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Insular Italy with the islands of Sicily (south) and Sardinia (west) shaded in dark.

Insular Italy refers to the macro-region composed of the country's two largest islands and their respective regions, Sicily and Sardinia. The two islands are both autonomous regions with special statute due to unique historical, cultural, and linguistic differences, in addition to a particular distance from the mainland. Sometimes, Sicily and Sardinia are unofficially classified as southern regions.

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Geography

Insular Italy occupies one-sixth of the national territory in surface area. Territorially, both Sicily and Sardinia include several minor islands and archipelagoes administratively dependent on the mother islands.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean (25,708 km²) and one of the largest of Europe, while Sardinia is less extensive (24,090 km²). The lowlands are generally limited in the geographic region and generally appear as narrow coastal belts. The only exceptions are the Campidano and Nurra in Sardinia and the Plain of Catania in Sicily that extend 1200 km² and 430 km² respectively. The rest of the area is prevalently hilly, with hills occupying 70% of the territory. Sicily is home to Mount Etna, Italy's highest non-Alpine peak and Europe's largest active volcano. Sardinia is home to the Gennargentu mountain range.

Demographics

The population of Insular Italy totals a combined 6,677,026 residents. Insular Italy has a population density of less than half the national average due to the scarce population of Sardinia, one of the least densely populated regions of Italy; Sicily, meanwhile, has a population density five times higher than Sardinia, however, the average results in Insular Italy having a low population density. Their combined populations total just one-tenth of the national population making Insular Italy the least populated macro-region of the country.

The following is a list of cities with a population of greater than 100,000 residents.

Name Population Region
Palermo 666,552 Sicily
Catania 301,564 Sicily
Messina 245,159 Sicily
Cagliari 159,312 Sardinia
Sassari 128,635 Sardinia
Siracusa 123,324 Sicily

Socio-economic situation

The unemployment rate of Sicily is the highest in the country at 11.9%, while in Sardinia between 2006-07 it dropped for the first time below 10%, reaching 8.6%, the lowest of all the southern regions excluding Molise and Abruzzo. The low level of entrepreneurship in Sicily is tied to criminality, while in Sardinia it results from operating expenses (electricity, transportation, etc.) 20-50% higher than other regions due to its isolated location, this handicap, in Sardinia, was reduced with the development of information technologies and the European Territorial Continuity.

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