Sicily (Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia) is an autonomous region of Italy in Europe. Of all the regions of Italy, Sicily covers the largest surface area with 25,708 km², and currently has five million inhabitants. It is also the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, though several much smaller islands surrounding it are also considered part of Sicily.
Throughout much of its history, Sicily has been considered a crucial strategic location due in large part to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes. The area was highly regarded as part of Magna Graecia, with Cicero describing Siracusa as the greatest and most beautiful city of all Ancient Greece.
Although today it is a region of Italy, it was once a country in its own right, as the Kingdom of Sicily, ruled from Palermo. The Kingdom of Sicily ruled over southern Italy, Sicily, and Malta. It later became a part of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons, which was actually centered in Naples rather than Sicily. Since that time the risorgimento has occurred and Sicily has been a fully fledged part of Italy.
Sicily is considered to be highly rich in its own unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, cuisine, architecture and even language. The Sicilian economy is largely based on agriculture (famously orange and lemon orchards); this same rural countryside has attracted significant tourism in the modern age as its natural beauty is highly regarded. Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica.
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