Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily). The area of Sardinia is 24,090 square kilometres (9,301 sq mi). The island is surrounded (clockwise from north) by the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands. Sardinia is a constitutional part of Italy, with a special statute of regional autonomy under the Italian Constitution.
Sardinia is a large island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, between the Balearic islands and the Italian peninsula and south of Corsica. It is one of the regions of Italy. Around the beginning of the nuragic age circa 1500 BC the island was first called Hyknusa (Latinised Ichnusa) by the Mycenaeans, probably meaning island (nusa) of the Hyksos, the people who had just been expelled by Ahmose I of Egypt circa 1540 BC.
Sandalyon was another name, probably due to its shape, resembling a footprint. Its present name is Sardinia, after the Shardana (whose invasion of Egypt was defeated by Ramesses III circa 1180 BC).
Sardinia is separated from Corsica by the Strait of Bonifacio. Sardinia is a generally mountainous island with a few coastal plains. The island’s mountains are divided into three ranges; the highest peaks are in the middle section of the island. Punta La Marmora in the Gennargentu mountain range, at 6,016 feet (1,834 m), is the highest point in Sardinia.
Sardinia has few major rivers; the largest river on the island is the Tirso, which has a length of 94 miles (151 km) and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The island has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and very mild winters. The climate in the mountains tends to be wetter and cooler than the lower coastal plains; and winter snowfalls are not uncommon in the higher peaks. Sardinia also has more mountains than flat, low land and forests.
Sardinia is one of two Italian regions whose inhabitants have been recognised as a “popolo” (i.e. a distinct people) by a local statute (which is adopted with a constitutional law). The other region is Veneto (but this was not through a constitutional law). Megalithic building structures called nuraghe are scattered in great number throughout Sardinia. Su Nuraxi di Barumini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Sardinian economy is today focused on tourism, mining, commerce, services, information technology, oil-refining and petrochemical industry; an increasing income is coming from its famous wines and gastronomy. The island is one of the main summer vacation spots of the European continent, containing numerous extraordinary tourist areas, Alghero, North West, with Capo Caccia astonishing cliffs and the famous Neptun Cave, and including the Costa Smeralda in the northwest, the mountanins of the Gennargentu in the center and the Gulfs of Cagliari and Oristano.
The island is particularly famous for its beaches, but is also rich in other interesting places, such as some charming sea towns and archaeological ruins. See also: Tourist destinations of Sardinia. Saipem a contractor in the oil and gas industry and a subsidiary of Eni S.p.A, operates a shipyard on Sardinia. Their main activity is the fabrication of offshore oil rigs. Several gold and silver mines operate on the island.
Trains in Sardinia connect the whole island but are rather slow. Some run on narrow gauge track. Many tourists catch the trenino verde which runs through the wildest parts of the island. It is slow but it allows the traveller to have scenic views impossible to see from the main road.
The train connects Cagliari to Arbatax in the south and Sassari to Palau in the north. It is highly recommended to make the trip from Macomer to Bosa Marina where the train winds its way through the typical Sardinian scenery to reach the sea near the coastal town of Bosa situated in the west of the island.
Sardinia is home to a wide variety of rare or uncommon animal and autochthonous plants and animals, such as the Mediterranean Monk Seal and the boar. Found only in Sardinia, Sicily and Maghreb, the Sardinian skink (genus Chalcides ocellatus) known more commonly as the Tiligugu, can reach 30 cm (12 in) in length, of which almost half is made up by the tail. Conversely, Sardinia lacks many common species such as the viper and the marmot, which are found everywhere else on the European continent.
The island has also long been used for grazing flocks of indigenous Sardinian sheep. Sardinia has four endemic subspecies of birds which are found nowhere else in the world: its Great Spotted Woodpecker (ssp harterti), Great Tit (ssp ecki), Chaffinch (ssp sarda) and Eurasian Jay (ssp ichnusae). It also shares a further 10 endemic subspecies of bird with Corsica. The island’s environment is improving due to strict environmental laws.
Sardinia has three National Parks: Archipelago of La Maddalena’s National Park; Asinara National Park; Gennargentu National Park has been established on the eastern coast of Sardinia. It is home to animals such as the European wildcat.
Eight regional Parks:
Parco naturale regionale di Porto Conte, Parco regionale Molentargius – Saline, Parco del Limbara, Parco del Marghine e Goceano, Parco del Sinis – Montiferru, Parco del Monte Arci, Parco della Giara di Gesturi, Parco del Monte Linas – Oridda – Marganai, Parco dei Sette Fratelli – Monte Genas, Parco del Sulcis, 60 wildlife reserves, 5 W.W.F oasis, 25 natural monuments.
There are many campsites all around the coast, most of them close at the end of September or early October, but some are open all year round. Daily ferries link Northen Sardinia with Corsica (it is possible to take a day trip to Bonifacio, Corsica) from Santa Teresa di Gallura.