Sicily's magnificent scenery and its beautiful beaches, particularly on the north and east coast, its great range of ancient remains, including the best preserved Greek temples to be found anywhere, and the very remarkable art and architecture of its Norman rulers, have long made the island one of the great Meccas of travelers and tourists. In recent times tourism has become an important factor of the economy.
Provinces: Agrigento (AG), Caltanissetta (CL), Catania (CT), Enna (EN), Messina (ME), Palermo (PA), Ragusa (RG), Siracusa (SR) and Trapani (TR)
Area: 25,708 sq.km/9,923 sq.mi
Regular services (carrying cars) from Reggio Calabria and Villa S. Giovanni to Messina, from
Genoa and Livorno to Palermo, from Naples to Palermo and Catania resp. Syracuse.
Sicily's International Airport is close by Catania; airports for internal flights are near Palermo and
Comiso and about 12km/7.5mi south of Trapani.
Sicily, the largest Italian island, lies southwest of the Italian peninsula in the Mediterranean.
It is an autonomous region with its capital at Palermo.
Sicily is an almost entirely mountainous island, bearing the marks of vigorous volcanic activity.
Its most notable landmark is the massive snow-covered cone of Etna (3,343m/11,032ft), Europe's largest active volcano, which rises above the east coast, visible from afar.
The main concentration of population, including most of the large towns, are on the fertile and well-watered coastal plains.
Sicily's productive and rapidly developing agriculture gives it a leading place among the farming regions of Italy. Intensive vegetable growing (tomatoes, cucumbers, early potatoes, etc.), fruit orchards (citrus fruits, almonds, olives) predominate in the fertile coastal areas; the dry and hilly interior is suitable only for extensive arable cultivation (wheat alternating with beans) and some pastoral farming (sheep, goats). The traditional feudal system and the often inefficient working of the land by small tenant farmers, which is its legacy, stand in the way of the more rapid development which the potential of the land would permit.
Significant contributions to the economy are also made by the coastal fisheries (tuna, anchovies, cuttlefish, swordfish) and the extraction of salt in the Trapani area.
Sicily has little industry. The only industrial activities of any consequence are petro-chemical (around Syracuse and Gela), the mining of potash, which has superseded the once considerable sulfur-workings, and the working of asphalt (around Ragusa) and marble. In recent years, however, there has been a significant development of industry which has helped to reduce the drift of population to the highly industrialized states of northern Europe.