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Sardinia ( ; , ; ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Seamarker (after Sicily).

A part of Italymarker with regional autonomy granted by the Italian Constitution, Sardinia comprises . The nearest land masses are (clockwise from north) the Frenchmarker island of Corsicamarker, the Italian Peninsula, Tunisiamarker, and the Spanish Balearic Islandsmarker.

The name Sardinia is of unknown origin.


Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Seamarker, with a surface of 23,821 km². It is situated between 38° 51' and 41° 15' latitude north and 8° 8' and 9° 50' east longitude.

The coasts of Sardinia (1,849 km long) are generally high and rocky, rectilinear for kilometres, they are often articulated in promontories, with ample and deep bays and inlets surrounded by smaller isles.

The island, being an ancient territory with rocks that go back through the Palaeozoic Era (up to 500 million years old), does not possess any high mountains because of its long erosion processes. The granite, schist, tranchite, basalt (called "jars" or "gollei"), sandstone, and dolomite limestone (called tonneri or "heels") rocky highlands predominate at a height of between 300 and 1,000 meters. The entire territory of the island is non-seismic.

The Gennargentumarker is a large mountain massif in the center of the island; its highest peaks are Punta La Marmoramarker (1,834 m), Monte Limbara (1,362 m) in the north, and Mount Rasumarker (1,259 m), culminating in the Marghine chain, that runs crosswise for 40 km towards the north. The island's massifs and plateaus are separated by large alluvial valleys and flatlands; the main plains are the Campidano, located in the southwest between Oristanomarker and Cagliarimarker, and the Nurra, in the northwest.

Sardinia has few major rivers; the largest is the Tirso, which has a length of 94 miles (151 km) and flows into the Sea of Sardinia. There are about fifty artificial lakes, of which Lake Omodeomarker and Lake Coghinas are the main ones. The only natural freshwater lake is Baratz Lakemarker. A high number of large, salty lakes and lagoons are located along the 1.850 km of its coasts.

The climate is typical of the Mediterranean. The weather is clear. During the year approximately 300 days are sunny and the few others are rainy, with a major concentration of rainfall in the winter and autumn, some heavy showers in the spring, and snowfalls on the highest massifs and highlands. The mistral is the dominant wind, fresh, strong, and usually dry and cold, blowing from the northwest throughout the year, but most frequently in winter and spring.

File:Torre della Pelosa.jpg | Sea in StintinomarkerFile:Forra gorroppu.jpg| Gorropu Canyon in SupramonteFile:Lagoon Beach (88937089).jpg|Porto Giunco in VillasimiusmarkerFile:Marmilla las plassas.jpg| Campidano's Plain near Las PlassasmarkerFile:Gusana.jpg | Gennargentumarker Massif in winterFile:Capotestasantateresagallura.jpg| Granitic landscape in GalluraFile:Cala Goloritze o.jpg| Cala GoloritzéFile:Tacco ogliastra.jpg| A typical limestone tacco in Ogliastra



Sardinia is one of the most ancient lands in Europe, visited during the Palaeolithic period though inhabited permanently by humans only much later, in the Neolithic age, around 6,000 BC.

The first humans to settle in Gallura and northern Sardinia probably came from the Italian mainland and, in particular, from Etruria. Those who populated the central region of the island around the salt lakes of Cabras and S. Giusta may have arrived from the Iberian Peninsula by way of the Balearic Islands. Those who founded their settlements around the Gulf of Cagliari were made up of several peoples.

Evidence of trade with other Aegean centres is present in the period 1600 BC onwards; for example fine ceramic products of Cydonia have been recovered in Sardinia. As time passed, the Sardinian peoples became united in language and customs, yet remained divided politically into various smaller tribal states. Sometimes they banded together, while at others they were at war with one another. Tribes lived in villages made up of round thatched stone huts, similar to those of present-day shepherds.

From about 1500 BC onwards, the villages were built at the foot of truncated cone fortresses (often reinforced and enlarged with embattled towers) called nuraghi (plural of nuraghe).

The boundaries of tribal territories were guarded by smaller lookout nuraghi erected on strategic hills commanding a view of the enemy. Today some 7,000 nuraghi dot the Sardinian landscape.

Ancient history

Around 1000 BC the Phoeniciansmarker began to land on the shores of Sardinia with increasing frequency. Setting sail from the coast of modern-day Lebanon, on their trade routes as far afield as Britain they needed safe anchorages for the night or to weather a storm. The more common ports of call were Caralismarker, Noramarker, Bithia, Sulcis, Tharrosmarker, Bosamarker and Olbiamarker. They soon became important markets and after a time real towns, inhabited by Phoenician families who traded on the open sea and with the Nuragic Sardinians inland.

In 509 BC, because the Phoenician expansion inland was becoming ever more menacing and penetrating, the native Sardinians attacked the coastal cities held by the enemy, who, in order to defend themselves, called upon Carthagemarker for help. The Carthaginians, after a number of military campaigns, overcame the Sardinians and conquered the most mountainous region. For 271 years, the Carthaginian or Punic civilization flourished alongside the local culture.

