It is bordered to the north by the region of Basilicata, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and to the east by the Ionian Sea. The region covers 15,080 km2 (5,822 sq mi) and has a population of just over 2 million. The demonym of Calabria in English is Calabrian.
In ancient times the name Calabria was used to refer to the southern part of Apulia, the peninsula of Salento (also known as the "heel" of Italy).
The region is a long and narrow peninsula which stretches from north to south for 248 km (154 mi), with a maximum width of 110 km (68 mi). Some 42% of Calabria's area, corresponding to 15,080 km2, is mountainous, 49% is hilly, while plains occupy only 9% of the region's territory. It is surrounded by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. It is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina, where the narrowest point between Capo Peloro in Sicily and Punta Pezzo in Calabria is only 3.2 km (2 mi).
Three mountain ranges are present: Pollino, La Sila and Aspromonte. All three mountain ranges are unique with their own flora and fauna. The Pollino Mountains in the north of the region are rugged and form a natural barrier separating Calabria from the rest of Italy. Parts of the area are heavily wooded, while others are vast, wind-swept plateaus with little vegetation. These mountains are home to a rare Bosnian Pine variety, and are included in the Pollino National Park. La Sila is a vast mountainous plateau, about 1,200 metres above sea level, which stretches for nearly 2,000 km2 (772 sq mi) along the central part of Calabria. The highest point is Botte Donato, which reaches 1,928 metres. The area boasts numerous lakes and dense coniferous forests. The Aspromonte massif forms the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula bordered by the sea on three sides. This unique mountainous structure reaches its highest point at Montalto, at 1,995 metres, and is full of wide, man-made terraces that slope down towards the sea.
In general, most of the lower terrain in Calabria has been agricultural for centuries, and exhibits indigenous scrubland as well as introduced plants such as the prickly pear cactus. The lowest slopes are rich in vineyards and citrus fruit orchards. The Diamante citron is one of the citrus fruits. Moving upwards, olives and chestnut trees appear while in the higher regions there are often dense forests of oak, pine, beech and fir trees.
Along the coastlines, the climate is Mediterranean with average low temperatures of 8 °C (46 °F) in the winter months and average high temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer months. Along the Apennines and in the inland areas, the climate is mountainous (continental) with cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers with occasional thunderstorms.
Geotectonic map of the Central Mediterranean Area and the Calabrian Arc. The blue trace indicates the position of the geotectonic cross section depicted below.From van Dijk (1992)
Geotectonic Cross Section of the Calabrian Arc. Left: NW; Right: SE. From van Dijk (1992)
When describing the geology of Calabria, it is commonly considered as part of the "Calabrian Arc", an arc-shaped geographic domain extending from the southern part of the Basilicata Region to the northeast of Sicily, and including the Peloritano Mountains (although some authors extend this domain from Naples in the North up to Palermo in the Southwest). The Calabrian area shows basement (crystalline and metamorphic rocks) of Paleozoic and younger ages, covered by (mostly Upper) Neogene sediments. Studies have revealed that these rocks comprise the upper Unit of a pile of thrust sheets which dominate the Apennines and the Sicilian Maghrebides.
The Neogene evolution of the Central Mediterranean system is dominated by the migration of the Calabrian Arc to the southeast, overriding the African Plate and its promontories (Argand, 1922; Boccaletti and Guazzone, 1972). The main tectonic elements of the Calabrian Arc are the Southern Apennines fold-and-thrust belt, the "Calabria-Peloritani", or simply Calabrian block and the Sicilian Maghrebides fold-and-thrust belt. The foreland area is formed by the Apulia Platform, which is part of the Adriatic Plate, and the Ragusa or Iblean Platform, which is an extension of the African Plate. These platforms are separated by the Ionian Basin. The Tyrrhenian oceanized basin is regarded as the back-arc basin. This subduction system therefore shows the southern plates of African affinity subducting below the northern plates of European affinity.
The geology of Calabria has been studied for more than a century. For details concerning the older literature, i.e. from before 1973, the reader is referred to the review of Ogniben (1973). Ippolito (1959) presented a complete bibliography of the literature on the Calabrian geology as published up until that moment. Books, reviews and important "mile¬stones" concerning the geology of the Calabrian Arc are the following: Cortese (1895), Limanowski (1913), Quitzow (1935), Caire et al. (1960), Caire (1961), Grandjacquet et al. (1961), Ogniben (1969, 1973 ), Caire (1970, 1975, 1978 ), Burton (1971), Amodio-Morelli et al. (1976), Dubois (1976), Grandjacquet and Mascle (1978), Moussat (1983), van Dijk (1992), and van Dijk et al. (2000). The earlier works were mainly dedicated to the evolution of the basement rocks of the area. The Neogene sedimentary successions were merely regarded as "post-orogenic" infill of "neo-tectonic" tensional features. In the course of time, however, a shift can be observed in the temporal significance of these terms, from post-Eocene to post-Early Miocene to post-middle Pleistocene.
