The purpose of the paper is to get a better understanding of Sicily. Over the next few pages we will be exploring many important aspects of Sicily. We will first take a look at the physical features of the land, including its location and its notable features. After we get idea of the land, we will then look at the Sicilian people, concentrating on the ancestry of the local people, as well as their personalities. Once we have a grasp on who the Sicilian people are; we will explore a brief history of Sicily. Where we will start in ancient time and work are way to the present. We will also be exploring the foods of Sicily, from its wonderful entrees to it tasty candies and desserts. Finally, we will discuss the one of the biggest things associated with Sicily, which is the Mafia. As you will read in each section, the land, its people, history, food, and the mafia are all interwoven to create a vibrant and diverse culture. The Land-
It is the largest and most important island in the Mediterranean, and until the fourteenth century Sicily was the most important island in Europe. The population of Sicily amounts to about 4,772,000 people, with a density of 186 inhabitants per square km. Though the Mediterranean is usually considered a single body of water, Sicily's shores are washed by two of its smaller seas: the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian. Most of the island's surface, covering more than 25,000 square kilometers, is mountainous and hilly, with some level coastal areas and a large plain near Catania. At 3342 meters, Mount Etna is the highest peak, and Europe's largest active volcano. A number of small islands located around Sicily are popular tourist resorts, the volcanic Aeolian (or Lipari) archipelago being the largest group. The extensive coastline ranges from rocky cliffs to sandy beaches, but Sicily also offers other fascinating natural sights such as Alcantara Gorge (near Taormina), various caverns (Carburangeli near Carini and others around Sicily and on the surrounding islands), and the grey mud flows formed by sporadic geysers that give Maccalube, near Aragona, its moonlike appearance.
Today Sicily is important strategically; several NATO and US military bases on the island are ready to respond to any emergency in Northern Africa, the Balkans or the Middle East.In considering the size of the Mediterranean, and the distances traversed by the Sicilians' predecessors (among them the Romans and Normans), it is worth bearing in mind that Jerusalem is farther away than London. All these facts help to explain how and why Sicily came to be a point of convergence between North and South, East and West, between Europe and Africa, but also between the Latin West and the Byzantine East.
Even today, there are essentially two kinds of communities among the numerous towns and cities of Sicily. Inland towns, usually found in the mountains, comprise the vast majority, and in the past their economies were usually based on livestock and agriculture. The economies of coastal towns were based more on fishing and maritime trade, though agriculture constituted at least a portion of their wealth. These factors obviously influenced the cuisine, customs and, to some extent, mentalities of the inhabitants of these places. Until the twentieth century, somebody who lived in Enna might rarely see the sea or taste its fruits. The country and its lifestyle are still important parts of Sicily's history and culture.
The vegetation of Sicily is remarkably diverse. Apart from the great variety of agricultural produce (ranging from citrus fruits to grapes, olives to artichokes, pistachios to mulberries and, in the past, even sugar cane and cotton), numerous trees, flowering shrubs and grasses are native to Sicily, though the cactus (an American import) is not one of these. Much of the wild vegetation, like the palm trees and stone pines, is typically Mediterranean, but certain fir trees are the same species found in much colder...