In 238 BC the Carthaginians, defeated by the Romans in the first Punic War, surrendered Sardinia, which became a province of Rome. The Romans enlarged and embellished the coastal cities and founded new cities like Turris Lybissonismarker and Feroniamarker , populated by Roman immigrants, and with their armies even penetrated the central mountains, referred to by the Romans as Barbaria or Barbagia , thereby bringing down the nuragic civilization. The Roman domination in Sardinia lasted 694 years and was often opposed by the Sardinians from the mountains who, nevertheless, adopted the Latin language and their civilization.

Medieval history

In 456 A.D., when the Roman Empire was rapidly declining, the Vandals, on their return from a raid in Latium on the mainland Italy, occupied Caralismarker along with the other coastal cities of Sardinia. In 534 the Vandals were defeated in the Battle of Tricamarum by the troops of Justinian, and Sardinia thus became Byzantine. The island was divided into districts called merèie, governed by a judge residing in Caralis (Cagliarimarker) and garrisoned by an army stationed in Forum Traiani (nowadays Fordongianusmarker) under the command of a dux. With the Byzantines came Christianity, which spread throughout the island (along with the monasticism of the followers of St. Basil), except in the Barbagia region. Here, towards the end of the 6th century, a short-lived independent domain reestablished itself, with local heathen and religious traditions, one of its kings being Ospitone.

Raids and attacks by the Berbers on the Sardinian shores began in 710 and grew ever more ruinous with time. Their inhabitants abandoned the coastal towns and cities. The judge provincial, in order to afford a better defence of the island, assigned his civil and military powers to his four lieutenants in Cagliari, Torres or Logudoro, Arborea, and Gallura. Around 900, the lieutenants gained their independence, in turn becoming judices (Sardinian judike, 'king') of their own logo or state.

Each one of these four Sardinian states constituted a sovereign kingdom, not patrimonial but independent, since it was not the property of the monarch. But they were at the same time democratic, since all the most important issues of national interest were not for the king (or giudice) himself to decide but were a matter for the representatives of the people gathered in assembly called corona de logu. Each kingdom manned its own fortified boundaries to protect its own political and trading affairs, its own parliament, laws (cartas de logu), languages, chancelleries, state emblems and symbols, etc.

The kingdom or "giudicato" of Cagliari was politically pro-Genoese. It was brought to an end in 1258 when its capital, S. Igia, was stormed and destroyed by an alliance of Sardinian-Pisan forces. The territory then became a colony of Pisa.

The kingdom of Torres, too, was pro-Genoese and came to an end in 1259 on the death of the giudicessa Adelasia. The territory was divided up between the Doria family of Genoa and the Basserra family of Arborea, while the city of Sassarimarker became an autonomous city-republic.

The kingdom of Gallura ended in the year 1288, when the last giudice, Nino Visconti (a friend of Dante Alighieri), was driven out by the Pisan who occupied the territory.

The kingdom of Arborea had a longer life compared to the other Giudicati. It lasted some 520 years and had Oristanomarker (Aristanis in Sardinian) as its capital. The kingdom was called Arborea after its coat of arm which featured a green eradicated tree (a tree with its roots visible) on a white field. The history of Arborea is entwined with the history of Sardinian struggle for independence against the Aragonese invasion.

In 1297, Pope Boniface VIII in order to settle diplomatically the War of the Vespers, which broke out in 1282 between the Angevins and Aragonese over the possession of Sicily, established on his own initiative (motu proprio) a hypothetical regnum Sardiniae et Corsicae ("kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica"). The Pope offered this newly created crown to James II, King of Aragon promising him support should he wish to conquer Pisan Sardinia in exchange for Sicily.

In 1323 the kings of Arborea formed an alliance with James II of Aragon against the Pisans. The Arborea kingdom decided to ally with the Aragonese despite what they knew about the Aragonese plans to take control of Sardinia because they saw the Pisans as a bigger threat. It is also important to remember that kings of Arborea partly descended from an Aragonese family: the Aragonese flag featured on the Arborea coat of arms and flags alongside the eradicated tree (or at least it did until the conflict between Arborea and Aragon escalated). Following a military campaign which lasted a year or so, the Aragonese occupied the Pisan territories of Cagliari and Gallura along with the city of Sassari, naming them "Kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica". However, soon the kings of Arborea started to wage war against the Aragonese. The kings of Arborea in fact had their own plans to unite Sardinia in one independent kingdom or Giudicato.

