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Regione Autonoma della Sardegna
Regione Autònoma de sa Sardigna
Sos Battor Moros – The Four Moors
Capital Cagliari
President Renato Soru
Provinces Cagliari
Medio Campidano
Comuni 377
Area 24,090 km²
 - Ranked 3rd (8.0 %)
Population (2006 est.)
 - Total

 - Ranked
 - Density

11th (2.8 %)
Italy Regions Sardinia Map.png
Map highlighting the location of Sardegna in Italy

Sardinia (IPA: sɑː(ɹ)ˈdɪnɪə) (Sardegna in Italian, Sardigna or Sardinna in the Sardinian language, is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (Sicily is the largest), between Italy, Spain and Tunisia, south of Corsica. It is an Italian region with a special autonomous statute. At the beginning of the nuragic age circa 1500 BC the island was first called Hyknusa (latinized Ichnusa) by the Mycenaeans probably meaning island (nusa) of the Hyksos, the people who had just been expelled by Ahmose I of Egypt circa 1540 BC. Sandalyon was its second name, probably due to its shape, recalling a footprint. Last and present name has been Sardinia, for the Shardana (whose invasion on Egypt was defeated by Ramesses III circa 1180 BC).



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 Mediterranean people. Desiccated grapes, recently found in several locations, were DNA tested and proved to be the oldest grapes in the world, dating back to 1200 BC, the Pyramids' and Mesopotamia’s era. The Cannonau wine is made with these grapes and may qualify as the mother of all the European wines.

From Neolithic times until the Roman Empire, the Nuragic civilisation took shape on the island. Still today, more than 9,000 Nuraghe survive. It is speculated that, among others, the Shardana people landed in Sardinia coming from the eastern Mediterranean. Shardana had joined the Shekelesh and others to form the coalition of the Sea Peoples, but were defeated by Ramesses III around 1180 BC in Egypt. Shardana and Shekelesh were also called by the Egyptians as the "people from the faraway islands", implying that Shardana were already residents of Sardinia at the time of the Egyptian expedition. This assertion holds some truth; in fact most of the tombe dei giganti have a tombstone shaped like a ship vertically dug into the ground, bearing witness to their sea traveling activities. According to some linguistic studies, the town of Sardis in (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 east-west movements. Genetics seem to show Sardinia's population to be genetically quite distant from their neighbors. This is principally due to genetic drift, though other reasons, such as ties with pre-Indo-European neolithic peoples may also have contributed to this distance.

The density, extensiveness and sheer size of the architectural remains from the Neolithic period, points to a considerable population of the island.

Beginning around 1000 BC, Phoenician mariners established several ports of trade 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 Carthaginian Empire. 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 emperor Justinian I. Under the Byzantines, the imperial representative was a judge who governed from the southern city of Caralis. Byzantine rule was practically nonexistent in the mountainous Barbagia region in the eastern part of the island, and an independent kingdom persisted there from the sixth through ninth centuries.

Satellite image

Beginning in the eighth century, Arabs and Berbers began raiding Sardinia. Especially after the conquering 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 Eleanor of 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 still speak Catalan. After the merge of the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, Sardinia was incorporated into the newly created national entity, Spain.

Under Spain, Sardinians were regularly employed on the royal Spanish fleet. On October 7 1571, at the Battle of Lepanto, Sardinian mariners on Board the admiralship of Infante Don John of Austria, half brother of Felipe II, boarded the Turkish admiralship, overpowered the crew, and cut off the head of a Turkish admiral. The sight of the admiral's head on a spear put such a fear in the heart of the Turks, that they abandoned the fight and completely surrendered to Christians. This was the first time Turks lost out to Europeans signaling a trend of military decline and defeats from which Turks never recovered.

Kingdom of Sardinia

In 1718 Sardinia became an 'independent' [vassal] kingdom under the House of Savoy, rulers of Piedmont.

In 1792, Jean-Paul Marat, son of a Sardinian father from Cagliari and a Swiss mother, was one of the triumvirate leading the French Revolution. In 1793, Sardinians rebelled, demanding autonomy in exchange for helping to defeat French invasion forces. Autonomy was granted in the combined kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, but after the French threat to the kingdom lessened, the king took back his authority.

In 1860, Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Sardinia became also the first King of Italy after conquering the rest of the peninsula.


Provinces of Sardinia

Sardinia has an area of 24,090 km2 and a population of 1.65 million. The regional capital is Cagliari. The region is divided into eight provinces: Cagliari, Sassari, Nuoro, Oristano, Olbia-Tempio, Ogliastra, Carbonia-Iglesias and Medio Campidano.

See also: Sardinian towns

Sardinia is one of two Italian regions whose inhabitants have been recognized as a "popolo" (i.e. a distinct people) by the Regional Statute (which is a Constitutional Law). The other region is Veneto.


The climate is mainly Mediterranean, with a warm spring and fall, hot summer, and mild winter.


