Aegadian Islands

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The Aegadian Islands (Sicilian: Ìsuli Ègadi, Italian: Isole Egadi; Latin: Aegates Insulae), are a group of small mountainous islands in the Mediterranean Sea off the northwest coast of Sicily, Italy, near the city of Trapani, with a total area of 14.46 square miles (37.45 km2).

Favignana (Aegusa), the largest, lies 10 miles (16 km) south west of Trapani; Levanzo (Phorbantia) 8 miles (13 km) west; while Marettimo, the ancient Iera Nesos, 15 miles (24 km) west of Trapani, is now reckoned as a part of the group. There are also two minor islands, Formica and Maraone, lying between Levanzo and Sicily. For administrative purposes the archipelago constitutes the comune of Favignana in the Province of Trapani.

The overall population in 1987 was estimated at about 5,000. Though winter frost is unknown, rainfall is low. The main occupation of the islanders is fishing and this is where the largest tuna fishery in Sicily can be found.

History

There is evidence of Neolithic and even Paleolithic paintings in caves on Levanzo, and to a lesser extent on Favignana.

The islands were the scene of the Battle of the Aegates Islands of 241 BC, in which the Carthaginian fleet was defeated by C. Lutatius Catulus; the engagement ended the First Punic War. With the end of western Roman power, the islands, to the extent that they were governed at all, were part of territories of Goths, Vandals, Saracens, before the Normans fortified Favignana in 1081.

The islands belonged to the Pallavicini-Rusconi family of Genoa until 1874, when they were bought by the Florio family of Palermo.

Coordinates: 37°58′N 12°12′E / 37.967°N 12.2°E / 37.967; 12.2

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