The first king of Arborea to actively pursue a plan to unite Sardinia under the rule of Arborea was Barisone I. He managed to be crowned King of Sardinia by the Holy Roman Empire emperor Fredrick I "Barbarossa" in 1164. However, in order to receive the title of King of Sardinia Barisone I had taken a loan from the Republic of Genoa that he was unable to pay back. For this reason, he was taken as a prisoner by the Republic of Genoa and was detained for 7 years. In the end, Barisone never succeed in uniting Sardinia under his rule because of his financial problems.When all the other Giudicati fell under the rule of foreign powers, the kings of Arborea started to see themselves as the legitimate defenders of Sardinian rule and Sardinian interests. They not only waged war against the Kings of Aragon that were trying to conquer all of Sardinia, they also started to develop the institutions at the basis of their rule, for example by promulgating the legal code of the kingdom in the Carta de Logu (in Sardinian: the document [that regulates] the country). The Carta de Logu was originally promulgated by Mariano IV of Arborea, but the original code was amended and ameliorated by Mariano's daughter, the queen Eleanor of Arborea. The legal code was written in Sardinian and:

In the Carta de Logu it is clear that the kings of Arborea saw themselves as the legitimate rulers of Sardinia: they stated very clearly that the Carta de Logu was intended as the law code that applied to the whole of Sardinia (not just to their dominions) and that it had been studied to guarantee the well-being and development of the Sardinian state.

On the other hand, 1353 Peter IV of Aragon, following an Aragonese custom, granted a parliament to the kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica, which was followed in due course by some degree of self-government under a viceroy and judicial independence (Royal Hearing). However this parliament had some very limited powers. It included 3 branches, the military branch that included high-ranking military commanders, the clerical branch, and the nobility branch that included the most notable nobles. It is important to note that the kingdom of Aragon was responsible for introducing the system of feudalism in Sardinia. The Sardinian kingdoms (giudicati), and moreover the kingdom (Giudicato) of Arborea, never adopted feudalism. The Kingdom of Arborea had also its parliament called "Corona de Logu". In this parliament, apart from the nobles and military commanders, also sat the representatives of each village. The Corona de Logu exercised some control over the king: under the rule of the "bannus consensus" the king could be deposed or even killed if he did not follow the rules of kingdom.

From 1365 to 1409 the Arborean giudici Mariano IV, Ugone III, Mariano V (assisted by his mother Eleonora, the famous giudicessa regent), and Guglielmo III (French grandson of Eleonora) succeeded in occupying all of Sardinia except the heavily fortified towns of Castle of Cagliari (today Cagliari) and Alghero, which for years where the only Aragonese dominions in Sardinia. The Giudicato of Arborea and the kings of Arborea received a great support from many Sardinians from different classes. This was also because many Sardinians were strongly against the feudal system that the Kingdom of Aragonmarker wanted to introduce in its domains.

In 1409 Martin I of Sicily, king of Sicily and heir to the crown of Aragon, defeated the Sardinians at the Battle of Sanluri (Sa battalla de Seddori, in Sardinian). The battle was fought by about 20,000 Sardinians that took to arms spontaneously. In a time when the population of Sardinia had been greatly depleted by the plague, 20,000 Sardinians represented a very considerable number. Despite the Sardinian army being more numerous than the Aragonese army, the Sardinians were defeated and it is estimated that about 5,000 Sardinians were killed in the battle. A field near Sanluri is still known to this day as the "Occidroxiu" (the massacre).

However, the kingdom of Arborea surrendered only after some of its most notable men (e.g. Leonardo Cubello) decided to switch sides in exchange for some privileges. For example, Leonardo Cubello, who was from a family related to the family of the Kings of Arborea and had some claims on the crown of Arborea, in exchange for his subjection to the King of Aragon was granted the title of Marquis of Oristano and feudal rights on a territory that partly overlapped with the original extension of the Kingdom of Arborea.The success of the Kingdom of Aragon was marred by the death of the heir to the Aragon crown, Martin I of Sicily. He died of malaria in Cagliarimarker where he was buried. He had contracted malaria during the military campaign against the Kingdom of Arborea. Consequently the Crown of Aragon passed to a different dynasty, the Trastàmara house - in particular Ferdinand I of Aragon and his descendants - with the Compromise of Caspe in 1412.

The conquering of Sardinia by the Kingdom of Aragonmarker and the consequent loss of independence also meant the introduction in all of Sardinia of the feudal system. Thus Sardinia is probably the only European country where feudalism had been introduced in the transition between the Middle Age and Modern Age, that is at a time when feudalism had already been abandoned by other European countries.

Modern history

In 1479, as a result of the personal union of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, the Crown of Spain was born. Even the "kingdom of Sardinia" (which in the new title was separated from Corsica, since that island never was conquered) became Spanish, with the state symbol of the Four Moors. Following the failure of the military ventures against the Mulsumen of Tunis (1535) and Algiersmarker (1541), Charles V of Spain, in order to defend his Mediterranean territories from pirate raids by the African Berbers, fortified the Sardinian shores with a system of coastal lookout towers.

The kingdom of Sardinia remained Spanish for approximately 400 years, from 1323 to 1720, assimilating a number of Spanish traditions, customs, and linguistic expressions, nowadays vividly portrayed in the folklore parades of Saint Efisio in Cagliari (May 1), the Cavalcade on Sassari (last but one Sunday in May), and the Redeemer in Nuoro (August 28).

