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(Accurate) Sicily Facts

A few basic figures at a glance


Related pages: Maps of Sicily Land & Geography History & People Scenic Regions Mountains
Sicilian Government

We like those other sites especially that huge encyclopedia that anybody can edit but if you want facts
with context, this is the page for you.

Area - At 25,711 square kilometers (9,927 square miles), Sicily is the largest island in
the Mediterranean and the largest of Italy's twenty political regions, slightly larger than
Piedmont. For comparison, Wales is 20,780 square kilometers and Massachusetts is
27,340, while Albania is 28,750. In addition to the island of Sicily, the region includes a
number of coastal and volcanic islands.

Population - 5,048,805 (in 2010), approximately 8.4 percent of Italy's population, being
the fourth most populous of Italy's regions, surpassed by Lombardy (Milan), Lazio
(Rome) and Campania (Naples), with Sicily's population density being less than that of
any of those regions. For comparison, Denmark's population is around 5,574,000 and its
land area is 43,090 square kilometers. Sicily's actual population is estimated to be as
many as 300,000 beyond the official figure.

Government - Italy is a democratic republic based on a multi-party parliamentary


system and a system of law rooted in arcane 19th-century legal codes as much as the
Constitution of 1948. Since 1946 the Sicilian Region has been a semi-autonomous part
of Italy, first as part of the Kingdom of Italy under Allied occupation and then as part of
the Italian Republic. The governor and regional government exercise only limited control
over certain public services and resources. (Who runs Sicily in reality is a much
more complex issue than what many would have you believe.) The regional capital is
Palermo. Sicily has nine provinces: Palermo, Catania, Messina, Siracusa, Ragusa,
Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Trapani; all except Enna have a coastline.

Major Cities - The metropolitan areas (provinces) of Palermo and Catania each have
around one million residents, though Palermo is the larger city, at around 870,000
versus 572,000 in Catania. Official local population figures are imprecise because many
Italians fail to register their legal residency where they actually live, while there are many
illegal aliens in the country.

Currency - Italy's currency is the euro.

Cell Network Coverage - TIM approximately 92 percent and Vodafone


approximately 79 percent of the island with 3G service, while GPRS and EDGE
coverage is more extensive. In remote areas outside cities the TIM network is highly
recommended.

Economy - Sicily accounts for approximately 5.7 percent of Italy's gross domestic
product (2012 figures provided by ISTAT, the Italian national statistical institute). The
local economy is based almost entirely on the public sector (including taxation and
subsidies), real estate (and finance) and retail commerce; there are very few
manufacturing or high-technology firms in Sicily, and little industry at all. Petroleum
(crude oil) is produced offshore in limited quantities for domestic consumption. Tourism
and agriculture account for almost all of Sicily's international trade.

Principal Exports: Bottled mineral water, followed by wine and olive oil.

Climate - The weather & climate page presents more detailed information, but here are
average data on precipitation and temperature:

Average Temperatures, Precipitation & Daylight in Sicily


Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average High 15 15 16 18 22 25 28 30 27 23 19 16 20
Temp C (F) (59) (59) (61) (64) (72) (77) (82) (86) (81) (73) (66) (61) (68)
Average Low 10 10 11 13 16 20 23 24 22 18 14 11 16
Temp C (F) (50) (50) (52) (55) (61) (68) (73) (75) (72) (64) (57) (52) (61)
Precipitation 72 65 60 44 26 12 5 2 42 98 94 80 611
mm (inches) (2.83) (2.56) (2.36) (1.73) (1.02) (.47) (.20) (.08) (1.65) (3.86) (3.7) (3.15) (24.06)
Hours of 10 11 12 13 14 15 14.5 14 12.5 11 10 9.5 Monthly
Daylight Averages
Hours of 4 4.5 6 7 9 11 12 10 9 6.5 5 4 Monthly
Sunshine Averages
NOTE: These are statistical generalities; January and February in Sicily can be unpredictably cool and wet. In January 2009 there were 199
millimeters of precipitation, more than Sicily sometimes gets in an entire year. These figures reflect general averages for the entire island but
some regions get more rain (and snow) than others, as indicated in the precipitation map. See the Celsius-Fahrenheit chart on the weather
page for specific temperature conversions.

