Sardinia (Ital. Sardegna; anc. Ichnusa and Sardinia), next to Sicily, the largest and most important island in the Mediterranean sea, lying N. of Africa, N. W. of Sicily, W. of southern Italy, E. of Spain and the Balearic islands, and S. of Corsica, and extending from lat. 38° 52' to 41° 16' N, and from lon. 8° 8' to 9° 50' E. On the west and south it is washed by the Mediterranean proper, and on the east by the Tyrrhenian sea, and it is separated from Corsica by a narrow strait called Bocche di Bonifacio; length 169 m., greatest breadth 96 m.; area, including several small adjacent islands, 9,399 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 636,660. Its shape is oblong, and its coasts are generally steep and rugged, with deep indentations especially on the west and south. On the E. side are Capes Fi-gari, Co da Cavallo, Comino, Monte Santo, Bel-lavista, Ferrato, and Carbonara, and the bays of Terranova, Orosei, and Tortoli. The gulf of Cagliari cuts a wide semicircular opening on the south between Capes Carbonara and Spar-tivento, beyond which are Cape Teulada and the bay of Teulada or of Isola Rossa. On the W. shore, going northward, are the bays of Palmas and Oristano, the latter having at its entrance the promontories La Frasca and San Marco, and Capes Mannu, Marargiu, Caccia, Argentiera, Negretto, and Falcone. East of this last point the N. coast, after forming the gulf of Asmara, makes a semicircular sweep to Punta la Testa at the N. extremity of the island.
The principal small islands lying off the coast are the group of Madalena, among which is Caprera, near the E. mouth of the strait of Bonifacio; the island of Tavolara, S. E. of Cape Figari; Aguillastro, S. of Cape Monte Santo; Serpentara and Costelazzo, near Cape Carbonara; San Antioco and San Pietro, W. and N. W. of the bay of Palmas; Mai di Ventre, opposite Cape Mannu; and Asinara, N. of Cape Falcone. - More than four fifths of the surface is occupied by mountains. The main chain, which runs N. and S. across the island, as well as its offshoots, belongs chiefly to the palaeozoic formation; the N. range, called Monti di Limbara, is mostly granitic; while the hills extending through the centre from Porto Torres to Cagliari are of tertiary calcareous formation. In many parts of the island, and especially in the northeast, there are extinct volcanoes. The highest summit is the Punta Bruncu-Spina, in the Genargentu or central range, 6,290 ft. above the sea. In the opinion of geologists Sardinia was once united to Corsica, from which it has been severed by some volcanic convulsion.
The rivers are numerous, but small; the most important are the Tirso, which flows S. W., drains the centre of the island, and falls into the gulf of Oristano, and the Orosei, Flumendosa, Mannu, and Coghinas. The principal lakes are those of Cagliari, Sarno, and St. Giusta. The island abounds in mineral resources, which are very imperfectly developed. Its ancient silver mines are abandoned, but there are many lead mines in operation. Iron, copper, mercury, antimony, granite, marble, porphyry, jasper, amethyst, gypsum, and alabaster are found, and large beds of coal have been discovered near Iglesias. Salt is obtained on the coast, and there are numerous mineral springs. The coral fishery is an important branch of industry. - The soil is peculiarly rich. Wheat and barley are produced nearly everywhere; maize is supposed to occupy about one fifth of the cultivated land. In the vicinity of Milis, near Cape Mannu on the W. coast, there is an orange forest, the trees in which are far larger than the finest seen in Portugal. Other fruits are also produced in abundance; and the wines are remarkable for spirit and flavor. Tobacco is raised near Sassari; cotton thrives near Cagliari; flax, hemp, and saffron are produced; and in recent times white mulberries have been extensively planted.
The cork oak, pine, chestnut, and other trees clothe the slopes of the mountains almost to their summits. Skins of hares, rabbits, foxes, and martens are largely exported. The moufflon, an animal of the sheep kind, which is believed to be indigenous to the island, frequents the highest and most secluded woods. An enormous quantity of cheese is made from sheep and goat's milk. The coasts abound in tunny, anchovies, pilchards, etc. The climate is agreeable, especially in the high grounds; the summer heat is not so overpowering as on the continent, and winter is comparatively mild, there being little snow except on the higher mountains. The low lands, which are mostly marshy, are subject in the autumn to deadly malaria, here called intemperie, Sardinia was anciently one of the granaries of Rome; but its prosperity has been seriously checked by a long period of misgovernment. It was not till 1836 that feudal tenure and feudal jurisdiction were entirely abolished. Besides the royal manufactories of gunpowder, salt, and tobacco (the last two being crown monopolies), there are a few of cotton, woollen, and silk goods, and some coarse pottery and glass works.
The island is divided into the provinces of Cagliari and Sassari. - Sardinia was originally settled by the Phoenicians and Etruscans, and temporarily also by Greeks in the 6th century B. C. Its inhabitants, a mixed race called Sardi, were despised as rude and thievish. It was early conquered by the Carthaginians, and occupied by the Romans shortly after the first Punic war. In the 5th century A. D. it was seized by the Vandals, and in the 6th annexed to the Byzantine empire by Belisarius. The Saracens invaded the coasts in the 8th century, and subsequently established there a kingdom. They were finally expelled in 1022 by the Pisans and Genoese, who disputed its possession for nearly 150 years. In 1164 Frederick Barbarossa made the Genoese Barisone king of Sardinia, but in the following year he granted the island to Pisa. The old contest was renewed and carried on till 1175, when the emperor, as umpire, divided Sardinia about equally between the Pisans and the Genoese. In 1238 Enzio, natural son of Frederick II., became king, and in 1296 the crown was given by Pope Boniface VIII. to King James II. of Aragon as a vassal of the Roman see.
After overcoming the Pisans, he became in 1326 the sole and uncontested ruler, and Sardinia remained subject to Spain till 1713, when by the treaty of Utrecht it was surrendered to the emperor Charles VI. of Germany. In 1720 he gave it in exchange for Sicily to Duke Victor Amadeus II. of Savoy, who assumed the title of king of Sardinia. (See Sardinian States).