In 1708, as a consequence of the Spanish War of Succession, the rule of the kingdom of Sardinia passed into the hands of the Austriansmarker who landed on the island. In 1717 Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, minister of Felipe V of Spain, reoccupied Sardinia. In 1718, with the Treaty of London, Sardinia was handed over to the House of Savoy.

On 28 April 1794, during an uprising in Cagliarimarker, two Piedmontese officials were killed. That was the start of a revolt (called the Moti rivoluzionari sardi) all over the island, which culminated in the expulsion of the tyrants. On 28 December 1795 in Sassarimarker insurgents demonstrating against feudalism, mainly from the region of Logudoro, occupied the city. On 13 February 1796, in order to suppress a riot, the viceroy Filippo Vivalda gave to the Sardinian magistrate Giovanni Maria Angioy the role of Alternos, which meant a substitute of the viceroy himself. Angioy moved from Cagliari to Sassari, and during his journey almost all the villages joined the uprising, asking for the end of feudalism and for the independence of Sardinia's people.

In 1799, as a consequence of the Napoleonic wars in Italy, the Dukes of Savoy left Turinmarker and took refuge in Cagliari for some fifteen years. In 1847 the Sardinians spontaneously renounced their state autonomy and formed a union with Piedmont in order to have a single parliament, a single magistracy, and a single government in Turin.

In 1848 the Italian Wars of Independence broke out for the Unification of Italy and were led by the kings of Sardinia for thirteen years. In 1861 Sardinia joined the newly founded Kingdom of Italy.

During the First World War the Sardinian soldiers of the Brigata Sassari distinguished themselves, several being decorated with gold medals and other honors. It was the first and only Italian military unit constituted exclusively from Sardinian soldiers.

The Sardinian writer Grazia Deledda won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926.

During the fascist period, and implementation of the policy of autarky, several swamps were reclaimed around the island and agrarian communities founded. The main communities were in the area of Oristano, where the village of Mussolinia (now called Arboreamarker) was located, and in the area adjacent the city of Algheromarker, within the region of Nurra, Fertilia was founded. Also established during that time was the city of Carboniamarker, which became the main center of mining activity. Works to dry the numerous waste lands and the reprise of mining activities favored the arrival of settlers and immigrants, at first from Veneto, and after World War II Istriansmarker and Dalmatians from territories lost to Yugoslavia.

The repression by the fascist regime of its opponents within the region was ruthless. Antonio Gramsci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party, was arrested and died in prison. Michele Schirru was executed after a failed assassination plot against Benito Mussolini.

Postwar period

In 1946 by popular referendum Italy became a republic, with Sardinia administered since 1948 by special statute of autonomy.

By 1951, malaria was successfully eliminated with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, which facilitated the commencement of the Sardinian tourist boom, mainly focused on beach holidays and elite tourism. Today about ten million people visit the island every year.

With the increase in tourism, coal decreased in importance. In the 1950s and 1960s the greatest Sardinian migration began. However, in the early 1960s an industrialization effort was commenced, the so-called Piani di Rinascita (rebirth plans), with the initiation of major infrastructure projects on the island. These included the construction of new dams and roads, reforestation, agricultural zones on reclaimed marshland, and large industrial complexes (primarily oil refineries and related petrochemical operations). With the creation of petrochemical industries, thousands of ex-farmers became industrial workers. Nevertheless, following 1973 the international oil crisis caused the termination of employment for thousands of workers employed in the petrochemical industries.

The economic crisis, unemployment, and the forced militarization of the island territory (70% of Italian military bases were located in Sardinia) aggravated the crime rate, with increasing kidnappings and political subversion. Communist groups flourished, the most famous being Barbagia Rossa, which perpetrated several terrorist actions between the 1970s and the early 1980s.

In 1983 a militant of an autonomist party, the Sardinian Action Party (Partito Sardo d'Azione), was elected president of the regional parliament, and in the 1980s several independentist movements were born; in the 1990s some of them became political parties, and in 2006 in the Province of Sassari the first independentist militant was elected. In 1999 Sardinian received official status together with Italian.

Today Sardinia is phasing in as an EU region, with a diversified economy focused on tourism and the tertiary sector; the economic efforts of last twenty years have reduced the handicap of insularity, for example with low-cost air companies and advanced information technology, thanks to the CRS4 (Center for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia), which developed the first Italian website in 1991 and webmail in 1995, which brought to birth several telecommunication companies and internet service providers based on the island, as Videonline in 1994 and Tiscali in 1998.

A G8 summit was planned to be held in Sardinia, on the island of La Maddalenamarker, in July 2009. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in April 2009, decided, without convoking the Italian parliament or consulting the governor of Sardinia, to move the summit, even though the works were almost completed, to L'Aquilamarker, provoking protests among Sardinians that the autonomous status of Sardinia had been violated.


