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Itineraries and Places to discover
  The Nine Province of Sicily
Agrigento Palermo
Caltanissetta Ragusa
Catania Siracusa
Enna Trapani
Messina
   Principal Sicilian Tourist Itineraries

Castles itinerary in the Sicilian Provinces

Fortresses built to defend, they now conquer us with their proud beauty...

The Sicilian Literary Parks

The magic of Sicily in the pages of the Sicilians...

Arts and Popular Traditions itinerary

Precious jewel case to preserve deep roots...

 
 
 

SICILY
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:: Demography

The position of Sicily as a stepping stone of sorts in the center of the Mediterranean Basin has lent it strategic importance throughout history, resulting in an endless procession of settlers and conquerors. Modern methods of genetic testing enable us to see which have had the greatest demographic impact. Several studies show strong ties between Sicily, mainland southern Italy and Greece, suggesting that the Siculi, Elymi and Greek colonizations were the most important.

It has been proposed that a genetic boundary divides Sicily into two regions, reflecting the distribution of Siculi and Greek settlements in the east, and Sicani/Elymi, Phoenician/Arab and Norman settlements in the west. However, other research has failed to detect any such division.

No data exists on the contribution of Normans, but a number of studies hint that North African and Middle Eastern gene flow was limited by the physical barrier of the Mediterranean Sea and resulting cultural differentiation.

Sicily's population is approximately 5 million, and there are an additional 10 million people of Sicilian descent around the world, mostly in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Australia and other EU countries.

The island today, like all of western Europe, is home to growing communities of immigrants, including Tunisians, Moroccans, Nigerians, Indians, Romanians, Russians, Chinese and Gypsies from the Balkans.

Evidence indicates an organised human presence in Sicily durng the Mesolithic Age (circa 10,000 BC). Drawings found in the Addaura Cavern, beneath the slopes of Mount Pellegrino near Palermo, have been dated to about 8000 BC and imply that the neolithic culture which eventually emerged was quite similar to those present in central and western Europe.

The Sicanians are identified as the earliest "native" Sicilian civilisation, possibly direct descendants of the earliest humans present here, followed by the Sicels and Elymians. We are uncertain whether the first people arrived in Sicily from the North or the South, but the Sicanian language probably was not Indo-European, while Elymian and Sicel were.

The megalithic temple of "Diana" at Cefalý is probably Sicanian in origin. By around 1100 BC, two populations arrived to inhabit certain parts of Sicily, in the process forcing the Sicanians away from certain territories. In the east, the Sicels (or Sikels), from whom the island takes its name, arrived from the Italian peninsula.

Their language was probably Italic. The Elymians arrived, probably via Africa, from western Asia (possibly what is now Turkey) and occupied parts of northwestern Sicily (Egesta, Eryx, Entella).

It appears that the Elymians, despite their proximity to what (by 700 BC) was Phoenician Sicily, assimilated easily with the conquering Greeks, followed by the Sicels. The Sicanians eventually amalgamated with the Greeks, but theirs was a slower assimilation with a completely alien culture.

Having founded Carthage in North Africa, the Phoenicians began to colonize the northwest of Sicily around 800 BC, founding Mozia, Solunto and Palermo. About the same time, the Greeks arrived in eastern Sicily, establishing Naxos (near Taormina) followed by Catania and Messina.

Though the three Sicilian civilizations were eventually amalgamated with Hellenic culture, the Greeks often found themselves in conflict with the Carthaginians --partly because of Greco-Phoenician conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Sicilians of today are said to be a "mixed race" (i.e. varied ethnic group) descended from early Sicilians (Sicani, Sicels, Elymians) and the peoples who subsequently conquered or colonized Sicily: Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantine Greeks, Saracen Arabs, Normans, and to some extent Longobards, Goths, Angevin French, Aragonese and Spanish.

A number of Sicilians are descended from Albanians who settled in several communities in the sixteenth century. Sicilian genetics and ethnology are indeed complex, a fact confirmed by genetic studies and known history.

 
 

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