Skip links

Facts about Sicily for Kids

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Siciliana (Sicilian Region). Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean.

  • It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast.
  • Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which is at 10,890 ft the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world.
  • The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.
  • At around 750 BC, Sicily became a Greek colony and for the next 600 years it was the site of the Greek-Punic and Roman-Punic wars, which ended with the Roman destruction of Carthage.
  • After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily often changed hands, and during the early Middle Ages it was ruled in turn by the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans.
  • With the Expedition of the Thousand, a Giuseppe Garibaldi-led revolt during the Italian Unification process, it became part of Italy in 1860 as a result of a plebiscite.
  • After the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946, Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region.
  • Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine and architecture.
  • The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the northeast of mainland Sicily, exhibit a volcanic complex including Stromboli.
  • It is located between the coast of Agrigento and the island of Pantelleria (which itself is a dormant volcano), on the underwater Phlegraean Fields of the Strait of Sicily.
  • To the east, there is the Alcantara in the province of Messina, which exits at Giardini Naxos; and the Simeto which exits into the Ionian Sea south of Catania.
  • Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and wet winters and hot, dry summers.
  • In Northern Sicily there are three important forests, near Mount Etna, in the Nebrodi Mountains and in the Bosco della Ficuzza’s Natural Reserve near Palermo.
  • Politics on the island was intertwined with that of Greece; Syracuse became desired by the Athenians, who during the Peloponnesian War set out on the Sicilian Expedition.
  • The Ostrogothic conquest of Sicily under Theodoric the Great began in 488; although the Goths were Germanic, Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government and allowed freedom of religion.
  • Byzantine In the 6th century, the Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire.
  • In terms of church, it would become completely Roman Catholic; previously, under the Byzantines, it had been more Eastern Christian.
  • According to two recent studies in 2008 and 2009, Greek male influence was estimated at 37% while ancient North African male influence was estimated between 6% and 7.5%.