Taken as a whole, Sardinia's economic conditions are such that the island is in a slightly better position than the average southern regions. The greatest economic development has taken place inland, in the provinces of Cagliarimarker and Sassarimarker, characterized by a certain amount of enterprise. According to Eurostat, the 2007 GDP was €33,823.2 million, resulting in a €20,627 GDP per capita, in 2009.

The Sardinian economy is penalised due to high costs of transportation of goods and electricity, which is double compared to the continental Italian regions. Sardinia is the only Italian region that produces surplus of electricity, which supply power to the region, and not imports power from abroad, whereas the problem the region had encountered was insufficient transmission links as it is an island situated over 100 km from the mainland . In 2009 the new submarine power cable Sapei entered into operation, it links the Fiume Santo Power Station, in Sardinia, to the converter stations in Latina, in the Italian peninsula, the SACOI is another submarine power cable that links Sardinia to Italy, crossing Corsicamarker, from 1965.The under construction submarine gas pipeline GALSI, will link Algeriamarker to Sardinia and further Italy, in 2012.

The unemployment rate is higher than the national average, but lower than the South Italy regions.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Gross domestic product nominal

(Million €)
25,958.1 27,547.6 28,151.6 29,487.3 30,595.5 31,421.3 32,579.0 33,823.2
GDP per capita PPP

15,861.0 16,871.4 17,226.5 17,975.7 18,581.0 19,009.8 19,654.3 20,444.1

The primary sector is still of outstanding importance, especially goat and sheep rearing (good production of cheese). Agriculture has been modernized on the Campidano plain (vegetables, citrus, rice), and Sardinian wines are famous. There is little fishing (and no real maritime tradition), but the once prosperous mining industry is still active though restricted to coal (Carbonia, Bacu Abis), antimony (Villasaltomarker), gold (Furteimarker), bauxite (Olmedo) and lead and zinc (Iglesiente, Nurra). The granite extraction represents one of the most flourishing industry in the northern island. The Gallura granite district is composed of 260 companies that work in 60 quarries, where 75% of the Italian granite is extracted. The cork district, in the northern part of the Gallura region, around Calangianusmarker and Tempio Pausaniamarker, is composed of 130 companies and has become the driver of Sardinian economic development. Every year in Sardinia 200,000 quintals of cork are carved, and 40% of the end products are exported. Fishing along the coasts is also an important activity on the island. Portoscusomarker tunas are exported worldwide, but primarily to Japanmarker.

The principal industries are chemicals (Porto Torresmarker, Cagliarimarker, Villacidromarker, Ottanamarker), petrochemicals (Porto Torresmarker, Sarrochmarker), metalworking (Porto Scuso, Porto Vesme, Villacidromarker), cement (Cagliarimarker), pharmaceutical (Sassarimarker), shipbuilding (Arbatax, Olbiamarker, Porto Torresmarker), oil rig construction (Arbatax), and food (sugar refineries at Villasormarker and Oristano, dairy at Arboreamarker, Macomermarker and Thiesimarker, fish factory at Olbia). Craft industries include rugs (Barbagia), lacework (Bosa), basket making, and coral.

The Sardinian economy is today focused on the overdeveloped tertiary sector (67.8% of employment), with commerce, services, information technology, public administration and especially on tourism, which represents the main industry of the island with 2,721 active companies and 189,239 rooms. In 2008 there were 2,363,496 arrivals (up 1.4% on 2007). In the same year, the airports of the island registered 11,896,674 passengers (up 1.24% on 2007).


Sardinia has three international airports (Alghero Airportmarker, Olbia - Costa Smeralda Airportmarker, and Cagliari-Elmas Airportmarker) connected with the principal Italian cities and many European destinations, mainly in the United Kingdommarker, Scandinavia, Spainmarker, and Germanymarker, and two regional airports (Oristano-Fenosu Airportmarker and Tortolì Airportmarker). Sardinian citizens benefit from special sales on plane tickets, and several low-cost air companies operate on the island. Meridiana is an airline based in the airport of Olbiamarker; it was founded as Alisarda in 1963 by the Aga Khan, Prince Karim al-Hussayni.The development of the Meridiana airlines followed the development of the resort village of Porto Cervomarker in the north east part of the island,a well known vacation spot among billionaires and movie stars worldwide.

The ferry companies operating on the island are Tirrenia di Navigazione, Moby Lines, Corsica Ferries, Grandi Navi Veloci, Snav, SNCM, and CMN; they link the Sardinian harbors of Porto Torresmarker, Olbiamarker, Golfo Arancimarker, Arbatax, Santa Teresa Galluramarker, Palaumarker and Cagliarimarker with Civitavecchiamarker, Genoamarker, Livornomarker, Naplesmarker, Palermomarker, Trapanimarker, Piombinomarker in Italymarker, Marseillemarker, Toulonmarker, Bonifaciomarker, Proprianomarker and Ajacciomarker in Francemarker, and Barcelonamarker in Spainmarker. A regional ferry company, the Saremar, links the main island to the islands of La Maddalenamarker and San Pietromarker.

Corsica-Sardinia Ferries.

