Sicily (Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia, [siˈtʃiːlja]; [sɪˈɕilja]) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana (Sicilian Autonomous Region).
Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula from which it is separated only by narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which is at 3,320 m (10,890 ft) the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.
Earliest archeological evidence of human dwelling on the island dates from 8000 BC. Around 750 BC, Sicily became a Greek colony 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 often changed hands, and during the early Middle Ages it was ruled in turn by the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans. Later on, the Kingdom of Sicily lasted between 1130 and 1816, subordinated to the crowns of Aragon, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and finally the Bourbons, as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was united with the rest of Italy in 1860, but a subsequent economic collapse led to a wave of emigration, separatism, and the emergence of the Mafia, whose criminal activities pose problems to this day. 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, architecture and language. Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples and Selinunte.