The area is seismically and volcanically highly active. This is generally ascribed to the re-establishment of an equilibrium after the latest (mid-Pleistocene) deformation phase. Some authors believe that the subduction process is still ongoing, which is a matter of debate (van Dijk & Scheepers, 1995).
Calabria was first settled by Italic Oscan-speaking tribes. Two of these tribes were the Oenotrians (roughly translated into the "vine-cultivators") and the Itali. Greek contact with the latter resulted in Calabria taking the name of the tribe and was the first region to be called Italy (Italia).Greeks settled heavily along the coast at an early date and several of their settlements, including the first Italian city called Rhégion (Reggio di Calabria), and the next ones Sybaris, Kroton (Crotone), a settlement where the mathematician Pythagoras later resided, and Locri, were numbered among the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the 6th and 5th centuries BC.
The Greeks were conquered by the 3rd century BC by roving Oscan tribes from the north, including a branch of the Samnites called the Lucanians and an offshoot of the Lucanians called the Bruttii. The Bruttii conquered the Greek cities, established their sovereignty over present day Calabria and founded new cities, including their own capital, Cosenza (known as Consentia in the ancient times).
The Romans conquered the area in the 3rd century BC after the fierce Bruttian resistance, possibly the fiercest resistance the Romans had to face from another Italic people. At the beginning of the Roman Empire the region would form the Augustan Regio III Lucania et Bruttii of Roman Italy.
In 918, Arab raiders captured Reggio (which was renamed Rivà) and sold the majority of its population in the slave markets of Sicily and North Africa.
In the 1060s the Normans, under the leadership of Robert Guiscard's brother Roger, established a presence in this borderland, and organized a government along Byzantine lines that was run by the local Greek magnates of Calabria. In 1098, Roger named the equivalent of an apostolic legate by Pope Urban II, and later formed what became the Kingdom of Sicily. The administrative divisions created in the late medieval times were maintained right through to unification: Calabria Citeriore (or Latin Calabria) in the northern half and Calabria Ulteriore (or Greek Calabria) in the southern half. By the end of the Middle Ages, large parts of Calabria continued to speak Greek as their mother tongue. During the 13th century a French chronicler who travelled through Calabria stated that “the peasants of Calabria spoke nothing but Greek”. By the 15th and 16th centuries, the Greek spoken in Calabria was rapidly replaced by Latin, the dominant language of the Italian Peninsula through a process of Italianization. Today, the last remnants of the Greek formerly spoken widely throughout Calabria can still be heard amongst the ethnically Greek Griko people of the Aspromonte mountains of southern Calabria.
A typical feature is agricultural richness in Calabria. The olive tree, representing 29.6% of UAA and represents approximately 70% of tree crops. The Bergamot orange is intensively cultivated, since the 18th century, exclusively in coastal area nearby to Reggio, where it found its optimal geological and weather conditions: essence oil from Calabrian Bergamot reach the best quality in the world.
Within the industrial sector, manufacturing contributes to a gross value added of 7.2%. In the manufacturing sector the main branches are foodstuff, beverage and tobacco with a contribution to the sector very close to the national average.
Calabria is one of the poorest regions of Italy. Its economy is hampered by the fact that it is beset by corruption and organised crime which is mainly run by the 'Ndrangheta (the local Mafia syndicate).
A confidential report for the US Treasury that was leaked by Wikileaks asserts that if it [Calabria] were not part of Italy, Calabria would be a failed state. The "Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate controls vast portions of its territory and economy. Law enforcement is severely hampered by a lack of both sources and resources and that the region will continue to be a drag on the country until the national government devotes the necessary attention and resources to solving these problems. It also stated that organized crime is not considered an emergency in Italy and that potential investment in the region is hampered by the procrastination of the central government in Rome. It concluded that, if Calabria's problems are going to be solved, it will take a concerted effort by the central government to reclaim the region as part of the Italian state".
The main Calabrian ports are in Reggio and in Gioia Tauro. The Reggio port is equipped with five loading docks of a length of 1,530 metres. The Gioia Tauro port has seven loading docks with an extension of 4,646 metres; it is the largest in Italy and the seventh largest container port in Europe, with a 2007 throughput of 3.7 million TEUs from more than 3,000 ships.