Sardinia is the only Italian region without motorways, but the road network is well developed, with a system of "superstrade" (dual carriage freeways), that connect the principal towns and the transport infrastructures; the speed limit is 90 km/h. The principal road is the SS131 "Carlo Felice", linking the north with the south of the island, crossing the most populated regions of Sassarimarker and Cagliarimarker; it is part of European route E25. The SS 131 d.c.n links Oristanomarker with Olbiamarker, crossing the hinterland Nuoromarker region. Other roads designed for high-capacity traffic link Sassarimarker with Algheromarker, Sassarimarker with Tempio Pausaniamarker, Sassarimarker - Olbiamarker, Cagliarimarker - Tortolìmarker, Cagliarimarker - Iglesiasmarker, Nuoromarker - Villagrande Strisailimarker. A work in progress is converting the main routes to highways standards, with the elimination of all intersections. The secondary inland and mountain roads are generally narrow with many hairpin turns, so the speed limits are very low.
200 px
Public transport buses reach every town and village at least once a day; however, due to the low density of population, the smallest territories are reachable only by car. The Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti (Arst) is the public regional bus transport agency.

The Sardinian railway system was developed in the 19th century, by the English engineer Lord Benjamin Piercy. Trains connect the whole island, and there are two different railway operators. Trenitalia is the largest, connecting the largest towns, the main ports, and also the Italian peninsula through the use of train ferries. This network is the most modern on the island, running primarily diesel locomotives such as the Alstom "Minuetto" and, in the future, high-speed trains such as the Talgo XXI. The second operator is ARST Gestione FdS, best known as Ferrovie della Sardegna (Sardinian Railways), running on narrow-gauge track, and they are generally very slow, except the electrified Tram-trains, operating in the metropolitan areas of Sassari and Cagliarimarker. Many tourists catch the trenino verde, which runs through the wildest parts of the island. It is slow but allows the traveller to have scenic views impossible to see from the main road.


Sardinia has become Europe’s first region to fully adopt the new television broadcasting standard. From the 1st of November 2008 TV channels are broadcast only in digital .


With a population density of 69 pop./km2, slightly more than a third of the national average, Sardinia is the fourth least populated region in Italy. The population distribution is anomalous compared to that of other Italian regions lying on the sea. In fact, contrary to the general trend, urban settlement has not taken place primarily along the coast but towards the centre of the island. Historical reasons for this include repeated Saracen raids during the Middle Ages (making the coast unsafe), widespread pastoral activities inland, and the swampy nature of the coastal plains (reclaimed only in the 20th century). The situation has reversed with the expansion of seaside tourism; today all Sardinia's major urban centres are located near the coasts, while the island's interior is very sparsely populated.

It is the Italian region with the lowest total fertility rate (1.087 births per woman), and the region with the second lowest birth rate; these factors, together with the high level of urbanization of population, allow the preservation of the greater part of the natural environment. However the population is increased, in the last years, due to immigration, mainly, from East Europe, Africa, Chinamarker and Latin America.

Average life expectancy is 81.1 years (84.5 for women and 77.7 for men). Sardinia shares with the Japanese island of Okinawamarker the highest rate of centenarians in the world (22 centenarians/100,000 inhabitants).

Main Towns

File:Cagliari_porto.jpg|Cagliarimarker 157,780 inhab. (369,000 metropolitan area)File:Piazza d' italia sassari 1030241.png|Sassarimarker 130,324 inhab. (225,000 metropolitan area)File:Palazzo_Municipale_Quartu.jpg|Quartu Sant'Elenamarker 71,254 inhab.File:Olbia010.jpg|Olbiamarker 51,045 inhab.File:Bastioni Alghero.jpg|Algheromarker 43,831 inhab.File:M._Ortobene_-_vista_di_Nuoro.jpg|Nuoromarker 36,672 inhab.File:Oristano_Torre.jpg|Oristanomarker 32,932 inhab.File:Piazza_Roma_Carbonia.jpg|Carboniamarker 30,081 inhab.

Genetic peculiarities

Haplogroup I Distribution in Europe
Sardinians do not constitute a homogeneous population from a genetic point of view. Compared to other European and Mediterranean populations, Sardinians are distinguished by genetic characteristics. .About 42% of the Sardinians belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup I, which otherwise has high frequency only in Scandinavia, Northern Germanymarker and the Croatiamarker-Bosniamarker area.

The Subclade I-M26 of the Haplogroup I is almost unique to the island, with small numbers of it being found among the population of Basque Countrymarker, Castile, the department of Béarn and Brittany in France, Englandmarker, Swedenmarker and Corsicamarker.

