The history of Sicily has seen Sicily usually controlled by greater powers—Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Islamic, Norman, Hohenstaufen, Catalan, Spaniard—but also experiencing short periods of independence, as under the Greeks and later as the Emirate then Kingdom of Sicily. Although today part of the Republic of Italy, it has its own distinct culture.
Sicily is both the largest region of the modern state of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Its central location and natural resources ensured that it has been considered a crucial strategic location due in large part to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes. For example, the area was highly regarded as part of Magna Graecia, with Cicero describing Syracuse as the greatest and most beautiful city of all Ancient Greece.
The economic history of rural Sicily has focused on its "latifundium economy" caused by the centrality of large, originally feudal, estates used for cereal cultivation and animal husbandry that developed in the 14th century and persisted until World War II.
At times the island has been at the heart of great civilizations, at other times it has been nothing more than a colonial backwater. Its fortunes have often waxed and waned depending on events out of its control, in earlier times a magnet for immigrants, in later times a land of emigrants. Sicily is part of the Mezzogiorno (southern Italy, including Sicily and often Sardinia), a region historically characterized by a predominantly agrarian economy, quasi-feudal land tenure, sharp class differences, and the vendettas and criminal activities of the Camorra in Naples and the Mafia in Sicily.
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Famous quotes containing the words history of, sicily and/or history:
“Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit.”
—Matthew Arnold (18221888)
“One usually dies because one is alone, or because one has got into something over ones head. One often dies because one does not have the right alliances, because one is not given support. In Sicily the Mafia kills the servants of the State that the State has not been able to protect.”
—Giovanni Falcone (19391992)
“This above all makes history useful and desirable: it unfolds before our eyes a glorious record of exemplary actions.”
—Titus Livius (Livy)