In Calabria there are three main airports: one is situated in Reggio, a few kilometres from city centre, built in 1939 is chronologically the first airport in Calabria; another is located in Lamezia Terme municipality area, currently being the first airport in Calabria concerning the number of passengers per year; the other near the town of Crotone.
Y-Dna haplogroups were found at the following frequencies in Calabria : R1 (33.40%), E1b1b (15.80%), G (10.50%), I (1.75%). R1 and I haplogroups are typical in West European populations while J and E1b1b consist of lineages with differential distribution within Europe which include regions in the parts of France, and Austria.
Tourism in Calabria has increased over the years. The main tourist attractions are the coastline and the mountains. The coastline alternates between rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, and is sparsely interrupted by development when compared to other European seaside destinations. The sea around Calabria is clear, and there is a good level of tourist accommodation. The poet Gabriele D'Annunzio called the coast facing Sicily near Reggio Calabria "... the most beautiful kilometer in Italy" (il più bel chilometro d'Italia). The primary mountain tourist draws are Aspromonte and La Sila, with its national park and lakes. Some other prominent destinations include:
Reggio Calabria is on the strait between the mainland and Sicily, the largest and oldest city in Calabria dating from the 8th century BC, renowned for its panoramic seaside with botanical gardens between the art nouveau buildings and the beautiful beaches, and its 3,000 years of history with its Aragonese Castle and the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia where the famous Riace bronzes (Bronzi di Riace) are located.
Pizzo Calabro, on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, known for its ice cream called "Tartufo". Interesting places in Pizzo are Piazza Repubblica and the Aragonese castle where Murat was shot.
Paola, a town situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, renowned for being the birthplace of St. Francis of Paola, patron saint of Calabria and Italian sailors, and for the old Franciscan sanctuary built during the last hundred years of the Middle Ages by the will of St. Francis.
Sybaris, on the Ionian sea, a picturesque village situated near the excavation of ancient Sybaris, a Greek colony of the 8th century BC.
Lamezia Terme, the main transportation hub of the region with its international airport which links it to many destinations in Europe plus Canada and Israel and the train station. Several are the historical sights of the city, like the Norman-Swabian castle, the Jewish historical quarter and the Casa del Libro Antico (House of the Ancient Book) where books from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as old globes and ancient maps reproduction are well preserved and available to be seen by the public.
Catanzaro, an important silk center since the time of the Byzantines, is located at the centre of the narrowest point of Italy, from where the Ionian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea are both visible, but not from Catanzaro. Of note are the well-known one-arch bridge (Viaduct Morandi-Bisantis, one of the tallest in Europe), the Cathedral (rebuilt after World War II bombing), the castle, the promenade on the Ionian sea, the park of biodiversity and the archaeological park.
Soverato on the Ionian Sea, also known as the "Pearl" of the Ionian Sea. Especially renowned for its beaches, boardwalk and nightlife.
Badolato near Soverato is a well preserved medieval hilltop village with 13 churches. It was selected as one of the 1000 marvels of Italy to mark the anniversary of the unification of Italy. It is increasingly popular with wealthy foreigners who have renovated the old houses.
Ancient temples of the Roman gods on the sun-kissed hills of Catanzaro still stand as others are swept beneath the earth. Many excavations are going on along the east coast, digging up what seems to be an ancient burial ground.
Samo, a village on the foot of the Aspromonte, is well known for its spring water and ruins of the old village destroyed in the 1908 Messina earthquake.
Mammola, art center, tourist and gastronomic, boasts an ancient history. Well worth a visit, the old town, with its small houses attached to each other, the ancient churches and noble palaces. Of particular interest is the Museum Park Santa Barbara, a place of art and cultural events of many international artists and the Shrine of St. Nicodemo of the 10th century, in the highlands of Limina. Its renowned gastronomy with the "Stocco" typical of Mammola, cooked in various ways, other typical products are smoked ricotta and goat cheese, salami pepper and wild fennel, bread "pizza" (corn bread) and wheat bread baked in a wood oven.