Furthermore, the I haplogroup of the indigenous Sardinians is of the I1b1b subtype, which is almost unique to the island. The I1b1b haplogroup also has a low distribution in and around the Pyreneesmarker indicating some migration of Sardinians to or from that area. The Sardinian subtype is more closely related to the Croatian-Bosnian subtype than to the Scandinavian subtype. The second most common Y-chromosome haplogroup among Sardinian male population is the haplogroup R1b (22% of the total population) mainly present in the northern part of the island , Gallura in particularly (37%) . Sardinia also has a relatively high distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup G (15%), stemming from people that migrated to Sardinia from Anatoliamarker . The Y-chromosome haplogroup G also has a relatively high concentration in and around the Pyreneesmarker and the Alps , again indicating migration of Sardinians to or from that area. Other haplogroups show lower frequencies.

Government and politics

Sardinia is one of the five italian autonomous regions, together to Valle d'Aostamarker, Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Sicily, but it's the only Italian region administered by special statute of autonomy, it is the fundamental organic law, second only to the Italian Constitution. This status gives the region the right of elaborating its own laws in a wide number of domains and to carry out relative administrative functions.

The regional administration is constituted by three authorities:
  • the Regional Council (legislative power)
  • the Regional Junta (executive power)
  • the President (chief of executive power)

Administrative divisions

Until 2005, Sardinia had been divided into four provinces: Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano and Sassari. In 2005 the Regional Council decided to create four new provinces becoming operative with the provincial elections for the Presidents and the Councils held in 2006. The four additional provinces are as follows: Carbonia-Iglesias, Medio Campidano, Ogliastra, Olbia-Tempio.

Administrative bilingual map of Sardinia

Province Area (km²) Population Density (inh./km²)
Province of Cagliari 4,570 559,416 122.4
Province of Carbonia-Iglesias 1,495 130,538 87.3
Province of Medio Campidano 1,516 103,107 68.0
Province of Nuoro 3,934 161,453 41.0
Province of Ogliastra 1,854 58,088 31.3
Province of Olbia-Tempio 3,399 153,886 45.2
Province of Oristano 3,040 167,357 55.0
Province of Sassari 4,282 336,374 78.5


Sardinia is one of two Italian regions whose inhabitants have been recognised as a popolo (a distinct people) by a local statute (which is adopted with a constitutional law). (The other region is Veneto, but this was not through a constitutional law).


Language Map of Sardinia.

The most spoken language in Sardinia is Italian, but Sardinian is widely spoken all over the island. Sardinian is a Romance language of Latin origin, influenced by Catalan and Spanish, but with indigenous elements, with some roots from Phoenician, Etruscan. While it has been significantly supplanted by Italian for official purposes, in 2006 the regional administration has approved the use of Limba Sarda Comuna in official documents. As a literary language, it is gaining clout, despite heated debate about the lack of standard orthography and controversial proposed solutions to this problem.

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 Oristanomarker), and Logudorese (Logudoro), from the central region, extending almost to Sassarimarker.


Sardinia is home to one of the oldest forms of vocal polyphony, generally known as cantu a tenore; several famous musicians have found it irresistible, including Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman, and Peter Gabriel. The latter travelled to the town of Bittimarker in the central mountainous region and recorded the now world-famous Tenores di Bitti CD on his Real World label. The guttural sounds produced in this form make a remarkable sound, similar to Tuvan throat singing. Another polyphonic style of singing, more like the Corsican paghjella and liturgic in nature, is found in Sardinia and is known as cantu a cuncordu.

Another unique instrument is the launeddas. Three reed-canes (two of them glued together with beeswax) producing distinctive harmonies, which have their roots many thousands of years ago, as demonstrated by the bronzette from Ittirimarker, of a man playing the three reed canes, dated to 2000 BC.

Beyond this, the tradition of cantu a chiterra (guitar songs) has its origins in town squares, when artists would compete against one another. The most famous singer of this genre are Maria Carta and Elena Ledda.

Sardinian culture is alive and well, and young people are actively involved in their own music and dancing. In 2004, BBC presenter Andy Kershaw travelled to the island with Sardinian music specialist Pablo Farba and interviewed many artists. His programme can be heard on BBC Radio 3. Sardinia has produced a number of notable jazz musicians as Antonello Salis, Marcello Melis, and Paolo Fresu.

The main opera house of the island is the Teatro Lirico in Cagliarimarker.


Cagliarimarker is home to Cagliari Calcio F.C., which was founded in 1920 and plays in the Serie A, the Italian top division. It won the Italian Championship after the 1969/70 season, becoming the first club in Southern Italy to achieve such a result. Home matches are played at the Stadio Sant' Elia, named after the area where it is located, with a capacity of 23,486. It was built in 1970 and refurbished before the Italia '90 football World Championships.

Sardinia also boasts a fine darts tradition, which many believe originated in the Sassarimarker region of the country towards the end of the 15th century. In those days, the darts were carved from Beech (Fagus) wood and the flights were feathers drawn from the indigenous pollo sultano, a bird famed for its spectacular violet-blue plumage.

In the Province of Sassari is located the Mores Racewaymarker, the only FIA Circuit homologated by CSAI (Cars) and the IMFmarker (Motorcycles), in Sardinia.

