Sicily (anc. Trinacria, from its triangular shape, Sicania, and Sicilia), the largest island of the Mediterranean, forming part of the kingdom of Italy, separated from Calabria by the strait of Messina, between lat. 36° 38' and 38° 18' N., and lon. 12° 25' and 15° 40' E. The northern side is 180, the southwestern 171, and the eastern 113 m. long; area, 11,291 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 2,584,099. The extreme points of the island are Capo di Faro or Cape Peloro (anc. Pelorus) at the northeast, Cape Passaro (Pachynus) at the southeast, and Cape Boeo (Lilybceum) at the northwest. It is divided into the provinces of Caltanisetta, Catania, Girgenti, Messina, Palermo, Syracuse, and Tra-pani. Capital, Palermo. The coast has numerous indentations, the largest of which are the gulf of Castellamare on the northwest, the gulf of Patti on the northeast, and the bay of Catania on the east; the best harbors are those of Palermo, Messina, Agosta, and Syracuse. The tides on the coast are slight and irregular.

Of the two principal currents of the Mediterranean, that from the Atlantic and that from the Black sea, only the first is felt upon the shores of Sicily, and in its set through the strait of Messina it causes the whirlpool at the N. end called by the ancients Charybdis. Most of the mountains of Sicily are regarded as part of the system of the Apennines. The northern part of the island is generally high, the mountains in several places coming close to the sea; but in the opposite direction they recede to a considerable distance, and the coasts are of moderate elevation. The celebrated volcano Mt. Etna rises in solitary grandeur (upward of 10,800 ft.) from the E. coast, midway between the N. and S. extremities of the island. (See Etna.) A range of mountains runs from Cape Peloro, on the strait of Messina, to the S. W., following the E. coast to near Taormina, 30 m. from Messina, where it is joined by a chain from the west which keeps much nearer the N. than the S. W. shore, and sends off spurs to the coast in the former direction. The first chain, now called Pelorian, was anciently known as Neptunius Mons; the second is now called Madonian, and was ancientlv known as the Nebrodian. No part of this chain rises above 6,300 ft., and in the west it becomes much broken.

About half way across the island a chain of great hills breaks off from the Madonian mountains, runs W. of the high plateau of Etna to the southeast, and is cut up by numerous and precipitous ravines, but sinks into a flat country as it approaches the S. E. point of Sicily. The island is watered by numerous streams, the most important of which are the Alcantara (anc. Taurominius) and Gia-retta or Simeto (Symcethus) on the E. coast, the Salso (S. Himera), Platani (Halyciis), and Belici (Hypsas) on the S. W., and the Termini (N. Himera) on the N. They are nearly all mere torrents, dry or nearly so in summer, but swelling into floods during the seasons of heavy rains; and few of them are navigable even at their mouths. The largest lake is that of Lentini, near the E. coast, between Catania and Syracuse; it is about 12 m. in circumference, but shallow and stagnant. - Sicily contains no strata corresponding to those of the Silurian, the old red sandstone, the carboniferous, or the new red sandstone formation; granite and. limestone are found in some places, and near Etna a large tract is covered with volcanic products.

Different kinds of fine stone abound, and amber is procured near Catania. Small quantities of argentiferous lead, quicksilver, iron, copper, and antimony are found, but they are seldom worked. The other minerals include marble, petroleum, emery, alum, rock salt, agates, and sulphur, the most important of all. The climate is temperate and agreeable. The thermometer rarely rises higher than 92° F. and seldom sinks below 36°, and the mean annual temperature at Palermo is about 64°. The annual fall of rain is about 26 inches, nearly all during the winter months. In summer the weather is settled, but after the autumnal equinox it becomes for a time hazy and boisterous. Thunder storms are violent and frequent; and the sirocco, or S. E. wind, blowing for three or four days at a time, is very distressing in some parts of the island. There are two kinds of level ground in Sicily. Of the first an example is found in the dreary wastes along the S. shore, where the limestone rock coming near the surface supports a scanty vegetation; and of the second in the fertile plains of Palermo, Catania, and Castellamare, filling up the curves of the mountains which recede from the sea.