Although the official national language of Calabria has been Standard Italian since before unification in 1861, as a consequence of its deep and colourful history, Calabrian dialects have developed that have been spoken in the region for centuries. The Calabrian dialect is a direct derivative of the Latin language, and is closer to the words spoken in Latin than the standard Italian. Most linguists divide the various dialects into two different language groups. In the northern one-third of the region, the Calabrian dialects are considered part of the Neapolitan language (or Southern Italian) and are grouped as Northern Calabrian or Cosentino. In the southern two-thirds of the region, the Calabrian dialects are often grouped as Central and Southern Calabrian. In many respects, the Calabrian dialect is considered very similar to the Puglian/Salentine dialects spoken in Salento, the region situated on the "heel" of Italy. However, in isolated pockets, as well as some quarters of Reggio Calabria a variety of Occitan can also be found in certain communities and French has had an influence on many Calabrian words and phrases. In addition, since Calabria was once ruled by the Spanish, some Calabrian dialects exhibit Spanish derivatives.
Even though it is currently a very small community, there has been a long history of the presence of Jews in Calabria. The Jews have had a presence in the region for at least 1600 years and possibly as much as 2300 years. Calabrian Jews have had notably influence on many areas of Jewish life and culture. Although virtually identitical to the Jews of Sicily, the Jews of Calabria are considered a distinct Jewish population due to historical and geographic considerations. There is a small community of Italian Anusim who have resumed the Jewish faith.
It is important to highlight the presence of Calabrians in Renaissance humanism and in the Renaissance. Indeed the Hellenistics in this period frequently came from Calabria maybe because of the Greek influence. The rediscovery of Ancient Greek was very difficult because this language had been almost forgotten. In this period the presence of Calabrian humanists or refugees from Constantinople was fundamental. The study of Ancient Greek, in this period, was mainly a work of two monks of the monastery of Seminara: Barlaam, bishop of Gerace, and his disciple, Leonzio Pilato. Leonzio Pilato, in particular, was a Calabrian born near Reggio Calabria. He was an important teacher of Ancient Greek and translator, and he helped Giovanni Boccaccio in the translations of Homer's works.
The cuisine is a typical southern Italian Mediterranean cuisine with a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant), and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important in Calabria. In contrast to most other Italian regions, Calabrians have traditionally placed an emphasis on the preservation of their food, in part because of the climate and potential crop failures. As a result, there is a tradition of packing vegetables and meats in olive oil, making sausages and cold cuts (Sopressata, 'Nduja), and, along the coast, curing fish- especially swordfish, sardines (sardelle rosamarina) and cod (Baccalà). Local desserts are typically fried, honey-sweetened pastries (Cudduraci, scalille or scalidde) or baked biscotti-type treats (such as 'nzudda).
^ abcdefvan Dijk, J.P., Bello, M., Brancaleoni, G.P., Cantarella, G., Costa, V., Frixa, A., Golfetto, F., Merlini, S., Riva, M., Toricelli, S., Toscano, C., and Zerilli, A. (2000, a); A new structural model for the northern sector of the Calabrian Arc. Tectonophysics, 324, 267-320.
^Argand, E. (1922); La tectonique de l'Asie. Comptes Rendus 3rd Int. Geol. Congr., Liège (Be), 1922, 1, 171-372.
^Boccaletti, M., and Guazzone, G. (1972, b); Evoluzione paleogeografica e geodinamica del Mediterraneo: i bacini marginali. Mem. Soc. geol. It., 13, 162-169.
^ abOgniben, Leo (1973); Schema geologico della Calabria in base ai dati odierni. Geol. Romana, 12, 243-585.
^Ippolito, Felice (1959); Bibliografia geologica d'Italia, Vol. 4, Calabria. C.N.R., Roma
^Cortese, E. (1895); Descrizione geologica della Calabria. Mem. Descrit. Carta Geol. It., 9, 310 pp., Roma.
^Quitzov, H.W. (1935); Der Deckenbau des Kalabrischen Massivs und seine Randgebiete. Abh. d. Ges. d. Wiss. zu Gottingen, Mat. Phys. Kl., 3e Folge, H. 13, 63-197.
^Caire, André, Glangeaud, L., and Grandjaquet, C. (1960); Les grand traits structureaux et l'évolution de territoire calabro-sicilien (Italie méridionale). Bull. Soc. Geol. Fr., ser. 7, v. 2, 915-938.
^Caire, André (1961); Remarques sur l'evolution tectonique de la Sicile. Bull. Soc. Geol. Fr., 7 (3), 545-558.
^Grandjacquet, C., Glangeaud, L., Dubois, R., and Caire, A. (1961); Hypothèse sur la structure profonde de la Calabre (Italie). Rev. Geogr. Phys. Geol. Dyn., 4 (3), 131-147.
^Ogniben, L. (1969, a); Schema introduttivo alla geologia del confine calabro-lucano. Mem. Soc. Geol. Ital., 8, 453-763.
