Sardinia facts and history in brief
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Map of Sardinia
Sardinia (Sardigna, Sardinna or Sardinnia
in the Sardinian language, Sardegna
in Italian, Sardenya in Catalan),
is the second largest island in
the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy,
France and Tunisia, south of Corsica.
Sardinia has an area of 24,090 km2
and a population of 1.65 million.
It was called "Ichnusa" by the
Phoenicians and "Sandalyon" by
the Greeks because of its shape,
recalling a footprint.
Sardinia is an autonomous
region of Italy.
The regional capital is Cagliari.
The region is divided into four
provinces: Cagliari, Sassari,
Nuoro and Oristano; another four
provinces have been proposed:
Carbonia-Iglesias and Medio
Campidano), to enter effect in 2005.
The island contains numerous
extraordinary tourist areas,
including the Costa Smeralda
Mostly famous for its beaches,
its land is rich in other
The climate is mainly Mediterranean,
with a warm spring and fall,
hot summer, and mild winter.
Sardinia is suffering from a
multi-year drought, thought
by some to be due to global warming.
The language of Sardinia is
Sardinian, a Romance language
with obscure origins in Phoenician,
Etruscan, and Near Eastern roots.
While it has been significantly
supplanted by Italian for official
purposes, and it is completely
unknown among some sections of
Sardinian youth, specially in
Cagliari, Sardinian is still
the main national language
(Sardinians identify themselves as
a people and as a nation) in fact.
In the northern regions of Gallura
and Sassari, the dialect spoken is
not Sardinian but a variety of
Corsican (as in Corsica),
an Italian dialect.
In the island of San Pietro,
the dialect spoken is
Ligurian, from Genoa.
In the city of Alghero, a
mediaeval dialect of Catalan is
still spoken (the name of the
city in Catalan is L'Alguer)
as the city was a Catalan
colony in the past.
Business and commerce
Sardinia's currency (as a part of
Italy) is now the Euro, but
Sardinians still unofficially
refer to su Francu (or loc."su Pidzu");
1 francu=1,000 former Italian Lira.
Several gold and silver
mines operate on the island.
The Sardinian economy is today
focused on tourism, industry,
commerce, services and information
technology; an increasing income
is coming from its famous
wines and gastronomy.
Trains on Sardinia connect
the whole island but are
Some run on narrow gauge track.
Sardinia is a precious natural
resource, having protected
thousands of rare animal
and plant species.
Sardinia's history is very ancient.
In 1979 human remains were
found that were dated to 150,000 BC.
In Prehistory Sardinia's inhabitants
developed a trade in obsidian, a
stone used for the production of
the first rough tools, and this
activity brought Sardinians into
contact with most of the
In the age from Neolithic times
to the Roman Empire, the Nuragic
civilisation took shape on the island.
Still today, more than
7,000 Nuraghe survive.
It is speculated that the mysterious
Shardana people landed in Sardinia
coming from the eastern
Mediterranean Sea, in about
the 20th century BC.
Very little is known about
this people, whose name (which
probably means the People of the Sea)
has been found in some Egyptian
inscriptions, and most hypotheses
are developed following some
linguistic studies; according to these,
the town of Sardis (Lydia) would
have been their starting point from
which they would have reached the
Tyrrhenian Sea, dividing into what
were to become the Sardinians
and the Etruscans.
However most theories regarding
the original population of
Sardinia have been formulated
prior to genetics research and
in the traditional frame of
Genetics has now shown that
Sardinians are a pre-Indo-European
population different from all
surrounding and much younger groups.
The density, extensiveness and mere
size of the architectural remains
from the Neolithic, pointing to a
considerable population of the island,
together with recent theories about
the location of the Hercules Columns,
reverse the question into where
Sardinians did land, or where the
Shardana settled besides the
known Egyptian destination.
Beginning around 1000 BC,
Phoenician mariners established
several ports on the Sardinian coast.
In 509 BC, war broke out between
the native Nuragic people and
the Phoenician settlers.
The settlers called for help
from Carthage, and the island
became a province in the
In 238 BC, after being defeated
by the Roman Republic during
the First Punic War, Carthage
ceded Sardinia to Rome.
From 456 - 534, Sardinia was a
part of the short-lived kingdom
of the Vandals in North Africa,
until reconquered by the Byzantine
Under the Byzantines, the imperial
representative was a judge who
governed from the southern
city of Caralis.
Byzantine rule was practically non-existent in the mountainous
Barbagia region in the eastern part of the island, and
an independent heathen kingdom persisted there from
the sixth through ninth centuries.
Beginning in the eighth century,
Arabs and Berbers began raiding Sardinia.
Especially after the fall of Sicily
in 832, the Byzantines were unable
to effectively defend their most
distant province, and the provincial
judge assumed independent authority.
To provide for local defense, he
divided the island into four Giudicati,
Gallura, Logudoro, Arborea, and Caralis.
By 900, these districts had become four
independent constitutional monarchies.
At various times, these fell under
the sway of Genoa and Pisa.
In 1323, the Kingdom of Aragon
began a campaign to conquer
Sardinia; the giudicato of Arborea
successfully resisted this and
for a time came to control nearly
the entire island, but its last
ruler Eleonora di Arborea, was
eventually defeated by the
Aragonese in the decisive Battle
of Sanluri, June 30, 1409.
The native population of the
city of Alghero (S'Alighera in
Sardinian, L'Alguer in Catalan)
was expelled and the city
repopulated by the Catalan invaders,
whose descendants speak
Catalan to this day.
Sardinian language: Sardo
logudorese, Sardo campidanese,
This information was updated December 2004
All text is available under the terms of the
Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
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