Employment - Approximately 74 percent in real terms, i.e. defined as employment


sufficient to support one person (able to work) between 21 and 65 over the course of at
least 12 months. ISTAT figures contradict this statistic because their standard ascribes
the status of "full employment" even to an adult who works only one day of the year and
earns virtually nothing, while those not "actively" seeking employment are not
considered "unemployed." Many Sicilians are "underemployed" on a part-time basis and
Italy has no minimum wage. Italy has what is estimated to be the highest level of
emigration for employment reasons of any G-8 nation, and suffers a Brain Drain
because even jobs for highly-trained applicants are few. (See the jobs page for
additional information.)

Highest Peaks - Mount Etna (western Europe's largest volcano) at 3,329 meters
(10,922 feet) above sea level, followed by Pizzo Carbonara (or Principessa) at 1,979
meters and several other summits in the Madonie range, and Mount Soro (in the
Nebrodi range) at 1,817 meters.

Longest Rivers - The Salso, rising in the Madonie Mountains and flowing southward
past Enna to Licata, is Sicily's longest at 144 kilometers (89 miles), marking Sicily's
continental divide. A tributary of the Simeto in western Sicily coincidentally shares the
same name. To supply drinking water, there are several man-made lakes along rivers,
but Sicily boasts very few natural ones, notably Pergusa near Enna and a few in the
Nebrodi and Etna regions. None of Sicily's rivers is navigable today. Among the principal
rivers now little more than streams are the Simeto (114 km), the Belice (107 km), the
Dittaino (105 km) and the Platani (103 km).

Language - Italian (officially since 1861). Several dialects of the Modern Sicilian
language are spoken in Sicily. After Tuscan (Italian), Sicilian is the most widely spoken
language in Italy, followed by Neapolitan, French (in Aosta), German (in South Tirol)
Arabic and Romanian there are around 900,000 Arabic-speakers and some 700,000
Romanians in Italy. Until circa 1200 the principal spoken languages were Siculo-Arabic
(similar to Maltese) and Byzantine-Greek, with documents published in Greek, Arabic
and Latin. Medieval Sicilian, a Latin language, developed during the time of Ciullo of
Alcamo, coinciding with the Normans' latinization of the island.

Religion - Italy has no state religion but the majority of Italians (around 73%) declare
themselves to be Roman Catholic. Statistically, following these (often nominal)
Catholics, the largest numbers consist of Eastern Orthodox (mostly Romanians),
Muslims (mostly North Africans) and declared non-believers (atheists and agnostics).

Vital Statistics - In Italy life expectancy (at birth) is 79.2 years for men and 84.6 years
for women; it is thought that it may be slightly longer in Sicily and Sardinia but the
presumed difference is not significant statistically. Owing to the large number of foreign-
born brides resident in Italy, and the high emigration rate of males, the national
male/female gender ratio is estimated at approximately 48/52 percent. Marriage, though
decreasing, is the norm and divorce is increasing. Births outside marriage account for
around 15 percent of the total in Sicily; the national Italian average is 25 percent.

Principal Universities - Palermo and Catania, both public institutions.

Principal Opera Houses - Teatro Massimo and Teatro Politeama in Palermo, Teatro
Massimo Bellini in Catania.

Principal Airports - Palermo, Catania, Trapani. There is a NATO air base at Sigonella
near Catania.

And for the record...

Historic Government - Following Greek, Roman, Gothic and Byzantine rule, several
Fatimid emirates in the century immediately preceding 1061, then a sovereign Norman
county until 1130 when the Kingdom of Sicily was founded. This monarchical state
existed until 1816 though often ruled from afar after 1400. The Kingdom of the Two
Sicilies ("Naples and Sicily") existed from 1816 until 1861, when it was annexed to the
Kingdom of Italy, predecessor state of the Italian Republic established by popular
referendum in June 1946. Until the 19th century when it was claimed by Britain, Malta
was part of the Kingdom of Sicily.
The Catholic Church - In Italian law, the Catholic Church is considered a "state within a
state," and the legacy of the Kingdom of Sicily survives in one interesting sense. The
honorific title of the Cardinal Archbishop of Palermo as Primate of Sicily dates from the
island's medieval status as a sovereign kingdom and very few bishops are accorded
distinctions of this kind the Patriarch of Venice and the Primate of All Ireland
(Archbishop of Armagh) are rare examples. In Italy south of Rome only the archbishops
of Naples and Palermo are elevated to the rank of Cardinal. As Sicily's highest-ranking
cleric, the Archbishop of Palermo is head of the Sicilian Bishops' Conference.