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Mezzogiorno(mĕt'sōjôr`nō), region of S Italy. The Mezzogiorno comprises the modern Italian regions of AbruzziAbruzzi
, region (1991 pop. 1,249,054), 4,167 sq mi (10,793 sq km), central Italy, bordering on the Adriatic Sea in the east. L'Aquila is the capital of the region, which is divided into Chieti, L'Aquila, Pescara, and Teramo provs. (named for their capitals).
..... Click the link for more information. , CampaniaCampania
, region (1991 pop. 5,191,468), 5,249 sq mi (13,595 sq km), central Italy, extending from the Apennines W to the Tyrrhenian Sea and from the Garigliano River S to the Gulf of Policastro. It includes the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida.
..... Click the link for more information. , MoliseMolise
, region (1991 pop. 330,900), 1,714 sq mi (4,439 sq km), S central Italy, bordering on the Adriatic Sea in the east. Campobasso is the capital of the region, which is divided into the provinces of Campobasso and Isérnia.
..... Click the link for more information. , Puglia, BasilicataBasilicata
, region (1991 pop. 610,528), 3,856 sq mi (9,987 sq km), S Italy, bordering on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the southwest and on the Gulf of Taranto in the southeast. It forms the instep of the Italian "boot.
..... Click the link for more information. , CalabriaCalabria
, region (1991 pop. 2,070,203), 5,822 sq mi (15,079 sq km), S Italy, a peninsula projecting between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea, separated from Sicily by the narrow Strait of Messina. It forms the toe of the Italian "boot.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the islands of SicilySicily
, Ital. Sicilia, region (1991 pop. 4,966,386), 9,925 sq mi (25,706 sq km), S Italy, mainly situated on the island of Sicily, which is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and south, by the Ionian Sea on the east, and by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the north, and
..... Click the link for more information. and SardiniaSardinia
, Ital. Sardegna, region (1991 pop. 1,648,248), 9,302 sq mi (24,092 sq km), W Italy, mostly on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, which is separated in the north from Corsica by the Strait of Bonifacio.
..... Click the link for more information. . The term Mezzogiorno, meaning midday in Italian, is a reference to the strength of the midday sun in S Italy. The Appenine mountain system is a pervasive feature throughout S Italy. Steep slopes and poor or eroded topsoil render about half of the land unarable; nevertheless, agriculture employs most of the workforce and is the mainstay of the generally underdeveloped economy. The chief crops are grains, fruits, olives, grapes, and vegetables. Industrialization is not as extensive as in the north, and as a result the per capita income and standard of living in S Italy is considerably lower. Two of the larger industrial centers are the port cities of Bari, with chemical and petrochemical plants, and Naples, with manufactures of textiles, iron, steel, machinery, and automobiles. Illiteracy in the Mezzogiorno is significantly higher than the national average. During most of the 12th cent., S Italy was united under the rule of the Normans, who in 1198 were succeeded by the Hohenstaufen of Germany. The French Angevins ruled the region from 1266 to c.1442. During Angevin rule, the capital was moved from Palermo to Naples, and feudalism was strengthened as the powers of the clergy and the nobility grew. Alfonso V of Aragon had conquered the kingdom of Naples by 1442, beginning more than three centuries of Spanish rule. In the early 19th cent. the region was annexed to the French empire under Napoleon, and under the 10-year rule (known as the Decennio) of his brother-in-law, Lucien Murat, many reforms were made, including the abolishment of feudalism and the codification of law. Yet even after the emancipation (1860) of S Italy by GaribaldiGaribaldi, Giuseppe
, 1807–82, Italian patriot and soldier, a leading figure in the Risorgimento. He remains perhaps the most popular of all Italian heroes of the Risorgimento, and a great revolutionary hero in the Western world.
..... Click the link for more information. 's forces, feudal traditions persisted and peasants were still tied to large estates. The Mezzogiorno remained an underdeveloped area as the government in the last half of the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s focused on the prosperous north. Large-scale land reforms were not instituted until 1946. In 1950 the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (Fund for the South) was set up by the Italian government to stimulate social and economic development in the Mezzogiorno.