The hilly regions are varied with undulating slopes and bold crags, the former of which are clothed with forests of fine timber, or covered with excellent pastures. In the fertile plains cultivation is general, and although the mode is rude and careless, the crops are often remarkable for their luxuriance; the most important are wheat, maize, barley, and pulse. Artificial grasses are grown to a small extent, and hemp is raised in the deeper and lower grounds. The vine and olive are extensively cultivated, and often intermixed. The other productions include sugar, barilla, cotton, sumach, saffron, manna obtained from a species of ash (fraxinus ornus), and the mulberry, which is extensively applied to rearing silkworms. Various kinds of fruit abound. The most valuable kinds of timber are ash, oak, pine, elm, and chestnut. Cattle are not numerous, and are generally neglected. Sheep are extensively reared, but the breed is inferior, and in many places goats are preferred to them. Snakes are common in the plains, and wolves in the mountains. - The population is a mixture of many races, but the Sicanians or Siculians seem to have been the aborigines. Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Herulians, Arabs, and Normans afterward settled among them.

The Sicilians are of light olive complexion, middle stature, and well made. The dialect differs considerably from the Italian, being much mixed with Arabic and other languages. They are all Roman Catholics, excepting a number of descendants of modern Greek settlers, who adhere to the Greek church. The unequal distribution of landed property, the fatal rule of the Bourbons, the total neglect of education, and other untoward circumstances have produced great misery in Sicily; but the island is gradually improving under Victor Emanuel, although brigandage still prevails, especially under a wide-spread organization known as the Mafia. There are now elementary schools in the villages and higher schools in the towns, and Palermo has a celebrated university. Industry is not much developed, and the manufactures are limited chiefly to the larger towns. The wines of the country are largely exported, along with fruit, grain, oil, sulphur, silk, wool, sumach, etc. The fisheries are among the most productive in the Mediterranean. - The first inhabitants of Sicily are supposed to have come from the continent of Italy. The Phoenicians early founded colonies there, including Panor-mus (now Palermo) and Eryx. In the 8th century B. C. the Greeks drove them into the interior, and in that and the following two centuries established several colonies on the coasts, such as Zancle or Messana (Messina), Syracuse, Leontini (Lentini), Catana (Catania), several towns called Hybla, Gela, Selinus, and Agri-gentum (Girgenti), of which Syracuse and Messana became the most celebrated.

The Carthaginians invaded the island early in the 5th century and also established colonies, which, after long contests with the Greeks, finally fell under the power of Syracuse. (See Syracuse.) During the first Punic war Agrigentum was the principal stronghold of the Carthaginians, but was conquered by the Romans, who subsequently obtained possession of the whole island, afterward their principal granary. On the decline of the Roman empire Sicily was overrun by barbarians. The Ostrogoths, who conquered it at the close of the 5th century, were expelled in 535 by the Byzantine general Belisarius. The Saracens occupied it about 830, and made Palermo their capital. In the 11th century they were driven out by the Normans, who established the feudal system, and united Sicily to Naples, with which its subsequent history is identified. (See Sicilies, the Two.) - Among recent works on Sicily are: L'Histoire de la Sicile sous la domination des Normands, by Bazancourt (2 vols., Paris, 1846); Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, by Amari (Florence, 1853); Compendio della storia di Sicilia, by San Filippo (7th ed., Palermo, 1859); Neapel und Sicilien, by Loher (2 vols., Munich, 1864); Siciliana, by Gregorovius, included in his Wanderjahre in Italien (4 vols., Leipsic, 1874); " History of Sicily to the Athenian War," by W. Watkiss Lloyd (London, 1874); and Geschichte Siciliens im Alterthum, by Ad. Holms (3 vols., Leipsic, 1874 et seq.).