between Ionian and Doric cities and the constant threat from Carthage impaired peaceful development. The victory of the tyrant Gelon von Gela over the Carthaginians at Himera (480 BC) ensured the Greeks a time of calm, but after the failure of the Sicilian expedition Athens (413 BC) attacked the Carthaginians again. In defense, Syracuse (Dionysius I and II, Agathocles) took the lead. In the 1st Punic War (264–241 BC) Sicily was the scene of the clashes between Carthage and Rome; 241 BC The island became a Roman province, with the exception of the territory of Syracuse (only Roman in 212 BC). Sicily became Italy’s breadbasket, but was badly shaken by slave wars (136–132 and 104–101 BC). During the imperial era, Sicily recovered, but could not regain its former importance as a grain producer. After the rule of the Vandal (since 440), Ostrogoths (since 493), Byzantium (since 535) and the Arabs (Saracens, since 827), the Normans conquered Roger I. between 1060 and 1091 the island.

The Normans and their Hohenstaufen heirs (1194) created a modern administrative state on an Arab basis. Pope Urban II transferred the power of legates to the Norman Count in 1098. From 1130, Roger II, who had united Sicily with its southern Italian possessions, held the title of king (“Monarchia sicula”). Under Emperor Frederick II (as Frederick I King of Sicily) the island became one of the cultural centers of Europe. The Hohenstaufen was subject to Charles I of Anjou in 1268, and Sicily to Peter III in 1282 (Sicilian Vespers) . of Catalonia-Aragon lost. In 1442, Alfonso V. of Catalonia-Aragon reunification of Sicily with the Kingdom of Naples, whose fate it shared until Sicily came to Savoy in 1713 and to the Austrian Habsburgs in 1720. In 1735 it became the second generation of the Spanish Bourbons with Naples. When southern Italy was French in 1806-15, Sicily remained Bourbon with British help. In 1815 it was reunited with Naples, since 1816 under the name “Kingdom of the Two Sicilies”. With the revolutions of 1820/21 and 1848/49, the Sicilians sought a special position in vain. In 1860 G. Garibaldi overthrew the Bourbon rule; In 1861 Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Italy. Since then, the central government has made efforts (especially the leading statesmen from Sicily such as F. Crispi and V. E. Orlando) to compensate for the island’s cultural, economic and political backwardness compared to northern Italy. The serious agricultural workers’ unrest (Fasci dei lavoratori) of 1893/94 could only be suppressed with great difficulty. The fascist regime of B. Mussolini tried to fight the mafia with police-state means. After the landing of the Allied forces (1943), fierce fighting broke out in Sicily. In order to cope with separatist trends, the constitution of the Republic of Italy (1946) gave Sicily the status of a region with a special statute (autonomy rights in the economic and cultural sector).

The development of the island, part of the economically weaker Mezzogiorno, is being hampered by the amalgamation of the Mafia, bureaucracy and corruption.

Sicily, Italy