Sicily, Italy

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Interactive Map of Sicily, Italy

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The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea is Sicily. Sicily is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is the 4th largest Italian region in population and the overall largest in size, covering a total area of 9,927 square miles. It is considered the “toe” of Italy’s “boot.” 

Its rich history is reflected in its well-preserved ruins including Doric-style Greek temples and the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former chapel located in the capital city of Palermo, along with other places to visit. You will also find Mount Etna, an active volcano in Europe.

Cities as Seen on a Map of Sicily, Italy:

  • Palermo
  • Catania
  • Syracuse
  • Agrigento
  • Cefalu
  • Noto
  • Erice
  • Marsala
  • Modica
  • Corleone
  • Enna
  • Messina
  • Mondello
  • Monreale
  • Scicli
  • Siracusa & Ortigia
  • Taormina
  • Trapani

Quick Facts:

  • Population = 5 million
  • Language = Latin, Greek
  • Ethnicities = Sicilian, Greek, Lombards, Italo-Normans
  • Capital = Palermo

The History of Sicily

The Romans gave Sicily its name in 241 BC. The Romans named the island Sicily after Sikeloi, the first inhabitants of the island region, who were primarily Greek. When Augustus gained control of the island of Sicily, he tried to change the primary language to Latin but was unsuccessful. The primary language remained Greek.

The Roman Empire fell in 476, and the Byzantine Empire gained control of Sicily shortly thereafter. During the Byzantine Empire, which was a form of the Roman Empire, the primary language remained Greek on the island. 

In 1130, the Kingdom of Sicily was formed. The Kingdom of Sicily was successful during this time. During this time, Greek was still spoken in the region, and there were many Greek influences on architecture, art, and cities throughout the island. Finally, in 1585, the Greeks were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism or leave the area. 

During the 1860s, the Kingdom of Sicily was annexed into the Kingdom of Italy during the period known as the Italian Unification. When Italy became a republic in 1946, Sicily was granted autonomy. This means that Sicily has a little more power in the decision-making of their region than the remainder of Italy. If there is a law or statute in place for Italy, it may not apply to the region of Sicily because of its autonomous status. 


The primary native language of Sicily was formerly Greek; however, over time, with pressure from the Romans, the region converted to Roman Catholic and adopted Latin as its official language. 


Roman Catholicism is the primary religion of the region, as it is with the remainder of Italy. In addition to Roman Catholicism, there is also a minority of Eastern Byzantine Catholics which include a small portion of Albanians. Because the Greeks were required to convert to Roman Catholicism or leave the area, there is virtually no sign of Ancient Greek religion that is practiced in the region.


Sicily has a variety of plains, mountains, and rivers that fill the inland of this island region. The geography of Sicily has given the island opportunities in many regions, including agriculture, tourism, and industrial. The soil in Sicily is extremely fertile because of the volcanic activity that has occurred on the island. 

Some of the best crops from the island include wheat, oranges, olives, grapes, wine, artichokes, pears, almonds, and pistachios. There has been plenty of opportunities for farmers to take advantage of the soil and topography of the land in Sicily. 

Migration Patterns

Once the Kingdom of Sicily joined the Kingdom of Italy during the Italian Unification, the Sicilians ultimately felt forced out of the area due to major relocations of banks and manufacturers. Southern Italy had been imposed high taxes, which ultimately led the area to ruin. 

The only way Sicilians and southern Italians could combat this was to emigrate to areas that had employment opportunities. These areas were in northern Italy, neighboring European countries, and the western hemisphere. 

By the 1900s, the Sicily and surrounding regions had become the poorest regions in Europe. The number of emigrants who left the area has not ceased. Today, Sicily has the highest number of expatriates in Italy. It is estimated that 10 million Sicilians live in various regions throughout the world.


People who have Sicilian genealogy can clearly be residing anywhere in the world. To have a Sicilian genealogy, there is likely Italian, Greek, Lombard, or Italo-Norman heritage within the lineage. Because so many emigrants have left the area of Sicily, this area may have a shift in genealogy in the future generations to come.

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Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.