^Caire, André (1970, a); Sicily in its Mediterranean setting. 145-170.
^Caire, André (1975, a); Italy in its Mediterranean setting. In: Squyres, C.H. (Ed). Geology of Italy, Earth Sci. Soc. Lib. Arab. Rep., 11-74, Tripoli.
^Caire, André (1978); The Central Mediterranean mountain chains in the Alpine orogenic environment.
^Burton, A.N. (1971); Carta Geologica della Calabria alla scala di 1:25.000, Relazione generale. Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, Servizio Bonifiche, Roma (It.), I.G.M. Firenze, 120 pp., 1971, 120 pp.
^Amodio-Morelli, L., Bonardi, G., Colonna,V., Dietrich, D., Giunta, G., Ippolito, F., Liguori, V., Lorenzoni, S., Paglionico, A., Perrone, V., Piccaretta, G., Russo, M., Scandone, P., Zanettin Lorenzoni, E., and Zuppetta, A. (1976); L'Arco calabro-peloritano nell'orogene appenninico-maghrebide. Mem. Soc. Geol. Ital., 17, 1-60.
^Dubois, Roland (1976); La suture calabro-apenninique Cretacee-Eocene et l'ouverture Tyrrhenienne neogene: etude petrographique et structurale de la Calabre centrale. These, Univ. de Paris, 1976, 567 pp.
^Grandjacquet, C., and Mascle, G. (1978); The structure of the Ionian sea, Sicily and Calabria-Lucania. In: Nairn, A.E.M., H. Kanes and F.G. Stehli (Eds). The ocean basins and margins, Plenum Press, 5, 257-329, New York.
^Moussat, E. (1983, Int. Rept.); Evolution de la mer Tyrrhenienne centrale et ses marges septentrionales en relation avec la néotectonique dans l'Arc calabrais. These 3e cycle, Univ. Pierre et M. Curie, Paris (Fr.), 122 pp.
^van Dijk, J.P. (1992, d); Late Neogene fore-arc basin evolution in the Calabrian Arc (Central Mediterranean). Tectonic sequence stratigraphy and dynamic geohistory. With special reference to the geology of Central Calabria. Geologica Ultrajectina, 92, 288 pp. ISBN 90-71577-46-5
^van Dijk, J.P., and Scheepers, P.J.J. (1995); Neogene rotations in the Calabrian Arc. Implications for a Pliocene-Recent geodynamic scenario for the Central Mediterranean. Earth Sci. Rev., 39, 207-246.
^The Italian Cities and the Arabs before 1095, Hilmar C. Krueger, A History of the Crusades: The First Hundred Years, Vol.I, ed. Kenneth Meyer Setton, Marshall W. Baldwin, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1955), 50-51.
^Eisner, Robert (1993). Travelers to an Antique Land: The History and Literature of Travel to Greece. University of Michigan Press. p. 46. ISBN978-0-472-08220-9. "The ancient Greek colonies from Naples south had been completely latinized, but from the fifth century AD onward Greeks had once again emigrated there when pressed out of their homeland by invasions. This Greek culture of South Italy was known in medieval England because of England’s ties to the Norman masters of Sicily. Large parts of Calabria, Lucania, Apulia, and Sicily were still Greek-speaking at the end of the Middle Ages. Even nineteenth-century travelers in Calabria reported finding Greek villages where they could make themselves understood with the modern language, and a few such enclaves are said to survive still."
^Vasil’ev, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (1971). History of the Byzantine Empire. 2, Volume 2. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 718. ISBN978-0-299-80926-3. "half of the thirteenth century Roger Bacon wrote the Pope concerning Italy, “in which, in many places, the clergy and the people were purely Greek.” An old French chronicler stated of the same time that the peasants of Calabria spoke nothing but Greek."
^Weiss, Roberto (1977). Medieval and Humanist Greek. Antenore. pp. 14–16. "The zones of south Italy in which Greek was spoken during the later Middle Ages, were eventually to shrink more and more during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Some small areas were, however, able to remain Greek even after the Renaissance period. In Calabria, for instance, Greek may till be heard today at Bova, Condofuri, Roccaforte, Roghudi, and in a few isolated farms here and there. One hundred years ago, it was still spoken also at Cardeto, Montebello, and San Pantaleone; and the more we recede in time the larger are these areas. And what took place in Calabria happened also in Apulia, where many places which were still Greek-speaking as late as 1807 are now no longer so. The use of the Greek language in such areas during the later Middle Ages is shown by.."