Sardinia is one of the world's most interesting musical destinations. Home to one of the oldest forms of Vocal Polyphony, generally known as Canto a Tenores, several big names of music such as Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman and Peter Gabriel (ex- Genesis frontman) found it irresistible. The latter travelled to the town of Bitti in the central mountain region, and recorded the now world-famous Tenores di Bitti CD on his Realworld label. The guttural sounds produced in this form make a truly remarkable sound, similar to Tuvan (Mongolia)throat singing. Another polyphonic style of singing, more similar to the Corsican Paghjella and lithurgic in nature, is also found in Sardinia and known as Cantu a Cuncordu.

Another unique instrument is The launeddas. See also: Music of Sardinia. Three reed-canes (2 of them glued together with bees wax) producing distinctive harmonies, which have their roots many thousands of years ago, as demonstrated by the bronzette from Ittiri, of a man playing the 3 reed canes, dated back to 2000 BC.

Beyond this, the tradition of Cantos a Chiterra (guitar songs) has its origins in town squares, when artists would compete against one another. It lives on in new forms. Sardinian culture is alive and well, and young people are actively involved in their own music and dancing.

However, the new generation of sardinian artists are a force to be reckoned with. Sardinia has produced some of the best jazz musicians in Europe (see Paolo Fresu). Of these, singer Elena Ledda stands out as the precursor and most widely acknowledged performer of the renewed tradition. In 2004, legendary BBC presenter Andy Kershaw (presented Live Aid in 1985), travelled to the island with Sardinian music specialist Pablo Farba, and interviewed many artists. His programme can be heard on [BBC Radio 3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/worldmusic/onlocation/corsica.shtml


A no-smoking sign in both Sardinian and Italian

The most spoken languages in Sardinia are Italian and Sardinian, a Romance language of Latin origin, but with an obscure Pre-Roman element, including Phoenician, Etruscan, and Near Eastern languages. While it has been significantly supplanted by Italian for official purposes, Sardinian is still widely spoken in most rural parts and, stemming from a long history of oral tradition, is used culturally for folk songs and poetry. As a literary language, it is gaining clout, despite heated debate about the lack of standard orthography and controversial proposed solutions to this problem. Recently, the regional administration has approved the use of Sardinian in official documents.

In the northern regions of Gallura and Sassari, Gallurese (Gadduresu) and Sassarese (Sassaresu) are respectively spoken. These spoken languages were spread by the first settlers from Corsica, giving origin to a new variety of language Sardinian-Corsican language, stictly connected with southern Corsican dialects (Sartinesu). In the island of San Pietro, the language spoken is from Liguria Genoa. In the city of Alghero in the north, a dialect of Catalan is spoken (the name of the city in Catalan is L'Alguer) as the island was an Aragonese colony in the past. However, the two most widely spoken forms of the sardinian languages are Campidanese, from the flatlands (Campidano) that cover most of the south (from Cagliari to Oristano), and Logudorese (Logudoro), from the central region, extending almost to Sassari.


Trains on Sardinia connect the whole island but are rather slow. Some run on narrow gauge track. Many tourists catch the trenino verde which runs through the wildest parts of the island. It is slow but it allows the traveller to have scenic views impossible to see from the main road. The train connects Cagliari to Arbatax in the south and Sassari to Palau in the north. It is highly recommended to make the trip from Macomer to Bosa Marina, where the train winds its way through the typical Sardinian landscape to reach the sea near the coastal town of Bosa situated in the west of the island.


Sardinia is a precious natural resource, containing thousands of rare or uncommon animals and plant species such as the Mediterranean Monk Seal and the boar. It lacks many common species however, like the viper and the marmot, which are found everywhere else on the continent.

Business and commerce

Sardinia's currency (as a part of Italy) is now the Euro, called francu in Sardinian.

Several gold and silver mines operate on the island.

The Sardinian economy is today focused on tourism (peaking with the Costa Smeralda), industry, commerce, services and information technology; an increasing income is coming from its famous wines and gastronomy.


The island contains numerous extraordinary tourist areas, including the Costa Smeralda and Gennargentu. The island is particularly famous for its beaches, but is also rich in other interesting places, such as some charming sea towns and archeological ruins. See also: Tourist destinations of Sardinia.


  • Cheese filled with live grubs and their feces is a delicacy in Sardinia. This cheese is called Casu Marzu.
  • The phrase sardonic grin comes the grimace found on victims of those poisoned by a certain herb found in Sardinia which contains strychnine-like alkaloids. It is said that family members would poison the infirm and elderly with the herb when the family was no longer able to afford to take care of them.

See also

External links

Regions of Italy
AbruzzoAosta ValleyApuliaBasilicataCalabriaCampaniaEmilia-RomagnaFriuli-Venezia GiuliaLazioLiguriaLombardyMarcheMolisePiedmontSardiniaSicilyTrentino-South TyrolTuscanyUmbriaVeneto