Cagliarimarker hosted a Formula 3000 race in 2002 and 2003 on a 2.414-km street circuit around Sant'Elia stadium. In 2003, Renault F1's Jarno Trulli and former Ferrarimarker's Jean Alesi did a spectacular exhibition. At the Grand Prixmarker BMW-F1 driver Robert Kubica took part in a F.3 car, as did BMW WTCC Augusto Farfus, GP2's Fairuz Fauzy and Vitaly Petrov. Since 2004 Olbiamarker has hosted the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, a rally competition in the FIA World Rally Championship schedule. The rally is held on narrow, twisty, sandy and bumpy mountainous roads around the glamorous town of Porto Cervomarker.Cagliarimarker hosts regular international regattas, such RC44 championship, Farr 40 World championship and Audi MedCup; all series in which are competing current America's Cup contenders like BMW Oracle Racing, Mascalzone Latino and Emirates Team New Zealand.

windsurfing at Porto Pollo
Porto Pollo, north of Palaumarker, is a bay often used by windsurfers and kitesurfers. The bay is divided by a thin tongue of land that separates it in an area for advanced and beginning/intermediate windsurfers. There is also a restricted area for kitesurfers. Many Italian freestyle surfers come to Porto Pollo for training and 2007 saw the finale of the freestyle pro kids Europe 2007 contest. Because of a venturi-effect between Sardinia and Corsicamarker, western wind accelerates between the islands and creates the wind that makes Porto Pollo popular amongst windsurfing enthusiasts. In 2005, Aglientumarker, hosted the Kitesurf World Cup in the Vignolamarker's beach.

Sa Istrumpa, also known as Sardinian Wrestling, is a traditional Sardinian sport, officially recognized by the Italian National Olympic Committee (C.O.N.I.) and International Federation of Celtic Wrestling (I.F.C.W.) .

World Heritage Sites

Megalithic building structures called nuraghe are scattered in great number throughout Sardinia. Su Nuraxi di Baruminimarker is a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site.


Sardinia is home to a wide variety of rare or uncommon animals and autochthonous plants and animals, such as many species of mammals: the Mediterranean Monk Seal, the Giara's Horse, the Albino Donkey, the Mouflon, the Sardinian Deer, the sardinian fox, and the boar. Found only in Sardinia, Sicily, and the Maghreb, the Sardinian skink (Chalcides ocellatus), known more commonly as the tiligugu, can reach in length, of which almost half consists of the tail. Conversely, Sardinia lacks many common species such as the viper and the marmot, which are found everywhere else on the European continent. The island has also long been used for grazing flocks of indigenous Sardinian sheep. Sardinia has four endemic subspecies of birds found nowhere else in the world: its Great Spotted Woodpecker (ssp harterti), Great Tit (ssp ecki), Chaffinch (ssp sarda), and Eurasian Jay (ssp ichnusae). It also shares a further 10 endemic subspecies of bird with Corsicamarker. In some cases Sardinia is a delimited part of the species range. For example, the subspecies of Hooded Crow, Corvus cornix ssp cornix occurs in Sardinia and Corsica, but no further south.

The island has some environmental laws, and after an enormous plan of reforestation has become the Italian region with the largest forest extension, with 1,213,250 hectares of woods . The Regional Landscape Plan prohibits new building activities on the coast (except in urban centers), next to forests, lakes or other environmental or cultural sites and the Coastal conservation agency ensures the protection of natural areas on the Sardinian coast. Renewable energies have increased noticeably in recent years , mainly wind power, favoured by the windy climate, but also solar power (Carlo Rubbia, Nobelist in physics, is creating an experimental solar thermal energy central) and biofuel, based on Jatropha oil and Colza oil.

Natural parks and reserves

National and Regional Parks of Sardinia.

Sardinia has three national parks [5081]:

Ten regional parks:
  • 4. Parco del Limbara
  • 5. Parco del Marghine e Goceano
  • 6. Parco del Sinis - Montiferru
  • 7. Parco del Monte Arci
  • 8. Parco della Giara di Gesturi
  • 9. Parco del Monte Linas - Oridda - Marganai
  • 10. Parco dei Sette Fratelli - Monte Genas
  • 11. Parco del Sulcis
  • Parco naturale regionale di Porto Conte
  • Parco regionale Molentargius - Saline

There are 60 wildlife reserves, 5 W.W.F oases, and 25 natural monuments.

See also


  1. ISTAT Numero medio di figli per donna per regione 2002-2005
  2. ISTAT Tassi generici di natalità, mortalità e nuzialità per regione 2002-2005
  3. ISTAT Speranza di vita alla nascita per sesso e regione 2002-2005
  4. Population (Italy): a Genetic Review, International Journal of Modern Anthropology. 2008
  6. Federation of Celtic wrestling,
  7. UNESCO, 2008
  8. Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix,, ed, N. Stromberg
  9. Sardegna prima per superficie forestale e assorbimento di Co2. May 2007 . [1]
  10. Sardinia: A natural lab for renewable energy, Sardegna Rocerche


  • UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription data for Su Nuraxi di Barumini (2008) [5082]

External links

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