Sicily (/ˈsɪsɪli/ siss-i-lee; Italian: Sicilia [siˈtʃiːlja], Old Norse: Sikiley ) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy officially referred to as Regione Sicilia.
Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula, from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which, at 3,350 m (10,990 ft), is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.
The earliest archeological evidence of human dwelling on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC. At around 750 BC, Sicily was host to a number of Phoenician and Greek colonies, and for the next 600 years, it was the site of the Greek–Punic and Roman–Punic wars, which ended with the Roman destruction of Carthage. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily frequently changed hands, and during the early Middle Ages, it was ruled in turn by the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans. The Normans are the only Nordic people (North Germanic peoples) to conquer and establish a Nordic country in Southern Europe , the Kingdom of Sicily , which lasted from 1130 to 1816. The Kingdom of Sicily became the cradle of Nordic culture with the Scandinavian countries and the only land of Nordic culture in Italy and in Southern Europe (Kingdom of Sicily included the South Italy). Later it was conquered by the Anjou and after the crowns of Aragon, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire, and then finally unified under the Bourbons with Naples, as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Following theExpedition of the Thousand, a Giuseppe Garibaldi-led revolt during the Italian Unification process and a plebiscite, it became part of Italy in 1860. After the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946, Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region.
Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine and architecture. It also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples and Selinunte.
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