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Sicily (Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia, [siˈtʃiːlja]) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, comprising an autonomous region of Italy. Minor islands around it, such as the Aeolian Islands, are part of Sicily. Its official name is Regione Autonoma Siciliana (English: Sicilian Autonomous Region).

Sicily, like all regions of Italy when viewed separately, has its own rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, architecture and language, having given birth to some of the greatest and most influential people in history.[citation needed] The Sicilian economy is largely based on agriculture (mainly orange and lemon orchards); this same rural countryside has attracted significant tourism in the modern age as its natural beauty is highly regarded.[2] Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica and the Valley of the Temples. There are continuous excavations that occur in Sicily due to its extensive history.

Sicily has been known since ancient times for its roughly triangular shape, which earned it the name Trinacria. It is separated to the east from the Italian region of Calabria through the Strait of Messina. The distance between the island and mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina is about 2 miles [3 km] wide in the north, and about 10 miles [16 km] in the south of the Strait.[3] The island is characterized by a densely mountainous landscape. The main mountain ranges are Madonie and Nebrodi in the north and Peloritani in the north-east, whereas the south-eastern Hyblaean are considered geologically as a continuation of the Italian Appennines. The mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta district were a leading sulfur-producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined since the 1950s.

Sicily and its small surrounding islands are extremely interesting to volcanologists. Mount Etna, located in the east of mainland Sicily with a height of 3,320 m (10,890 ft), is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world.

The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the northeast of mainland Sicily, exhibit a volcanic complex including Stromboli. Currently active also are the three dormant volcanoes of Vulcano, Vulcanello and Lipari. Off the southern coast of Sicily, the underwater volcano of Ferdinandea, which is part of the larger Empedocles, last erupted in 1831. It is located between the coast of Agrigento and the island of Pantelleria (which itself is a dormant volcano), on the Phlegraean Fields of the Strait of Sicily.

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